From Mohammed Abubakar (Abuja) and Kehinde Olatunji (Ibadan)
• New PDP names Umar as treasurer
• Orji decries antics of opposition
• Oyo chieftains demand two ministerial slots
EFFORTS being made to blackmail and stampede President Goodluck Jonathan out of the 2015 election will fail, his Special Adviser on Political Matters, Ahmed Ali Gulak, affirmed Monday.
The antagonists have only the law, said the presidential aide who noted that Jonathan did not have the power to stop any statutory agency of government from carrying out its responsibilities, irrespective of the individuals or group of persons involved.
Speaking with State House correspondents Monday, Gulak described the truce reached between the President and aggrieved governors of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) on Sunday night as a mark of the enduring character of the ruling political grouping that had survived several internal problems in the past.
He said contrary to insinuations in some quarters that the disagreements within the party would lead to its demise, it would continue to grow, stressing that the position of its National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, was safe.
Gulak said: “We are talking, we are dialoguing, peace is gradually returning to PDP in accordance with the constitution of the party and in accordance with the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. These two documents guide us, we abide by them.
“PDP is the only national party that has maintained its name and identity since 1998 till date, nobody can beat that record.”
Asked how the party intended to address some of the demands of the aggrieved governors, including the sacking of Tukur, Jonathan dropping his perceived ambition and a halt to the harassment of some of them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), he said: “We have to be guided by the constitution. The constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended has given Mr. President the right to offer himself for a second term if he so chooses and nobody, either individual or group, can abridge his constitutional right.
“If he decides not to contest, let it be on his own volition not because he is intimidated or cajoled into doing that. Secondly, about EFCC, I have said it before and will say it again, Mr. President will never ask such an independent body not to carry out their job or statutory function. The third is about national chairman and I have said he emerged through the process of election and his removal is also guided by constitutional provisions.
“The national chairman has no problem, he was elected and I always say that as there are processes for election, there are processes for removal or resignation. So nobody can cajole anybody to say the national chairman will not survive. Nobody is against the national chairman.”
Meanwhile, the Abubakar Baraje-led PDP splinter group said yesterday that it sacked its national treasurer, Tanko Ishiaku Gwamna, who had on Sunday evening announced his resignation from the faction.
The group’s national publicity secretary, Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, said in a statement that “the fact is that he was sacked after being discovered to be a mole and has since been replaced by a seasoned and principled politician, Engineer Abubakar Gambo Umar, who has been an active grassroots politician and mobiliser in his native Taraba State since 1999.”
Also, Abia State Governor Theodore Orji has said that “the simple fact that the opposition parties are agitated and concerned about the challenges of the PDP is a pointer that they are hinging their future on the expectation that the party may breakup.”
He, in a statement by one of his media aides, Ike Ben Onyechere, said: “The random insinuation and instigation from known chronic opposition quarters over matters that are internal to the party smack of lack of direction of their leadership whose only hope of survival is to fish in troubled waters. It is laughable that their only manifesto is focusing on misunderstanding between party members which is an indication that they are building on sandy soil. But we have news for them which is that they will be abundantly disappointed because the leader of PDP which is the President of this country is equipped with the instrumentalities of interest aggregation and harmonisation not only in the party but the nation at large.
“In politics, it is common that what is permanent and paramount is interest but such must be devoid of misplaced ambition arrowed to undermine the authority of the President because anybody who wants to be a king must first be subordinate to an existing kingship as much as it is important to remind ourselves that a bird in hand is better than 10 in the bush.”
Orji who had described Jonathan as a symbol of national unity, added: “With contemporary party politics in Nigeria today and matters arising from therein, it has become obvious that the President is a man whose time has come judging from his amiable mannerism in his method of aggregation with regards to contending interests in the nation at large. It has become pertinent and unavoidable for every player irrespective of varying platforms to agree on one thing which is that we cannot have two Presidents at the same time for which reason we must very cautious so as to preserve the entity of presidency which is the image, substance and gateway to the nation and as such any misdemeanor against the Presidency can adversely affect the economy particularly with the drive for direct foreign investment in the country.
“It has become important to bring to the knowledge of the opposition that their methods of instigation in matters that are internal in PDP is not only nefarious but subterraneous because in politics you don’t always have to blackmail people unnecessarily in order to gain relevance.
“There is no other person suited for our situation than this President whose devise of solving issues can only be applauded by all and sundry. Its also true that must of the challenges facing this nation today are meant for the development of our polity, economy, and social status because in every challenge, there is a value which is the reason the president must not be distracted from any quarter be it internal or external because since we are all equal stake holders in the unity of this country.”
In a related matter, Minister of State for Federal Capital Territory, Jumoke Akinjide, former Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala and an erstwhile Sports Minister, Prof. Taoheed Adedoja, were among leaders and elders of Oyo State chapter of PDP present at Premier Hotel Ibadan on Monday to deliberate over the crisis rocking the party at the state and national levels.
The convener, Alao-Akala, gave an insight into the agenda of the meeting before reporters were asked to leave the venue.
He enjoined those in attendance to be frank in their contributions and advise on the crisis within the party.
According to him, politics is all about conflict resolution, saying however that the crisis should not be allowed to lead to the party’s disintegration.
He said:” Before now, the party has been through one crisis or the other with its crisis resolution mechanism proving equal to the task but what we have in our hands now seems to be of frightening proportion. Yet, I share the hope that the President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, in the same vein, former President Olusegun Obasanjo and former military President Ibrahim Babangida, among other national leaders of the party, would be able to address issues and reconcile the warring parties. I equally have implicit confidence in the reconciliation efforts of the BOT chairman of our party, Chief Tony Anenih in reconciling the warring factions in the spirit of give and take.
“The purpose of this meeting is to review factors which underline the crisis, brainstorm on options available to us and proffer solution for arresting the slide. Today we are going to look at all options available to us for the restoration of our party.”
Among other PDP leaders at the meeting were former Oyo SSG, Chief Olayiwola Olakojo, former Agriculture and Natural Resources Commissioner, Kunle Kolapo Ishola, former Speaker, Asimiyu Alarape and Princess Christiana Babalola.
However, it was observed that other notable PDP leaders in the state, including Senator Lekan Balogun, former Senate Leader, Teslim Folarin, former Deputy Governors, Hazeem Gbolarunmi and Taofeek Arapaja, among others, were absent without any reason given for this.
They rose from the meeting demanding two substantive ministerial positions for the state in view of the support that Jonathan got in the 2011 elections which they said was the best in the South-West.
In a communique by 43 elders of the party, the group also said it appreciated the effort of President Jonathan to implement the transformation agenda for the development and progress of the country.
The PDP members also declared their readiness to stand with Jonathan in the face of the on-going crisis confronting the ruling party and also demanding better recognition after supporting him in 2011 elections.
The communique read in part: “That we in Oyo State PDP stand up to be counted as loyal to President Jonathan and we fully support and wish him success in his efforts to bring amicable resolution of the current misunderstanding with PDP at the national level.
“Regarding Oyo PDP, a renewed effort be made by leaders to bring reconciliation through the process of harmonisation which will facilitate and reflect sense of belonging by various interest groups within he party.”