Members of the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) were shocked by the outcome of their meeting with former President Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday night. Select representatives of the board, from the six geo-political zones, led by their chairman, Senator Walid Jibrin, met with the former president to appeal for his intervention in the PDP leadership crisis.
The meeting, which was held at Jonathan’s Abuja residence at highbrow Mataima district, lasted for about one and half hours. There was no official briefing at the end of the meeting. Former PDP Deputy National Chairman, Chief Bode George and former Minister of Education, Professor Tunde Adeniran, who spoke at separate interviews with journalists after the meeting, described the outcome as “warm and encouraging.”
George disclosed that Jonathan “has not only accepted to assist in making peace, but gave his word to be joining us in the process of resolving the crisis, and to also make out time to attend our meetings. “As you know, he is a life time member of BoT, having been a former president. Sometime, when people see the big masquerade, they will be more careful.”
A source at the meeting, however, disclosed that the BoT members got more than what they bargained for. Most of the board members have pledged support to Senator Ahmed Makarfi- led caretaker committee, which they said was a product of the May 21 Port Harcourt National Convention. But the source disclosed that Jonathan directed them to make peace with the Sheriff faction for quick resolution of the crisis.
According to the source, the former president told them that given the evidences available, Sheriff has the upper hand than the Makarfi-led caretaker committee and might continue to rubbish the party if urgent steps were not taken to reconcile with him.
A member of the BoT, who spoke with New Telegraph on the condition of anonymity, said that the members told Jonathan to return to the party and assume his role as the leader. He said that the former president agreed to return with a promise that he would speak with all the feuding members of the party with a view to finding a solution to the crisis.
Jonathan was also said to have told the BoT members to reach every party to the crisis and try and achieve reconciliation. But he said that anybody that did not accept the offer of reconciliation should be regarded as not being interested in the party. He said: “It is not only about Sheriff. It is about all members of the party who are angry or have issues with the party. He tasked us to reach everybody in the party that has one grouse or the other and attempt reconciliation.
He also promised that he would reach everybody himself. But he told us that if after all the attempts, anybody that was not interested should be left out of the party.” It was gathered that Jonathan met with Sheriff a day before the BoT meeting, at his Abuja residence. The meeting lasted for three hours.
The former president, at the opening of the BoT meeting, said he had been meeting with some individual members of the party without attracting media attention. The meeting with Sheriff might have offered him detailed information of his grievances.
The source added that what might have emboldened the factional chairman the more despite three court judgements against him, was seemingly sympathy he has been enjoying from some leaders of the party. It
was learnt that what Jonathan told the BoT members was the same message party leaders got from former Military President, General Ibrahim Babangida, who was also approached to broker a truce with Sheriff.
Makarfi was present at the meeting, which held at Babangida’s Hilltop residence in Minna, Niger State. Sheriff has a long relationship with Babangida. The former president reportedly told the PDP delegation that despite the superiority at the courts, political solution still remains the option.
He directed them to go and reconcile with Sheriff. Sheriff is enjoying the support of Senator Buruji Kashamu who appeared at expanded national caucus meeting convened by Makarfi. Jimoh Ibrahim, who has been nursing governorship ambition in Ondo State, recently joined the camp. And while aspirants seeking to fly the PDP flag in the November 30 Ondo governorship election are trying to forge a consensus candidate, Jimoh Ibrahim, yesterday, picked governorship form from Sheriff. He is one of those funding the Sheriff faction. With the advice of Jonathan and Babangida, it is most probable that machineries would be put in motion by party stakeholders to interface with Sheriff with a view to resolving the crisis. Before journalists were excused from the meeting, the former president had told the BoT members that he had been receiving regular briefings on the state of affairs of the party since he left office. His words: “Unfortunately we have been challenged, but I don’t think you should be discouraged. Challenges are part of life; even in families, there are challenges.
There are challenges even in the church more than what may be happening at political level. So you should not be discouraged, and I believe, collectively, we can solve it. “This should not be beyond us, but I believe collectively, we can resolve it. Any sincere PDP member should know that PDP is bigger than an individual. And many members have sacrificed their interest for the party,” he observed.
Jonathan regretted the conflicting court orders that have continued to exacerbate the crisis and further called on party members to sheathe their swords for the interest of the party. The former president noted that even Nigerians need strong opposition party and urged members of the party to unite for quick resolution of the crisis. Jibrin explained that the visit was in recognition of Jonathan’s position as former president, to interact with him and inform him of the state of the party. He informed him that PDP is undergoing a lot of difficulties and challenges, disclosing that there are about 15 court cases seeking to stop the PDP’s national convention. “We have realised that we need reconciliation. So many committees have been set up for reconciliation.
The BoT decided to form a special committee to pursue reconciliation. Some members of the party are concerned. “That is why we appealed to the former president that he be party to the reconciliation,” he said.
Meanwhile, there are indications that the leadership crisis in the opposition party has split the PDP Governors’ Forum into two camps. Five out of the 12 members of the forum are reportedly shifting position from their earlier backing of Senator Ahmed Makarfi- led National Caretaker Committee.
The governors had unanimously backed the caretaker committee, which was a product of the May 21 Port Harcourt National Convention. Majority of them also were present at the handover ceremony by former Deputy National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus last June on behalf of the former National Working Committee (NWC). But after the court judgement two weeks ago, Governors Olusegun Mimiko (Ondo), Emmanuel Udom (Akwa Ibom), Seriake Dickson (Bayelsa), Ibrahim Dankwambo (Gombe) and Darius Ishaku (Taraba) are allegedly having a rethink about their continued support to the caretaker committee. Mimiko, who is the Chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum reportedly held a meeting with Sheriff. The meeting lasted three hours, details of which are still sketchy at press time. Dankwambo, who is co-chairman of the zoning committee set up by the committee and Ishaku are two governors from the north, and they come from Sheriff’s North West zone. Governors Nyesom Wike and Ayodele Fayose of Rivers and Ekiti states respectively have maintained their hard stand against the factional chairman. Inuwa Bwala, Special Adviser to Sheriff on Media, confirmed that Sheriff met with Jonathan and some governors, but said he did not know what transpired.
“I know that Sheriff met with Mimiko and some of the governors. I know also that that he met with the former president, but I don’t know what they discussed. I was not at the meeting. That is what I can tell you,” he told New Telegraph