The crucial final stage of the truce meetings to resolve the lingering crisis in the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) appears to have provided a pathway to peace as all parties involved in the festering conflict have agreed to work together in the interest of the party.
As a major step, parties involved in the crisis have resolved to halt all media wars pending further measures to firm up the reconciliation process are properly instituted. This is even as the reconciliation meeting will resume on October 7.
Yesterday's make or mar meeting with the president, vice president, Namadi Sambo and chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees, Tony Anenih, was attended by Governors RotimiAmaechi (Rivers), Babangida Aliyu (Niger), Sule Lamido (Jigawa), Abdulfattah Ahmed (Kwara) Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), Ibrahim Shema (Katsina), Ibrahim Dankwambo (Gombe), Liyel Imoke (Cross River) and Idris Wada (Kogi).
Governor Aliyu read the communiqué at the end of the five hour meeting which started at about 3.30pm at the first lady conference room. Governor Aliyu alongside President Jonathan, Vice President Namadi Sambo, Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State, PDP BoT Chairman, Chief Tony Anenih, Rabiu Kwankwaso of Kano briefed the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) on the outcome of the meeting.
Governor Aliyu, who read the communiqué at about 11.00pm said, "All parties have undertaken to commence immediate actions and agreed towards a complete resolution of all matters and to continue to meet until all processes towards full reconciliation are concluded. The meeting will continue on Monday, October 7, 2013",
"Leaders and stakeholders and the governors of Adamawa, Niger, Rivers, Sokoto, Jigawa, AkwaIbom, Kogi and Cross River states met with the president, the Vice President and the chairman of the board of trustees and extensively deliberated on various issues over a three day period.
"The discussions were cordial and fruitful with a clear commitment on both sides to resolve all the issues raised at the meetings, the meeting also called on all parties to sheath their swords and avoid further inflammatory comments on all issues, particularly during the course of our deliberations as efforts are being made to resolve all differences.
"We use this opportunity, therefore, to thank all members of our party and supporters for the patience and understanding".
But a presidency source who spoke in confidence said the October date was fixed as a result of certain legal hurdles and other 'secondary areas' as observed at the meeting. He disclosed that a six-man committee was set up on that but declined to give details about the composition.
"The date was fixed to ensure that all issues relating to legal wars are resolved. You know, since the crisis erupted, there have been a series of legal battles on both sides; I think the gap in the date to meet may have been informed by the need to settle out of court. A six-member committee will work out the modalities on that
"Apart from that, you know that the crisis has ruffled many feathers on a personal note; all these have to be identified and put into consideration so that the settlement will be total and committal," he said.
LEADERSHIP recalls, for instance, that Governor Amaechi and his supporters had gone to court to seek redress immediately after their suspension from the party in Rivers State.
Jonathan May Not Sacrifice Ambition, Tukur
But as this development came, there were strong indications that President Jonathan may not succumb to two critical demands by some aggrieved governors.
Governors under the banner of the new PDP requested that President Jonathan should make a public pronouncement that he would not run for president in 2015 while the national chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, must resign from office to pave way for a fresh convention.
The governors are Sule Lamido (Jigawa), Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso (Kano), Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto), Muazu Babangida Aliyu (Niger), Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), Abdulfattah Ahmed (Kwara) and Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers).
But as the make or mar peace parley progressed in the villa, indications emerged that President Jonathan may have made up his mind not to ask Tukur to go as a condition for peace to reign in the PDP.
"It is a very suicidal condition that cannot be accepted by anybody," a presidency source told LEADERSHIP in confidence.
He also said it was needless for President Jonathan to discuss with the governors whether or not he would run in 2015.
There were also indications that political solutions would be sought to return the party structures in Rivers and Adamawa states to the governors as a means of having a middle course, even as President Jonathan was said to be considering giving recognition to Governor Amaechi as chairman of the Nigeria Governors' Forum (NGF).
The source said: "Before the meeting began, some of the governors and some PDP leaders had been meeting with Mr President to dialogue on the way out. Some were telling him why he should listen to the new PDP leaders, especially the seven governors who are angry, and they were reminding him of the emergence of the All Progressives Congress (APC), an unprecedented formidable opposition.
