PDP’s frantic search for peace

The crisis-ridden Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is thirsty for unity. But the reconciliatory moves by the party elders have not restored harmony. Assistant Editor AUGUSTINE AVWODE reports.

For the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), this is a trying period. Unity and peace have been elusive. Since the dramatic split of the party in Abuja, efforts to ‘heal’ the wound have not succeeded. The wound continues to fester. Will the party pull through or will it go under? Either way, the situation in the PDP is terrifying. The elders of the party have been busy in their efforts to find a way out of the self-inflicted crises. At the risk of seeing the party they had toiled so hard to build crashing into smithereens, some of the influential party leaders intervened in the hope of reversing its predictable march to the precipice.

Peace moves

PDP, which has been battling with discontent and sundry grievances within its ranks, set up a 30-man National Reconciliation Committee in July. Headed by Bayelsa State Governor Seriake Dickson, it was saddled with the onerous task of “harmonising all interests and to achieve genuine reconciliation across board”. Setting up of the committee was the most unambiguous admission that the party was in dire need of unity and peace. The National Chairman, Alhaji Bamabaga Tukur, rode into the office with a promise to reconcile all the warring factions and reposition the party for the challenges of the 2015 general elections.

But his reconciliation efforts failed to yield the desired result. The Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Chief Tony Anenih, later took it upon himself to try his luck at reconciling the various opposing interest groups. Although he got some applause, it was obviously not far reaching. Hence, the need for the Governor Dickson Committee. After the initial opposition by a section of the party, the committee was accepted

But, in a twist of irony, the committee was yet to finish its job, when a revolt occurred at the party’s Special Convention in Abuja last month. Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar led seven governors of the party, chieftains and other stakeholders to form a faction.

The magnitude and complexity of the problem facing the party forced former President Olusegun Obasanjo to lead other top leaders of the party, which include former Head of State General Ibrahim Babangida, Anenih, former chairmen Col. Ahmadu Ali and Chief Barnabas Gemade, to embark on a peacemaking venture.

Conspiracy theory

The leaders’ spirited efforts to bring reconciliation may fail. This is because of a conspiracy theory being spawned by a section of the party. Those behind it believe that the crisis was carefully scripted and handed over to the dissenting G5 governors to execute. A chieftain of the party from the Southsouth told The Nation on condition of anonymity, that the 2015 presidential ticket is the major cause of the crisis. He doubted if Obasanjo and his group would be able to record any breakthrough now that it has been understood by the main party that the factional PDP wantedTukur out to get the ticket for the North.

“The understanding, from this side, is that they are only particular about the 2015 ticket. And we also think that they have already convinced the man who is leading the reconciliation team. To us, they are simply working from the answer to the question. I can tell you categorigally that if the President says today that the will not run in 2015, whether Tukur leaves or not, there will be peace and not just peace in the party, the insurgency in some parts of the North will also abate;” he said.

Reminded that the crisis rocking the party is multifarious, the source maintained that they all have the same goal and objective, which is that power must return to the North.

“It doesn’t matter, all the problems you are talking about have the same objective – return power to the North. And this is the reason why I think Obasanjo will be the last person to be able to bring peace and true reconciliation to the party.

“Look at who is who in the team. only Anenih could be said to be on this side, but even then, you heard his comments. He was obviously overwhelmed in the discussion that he could come out to admit that there was some truth in the agitation by the revolting governors.

“Did they not boast before that ‘they will help to kill the PDP and bury it?’ So, these things that are playing out today had been well scripted out. Imagine the President calling a meeting of the party’s stakeholders with the intention of presenting a mid-term report. The same Obasanjo shunned it and went to Jigawa to sing the praises of the governor to high heavens.”

Political scientist and Executive Secretary of “Never Again,” Mallam Moyo Jaji, described Obasanjo’s efforts as mere “grandstanding”. He argued that the former president is an interested party. “I think what former President Obasanjo is doing is mere grandstanding. He was one of those the governors visited when they were touring the country, probably telling them their plans. So, I can say he is privy to all these developments in the party. He cannot be an arbiter in a matter in which he is an interested party.

“He is known to be the promoter of the Lamido/Amaechi ticket. Look at the conditions given to President Jonathan. they are unacceptable. As for me, I cannot accept them and I can say nobody will accept them.

“The problems that the party is facing are fundamental. They are not the type of things you just paper over. It won’t work. Take the issue of the gentleman’s agreement, that Jonathan entered into with some leaders of the party and reportedly announced it overseas when he travelled that he would do only one term. But then, we also know that he has been cleared already by the court and the Constitution also permits him. So, they are fundamental issues. To me, I can tell you that PDP is dead. We are seeing the end of the party. As they say, the party is as dead as dodo,” he said.

Obasanjo’s first meeting with the warring factions, it would be recalled, was put off ostensibly because of the perception that he is part of the problem.

No retreat, no surrender

Notwithstanding the efforts being made by elders of the party, the two groups; the main PDP and the factional PDP, are consolidating their positions. Three cases have been instituted in various courts across the country in respect of the matter. While the main stream PDP is frantically trying to whip the Alhaji Kawu Baraje’s faction into line, the ‘New’ PDP, is doing everything possible to legalise its status, including asking the court to remove Tukur.

As a show of its determination, the group went ahead to hire a building in Abuja as its headquarters. But in a counter move, the place was sealed up on Saturday by security forces.

The conditions given by the Baraje-led faction include Tukur’s resignation as chairman of the party, the need for Jonathan to forget seeking re-election in 2015, the resolution of the crisis plaguing the Nigeria Governors (NGF) and an end to the harassment of governors by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

On the other hand, the Tukur group implored the elders to stop the Baraje faction and the rest to desist from parading themselves as a 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.

With the sealing off of the office of the Baraje group, it has further put a dent on the peace moves by the elders of the party.

Refelecting on the crisis buffeting PDP, Chairman of the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), Dr Tanko Yinusa told The Nation that crises in all parties in the country would be greatly reduced if the parties adhere strictly to their internal rules and regulations.

“As a body that is responsible to all political parties in the country, I can only advised us to adhere to our internal rules and regulation and help in minimising conflicts of this nature”, he said.

As for the PDP, it is a make or mar momenent. If the on-going peace initiative fails, the PDP may be stoking the fire that could consume it.

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