Residents of Oluasiri in the Nembe Local Government
The Peoples Democratic Party has initiated moves to reconcile with Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, and other estranged governors elected on the platform of the party.
This indication was given in Abuja on Friday by Akwa Ibom State Governor, Chief Godswill Akpabio, after a meeting of the PDP National Convention Planning Committee.
PDP governors at loggerheads with the party over its suspension of the Rivers State governor are Aliyu Babangida (Niger); Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto); Rabiu Kwakwanso (Kano); Sule Lamido (Jigawa); Murtala Nyako (Adamawa);and Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara).
They had been at the forefront of moves for the removal of the PDP National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, over his alleged interference in the running of the Adamawa State chapter.
They also fell out with the party after it suspended Amaechi on May 27 for seeking a second term as chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, despite warnings from the PDP leadership.
The party’s National Working Committee explained that Amaechi was suspended for his “refusal to obey the lawful directive of the Rivers Executive Committee (of PDP) to rescind his decision dissolving the elected Executive Council of Obiokpor Local Government Area of Rivers State.”
Amaechi has, however, gone to court to challenge the suspension and to stop the disciplinary committee set up by the party to investigate him from sitting.
He has also filed a separate suit seeking to stop members of the Rivers State House of Assembly from impeaching him.
Already, he has secured a court order stopping the committee from proceeding with the investigation.
Wamakko was suspended on June 5 for allegedly ignoring party directives. He was, however, recalled on Monday.
However, his suspension was believed to have been orchestrated by some party leaders over his support for Amaechi at the NGF election on June 24.
Akpabio told journalists that there were possibilities of returning Amaechi to the party.
He said the party and the governors were already exploring the possibilities of settling the cases instituted by Amaechi over his suspension.
Akpabio said the PDP was not ready to lose any of its governors to opposition political parties.
He said both the leadership of the PDP Governors Forum and the party were committed to return peace to the troubled party.
But Akpabio said the party was already looking into the matter and was ready to give the governor a reprieve just as the governors intervened in the lifting of the NWC’s suspension of Wamakko.
He said, “The reconciliation already going on among the governors led to the return of my brother, Governor Wamakko, to the party.
“The reconciliation is already ongoing. You saw almost all the governors at the PDP National Executive Committee meeting.
“Those who were not there at the meeting either travelled or were doing something for the country. You know I said that the matter involving my brother in Rivers State is subjudice.
“We are exploring all means for out-of-court to return him to the party. We are not ready to lose any of our members to the opposition.”
He said the governorship elections coming up in Anambra, Ekiti and Osun States would be a test case for the party.
Interestingly, the presidency engineered the formation of the PDP Governors Forum headed by Akpabio to counter Amaechi.
Although Amaechi defeated Plateau State Governor, Jonah Jang, at the NGF election, President Goodluck Jonathan endorsed the latter and met with the group, which included Akpabio.
However, none of the affected governors was willing to react to Akpabio’s comments.
They rather said they would “wait and see” how things unfold.
When contacted, the Director of Press to the Niger State governor, Danladi Ndayabo, said, “No comments.”
His counterpart in Sokoto State, Sani Umar, also said,“There is no comment.”
Calls to the mobile telephone number of the Director of Press to the Kano State governor, Mallam Baba Dantiye indicated that the number was unavailable.
The Director of Press and Public Relations to the Adamawa State governor, Ahmad Sajo, could not be reached for comments as his mobile telephone did not connect.
But the Rivers State PDP Chairman, Mr. Felix Obuah, said the reconciliation would only work if Amaechi apologises to the party.
Obuah, who described the reconciliatory move by the party at the national level as a welcome development, maintained that the governor must ask for forgiveness from the state chapter for his utterances before his recall.
“If the PDP at the national level reconciles with him (Amaechi), he still needs to apologise to the state PDP for his utterances in the past. The truth is that nobody hates Amaechi, but he must change his ways and apologise to the party,” Obuah said.
Reacting, the State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, said she was not aware that the PDP was making any move to reconcile with Amaechi.
Semenitari, who spoke in a telephone interview with Saturday PUNCH, explained that the governor was open to reconciliation and would support any move that would bring about peace and progress in the party.
“I’m not the governor and I do not know if there is any move for reconciliation. But what I can say is that the governor is open to peace and anything that will enhance the progress of the party,” she said.
On Obuah’s position, she said, “I do not know him (Obuah) as the state chairman. At best, we can call him a factional chairman of the party since the matter is still in court. For now, let us leave the court to decide that one.”
Also on Friday, the Chairman of the Convention Committee, Prof. Jerry Gana, said that about 4000 delegates would vote at the July 20 convention.
While saying that the committee at its inaugural meeting deliberated on issues that would make the convention a crisis-free, he added that a letter had been sent to the Independent National Electoral Commission on the matter.
Asked about the cost of the convention, Gana declined, saying it was aim internal matter for the party.
The committee was put in place at the end of Thursday’s NEC meeting with a mandate to conduct fresh convention to fill the offices of the officers of the party that resigned.
Out of the 20 officials of the party that tendered their resignation letters because of the complaint from the Independent National Electoral Commission that they were not properly elected, eight of them were members of the party’s decision making body, NWC.
Also on Friday, the party released the guidelines for the conduct of the forthcoming South-West zonal congress and Special National Convention.
While the zonal congress is to hold on July 11, the National Convention has been fixed for July 20.
The guidelines, sighted by one of our correspondents on Friday, indicated that the elections would be by secret ballot.
It added that in case of a tie, “a run-off election shall be immediately conducted before the candidates with the highest equal votes.”
Seventeen officers are to be elected during the convention.
On appeals arising from the election, the parties said that there would be a Special Zonal Congress Appeal Panel, comprising three members.
But the party said that there would be no appeal arising from the National Convention.
“By virtue of the fact that the National Convention is the supreme decision-making organ of the party, there shall be no appeal arising therefrom,” the party said in the guidelines signed by the National Chairman, Dr. Bamanga Tukur.
It added that statutory delegates and delegates who took part in the 2012 national convention would vote at the special convention.