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Published On: Mon, Sep 2nd, 2013

PDP Crisis: Jonathan to Reconsider 2015 Ambition

President Goodluck Jonathan

LAGOS SEPTEMBER 2ND (URHOBOTODAY)-Following the dramatic split in the ranks of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at its mini-national convention in Abuja, on Saturday, there are indications that President Goodluck Jonathan may finally jettison his ambition to contest the Presidency in 2015.
After months of debilitating internal wrangling, the special convention held at the Eagle Square, Abuja, amid tight security eventually provided the needed impetus for the emergence of a splinter group led by former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar.
The splinter group, which calls itself the “New PDP,” also has as promoters the seven state Governors who had been fingered as being the brains behind the formation of the newly registered Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM).
They include Governors
Sule Lamido (Jigawa), Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano),
Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), Mua’zu Babangida Aliyu (Niger), Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto), AbdulFatah Ahmed (Kwara) and Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers).
The group which later met at the Yar’Adua Centre, Abuja, appointed former Acting National Chairman of the PDP, Abubakar Kawu Baraje, chairman and former Governor of Osun State, who was also former Secretary of the PDP, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, as Secretary-General.
Though Jonathan went on to say after the splinter group had pulled out that PDP remains the only hope for Nigerians, a Presidency source who spoke to Daily Independent on Sunday said he was rattled by the suddenness of split and has summoned trusted members of his kitchen cabinet to deliberate on the implication of the development on his yet to be announced ambition to re-contest the Presidential election in 2015.
The source who pleaded anonymity said, “To say the President was rattled is an understatement. The split hit him hard because none of us in the Presidency saw it coming. We thought we had papered over the cracks in the last two weeks before the convention.
“So, it was a huge embarrassment to see the dramatic way the coup was pulled off. What is more painful is that most of those behind the brazen attempt to ruin the party were people who came in recent times to personally pledge loyalty to Mr. President.”
The source said because of that, the President does not know who to trust again.
“He has summoned what I will call a ‘war council’ meeting to chart a way forward on his ambition. The thinking right now is that unless he gets assurance that he will not be further humiliated at the polls, he will not contest.
“He has the good luck that he has not publicly announced his intention to contest and like former President Olusegun Obasanjo did when his third term ambition collapsed, he can always claim that he never nursed any ambition to contest the Presidential election in 2015,” the source added.
Meanwhile, facts emerged on Sunday why the splinter group decided to still remain in the PDP rather than declaring for PDM or any of the opposition parties.
One of the rebel Governors who spoke to Daily Independent from Abuja on Sunday said, “Pulling out of PDP at this stage would be a strategic blunder.”
“If we leave, the rump of the party can quickly rally round and fight back. The idea is to stay behind and fight so that the party will be further weakened so that by the time we finally leave, what is left of the PDP and its leadership will no longer have the capacity for further mischief.
“Part of the strategy is to get the states whose delegates were disqualified to challenge the outcome of the mini-convention in court and seek annulment.
“The plan is to get favourable judgement which may bar the PDP from even presenting a Presidential candidate in 2015. It is possible and this can only be done from within PDP, not outside. When you join another party, you no longer have a locus for such litigation.
“Secondly, we now have the majority in the National Assembly and we don’t want any distraction by people calling for their resignation before joining a new party. When the time comes, we will move and Nigerians will know that something fundamental has happened. The idea for now is to redefine PDP.
“We are redefining the party for now, not abandoning it. When the time for abandonment comes, Nigerians will know,” the source added.
Also, the Presidency is said to be surprised at the level of secrecy that surrounded the split, which was noted to be a carefully thought out approach.
For instance, according to our source, major players in the plot like Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, were said to have stayed away from all the meetings of the group to ensure that security people didn’t pick any trail.
However, contrary to views held by many, indications emerged on Sunday that the walk-out was not predetermined but a spontaneous move.
Daily Independent learnt that the origibal plan was for the aggrieved states and their Governors to sue the party after the convention.
“But the dumping of Nyako’s list of delegates for Tukur’s was the last straw. Nyako was the first to walk out on the convention.
“If what happened was planned in advance and it leaked, knowing the character of the Jonathan administration, security agents would have been used to frustrate the meeting by sealing off any venue earmarked for it and it wouldn’t have been tidy to use a Governor’s lodge.
“When we agreed to address the press, the idea was to take the shine off the ‘Old PDP’ convention. With what is in the newspapers today (Sunday), I think that goal was achieved,” said the Governor.
Meanwhile President Olusegun Obasanjo on Sunday met behind closed doors with President Goodluck Jonathan at the State House, Abuja.
The meeting held just a day after a major split in the PDP in the aftermath of the party’s special convention at which Obasanjo was conspicuously absent.
Before the crucial parley, Obasanjo had joined Jonathan and his wife, Patience, for Sunday worship at the Aso Villa Chapel.
They were also joined by visiting President of Benin Republic, Boni Yayi.
After the service, they visited the Children’s Church from where the Chief of Staff to the President, Mike Oghiadome, joined them to the President’s residence for lunch.
Although presidential spokesman, Reuben Abati, only disclosed that Jonathan and Obasanjo had lunch, the issue of the split in PDP is believed to have been the kernel of discussion.
Obasanjo’s deputy while he was President, Atiku Abubakar, had in the middle of the convention at Eagle Square, led six Northern governors and Rivers State governor, Rotimi Amaechi, on a walk-out to form a “parallel” PDP National Executive Committee.
Source: Daily Independent

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