Nigeria: PDP: Jonathan 2015 ambition is no-go area
The Bamanga Tukur National Working Committee (NWC) leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Saturday moved to draw the line between his faction and that of the ‘New PDP’, getting the security operatives to seal off the secretariat of the Abubakar Baraje-led faction.
In resorting to application of force, the Tukur-led PDP had interpreted the ruling of Justice E. Chukwu of the Federal High Court, Abuja on Friday which refused to grant his application for an ex parte injunction against the ‘New PDP’ and ordered that status quo ante bellum be maintained, to mean no other PDP is supposed to co-exist with his.
Saturday’s development has long set the tone of what to expect in the coming days as both factions meet to iron out their differences.
And we have it on good authority that as stalwarts of the PDP continue their rescue meeting of the crisis-ridden party on Tuesday, a top agenda of the meeting, will be the 2015 ambition of President Goodluck Jonathan.
While the ‘New PDP’ would, among other things, be canvassing for the withdrawal of President Jonathan from the 2015 presidential race, the Tukur-led PDP would insist that the issue of Jonathan’s ambition should be a no-go-area.
Sources from both sides of the party who pleaded anonymity told Sunday Independent that at their respective strategy meetings, which would continue on Sunday (today) and Monday (tomorrow), the president’s ambition has always been the core issue of discussion.
Sources said the National Chairman of the PDP Tukur, might be willing to make concessions on some critical issues, including the possibility of a fresh convention as canvassed by the Baraje-led faction where some officers of the party could be sacrificed, but that the president’s 2015 ambition was not a demand they were willing to entertain in the meeting.
On Saturday, a combined team of security men, mainly the police sealed off the secretariat of the ‘New PDP’ headed by Baraje.
A senior police officer who confirmed the development in a telephone interview with Sunday Independent, said that the order to seal off the office came from “above”.
The proposed secretariat sited at Plot No 3206 A; No.4 Oyi River Crescent, Maitama District, was made public on Friday when Baraje and Governor Sule Lamido of Jigawa State visited the place after the failed attempt by PDP elders to mediate in the crisis, at a meeting held at Transcorp Hilton Hotel Abuja on Friday.
Policemen at the sealed off ‘New PDP’ secretariat told us that they are there on presidential instructions and won’t leave until a counter order comes from the presidency.
Aside from about 10 fully armed policemen who stood guard outside and within the premises, an armoured personnel carrier (APC) was mounted at the entrance of the street.
Journalists who tried to approach the gate of the secretariat were turned back by the trigger-happy policemen.
One of the policemen bragged: “We are not leaving here until we hear from the presidency. We have taken over this place for now.”
At press time the policemen were still guarding the place wearing a white and green colour and expected to be opened to business on Monday.
But in a swift reaction, Baraje group described the development as the height of impunity.
A statement issued by the National Secretary of the Baraje-led PDP, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, said security forces were mobilised to seal off the office on Saturday based on a non-existent court injunction which the Tukur faction claimed to have obtained on Friday.
“The whole world knows that Justice E. Chukwu of the Federal High Court, Abuja on Friday refused to grant Alhaji Bamanga Tukur’s application for an ex parte injunction against our party’s executive. The Judge asked parties to maintain the status quo. His judgement was a reinforcement of an early order of the Lagos High Court which also asked parties to maintain the status quo. Now, should Nigerians conclude that Tukur’s interpretation of status quo is this crude display of naked power and undisguised impunity?
“We are not at all surprised at this occurrence given the fact that Tukur issued a statement on Friday evening deliberately seeking to mislead the media and the public that Justice Chukwu granted him an injunction against us. We are happy that the ever vigilant Nigerian press ignored him and his falsehood. “Now, he is not only willfully disobeying the various courts which have made pronouncements on this matter, he is spicing up his love for impunity with this reckless misuse of state power by misleading the police.
“We call for an immediate removal of the siege to our secretariat. We call on the Inspector-General of Police to order the immediate removal of his men from our office. Doing so, we believe, will serve the interest of justice, rule of law and democracy. We say police action in this respect is a clear contempt of court and an affront on the rights of members of the party. Nigeria is a country ruled by law and not by might and force,” the statement said.
However, National Publicity Secretary of PDP, Olisa Metuh said on Saturday that the sealing of headquarters of ‘New PDP’ headed by Baraje was based on an order of court given by Justice E. L. Chukwu of the same court.
According to Metuh, the order said that parties in the dispute should maintain the status quo ante belum. “By the order of Justice E. L. Chukwu, no other group should have an office and call it new PDP office. The sealing of the headquarters is in order,” he said.
There are also indications that this Tuesday meeting of the leadership of the two factions of the PDP may also end in another deadlock just like the previous two meetings.
Checks by Sunday Independent on both sides of the divide show that they are unbending on their stance, especially as it borders on the fate of Jonathan in 2015.
It would be recalled that a similar meeting presided by the party’s Board of Trustees Chairman, Tony Anenih last Monday ended without a truce.
Also, last Friday’s peace meeting initiated by elders of the party made up of former President Olusegun Obasanjo; former Head of State, Ibrahim Babangida; two former PDP Chairmen, Barnabas Gemade and Ahmadu Ali, also failed to resolve the teething problem of the party.
There is even great suspicion that most of the so-called PDP elders may be the ones goading the splinter party members to action because of their own interest, according a PDP chieftain.
But a member of the PDP Board of Trustees who didn’t want his name mentioned said he was confident that
the crisis will be resolved this week. He said breakaway in Nigeria’s political history has never worked, noting that the meetings currently going on will resolve the problem.