The crisis rocking the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) may have finally reached a climax with the G-7 governors resolving to join the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC). This comes barely 24 hours after President Goodluck Jonathan chose to postpone a planned meeting with the governors which was seen as a make or break meeting.
A source told LEADERSHIP that the governors reached this decision in a meeting held last night at the Kano State governors’ lodge in Abuja. The meeting ended at about 12.30am.
But LEADERSHIP gathered that one of the seven governors, Sule Lamido of Jigawa State may be having great difficulty in making up his mind while the remaining six governors have decided to take a leap of faith and join the APC.
The six governors that have made up their mind to join the APC are Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano), Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto), Muazu Aliyu (Niger), Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara) and Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers).
The development may also have a far reaching effect on members of the ruling PDP in the National Assembly and state assemblies with a large number of the lawmakers expected to pitch tent with their governors.
Dump PDP, lose followers, Akpabio tells G-7 govs
Meanwhile, the lingering crisis in the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) took a new twist yesterday as opposing camps within the party engaged in verbal attacks.
While Akwa Ibom State governor and chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum (PDP GF), Godswill Akpabio dared his colleagues known as the G-7 governors to dump the party if they could, the governors around whom the factional new PDP revolve have taken a swipe at Akpabio. They labelled him a careless talker.
The development is coming 24 hours after the postponement of a peace meeting between President Goodluck Jonathan and the G-7 governors. The deferment of the peace parley was as a result of the president’s health challenges.
But Akpabio yesterday foreclosed the possibility of the G-7 governors defecting to another political party and still get the loyalty and support of their followers in their respective states.
He urged them to respect the office of the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria if they were not willing to respect President Goodluck Jonathan as a person. But he warned them to be wary of rebelling against the president as they too may suffer rebellion in the hands of their subordinates at the state level.
In recent times, leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) have been moving from one state to the other wooing the G-7 governors who have since pitched their tents with the “new PDP” after they had staged a walkout at the Eagle Square, venue of the last national convention of the Bamanga Tukur-led ruling party, on August 31.
The G-7 governors are Babangida Aliyu (Niger), Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers), Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano), Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto), Sule Lamido (Jigawa), Murtala Nyako (Adamawa) and Ahmed Abdulfattah (Kwara).
Akpabio spoke to State House correspondents after the launch of the third edition of the YouWin, a poverty alleviation programme of President Jonathan being anchored by his finance minister, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
He said, “I can tell you the truth. The reality is that some of us that are leaders, we have to be careful because when we are saying we are moving to another political party, our followers may not be going with us and vice-versa. We can also stand in a political party while our followers are moving the other side but, of the PDP, there is no shaking.
“I am very delighted that yesterday, the president was prepared to continue to dialogue with any group, not just the G-7 — any group of Nigerians who are outside the party, either trying to come in ,who have grievances. And I think that we should address those things through dialogue. I am happy about it and I think there will soon be an end to it.”
The PDP Governors’ Forum chairman noted with dismay that he had been reading it in newspaper clips where the G-7 governors were described as rebellious governors. He urged the governors to retrace their steps, as their actions may attract rebellion against them from their own subordinates in their various states.
Akpabio said: “In any rebellion, you can resolve it through dialogue, and I think that is what the president is doing and I think that is what the PDP leadership is out to do: to see how we can dialogue and see how we can bring the situation to a close.
“For me, I believe you cannot be a good leader unless you are a good follower and I believe strongly also that leadership comes from God. So, the question of rebelling against the leadership does not occur, because if I rebel against the leadership at the federal level, I should expect somebody also to rebel against my leadership at the state level – maybe from some of my local governments or thereabouts.
“And if I expect to be respected as a governor of a state, I should also expect to respect the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. So, it is not important who occupies the position. I think what is important is that we give respect to the institution of the presidency in Nigeria and, that way, the international community will also respect Nigeria.”
On whether the president should back out of negotiation with the G7 governors, Akpabio said: “No no, no. It depends on what you are talking about. Dialogue can never be too much. We just believe that, here, you have a very humble president and who is very patient, and I hope we don’t take advantage of his patience and then continue to waste his time and distract him.
“That’s why we urge him not to be distracted, and, even for the rest of us who are observers, we think that, definitely, there has to be an end to dialogue so that we can face the business of state. But there is no price you should not pay for peace. That is why we are all saying, yes, there is the need for us to have peace and peace we shall have, and dialogue of course will continue until success is achieved.
“But it is not something to worry about. It’s just that it is overblown by the press. We should actually not look at the internal issues in PDP. These are all internal issues in PDP and, like I said, the party is robust enough to readjust itself and it’s a very large political party. The only good part of it is that this is the only political party in Nigeria that is not owned by any individual or not owned by certain groups. The party belongs to all Nigerians and, so, if one Nigerian leaves the party and another Nigerian comes in, the party goes on.”
Akpabio is a careless talker – G-7 govs
Faulting the stance of Akpabio, Umar Kyari, chief press secretary to Lamido said, “Akpabio should go and solve his problems in Akwa-Ibom. He should be circumspect now that efforts are being made to resolve the PDP crisis. Governor Sule Lamido has said it severally that he will not leave the PDP, but that does not mean that he will accept the impunity to continue in the party. He will fight for justice. Akpabio should also know that the people are behind Lamido in Jigawa. Talks like this don’t bother us.”
On his part, Aliyu Baba Dantiye, the CPS to Kwankwaso said, “The governor is in a meeting right now; I will brief him appropriately after the meeting and get across to you as soon as possible.”
A close aide of one of G-7 governors also said, “The likes of Akpabio are the ones benefitting from the PDP crisis. To some of them, the crisis should continue so that the impunity and injustice they have continuously encouraged will thrive, but they will fail because his likes are lose canons who should be ignored.”