by Akan Ido
The peace meeting organised yesterday by a select group of the Peoples Democratic Party elders to look for a lasting solution to the crisis bedevilling the party is yet to make a breakthrough.
Reports say both factions of the party, the Bamanga Tukur group and that of Kawu Baraje stuck to their guns and refused to shift base in separate meeting presided by former president Olusegun Obasanjo and attended by other elders of the party including former president Ibrahim Babangida; Chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT), Chief Tony Anenih; and former national chairmen of the party – Dr. Ahmadu Ali and Chief Barnabas Gemade.
The meeting took place yesterday regardless of rumours going around suggesting that president Goodluck Jonathan who was in Nairobi on a state visit to Kenya attempted to pull the plug on it following intelligence reports that Obasanjo was the brain behind the lingering crisis in the party.
Tukur was said to have been adamant in his position saying that he came into office to carry out a reconciliation process in the party, a project still very much on course.
He said the party leadership id doing all it can to carry all the members along regardless of what the Kawu Baraaje faction might claim.
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A top source said: “The faction took exception to the factionalization of the PDP by Baraje and seven governors in spite of many interventions in the last two months by President Goodluck Jonathan.
“To move forward, Bamanga asked the elders to prevail on Baraje and the rest to desist from parading themselves as the parallel PDP National Working Committee; subject themselves to the constitution of PDP; and allow the party leadership to resolve all issues raised by the governors.
Another source said: “The Baraje faction insisted on its four-point demand bordering on the removal of Tukur, the need for Jonathan to forget seeking re-election in 2015, the resolution of the Nigeria Governors Forum crisis and the stoppage of harassment of governors by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
“The Baraje group said its demands were not negotiable although the elders only took note of their complaints.
“It is left to the elders to harmonize these issues tabled before them and find solutions.”
Continuing, the source said: “So far, the elders have not apportioned blame, but they allowed each group to lay its cards on the table. I think there is progress somehow in view of the fact that many party leaders had assumed that the peace talks would not take place.”
President Jonathan had reportedly told party elders to shun the meeting on the strength of intelligence report that Obasanjo was behind the crises which got to a head last Saturday after Baraje,former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and seven governors walked out of the party’s Special Convention in Abuja and proceeded to form a parallel national executive committee.
President Jonathan himself was in Kenya on a state visit yesterday when the peace meeting got underway at the Kaduna Hall on Floor 01 of Transcorp Hilton Hotel,Abuja.
Two members of the peace panel, ex-Vice-President Alex Ekwueme and the pioneer National Chairman of the PDP, Chief Solomon Lar, were absent.
They were said to be abroad and could not make it to the closed-door session.
To avoid physical confrontation by the antagonisits, the peace team met separately with the two factions for more than two hours.
The session with the factions in the PDP ended at about 2.43pm.
Those at the meeting from the Bamanga Tukur faction were Tukur; some NWC members, Governors Liyel Imoke, Ibrahim Shema, Godswill Akpabio, Isa Yuguda, Emmanuel Uduagan, Seriake Dickson, Jonah Jang, Theodore Orji and Idris Wada, while the other faction was represented by Baraje; the Deputy National Chairman, Sam Jaja; ex-Governor Bukola Saraki; factional National Secretary of the PDP, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola; Governors Rotimi Amaechi; Sule Lamido and Aliyu Wammako.
Obasanjo spoke to reporters briefly at the end of the meeting and said the elders’ intervention was necessary to save the PDP from brinkmanship.
He said: “You have seen five of us as select elders of the party. We have taken it upon ourselves to prevent the worst from happening to our dear party.
”Two of our members are abroad and could not join us. They are Solomon Lar and Alex Ekwueme, and we are carrying them along.
“Whatever the reports we are making, suffice it to say that it is family dispute within the PDP, which we want to stem the tide of going to the brink.
“And I want to say that we have met with the two sides of the family. We have listened to them, and, of course, we are going to put our heads together and go on from there.”
A member of the Nigerian Senators’ Forum, Chief Yisa Braimoh, at a separate forum yesterday warned Ijaw leader, Chief Edwin Clark, to desist from attacking Chief Anenih and his efforts at resolving the crisis rocking the party.
Clark as well as a one-time Senate President, Senator Ameh Ebute; former Minister of Police Affairs, General David Jemibewon; and former Chairman of Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), General Ibrahim Haruna had under the aegis of the Congress for Equality attacked Anenih for admitting that some of “the aggrieved PDP governors had genuine grievances.”
They also faulted Anenih for saying that the grievances of the G-7 governors should be addressed to enable the party come out stronger from the “minor” crisis.
They had declared in a statement at the end of their meeting in Abuja on Thursday that: “Chief Tony Anenih should distance himself from the demands of these so-called ‘aggrieved governors’ and join Tukur to work for the party in truth and spirit.”
But Senator Braimoh, who represented Edo North Senatorial District from 2007 to 2011 on the PDP platform, yesterday cautioned Clark and others.
He said: “While the position taken by Chief Tony Anenih as Chairman of the BoT of the PDP is statesmanlike and helpful to the process of finding solutions to the crisis, the attitude of Chief Edwin Clark and his friends in the Congress for Equality only helps to worsen the crisis. They should, therefore, emulate Chief Anenih.
“It is sardonic that while elders of the PDP should spare no effort to put an end to the lingering crisis threatening our party, Chief Clark and his friends who should be voices of moderation are the ones stoking the fire and choosing to be part of the problem rather than the solution. It is, indeed, pathetically sad that they are unconscionably widening the gulf between contending parties.
“They should have known, if they were not being mischievous, that as chairman of the Board of Trustees, Chief Anenih, is expected to play the role of an impartial arbiter, which does not admit of dissembling. This is what he has appropriately done in the circumstance. His attitude does not detract from his commitment to the unity of the party and the re-election of President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015.”