Nigeria: 2015: Jonathan faces impeachment threat
•Mark warns against another civil war
By Habib Aruna (Lagos) and Chinwendu Nnadozie (Minna)
Leaders of the factional group in the troubled ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) seem to be consolidating their hold on the party with moves for possible impeachment of President Goodluck Jonathan if he refuses to jettison his yet to be declared aspiration to contest the 2015 Presidential poll.
The ‘New PDP,’ as the splinter group is known, it was gathered, has started to compile signatures in both chambers of the National Assembly to move against the President if their conditions for resolution of the crisis currently rocking the party were not met.
Apparently realising their possible superior numerical strength and the fact that the balance of power may have tilted in their favour, the new group is telling the President to either forget his 2015 ambition or get ready for impeachment.
The crack in the ruling party widened on Tuesday when no fewer than 57 members of the party in the House of Representatives declared their support for the splinter group.
The lawmakers made the declaration a day after 22 of their colleagues in the Senate took a similar step.
Even so, sources said on Wednesday that some other lawmakers who would have signed the allegiance document were not in town as the House is on recess.
The sources were sure that those members of the House now on break would endorse the document when they return.
The ‘New PDP’, whose birth was announced on Saturday by its Chairman, Kawu Baraje, originally had in its fold former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar and seven state Governors elected on the platform of the crisis-torn party.
The Governors include Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu (Niger), Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara) and Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano).
The others are Chibuike Amaechi (Rivers), Sule Lamido (Jigawa) and Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto).
The defecting lawmakers in the House were essentially drawn from the seven states whose Governors led the revolt against the leadership of the ruling party on Saturday.
A top member of the ‘New PDP’ who would want to remain anonymous said going by events of the past five days, the party under the leadership of Bamanga Tukur should know that they were not joking.
“We are tired of meetings upon meetings, the ‘New PDP’ wants the President to come out with a categorical statement that he is no longer interested in contesting for the Presidency in 2015. That is what will soothe the nerves of many of us for now,” the source said.
He continued: “Apart from the pressure on other lawmakers to join the fold, we are also reaching out to the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) through their members in the National Assembly to checkmate this abuse of power by those we consider as enemies of democracy.”
Daily Independent reliably gathered that Jonathan had been told by promoters of the splinter group that not only should the National Chairman of the party, Bamanga Tukur, be sacked, the President must honour the alleged agreement with some party chieftains in 2011 to serve only one term or face impeachment.
This development may have reinforced the belief of those who had always said the fight for the soul of the PDP was to deny Jonathan the platform to consummate his yet to be declared second term ambition.
The source further said the planned impeachment move was meant to force him to reconsider his position on 2015.
“You can call it a bargaining chip in the hands of his opponents. But if he is pragmatic enough he would think twice before jumping into the fray. So, the factionalisation of the party was a signal to Jonathan to halt his ambition to run for a second term,” the source said.
“We are demanding that he publicly renounces any ambition to run a second term or face impeachment in the National Assembly. The choice is his.”
At the moment, PDP has 204 members in the House of Representatives, All Progressives Congress (APC) has 137, while the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and Accord Party have five members each.
The Labour Party has eight, while the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP) also has five members.
But with the defection of 57 PDP members to the ‘New PDP’ and more expected to join their ranks, they could combine with the 137 members of the APC to effect a change of leadership in the lower chamber of the National Assembly.
In the Senate, the PDP, before the new faction, had 74 members, APC 33 members and Labour Party, two members.
The power equation in both chambers has changed dramatically with the latest development and some are already calculating that National Assembly leadership may become the first victim of the power play if they act as a stumbling block to the plans of the ‘New PDP.’
And as the crisis within the PDP is getting to a feverish pitch, Senate President, David Mark, on Wednesday warned Nigerians, particularly the political class beating the drums of war ahead of the 2015 general elections, to have a change of heart because “Nigeria cannot afford another civil war.”
Speaking when he led other members of the Alumni Association of Course 3 of the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) who were in Minna for their Annual General Meeting (AGM) to pay a courtesy call on Niger State Governor, Babangida Aliyu, at the Government House, Minna, Mark reminded all that “war does not build but rather destroys a nation.”
“The strength of Nigeria is in our unity and not in our division, so let us all work together for the unity and progress of this country.
“Wars will do no one any good. The best thing Nigerians as individuals can do to promote peace and live in peace with one another is by disregarding acts that separate us as a people not withstanding tribal, religious and political differences,” the Senate President said.
Speaking against the backdrop of threats to the unity of the country ahead of the 2015 general elections, Mark reminded Nigerians that “the unity of Nigeria is extremely important.”
“We urge Nigerians to ensure peace and not shout wars because when there is no peace there will be no development. I will work for the unity and peace of this country because our strength is in our unity, not in our division; so we must all work for the unity of this country.
“The peace and unity of this country cannot be compromised for anything. We must look at some fundamental issues in this country and we should also not talk about secession again in this country.
“Many lives were wasted in this country in our first attempt at secession, so we are calling on all Nigerians to embrace peace and stop war slogans. There cannot be development without peace and our strength lies in our unity as a nation,” he added.