The war of attrition within the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is festering with the opposition groups within the party plotting to stop President Goodluck Jonathan from picking the party's ticket for the 2015 presidential race.
This is even as the pro-Jonathan group led by the PDP national chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, and some members of the National Working Committee (NWC) have declared "total war" on the opposition elements in the ruling party.
LEADERSHIP SUNDAY learnt that the PDP chieftains took this position following their failed bid to reconcile President Jonathan with former president Olusegun Obasanjo, who has found an ally in some state governors to stop the president at the next presidential primaries.
The sacking of the former president's loyalists in the NWC (the latest being Chief Bode Mustapha and Mr. Segun Oni), the dissolution of the Ogun State executive and the nullification of the South-West congress by the party's hierarchy, it was learnt, were designed to weaken Obasanjo's control of the party in his zone .
However, LEADERSHIP SUNDAY learnt that the ex-president's loyalists, who include his former aides and some former governors, now hold a weekly meeting in the Abuja home of a one-time governor to strategise on how to stop President Jonathan.
"The truth of the matter is that everyone is fed up with the directionless and lacklustre administration of President Jonathan. We all knew how we stopped the north from completing the second term of the late president Umaru Yar'Adua. Imagine the poor handling of the Boko Haram insurgency. Look at our economy that remains in the woods despite the fact that a former World Bank top official is in charge with the title of coordinating minister, whatever that means; the fact that the foreign reserves left behind by Obasanjo have been depleted speaks volume in this regard," a key member of the group said.
"From the way things are going, we have realised that unless something is done fast, the opposition would become acceptable to the electorate and whoever is presented by our party might not be acceptable again. We strongly believe President Jonathan's performance is below average and he is perfecting how to hijack the party to ensure he is presented as the sole PDP candidate and this we would check," he added.
When asked the plan of the group, he recalled how the group had wanted to bring reforms to the party but was eventually frustrated, noting that, this time around, they are keeping their game plan close to their chest. According to the source, "we would shop for a credible alternative from the north who would be acceptable to all the divides in the country and this could be from among former or serving governors and possibly the incumbent vice president. But we have not made up our mind on that. We are still meeting and expanding our vision and membership".
However, the group which claims to have a strong link with the Nigeria Governors' Forum said that, at the appropriate time, it would confront President Jonathan with the undertaking he signed with the governors on the party's platform that he would serve for only one term in office.
A former principal officer of the National Assembly and member of the Board of Trustees (BoT) of PDP also informed LEADERSHIP SUNDAY that, should Jonathan insist on contesting the 2015 election, they would likely dump the party.
South-West PDP vows to fight exco's dissolution
The embattled factional chairman of the Ogun State chapter of the PDP believed to be loyal to Obasanjo, Senator Dipo Odujirin, yesterday described the NWC's decision to sack him and the entire executive as barbaric and warned that if not reversed it might destroy the party in the South-West.
Odujinrin told LEADERSHIP SUNDAY after an emergency meeting of the party held in Abeokuta yesterday that the pronouncement of the PDP's national publicity secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, was very disturbing, noting that the party had resolved to appeal to the National Executive Committee (NEC) for a reversal of the action.
"In accordance with Article 31, sub-section 2(8) of our party's constitution which is a much higher body than the NWC, we have resolved to appeal to PDP's NEC and we believe that our appeal would receive a favourable consideration and that this injustice will be corrected. We put our faith in the NEC of PDP and trust that the right thing will be done," he said.
Odujinrin further said: "The announcement said that the congress conducted by Dayo Soremi-led state exco is now upheld. You will recall that Prof. Alkali, the then national publicity secretary of PDP, led Kawu Baraje's NWC to publish an advertorial stopping the Soremi congress from holding. And it was that same congress that Metuh has recognised. That is why we are now going to NEC to appeal our case.
"The implication of the pronouncement would be that the NEC will do the right thing so that it will not affect the fortunes of our party in future elections. This is not how to ensure genuine reconciliation; this has further polarised all the parties to the dispute."
On the case before the Appeal court, Odujirin said "the fact that the appeals were withdrawn smells some rat; there were some sinister motive behind the withdrawing of the appeals which were on course at the appellate court".
In its reaction, the Buruji Kashamu faction said the PDP leadership was following the rule of law, a process, it said, had eluded the party till now.
The factional chairman, Adebayo Dayo, expressed this view when he was contacted on phone by our correspondent. He noted that the faction was ready to regain the PDP's lost glory.