Jonathan, Aggrieved Governors Reached No Truce
Contrary to media reports Monday, President Goodluck Jonathan and seven aggrieved Peoples Democratic Party governors did not resolve the key issues that have plunged the ruling party into chaos, after both sides met for hours on Sunday night, three of the governors have told reporters.
The meeting held at the Aso Rock presidential villa Abuja between 4p.m. and 11 p.m.as both sides sought ways to heal the party’s deep wounds, and reconcile their differences. But of the outstanding demands made by the governors, none was conclusively resolved as claimed in widespread media reports on Monday, the governors said.
The three governors who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES separately via telephone said they were embarrassed at the “manipulation of the media” by the presidency to give the impression that all the issues had been settled.
“If everything was settled as being postulated, then there would have been no need for the next round of meeting on October 7,” one governor said. He however said the meeting made significant progress on the way to end the crisis within the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
Governors who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES insisted they would only do so anonymously since they were not authorized to speak to the media. They said their reaction was only necessary to correct what the media reported.
The meeting was attended by President Goodluck Jonathan, his vice, Namadi Sambo, chairman of the party’s Board of Trustees, Tony Anenih, as well as governors loyal to the president, including Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom, Liyel Imoke of Cross Rivers, and Idris Wada of Kogi state. Six of the seven aggrieved governors, Governors Sule Lamido of Jigawa state, Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers), Babangida Aliyu (Niger), Murtala Nyako (Adamawa) Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara) and Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano), were also in attendance.
Mr. Kwankwaso arrived just as the meeting was about to adjourn. Among other demands, the seven governors want the PDP national chairman, Bamanga Tukur removed, while the president gives up his likely ambition for another term in 2015. They also want the restoration of a faction of the Adamawa state executive of the party loyal to the governor, Mr Nyako.
They also demanded the recall of Governor Amaechi from suspension and the return of the PDP executive in Rivers to him. All the governors confirmed to PREMIUM TIMES that President Jonathan agreed to some of their demands, specifically, to let go of the embattled national chairman of the party, and also to restore the Adamawa state Executive loyal to Mr Nyako.
Mr Jonathan however said a committee would be set up to harmonise the two factions of the party in Rivers state soon. One of our sources said Mr Amaechi protested against that decision, but was assured by Mr Lamido that “no such committee will come up”.
Despite the preliminary concessions, Mr Jonathan remained firm on the contentious question of seeking a fresh term in 2015. The president reportedly told the governor that “it was unfair to deny anyone of his democratic rights”, an argument his aides have repeatedly put forward on the question of his re-election. Mr Jonathan however asked for more time to consider the issue.
The governors said they were surprised to read in the papers on Monday that all outstanding issues had been resolved, more so, since all sides had agreed to refrain from making statements to the media beyond a statement they all agreed upon which was drafted by the Cross Rivers governor, Mr Imoke, and read to the media by the Niger state governor, Mr Aliyu.
They said they had earlier rejected the president’s request for a communique that would give the impression that the crisis had been resolved, a statement Mr Jonathan reportedly said let “the tension in the polity come down”.
The governors said they argued that the issues discussed were beyond them, as there were other interested parties “in the struggle”, one of the governors, who spoke to us said. When the two sides eventually agreed to a statement, with the caveat that no one should give contrary position to the media, Mr Jonathan specifically cautioned Governor Amaechi whom he described, according to our source, “as a friend of the media”.
He warned the governor against giving the wrong message out. The source said Mr Amaechi in particular had earlier argued that there was no need for a statement since what was achieved was just a significant progress, adding that, any statement should wait until after the next meeting scheduled for October 7.
The governors, who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES, said they have registered their displeasure with the presidency over the news reports which they insisted gave “wrong impressions”.
They said what the presidency attempted to do was to “create doubt in the minds of our supporters” and buy time to break the ranks of the “new PDP”.
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