By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor Wole Mosadomi
The 2015 presidential ticket of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, remains open to all eligible members of the party, Chief Anthony Anenih, Chairman, Board of Trustees, BoT, of the party assured yesterday as he took the olive branch to Minna, Niger State.
Anenih, who led a delegation of the BoT to reconciliation talks with Governor Babangida Aliyu, spoke to reassure the state governor that there was no plan to push those opposed to a second term for President Goodluck Jonathan out of the party.
Anenih’s assurance came as senior party officials in Abuja assured that Anenih’s reconciliation visits to state governors was not divergent from the just-concluded tour by the national chairman of the party, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur and members of the National Working Committee, NWC.
Anenih’s visit to Aliyu, chairman of the Northern States Governors Forum, NSGF, followed strong sentiments by some of the party’s governors against perceptions that the 2015 presidential ticket had been ceded to Jonathan and misgivings in the states about the alleged one-man show of the party’s national chairman, Tukur.
The misgivings of the governors climaxed in the boycott of the one year anniversary lunch of the Tukur-led NWC in Abuja last Sunday.
Aliyu particularly had alleged that President Jonathan signed a pact to serve for one full term with governors ahead of the 2015 presidential election. President Jonathan’s aides have, however, denied knowledge of any such agreement.
Roll call Yesterday, the issues were discussed in closed and open sessions between stakeholders from Niger State and the Anenih delegation that comprised three former national chairmen, Senator Barnabas Gemade, Col. Ahmadu Ali (rtd.), Alhaji Abubakar Baraje; former BoT Secretary, Professor Jerry Gana; former deputy national chairman, Alhaji Shuaibu Oyedokun; secretary of the BoT Wali Jibrin, Senator Jim Nwobodo, among others.
Aliyu in his welcome remarks had assured Anenih and visiting members of the BoT that none of the PDP governors was eager to leave the party unless the party pushed them out.
He nevertheless, tasked the party to ensure that things were done properly as he frowned against the alleged breaches by the party’s national leadership.
Though the 2005 presidential ticket was not openly mentioned, perceptions that it had been ceded to President Jonathan inevitably forced Anenih to reassure the governor and other stakeholders present that due process would be followed in presenting a PDP presidential nominee in 2015.
Responding, Anenih assured that issues of such magnitude as the presidency would be determined to the satisfaction of all stakeholders.
He said: ““PDP has not yet taken a final decision on who picks our presidential ticket for 2015. The ticket is still open to all members as we are still consulting.
“The issue of candidate is a very strategic matter that is very close to most of the leaders. It should not be made a market place issue.
“There will be enough consultations as it will be the responsibility of leaders and followers to take decision. The leaders know what to do when the time comes.
“Nobody will push anybody out of the party. For us to have come all the way from Abuja to come and see our son shows how committed we are to face our challenges squarely. We believe in dialogue and consultations.
“We are going from state to state to talk to our leaders, to appreciate the contributions of leaders, to see how to move things forward. We are in Niger State to discuss all issues pertaining to the development of Nigeria in private audience with the governor.”
Anenih commended the efforts of the state government on efforts being made to provide adequate security in Niger State, which he said had made Niger one of the most peaceful states in the country.
He called on the people of the state to continue to rally round the government for more meaningful development to take place in the state.
On oppositions’ merger
Governor Aliyu also at the meeting noted that the merger by the opposition parties is a sign of their acceptance to play second fiddle, advising that PDP should prepare to do things right in order to sustain the current leadership position in the country.
Meanwhile, party officials have denied any divergence of purpose in the peace tours embarked upon by the BoT, led by Anenih and the recently-concluded zonal tours done by Tukur and the NWC.