Peoples Democratic Party governors sympathetic to the embattled Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum and Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, are threatening to leave the PDP.
Reliable sources within the party told our correspondents on Friday that a few of the governors had intimated the party leadership with their disaffection and the danger it portended for the party.
The sources said the governors resented the strong arm tactics employed by the President and his men in their bid to take over the party machinery.
The Political Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan, Ahmed Gulak, in a television interview last Thursday, had defended the formation of the PDP Governors’ Forum.
“What we believe is that the leadership of Amaechi in that forum has completely gone contrary to what PDP expects a PDP governor to do.
“The Nigeria Governors’ Forum has really constituted itself as a trade union, some elder statesmen have really come out to explain things in that perspective,” he said.
One of the sources said governors were particularly irked by the method engaged by President Goodluck Jonathan’s supporters who, in an attempt to whittle down Amaechi’s powers, formed the Godswill Akpabio-led Peoples Democratic Party Governors’ Forum.
The governors who spoke insisted on anonymity, cited Gulak’s statement and the threat issued by Akpabio as signs that they could be victimised if they spoke on record.
Akpabia had vowed that the ‘Judases’ in the party would be probed.
One of the governors who complained about the President’s recent moves said neither him nor his colleagues would wait to be humiliated.
He said, “We have made our feelings known to the party hierarchy including the President. We have been communicating with them; we have made it known that we are not happy with the utterances of some of our leaders.
“Take the utterance of our colleague, Akpabio, the PDP Governors’ Forum chairman for example, when he likened some of us to Judases.
“Such utterances do not and cannot unite the party. If our continued isolation continues, we may be forced to leave and join other progressives outside the PDP,” the governor said.
Also, a close aide of a northern governor, who requested not to be named for the fear of retribution, said recent developments in the party indicated a return to the era of ‘garrison politics’.
He said, “We see a trend which is unhealthy, we see a gradual return to the sordid past when the party was run like the private estate of an individual or better still, like a military garrison.
“The sacking of some members of the National Working Committee, who were seen as opposed to the President, and the return of Chief (Tony) Anenih as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees are a clear signal that the President is seeking to have his way in all party matters.
“The President’s men have taken over the National Working Committee, they have done the same with the Board of Trustees and they have also infiltrated the Governors’ Forum by dividing it. Now, they are moving to take over every other organ of the party. The governors feel alienated from the party.
“I can assure you we will soon see mass defections because the governors will seek their political fortunes elsewhere. The governors, including my boss, have said that they would definitely not sit and wait to be humiliated.”
He explained that a number of PDP governors who were in talks with the newly formed All Progressives Congress could only do so secretly for what he called “obvious reasons.”
When asked to explain, he said, “Isn’t it obvious? It will be suicidal to come out in the open now because elections are two years away and security agencies have been placed on the alert. No wise politician will take the risk. The picture will become clearer very, soon.”
Commenting on the likely defection of the PDP governors, a leading member of the Congress for Progressive Change, one of the political parties in the APC, Mr. Ostia Okechukwu, said APC was ready to absorb the aggrieved governors.
He said, “We cannot count how many big fishes we will capture from the PDP now. A lot of PDP members are disillusioned and are waiting in the wings to join the progressive train.
“Secondly, some want to collect their severance packages before they abandon the sinking ship and join us. So, one hopes that we are on a good voyage to salvage the country.”
Okechukwu added that his party was not worried about the PDP Governors’ Forum but its concern was whether the Independent National Electoral Commission would conduct free and fair elections.
“Don’t forget that the Peoples Democratic Party Governors’ Forum is a panic reaction to the Progressive Governors’ Forum. We have nothing to worry about. Our Governors’ Forum will take care of their colleagues in the torn umbrella.
“Was it not the Progressives Governors’ Forum which defeated the Akpabio faction in the penultimate fight for the soul of Nigeria Governors’ Forum? So, the battle is just beginning and as the saying goes, ‘let nobody count his chicken before they are hatched.”
However, National Chairman of the PDP, Dr. Bamanga Tukur, shrugged off suggestions that the party would lose members because of its ongoing restructuring.
He expressed confidence that all the governors elected on the party’s platform were committed to its ideals, which according to him, were second to none.
Tukur, who spoke with one of our correspondents on Thursday, insisted that there was no cause for any of the governors to contemplate leaving the ruling party for the APC.
He said, “Nobody among our governors will contemplate defecting to the APC. They don’t have headache because only those with headache will go to the APC.
“I can assure you that none of our governors will defect from the PDP, which is a national party, for a regional party.
“Is there anyone who would leave a stable party that is very visible all over Nigeria for a party that does not have any structure? There is no PDP governor that will leave a stable and national party such as the PDP to join the APC.”