The Chairman, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Board of Trustees (BoT), Chief Tony Anenih, yesterday sued for peace in the raging crisis in the party that reached a head last Saturday with the emergence of a splinter group, known as New PDP.
Anenih, in a statement in Abuja, urged all the combatants in the crisis, including PDP National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, and his counterpart in the splinter group, Alhaji Kawu Baraje, to avoid making provocative statements that could jeopardise efforts by the party’s leaders and elders to mend the cracks in the PDP.
But as he was suing for peace, Anenih came under fire from a group whose membership includes Ijaw leader, Chief Edwin Clark, a former Chairman of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), General I.B. Haruna (rtd) and a former Minister of Police Affairs, General David Jemibewon (rtd), which admonished him for being sympathetic to the seven governors of the party, who along with former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, formed the New PDP.
Anenih’s statement was issued against the backdrop of the drums of war being beaten by members of the New PDP and those in the party.
Only on Wednesday, Tukur had declared Atiku and others impostors, just as he threatened to initiate the process for the recall of members of the National Assembly who had crossed over to the faction.
Baraje, in a riposte, had described Tukur as a joker who is ignorant about party politics.
The splinter group has also threatened to ask the court to commit Tukur to jail for contempt, in an apparent counter-move to a suit filed before the Federal High Court in Abuja by the party seeking the committal of Baraje, his deputy, Dr. Sam Jaja, and the New PDP National Secretary, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, to prison for the same offence.
Besides, the Osun State chapter of the PDP has threatened to suspend Oyinlola for his role in the factionalisation of the party.
However, Anenih warned in his statement entitled “A Call for Caution”, that the inflammatory statements and recriminations going on could endanger the peace process that the PDP leaders have activated.
He added that making pre-emptive statements amid the reconciliation process was disrespectful to President Goodluck Jonathan and the PDP leadership at whose instance the reconciliation efforts were being made.
He said: “Following the walkout staged by some aggrieved members of our great party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), at the special convention of 31st August, 2013, there have been genuine efforts by the leadership of the party, including the president himself, to reach out and reconcile with the aggrieved members, using the numerous mechanisms for conflict resolution that exist in the party.
“A series of meetings have been held and more are scheduled to hold in the next few days.
“It is unfortunate that while the reconciliation efforts are being made, some of our members are making inflammatory statements, intimidating one another and issuing threats of court actions. Such actions do nothing but harm the efforts at reconciliation.
“Like a good family, we must avoid open confrontation and allow the leadership of the party to effect genuine reconciliation.
“Conflict is not new to the PDP and, as in the past, I am confident that, in spite of the differences, the current one will be resolved, with the party coming out even stronger and more united than ever.
“To make pre-emptive statements while the process of reconciliation is still ongoing is disrespectful not only to the president but also to the party leadership. Such statements undermine the party and the enormous efforts being made under the transformation agenda of Mr. President.
“I therefore call on all members of our great party to exercise restraint throughout this trying period.”
Yesterday’s statement was a follow-up to that of Tuesday in which he explained that the seven governors had genuine grievances that triggered their exit from the special convention and the party would strive to address them to bring about reconciliation in its fold.
He also shed light on why the peace talks with the aggrieved PDP governors that began Sunday night and ended Monday morning could not continue as earlier scheduled.
He said the aggrieved governors had sought for more time to consult widely and as part of the wider consultations, former President Olusegun Obasanjo would today meet with some party leaders on the way forward.
However, reacting yesterday to Anenih’s statement that the aggrieved governors had genuine grievances that the party would address, Clark and his group, in a statement by a former Senate President, Ameh Ebute, called on the BoT chair to disassociate himself from the aggrieved governors.
The group, which met under the aegis of the Centre for Equality and Change, in Abuja, frowned on Anenih’s statement.
“We are at a loss what grievances these governors have. It is obvious that they want Mr. President out mainly because they feel he has taken the turn of a majority ethnic group to govern.
“We urge the Chairman of BoT, Chief Tony Anenih, to remember to tell the so-called aggrieved governors that they owe Nigerians and indeed Mr. President an apology for the way and manner they behaved during the PDP convention.
“Finally, Chief Tony Anenih should distance himself from the demands of these so-called ‘aggrieved governors’ and join Alhaji Bamanga Tukur to work for the party in truth and spirit,” the statement said.
At another forum yesterday in Abuja, Tukur urged Atiku and his associates in the New PDP to come back to the party otherwise the PDP train would move without them.
“This is something that can always happen in a family, but whatever happens should be resolved within the house, not outside,” he added in his speech at the party’s national seminar for women and youth leaders.
He described Atiku and others as prodigal sons, saying the party was ready to accept them back if they were desirous of retracing their steps.
“A prodigal son can be accepted back, because the PDP will not disown its sons and daughters; but of course you will have to face consequences of taking a wrong step,” he said.
In her speech, the PDP National Women Leader, Dr. Kema Chikwe, described the action of the New PDP as unreasonable, saying, “The party is facing some challenges due to the quest for power from morbid unreasonable members.”