"It may interest you to hear that President Jonathan appeared unmoved; he has been telling leaders that nobody could hold him to ransom over an election he has not told anyone he is interested in. From the look of things, the president has made up his mind that although he is open to dialogue, that discussing 2015 is like playing God.
LEADERSHIP learnt that the thinking of President Jonathan and his kitchen cabinet was that the seven governors were selling a dummy by telling him they have no problem with him but with Tukur.
"Their plan is to get Tukur out of the way first and then go after Jonathan. This we would not allow to happen; that is why it will be difficult for Tukur to be eased out just like that." The same source said apart from the two critical conditions which the president frowned at, he was ready to accommodate others like the issue of the NGF and the party structures in some states like Adamawa and Rivers.
Backed by former vice president Atiku Abubakar, senators Bukola Saraki, Adamu Abdulahi, Shaba Lafiagi, Alhaji Kawu Baraje, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, Dr Sam Sam Jaja and a host of other PDP leaders, the governors had staged a walkout on the leadership of the PDP including President Jonathan at the last national convention of the party in August.
Yesterday's meeting at the presidential villa marked the highpoint of peace efforts initiated by leaders of the PDP, including former presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Ibrahim Babangida as well as former national chairmen of the party.
As at time of his report, the meeting between President Jonathan and the governors was still ongoing at the presidential villa. Journalists were marched out of the villa by security operatives at about 10pm.
The meeting, which started about 3:30pm at the First Lady Wing, was slated for 9pm, but journalists who were going to the Banquet Hall for a function that was later rescheduled for today (Monday) had to rush down to the venue of the meeting between the president and the governors when they noticed the presence vehicles belonging to the governors.
Present at the meeting were Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers), Babangida Aliyu (Niger), Sule Lamido (Jigawa), Abdulfattah Ahmed (Kwara), Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), Ibrahim Shema (Katsina), Ibrahim Dankwambo (Gombe), Liyel Imoke (Cross River) and Idris Wada (Kogi).
In the morning, prior to the meeting, PDP governors who were in the villa at different times to see President Jonathan included Benue State governor Gabriel Suswam, Delta State governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, and Akwa Ibom State governor Godswill Akpabio.
New PDP national treasurer resigns, joins Tukur
National treasurer of the new Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP), Alhaji Tanko Ishiaku Gwamna, yesterday announced his resignation from the National Working Committee of the parallel faction of the ruling party.
Accordingly, he pledged his loyalty to the national chairman of the party, Bamanga Tukur, saying the current impasse will augur ill for the party.
In a statement he personally signed, Gwamna said his decision "was arrived at after a careful study of the unfolding events in the polity and a deep sober reflection of the consequences of the outcome of such impasse on our party".
"A lover of democracy, I am of the belief that the current impasse will not augur well for unity, peace, progress and prosperity of our great party in particular and country in general," he added.
In the statement made available yesterday evening, Gwamna further stated: "I therefore enjoin all PDP faithful wherever they may be to unite and ensure the amicable resolution of the current impasse. Our desire is for the PDP to continue to lead while others follow.
"As such, we must eschew all vices capable of unnecessarily heating up the polity. I pledge my loyalty to Bamanga Tukur leadership while calling on all party faithful to do same."
PDP crisis is about 2015 - Dan Suleiman
Meanwhile, the crisis threatening the unity of the PDP has been attributed to the power dynamics as the 2015 general elections approach.
This was disclosed by a member of the PDP Board of Trustees and former military administrator of Plateau State (March 1976 to July 1978), Air Commodore Dan Suleiman (rtd), in a chat with newsmen in Abuja.
Suleiman, who is one of the founding members of PDP, said that those who have formed the "new PDP" think that the 2015 power dynamics were not working in their favour, hence the rebellion.
He said, "It is a gang-up against President Goodluck Jonathan, as they said he should not run in 2015. Bamanga is only a stumbling block for them, so they want him removed. They want Jonathan out, not Bamanga."
"The issue is whether Jonathan is qualified or not to run for presidency in 2015. If he is qualified, then let him run," he said.