The Peoples Democratic Party has begun desperate moves to prevent governors elected on its platform as well as its members from carrying out their threat to defect to the newly formed All Progressives Congress.
This follows indications that no fewer than 12 PDP governors as well as many of the party’s members in the national and state assemblies and its 36 state chapters were being wooed by APC chieftains.
Some of the governors had told PDP leaders last week that they would leave the fold in protest at the disdain which President Goodluck Jonathan and the party leadership had shown for them.
Saturday PUNCH learnt that the PDP had moved to stop a mass defection by embarking on a sudden reconciliation drive, to stop estranged members from defecting to the APC.
The three major political parties that merged to form the APC are the Action Congress of Nigeria, All Nigeria Peoples Party and the Congress for Progressive Change.
Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, is also involved in APC.
The panic within the ruling party was responsible for the hurried formation of the PDP Governors Forum, which came few days after the opposition governors announced the formation of the Progressive Governors Forum.
Findings by our correspondent showed that the leadership of the party was not comfortable with the coming together of the opposition parties.
The National Chairman of the PDP, Dr. Bamanga Tukur, lent credence to this state of panic in a telephone interview with our correspondent on Thursday morning, when he said the opposition should not expect his party to sleep when it (opposition) was busy strategising.
“So, you expect our party to go to sleep when others are planning ahead? That is not possible,” he said.
It was on this basis that governors elected on the platform of the party met with leaders of the party from South-West PDP in Abuja on Thursday evening, asking them to sheath their swords and come together in the interest of the party.
Four of the governors spoke the minds of their colleagues at a meeting they had with the party leaders at the Katsina Governor’s Lodge in Asokoro, Abuja.
The governors are Ibrahim Shema (Katsina), Gabriel Suswan (Benue), Emmanuel Uduaghan (Delta) and Martin Elechi (Ebonyi).
These governors are members of the PDPGF Reconciliatory Committee put together to resolve the crises rocking the party in the South-West. The other member of the committee, Governor Murtala Nyako of Adamawa State, did not attend the meeting.
He was said to be in President’s Goodluck Jonathan’s entourage to Borno and Yobe states.
Shema, who is the chairman of the committee, said, “We are to reconcile all the factions. I want you to come to the table with open hands. God has blessed this party by putting it at the helm of affairs of the country since 1999.
“We need to work together and resolve the crises and that is why we are here.”
Elechi said, “We won’t impose our decision on you. We will allow you to take decisions in the interest of the party. Just let peace reign in the party in the zone.”
Also speaking, Suswam said, “We will listen to you state by state. Then take the zone together. We will want you to be sincere with us.”
Uduaghan said, “The party is not happy with the problems facing the party in the zone. That is why we are here. Please, allow peace to reign and open your heats to us so that we can solve the problems.”
A member of the party from Ekiti State, Ayo Arise, had told the committee that those in attendance were not quarrelling. He said those who were against the group from his state were not invited to the meeting.
But Shema said that would be taken care of later, adding that he was aware of the existence of factions in the party’s state chapters.
Among those at the meeting were a former governor of Ekiti State, Mr. Segun Oni; Chief Bode Mustapha, Chief Oyewole Fasawe, Chief Dipo Odujinrin, Dare Bejide, Akin Omole, Dele Adelakun and Dapo Anisulowo.
The Chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees, Chief Tony Anenih, is expected to lead a reconciliatory team to meet with former President Olusegun Obasanjo and a former Minister of Defence, Lt.Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (retd.).
Tukur, who confirmed the reconciliation efforts, said they were part of his strategies to keep the party together.
“Reconciliation was part of my agenda for the party when I was contesting for the chairmanship. It is time for me to show that I want our party members to unite,” he said.