Meanwhile, Baraje has said the New PDP has asked its lawyers to press a contempt charge against Tukur for flouting the orders of a Lagos High Court that asked both sides to maintain the status quo pending the determination of the case before it on who should lead the party.
The splinter group, in a statement yesterday by Oyinlola, condemned Wednesday’s press conference addressed by Tukur in Abuja in which he threatened to sack members of the National Assembly that had identified with the faction.
“We have asked our lawyers to press contempt charges against Tukur because his statement was made in clear contempt of the orders of the Lagos High Court which three days ago asked both sides to maintain the status quo. We will ask the court to commit him to jail for his disdain for the law and the judicial system.
“We have always been saying it that Tukur represents everything that must not be seen in a democratic organisation. His statements demonstrate not just impunity but also lawlessness and crass ignorance of the tenets of the law and democratic ethos.
“Again, we believe only an ignorant person would threaten to sack elected senators and representatives for staying on the side of truth, justice and fairness.
“Tukur needs to be reminded that members of the National Assembly were elected by the people of Nigeria and are not his appointees who he can dismiss like the minions in his private residence.
“He called the Alhaji Baraje-led leadership of our party impostors and we ask him if he does not know that the endorsement of our cause by elected representatives of our people across all tiers of government has vindicated our position that what we represent in the party today is what the people want.
“We challenge him to call out those who are with him in his clear journey to perdition, even as we add that Tukur should come to terms with the reality of the end of his reign of terror, impunity, dictatorship and lawlessness in our party,” it said.
Oyinlola is however being threatened with sanctions by the Osun State chapter of the PDP, which is not happy with his role in the crisis rocking the party.
The party, at the end of its stakeholders’ meeting yesterday in Osogbo, said it had started moves to discipline Oyinlola for his alleged involvement in what it described as anti-party activities.
A former deputy national chairman of the party, Alhaji Shuaib Oyedokun, told reporters at the end of the meeting that the party would ensure that the former governor of the state is disciplined for allegedly contravening the constitution of the party.
According to him, a crucial meeting of the party has been called in Odo-Otin Local Government Area, where Oyinlola hails from, to address his involvement in the crisis.
The party, in a communiqué issued at the end of the meeting, decried Oyinlola’s action, noting that the PDP in Osun State was solidly behind the Tukur-led NEC of the party and would ensure victory for Jonathan in 2015.
In a related development, THISDAY has gathered that the PDP registration certificate that was thought to be missing is actually in Obasanjo’s custody.
A source said the former president came in possession of the certificate after he had forced the party’s national chairman at the time, Chief Audu Ogbeh, out of office.
He took over the certificate as the leader of the party and subsequently held on to it as the BoT chairman of the party, a position that constitutionally entrusts the occupant with the custody of PDP’s property.
Since his resignation as BoT chairman in April 2012, Obasanjo has not attended any BoT meeting that would have allowed him to hand over the certificate to his successor, Anenih.
In the meantime, Kano State Governor, Alhaji Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso has explained why he and six of his colleagues came together to form the splinter group, saying the PDP leadership lacks the tenets of justice and fairness.
The governor said the party’s leadership was presently tilted to serve the interests of a few selected individuals within the party against the yawning aspirations of millions of ordinary Nigerians.
Kwankwaso said this is the right time to bring about change and reform in the party so that it can serve the interest of the masses.
He said the Group of Seven Governors (G7), which was determined to bring about change, after realising the weaknesses and lopsidedness in the party, decided they had had enough and moved to rescue it.
Kwankwaso told stakeholders of the PDP in Kano Government House yesterday that the party’s leadership had subjected other party faithful to various forms of intimidation.
He accused the Tukur-led PDP of disregarding the constitution and manifesto of the PDP, “having realised the weaknesses of the party, we decided to rescue it and make it a better party.”
Kwankwaso listed the grouse of the G7 to include the crises in the Rivers and Adamawa PDP, and the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF).
He said even in Kano, since 2010, “We have been drawing the attention of PDP national headquarters to Kano, especially in the area of appointments, but to no avail,” adding that party politics is about interests and upholding the virtues of internal democracy.
According to him, the G7 has concluded plans to make PDP a better party, pointing out that the birth of the New PDP was a good omen to millions of party members, particularly those at the grassroots level.
“Therefore, we are calling on our party at the national headquarters to do the right thing, we cannot fold our arms to witness the drifting of leadership in our great party,” stressing that it was because of the undemocratic antics of the Tukur-led PDP that compelled the G7 to converge on the Musa Yar’Adua Centre in Abuja where they elected “the authentic party executives led by Kawu Baraje.”
“We want to ensure that there is justice and equity in the party. This is the right time to bring the necessary changes and reforms to ensure the success of the party. You have to come out and defend justice and fairplay. Kano has been at the forefront of the political revolution in the country. Go back to your constituencies and sensitise the people on what is happening,” the governor said.
In his comments during the stakeholders’ meeting, the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Hon. Gambo Sallau, commended Kwankwaso for carrying stakeholders and party elders along, and pledged the loyalty of the PDP caucus in the state assembly to the new PDP