The Presidency on Wednesday took a swipe at the Abubakar Baraje faction of the Peoples Democratic Party for referring to President Goodluck Jonathan’s purported 2015 ambition as a “third term from the back door.”
The Presidency said the New PDP’s position was based on ignorance and therefore advised Baraje to consult his lawyers in order to understand what the 1999 Constitution says on the tenure of a President.
It also stated that the Baraje faction’s visit to the National Assembly showed that it was not ready for peace.
Baraje, during a visit to the Senate President, Senator David Mark, on Tuesday, said that Jonathan wanted a third term from back door.
The factional chairman, who was accompanied on the visit by the seven governors in the New PDP, had demanded “the reversal of the dissolution of the party’s executives in Rivers and Adamawa states; conduct of a fresh convention of the party; removal of Dr. Bamanga Tukur as the national chairman of the PDP; and total objection to third term for President Jonathan from the back door.”
But the Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Ahmed Gulak, told one of our correspondents in Abuja, that “Baraje spoke out of ignorance.”
“He (Baraje) should consult his lawyers so that he can be properly enlightened on what the constitution of Nigeria says on the tenure of the President,” Gulak said.
The presidential aide added that he pitied the New PDP leader’s predicament because he had allowed himself to be misled by governors who are pursuing personal agenda.
He said, “As a matter of fact, he is not the party chairman and he knows this. There are places and when party chairmen are elected. I pity him because as a stakeholder in the party, he had allowed those pursuing selfish agenda to mislead him. It is unfortunate. My advice for him is to retrace his steps.”
Gulak argued that the decision of the seven aggrieved governors and other members of the New PDP to visit the National Assembly despite the ceasefire announced at the end of their Sunday meeting with the President, was a proof that they were not ready to embrace peace.
He said although they embarked on the visit with a view to scoring cheap political points, they failed woefully in their bid.
According to him, the embarrassment they suffered at the National Assembly was enough for them to have a rethink in the propagation of what he called their selfish agenda.
He said, “The aggrieved governors led by their leader, Baraje, embarked on that visit to the National Assembly to score cheap political point but they have failed woefully.
“They were told the gospel truth. The President of the Senate (David Mark) told them that he stands by party unity. They embarked on that visit contrary to what was resolved at the Sunday meeting that all parties should stay action.
“They decided to jump the gun. That was a proof that they are not sincerely committed to peace. They are desperate in their bid to drag the people to join their selfish agenda.
“The National Assembly is however an open place. They are free to visit but the embarrassment they suffered there was enough for them to have a rethink.”
But the New PDP insisted on Wednesday that Jonathan’s 2015 ambition was similar to former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s third term project.
It said through its National Youth Leader, Timi Frank, that it was sensitising Nigerians to Jonathan’s “third term.”
The New PDP said, “What we are saying is that if the President chooses to run in 2015, it will be like the third term which Obasanjo wanted to smuggle into the 1999 Constitution.
“What we are doing is to sensitise Nigerians. There is no difference between what Obasanjo wanted to do and what the President wants to do if he runs in 2015. We are all about good governance, we are not going to be discouraged, we are the authentic PDP. Make no mistake about it. We stand by our terms.”
The group said the fact that Gulak scored only 35 votes in the last election in Adamawa State showed that he lacked political clout.
The faction said, “He is always making utterances that will get the President into trouble. He is priming the President against Nigerians because Nigerians today are totally against the policies of the President; they are totally against the President’s style of leadership politically in this country.
“Our leadership that went to the National Assembly was made up of credible people; the governors are respected in Nigeria. Our National Chairman, Baraje .did far better than Tukur and we expected him (Tukur) to learn from the enviable records of Baraje, who was the chairman of the PDP long before him.”
The New PDP had earlier in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary , Chief Chukwuemeka Eze, on Wednesday, said it had not entered into any deal with Jonathan.
It said there was no iota of truth in the claim by Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State that the aggrieved governors had agreed that the President could run in 2015.
The statement reads in part, “The Baraje-led PDP wishes to advise Nigerians to ignore the tissue of lies and propaganda from the Alhaji Tukur faction of the party on the outcome of our meeting with President Jonathan at the Presidential Villa last September 15, 2013.
“We have read various misleading accounts of what transpired at that meeting between our governors -Kwankwaso, Wamakko, Amaechi, Aliyu, Nyako, Ahmed and Lamido – and President Jonathan on how to resolve the self-inflicted crisis in our party.
“Akpabio lied by claiming that we have accepted that President Jonathan should contest the 2015 presidential election and that most of our demands were being met.
“The fact is that no agreement has been reached on any of the issues we tabled before the President and until we see results, Nigerians should ignore the present efforts by the Tukur camp to deceive them.”
It insisted that the Tukur faction was not interested in bringing back peace to the troubled party.
The group argued that the inauguration of a caretaker committee for the party in Kano State few hours after the Sunday showed Tukur’s disdain for peace.
It alleged that the inauguration was done without recourse to either Kwakwanso or other stakeholders of the PDP in the state.