DESPITE the ongoing peace talks within the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), the splinter group is nursing its grievances and it is not ready to give up its stance soon.
This indication emerged as supporters of both PDP’s groups in the House of Representatives clashed Tuesday.
The crisis broke out when members of the Bamanga Tukur-led faction stormed the venue of a meeting and disrupted an address by the splinter group leader, Alhaji Kawu Baraje.
Baraje was accompanied by seven governors of the group, including Babangida Aliyu (Niger), Sule Lamido (Jigawa), Musa Kwankwaso (Kano), Aliyu Magatakarda Wammakko (Sokoto), Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers), Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara) and Murtala Nyako (Adamawa).
On another occasion, the Baraje’s group with its governors restated the reasons it is at loggerheads with the Presidency.
During its meeting with Senate President David Mark, the Baraje’s group listed some of the grievances of the group.
“As important stakeholders of our great party, I am sure you will agree with me that the party has in recent years started declining in its democratic image. This is mainly due to lack of internal democracy as a result of undue interference of the Presidency, especially as it concerns the election of party national officers which has affected the quality and style of leadership that now takes pride in illegal dissolution of state party structures and other acts of impunity.
“Mr. President of the Senate, it is important to report to you that most of these grievances have been reported to the former National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur and His Excellency, President Goodluck Jonathan.”
Baraje continued: “These issues include the crisis of Rivers State PDP, the suspension of his Excellency, the chairman of Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Rotimi Amaechi from the party, the unconstitutional dissolution of Adamawa State Executive Committee of the party and the exclusion of important stakeholders from the running of the party and the government.”
But Mark warned the group against causing more harm to the already troubled party. He said: “Even if you have a knife in my head, I will stand for justice, fairness and equity.”
Mark urged the warring groups to come together and uphold a strong and united party.
“I will remain in PDP. I will not allow this House to fall on anybody. Dialogue will always bring progress. There is need for this dialogue and meeting for us to exchange ideas. My prayer is to have a united National Assembly and that this unity should show on the floor of each chamber.
“I have not declared anybody’s seat vacant and I will not declare any seat vacant. I will support fairness, justice and equity. Whatever happens, we should remain one PDP. And we should not pour fuel when there is fire burning. We all admit that there are problems but we should be out to solve them,” he added.
The Speaker, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, had during the plenary session announced the scheduled meeting on the floor. But when Baraje arrived at Room 0.28 Hall to brief the House leadership and the 108 members who have aligned with what the faction was doing, the session was disrupted amidst chant of “Bamanga Tukur, Bamanga Tukur, Bamanga Tukur” by a group led by Henry Ofongo (PDP Bayelsa).
Baraje’s speech was subdued as the group continued shouting at the top of their voices and clapping of hands, a development which rendered the venue of the meeting rowdy with members of both factions exchanging invectives to the chagrin of all present, including reporters.
It got to a point during the session where the pro-Baraje lawmakers, like Dakuku Peterside and Bashir Baballe, were poised to trade punches with the pro-Tukur lawmakers that included Kingsley Chinda.
Apparently piqued by the development, Tambuwal enjoined the warring parties to put aside their differences in the interest of the country’s democracy.
Expressing concern about the crisis in the PDP, he said: “I wish to caution also that Nigerians need a peaceful atmosphere to conduct their lives and business endeavours. I make bold to say that with allowable margin of error, card-carrying members of political parties contribute not more than 25 per cent of the population of this great country.
“We must therefore abstain from heating up the polity; we must not take the rest of Nigerians for granted; we must not over-reach our goodwill; we must not over-task the patience of Nigerians.”
Mr. Andrew Uchendu, who later addressed journalists on behalf the 108 pro-Baraje lawmakers in the House, expressed concern over what he termed “the reign of impunity, lack of tolerance and lawlessness” unleashed by the pro-Tukur group that attempted to disrupt the parley.
Uchendu, who acknowledged that talks were ongoing among the warring parties in the PDP, wondered why the pro-Tukur group couldn’t exemplify the spirit of tolerance and negotiation in line with the tenets of democracy.
Meanwhile, hearing on the suit filed before an Ikeja High Court, Lagos, by the Baraje-led faction was yesterday stalled following the re-assignment of the matter to a new judge, Justice Oludotun Adefope-Okojie.
The faction is praying the court to stop Tukur and other officials of the party from parading themselves as national officers of the group pending the determination of the case.
Before the re-assignment of the case file to a new judge by the Chief Judge, Justice Ayotunde Phillips, the vacation judge, Justice Ganiyu Safari, had last week fixed yesterday for hearing of the preliminary objections filed by the defendants, in which they challenged the jurisdiction of the court to hear the matter.
The PDP’s crisis may claim some aides of Amaechi as he reshuffles the state’s executive council.
The overhaul of the executive, which will be the first since Amaechi assumed office in 2007, is coming on the heels of Deputy Governor Tele Ikuru’s dismissal of an allegation that he has abandoned the governor in the light of the emergence of his political benefactor, Uche Secondus, as the Deputy National Chairman of the PDP.
A source close to the government disclosed to The Guardian that Amaechi would dissolve the state executive in a bid to rid his cabinet of some commissioners and special assistants believed to be sympathetic to Felix Obuah and the Minister of State for Education, Nyesom Wike-led faction of the PDP in the state.
It was learnt that the governor has been bothered by the disclosure of state matters to his political foes.
Besides, the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) loyal to Rotimi Amaechi called for a meeting last night. The notice for the meeting was signed by Ukonu Chindinma.