The Chairman of the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Tony Anenih, has called on President Goodluck Jonathan to declare his candidacy for the 2015 presidential election, latest by the end of September or first week of October.
Anenih made the appeal yesterday morning at the post-convention dinner of the party held at the banquet hall of the Presidential Villa.
Earlier, the president, at the same event, had described the intractable crisis rocking the party as minor disagreements that would soon be overcome by concerted reconciliation efforts that are already in the pipeline.
Anenih said clarity on the president’s intention was necessary to give the party a proper direction and set the agenda straight as the party, for the first time, has embarked on discussing its future.
“It is no longer right to say the time is not right,” Anenih told PDP leaders at the dinner also attended by governors believed to be loyal to the president.
“It is good that we tell our people where we are going to, what our journey will be like,” he said in reference to Jonathan’s 2015 ambition.
Jonathan has repeatedly said he would rather focus on governance and would not state his position on 2015 yet, although many of his aides have begun drumming up support for him.
Besides, the president’s planned re-election bid is believed to be the major factor that has split the PDP into two factions.
The dinner, which started Sunday night, but spilled into the early hours of yesterday, had earlier been scheduled to hold immediately after the special convention of the party, but was overtaken by the split in the party.
In an apparent reference to the current reconciliation efforts, Anenih said the task ahead was enormous, adding, “We must be seen as a team not as a group.”
He assured the audience present that despite its problems, the party would settle all disputes, noting, “We will not fire any shot but we will win the war.”
Anenih, who alongside other leaders, including former President Olusegun Obasanjo, has been trying to resolve the crisis, said the party “will not recognise opposition within PDP.”
“We will work together as a team so that by 2015, we will come here again to shake hands.
“We stand for unity and discipline. Nobody will be spared if he is indisciplined. We will do everything to bring everybody together,” he said.
In his speech, Jonathan said despite some disagreements within the party, it had remained intact. Expressing satisfaction with the turnout of guests, including former chairmen and other party chieftains, the president described those with grievances as minor, saying all would be resolved.
He declared that the dinner was a fulfillment of his commitment to create more opportunities for periodic meetings for interaction among party members at all levels.
The president assured the newly elected National Working Committee (NWC) members of the party of his support and reiterated the need to work as a team.
“In any human institution there must be disagreements. What happened (the factional PDP) is a minor disagreement that can be solved,” he said while thanking elders and governors of the party that have been making efforts to resolve the crisis.
The president said the PDP had the support of Nigerians and nobody wanted to see it disintegrate.
“Even ordinary Nigerians believe PDP must remain one because this is the only party that can continue to give leadership. Even those that are aggrieved call themselves the New PDP meaning they know without PDP they are nothing.
“PDP is intact, that we have some disagreements which is normal. PDP is intact and will remain intact. We will make sure that the party remains one, those who left will rejoin us.
“It is only PDP that has not changed name or form. We will do out best to keep PDP one, to keep Nigeria one,” the president promised.
Also speaking at the event, the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Chief Godswill Akpabio, described the current crisis rocking the ruling party as a storm in a teacup, which would soon be resolved.
He added that the party would not break up during the administration of President Jonathan.
Akpabio, who is also the Chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum, affirmed the support and loyalty of his fellow PDP governors to the president and the party, saying the party would not shut its door against anyone but would not stop anyone who wished to defect to another party.
According to Akpabio, “We just want to inform you that there is no faction in the PDP. What you are witnessing today is just a storm in a tea cup and I know that you don’t want to push the tea cup; instead you want to pull the tea cup and that is why you are embarking on the process of reconciliation.
“We want to assure you that there is no shaking as far as the PDP is concerned. If you look at the hall here, you will see that there are 17 PDP governors. How many are we? We are 23, so if you have four or five PDP governors who are not here, that does not mean that their supporters are behind them.
“If there is anybody who wishes to go to any political party, he is free to do so. I think this is the only political party that admits people who have gone and come back. We took statistics and we found out that sometimes it is good you step out there, gain experience, come back and become the national chairman of the party.
“Not all the PDP governors are aggrieved, and if there is anybody that is aggrieved, the president has set up a robust committee to ensure reconciliation. We are all solidly behind you and behind the party and very interested in receiving our colleagues back.”
The governors present at the dinner were Theodore Orji (Abia), Akpabio, Seriake Dickson (Bayelsa), Isa Yuguda (Bauchi), Gabriel Suswam (Benue), Liyel Imoke (Cross River), Emmanuel Uduaghan (Delta), Ibrahim Dankwambo (Gombe), Ibrahim Shema (Katsina), (Umar Garba (acting Governor, Taraba), Usman Dakingari (Kebbi), Sullivan Chime (Enugu), Martin Elechi (Ebonyi), Jonah Jang (Plateau) and Idris Wada (Kogi).
Others present were the Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, former national party chairmen, former members of the National Assembly and former governors.
Those who were conspicuously absent included former President Obasanjo, former military President Ibrahim Babangida, Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, the Governors Chibuike Amaechi (Rivers), Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano), Sule Lamido (Jigawa), Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto), Murtala Nyako (Adamawa) and Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara).
But contrary to the peace overtures made at the post-convention dinner, THISDAY learnt yesterday that the ruling party may order the dissolution of its executive committees in the four states of Jigawa, Kano, Sokoto, and Kwara, whose governors broke away from the PDP.
The Rivers and Adamawa State chapters of the PDP have already been hijacked from Amaechi and Nyako respectively.
The decision to dissolve the executive committees in the four states is part of the recommendation of the report of the three strategic committees – Legal, Political and Contact – set up by the president on the crisis rocking the PDP.
It was gathered that the decision to wrest control of the party structures in the four states effectively means that the reconciliation efforts had failed and that today’s meeting to consider the report of the PDP Elders Committee headed by Obasanjo was a mere formality.
According to a top source that gave details of the Political Committee, which had been tinkering with a carrot and stick approach, the committee has now opted for a full blown action plan, which has recommended the dissolution of the state executive committees of the four “renegade” states.
THISDAY gathered that other measures recommended by the committee included x-raying the activities of the disloyal members in the four states and possible expulsion of some of the indicted party members.
It was learnt that the Political Committee believes that the chieftains of the PDP in the four states have not been amenable to the peaceful disposition of Jonathan all along.
Their actions amount to taking the president for granted, explained a source in the presidency.
Accordingly, he said action needed to be taken after identifying those stoking the fire.
The report of the Political Committee arrived at the conclusion that the singular aim behind the grievances of the aggrieved G7 governors is the 2015 presidential race and how to stop Jonathan from the race.
Source: This Day Newspaper