Thursday, September 19, 2013

The “ceasefire” between the President and the G-7 governors fail

New PDP, governors reject Jonathan’s concession

The “ceasefire” between the President and the G-7 governors has collapsed.

The governors and leaders of the Kawu Baraje faction of the troubled Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) met on Tuesday night to review their demands.



They concluded that President Goodluck Jonathan’s concessions were “not enough” to restore peace to the ruling party.

The G-7 and the New PDP vowed to continue their struggle and use their strength in the National Assembly to checkmate the President, The Nation learnt.

But a pro-Presidency group, Media Network for Transformation (MNT), yesterday advised the President to come down hard on the governors and leaders of the Kawu Baraje faction “for heating up the polity”.

The governors and the Baraje faction observed that the concessions were “merely to buy time” to launch a counter-attack.

The concessions are:

•immediate lifting of the suspension of Governor Rotimi Amaechi by the Bamanga Tukur-led PDP;

•return of party structures to governors, including those of Rivers and Adamawa states;

•raising a committee to visit Rivers State, like it was with Adamawa State, to build consensus and restore party structure to the governor;

•the governors and party leaders should tarry awhile and leave Jonathan to decide the fate of factional National Chairman of PDP, Bamanga Tukur; and

•2015 presidential ambition to be discussed at the resumption of talks on October 7.

The governors, it was gathered, observed that some members of the presidential team to Sunday’s peace talks were the first to breach the ceasefire.

It was learnt that they expressed reservations about the conduct of Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State and the Political Adviser to the President, Ahmed Gulak, for allegedly renouncing some of the concessions.

At the end of the meeting, they resolved to:

• stick to all the six demands presented by Baraje to the National Assembly on Tuesday;

•withstand any form of hostility or desperation by the Presidency;

•maintain the New PDP’s majority in the National Assembly to influence policies and decisions in the public and national interest;

•tell members of the New PDP not to respond to provocation or intimidation in whatever form; and to

•attend the October 7 meeting and insist on no third term for Jonathan.

Three of the governors, who confided in our correspondent, said the G-7 and Baraje faction observed that the President was not “keen on the concessions”.

One of the governors, who spoke in confidence, said: “It is obvious that we are not near the resolution of the crisis. Water will find its level soon.

“If you look at the concessions Jonathan has made, it is only the return of party structure to governors in their states that appears acceptable to him. Even at that, he added a caveat to deal with the peculiarities of each state.

“For instance, on Rivers State, the President promised to send a team, to be led by the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Chief Tony Anenih, to the state to talk to the two factions.

“And barely 12 hours after the meeting, the Bamanga Tukur-led PDP raised a Caretaker Committee for PDP in Kano State.

“Do you expect us to believe that he is serious about the concessions?”

To another governor, the challenge is trust. The popular thinking among the governors is that President Jonathan does not keep agreements.

“The President and his team are preaching peace on one hand, but imagine Akpabio saying that the G-7 governors agreed at the meeting that Jonathan can contest in 2015,” the governor said, pleading not to be named “for strategic reasons”.

“We suspected this mischief and that was why we were careful in monitoring the wording of the communiqué which was drafted by Governor Liyel Imoke. What we agreed was that we are still discussing,” he said, adding:

“In fact, at a point when the communiqué was being drafted, the President interjected by asking Governor Rotimi Amaechi: ‘Amaechi, do you have a hidden agenda on this communiqué?

“So it is about trust, the President does not honour agreement.”

There is also the thinking that the President will be ruthless once he is re-elected in 2015.

“The President sought for ceasefire and 48 hours after, the Presidency asked seven or eight members to come and disrupt a harmless visit to the leadership of the National Assembly by G-7 governors and Kawu Baraje faction,” another governor said.

A pro-presidency group, the Media Network for Transformation (MNT), advised President Jonathan to sanction the G-7 governors and leaders of the Kawu Baraje faction.

It alleged that the governors had relegated governance in their states since the crisis began.

The group, which made the demand in a statement in Abuja by its coordinator, Ebelo Goodluck, claimed that the G-7 and Baraje faction leaders had no respect for the Office of the President.

It accused the governors of showing disdain for dialogue and called them “handful of disgruntled members of the party”.

The group said the Baraje faction was motivated by “interests that are entirely self-serving”.

The statement said: “It is clear that the bid to get what for themselves and families in far-away 2015 have totally occupied the governors, leading them to literally relocate to Abuja and abandon the people of their states to their own fates.”

The group said the President should “henceforth adorn iron gloves in dealing with the Baraje group and its irritations”.

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