In a bid to urgently rebuild the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ahead of the general elections, President Goodluck Jonathan may set up a special committee that would help bring back the G-5 governors who defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC), THISDAY learnt last night.
Also Friday, President Jonathan met with four governors from the North-east, the region where the chairmanship position of the party is zoned to, as part of efforts to pick the successor of former National Chairman, Bamanga Tukur, who resigned on Thursday.
Sources told THISDAY that following the resignation of Tukur, the President began moves to put the party in order even though some party stalwarts believed the move may have started late.
But Adamawa State Governor Murtala Nyako, one of the G-5 governors that defected from the party last year has said under no circumstance would he return to PDP.
Nyako, along with Governors Rabiu Kwankwanso (Kano), Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto), Murtlala Nyako (Adamawa), Ahmed Abdulfatah (Kwara) and Chibuike Amaechi (Rivers) had defected to APC last year in the heat of the crisis that bedevilled PDP.
The party, which had been enmeshed in crisis since it held its mini convention last year had also lost 37 members of the House of Representatives and 27 members of the Sokoto State House of Assembly to the APC.
Sources told THISDAY that the president was now worried about leaving a legacy of a badly depleted and factionalised party and was already putting together a special team of prominent people that would help convince the defected PDP governors on the need to come back to the fold to help rebuild the party.
Although the idea of wooing back the aggrieved governors was sold to the President immediately after they defected to APC, the President, THISDAY gathered, was said not to have given it a serious thought initially.
Sources informed THISDAY that while the President was optimistic that four of the governors might shift grounds and reconsider their action, he had his reservations about the Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, whom he believed may not return to the party.
He was said to have concluded that Amaechi had gone too far in his romance with the opposition and had expressed bitterness and hostilities than others and as such, might see a return to the PDP as politically suicidal for him even when such fears were unfounded.
THISDAY gathered that while the governors and some lawmakers who left for the APC may not be as rigid as Amaechi, they also doubt the fact that the President would accede to some of their demands, including the idea of dropping his re-election bid should they consider his proposal to return to the PDP.
The source however said the president would announce the setting up of the committee and its members, among other reconciliatory initiatives that are being considered once Tukur’s replacement is announced next week.
Speaking to journalists at Yola International Airport yesterday, Nyako said the crisis within the PDP was beyond the resignation of Tukur. Noting that though he could not speak for other G5 governors, he said they had made up their minds to remain in APC.
“If they are nursing the idea to contact us to come back to PDP, it is still among themselves. The matter has not reached the defected governors. But as for me, I have made up my mind I am not returning to the PDP,” he said
“We have taken a very sensible decision to dump PDP for the best interest of this country. All of us have resolved to move forward not backward.
” We resolved to move to APC in order to move the nation forward and nothing is going to take us back,” he added.
The governor reiterated that the issue that warranted their decision was not about political party or personality but about the interest of the nation, to make sure that democracy was sustained.
APC has also said it was not bothered by Tukur’s resignation. The party’s Interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Muhammed, told THISDAY in a telephone chat that the exit of Tukur would neither stem the crisis in PDP nor have any negative effect on the fortunes of APC.
“We have no cause for concern, We know the governors are solidily with us and we are definitely not worried about the resignation of PDP Chairman Bamanga Tukur. The removal of Tukur can only cause more crisis for PDP,” he said.
The governors from the zone who met with President Goodluck Jonathan at the Presidential Villa yesterday over the choice of Tukur’s replacement include Isa Yuguda (Bauchi), Ibrahim Dankwabo (Gombe), Acting Governor Garba Umar (Taraba) and Bala James Ngilari (deputy governor Adamawa).
Though the meeting was held behind closed doors, it was gathered that it may not be unconnected with the fears of some of the governors to have a new chairman emerged from their states.
THISDAY had reported that the sitting governors were opposed to a new PDP national chairman emerging from their states because of the power tussle that could start between the governor and the national chair over the control of structures at the state level.
Fielding questions from State House correspondents after the meeting with Jonathan, Governor Isa Yuguda of Bauchi State, however faulted the view that the governors from the Northeast were not ready to have Tukur’s replacement emerge from their states.
“Are we God? It’s God that gives power. Supposing he gives somebody from my state, a PDP state, what will I do? I will follow him. Let us not go into that kind of imagination” Yuguda said.
Flanked by Dankwabo, Umar and Ngilari, he enjoined Nigerians to be patient till Monday when the new national chairman of PDP would emerge.
“It is just mere speculation. It’s just speculation. We just came to say hello to the president and wish him a Good Friday.
“Well, on Monday is the day the NEC will decide who the chairman is going to be. So, let’s wait till Monday” the governor said..
On the kind of chairman the PDP needed, taking into consideration the crisis that trailed Tukur’s tenure, the governor noted that no matter who was elected, there would always be crisis but added that management of such crisis was more important.
As the race for the chairmanship of the party gathers momentum, some names from the Northeast are being touted as possible replacement for the former chair. They include Senator Abubakar Mahdi (Borno), Malam Adamu Maina Waziri (Yobe), Senator Abba Aji (Borno), Transport Minister, Senator Idris Umar (Gombe), former Bauchi Governor, Adamu Muazu, Alhaji Habu Fari (Taraba) and Dr. Babayo Musa (Bauchi).
There were however speculations last night that the Political Adviser to the President, Ahmed Gulak, had joined the race. He was believed to have been drafted into the race by the President.
THISDAY gathered that though the office of the national chairman had been zoned to the Borno – Yobe axis, Gulak was drafted as Plan B in case a consensus candidate does not emerge .
According to a source that spoke to THISDAY, “the drafting of Gulak from Adamawa state is in line with earlier strategy that where there is no consensus candidate from the Borno-Yobe axis, it would be thrown open to all the states in the Northeast”.
Meanwhile, it was gathered yesterday that Tukur may be appointed an ambassador plenipotentiary, equivalent of a presidential envoy.
President Jonathan had at the 63rd National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the party said that he would give the former national chairman a tougher job.
The President had said, “I have to give him another assignment that is tougher than handling PDP because we need people like Bamanga Tukur to market this country and the PDP. He has been doing that in the platform of African Round Table but we need a tougher job than the African Round Table for him.”
Also, the source said that because of Tukur’s record in the area of investment as shown by his role in the African Round Table, he would be working with the Minister of Trade and Investment, Olusegun Aganga.
Meanwhile the horse trading and intrigues over the election of the next national chairman continued as the aspirants from Borno and Yobe axis in the Northeast geo political zones are being narrowed to the former Minister of Police Affairs, Alhaji Adamu Maina Waziri (61) from Yobe State as well as Senator Abba Aji (60) and the former Leader, House of Representatives between 1999 and 2003, Hon. Mohammed Wakil (48).
PDP in a statement has also described the resignation of Tukur and the peaceful resolution of its leadership challenges as a climax of political maturity and another eloquent expression of the internal democratic mechanism that form the building blocks of the party.