Chairman of the newly-formed Peoples Democratic Party’s Governors’ Forum and Akwa Ibom State Governor Godswill Akpabio on Tuesday likened members of the party to the disciples of Jesus and vowed that all Judases in the party would be flushed out.
Akpabio, in a meeting with the PDP National Working Committee in Abuja, said the party needed cleansing.
“What the PDP is trying to do now is to cleanse its house; to try to identify the ones they call Judases and say to them ‘go out, the train is moving’.
We will ask them not to remain standing otherwise we will crush them,” Akpabio told the NWC members, including the party’s National Chairman, Bamanga Tukur.
Tukur, welcoming the emergence of the PDP Governors’ Forum, said President Goodluck Jonathan, would now “sleep well.”
“I can now tell Mr. President to sleep well. Now, if he has been sleeping for three hours before, I can even ask him to start observing his siesta regularly,” he said.
The PDP Governors’ Forum came into being on Sunday night at a meeting presided over by Jonathan. Analysts see the forum and the emergence of Akpabio as its chairman as the Presidency’s solution to the growing influence of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum under the chairmanship of Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi.
Sources say Amaechi is seen by the Presidency as not being favourably disposed to Jonathan’s second term ambition in 2015. He (Amaechi) is believed to be nursing a vice-presidential ambition.
It was gathered that the Presidency had worked against his retention of the NGF chairmanship seat during the forum’s botched poll on Sunday. The PDP had nominated Katsina State Governor Ibrahim Shema to run against the Rivers State Governor.
The NGF poll was however stopped and postponed to May when it dawned on Jonathan’s men that Amaechi was heading for a landslide.
Akpabio’s choice to lead the PDP Governors’ Forum, barely 24 hours before the NGF botched poll, has been described by sources as a ploy to weaken Amaechi’s candidacy in the NGF since there would be reservations about making two persons from the same geo-political zone heads of the two forums.
Both Amaechi and Akpabio are from the South-South.
Expatiating on his Judas theory, Akapabio told the PDP NWC members, “There is an explosion of treachery, where there are more Judases than the number of disciples.
“We want to have good disciples. We know that even in Christendom when Jesus Christ had 12 disciples, there was only one Judas.
“But if the Judases were up to nine, then Jesus could have been in trouble, the gospel would have been in trouble today.”
Asked why he thought this was the right time to form the PDP Governors’ Forum and whether it would not rival the NGF, he said there wouldn’t be any clash between the two organs.
He said the PDP forum was a child of necessity and that it was not formed before now because there was no challenge.
He said, “There was nothing called global warming and HIV before and in the same vein, there was no PDP Governors’ Forum 14 years ago, because there was no need, we were totally in charge.
“You know we are having challenges but the challenges for me, with what we have started now, have always been a function of the PDP, what you saw was an explosion.”
Flanked by his Bayelsa State counterpart, Mr. Henry Dickson, Akpabio said PDP had been the only truly national party.
He said because of this, the PDP, which according to him, belongs to the people of Nigeria, would not be abandoned for the opposition.
“There is no godfather somewhere that stays somewhere to control the PDP,” he added.
The governor thanked Jonathan and Tukur for seeing him as the one to lead the PDP Governors’ Forum.
He said henceforth, all governors of the party would be going to the NGF meeting with a block vote and that they would not align with the opposition on anything that could be detrimental to the progress of the PDP.
Asked about his tenure, he said that it would be decided by the party and the members of the forum.
On the claim by a former Head of State and a chieftain of the Congress for Progressive Change, Maj.-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), that the PDP had merged with the Police, the Independent National Electoral Commission and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, said the former dictator could not have said so.
Buhari, he added, was more educated and civilised to know that there was no way a political party could merge with government institutions.
“These are arms of government and there is no way they could have merged with any political party,” he said.
Tukur said he was delighted with the emergence of Akpabio as the chairman of the party’s governors’ forum.
Meanwhile, more facts have emerged on how the President almost succeeded in forcing the governors to remove Amaechi.
Our correspondent gathered that Akpabio was used to make about 15 governors of the party to sign a document, pledging their loyalty to the President and the party.
A Presidency source, who spoke with one of our correspondents on the condition of anonymity, said that Jonathan also used the security agencies to harass the governors, threatening that the Federal Government might not be able to work with them (the governors) if they failed to show their loyalty to the President on the issue of who heads the NGF.
It was also learnt that before Akpabio’s emergence, an aide of the President sent short messages to the mobile phones of some State House correspondents that a story would break.
The source said, “You see, everything had been scripted. Even some of the governors just came to the Presidential Villa for a meeting with the President without knowing the agenda.
“It was at the Villa that they were told that Akpabio had been chosen to lead them.”