There were fears yesterday that more Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governors may jump the sinking ship to deepen the ruling party’s woes.
President Goodluck Jonathan, who was shocked by the action of the Atiku Abubakar/Governors group, has been consulting with “loyal” PDP governors, the party leadership and its Board of Trustees chairman, Chief Tony Anenih.
The President last night met with 16 PDP governors at the First Lady’s Conference Room at the Villa in Abuja.
At the meeting were: Vice President Namadi Sambo, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Anyim Pius Anyim, National Security Adviser (NSA) Sambo Dasuki and Inteligence Agency chief Joe Gadzama.
Governors at the meeting are: Babangida Aliyu (Niger), Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano), Isa Yuguda (Bauchi), Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), Idris Wada (Kogi), Liyel Imoke (Cross River), Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom), Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara), Emmanuel Uduaghan (Delta), Ibrahim Shema (Katsina), Mukhtar Yero (Kaduna), Saidu Dakingari (Kebbi), Theodore Orji (Abia), Ibrahim Dankwambo (Gombe), Jonah Jang (Plateau) and Garba Umar (Taraba).
Governors Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto) and Sule Lamido (Jigawa) were absent.
Suspended Rivers State Governor Chibuike Amaechi was also absent among others.
The meeting was underway at press time last night.
Earlier yesterday, Dr. Jonathan and former President Olusegun Obasanjo were together at the Aso Villa Chapel for a service. The two leaders were joined by visiting President of Benin Republic, Boni Yayi.
They visited the children’s church from where the three of them and the Chief of Staff to the President, Chief Mike Oghiadomhe, went into the President’s residence for lunch.
But Presidential spokesman Reuben Abati said contrary to speculations, there was no private meeting with Obasanjo.
According to him, Obasanjo merely accompanied the Beninoise President to the Villa.
He said the visiting President met with Jonathan after which both of them left the villa.
There has been increasing speculation of a crack in the relationship between Jonathan and Obasanjo.
The ex-President was absent at the PDP Special National Convention held on Saturday in Abuja.
Atiku, seven governors – Sule Lamido (Jigawa), Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto), Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano), Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), Babangida Aliyu (Niger), Abdufatah Ahmed (Kwara) and Chibuike Amaechi (Rivers) – formed a parallel PDP. They named Abubakar Baraje as Chairman, Dr. Sam Sam Jaja (Deputy Chairman) and Olagunsoye Oyinlola (National Secretary).
Among the leaders of the new group are Senator Bukola Saraki and ex-Governor Abdullahi Adamu.
As the President was consulting with Anenih, PDP Governors Forum, party leaders, security chiefs, and cabinet members, there were fears last night that more governors might join the new PDP in the next few weeks.
Atiku, the National Chairman of the new PDP, the seven governors and members of the National Assembly met at the Kano Governor’s Lodge in Abuja till 1am yesterday.
They decided to push ahead with the new faction of the party and constituted their National Working Committee, it was gathered.
According to sources, during a post-mortem meeting, Jonathan and other leaders of his faction of PDP were shocked that they were unaware of the plot by Atiku and the seven governors.
It was gathered that a security report gave only clues to a wedding reception at the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre. The wedding was held earlier in the day, before Atiku and the governors stormed the centre at about 4pm.
Atiku and the governors used the wedding as a decoy to split the PDP, said a source, adding: “They showed that they have mastery of politics by beating security agencies to it. The full attention of security agencies was paid to the Special National Convention venue, the Eagle Square, rather than sideline issues.
“This factionalisation has really baffled the Presidency, which would have loved to avert the formation of a faction of PDP,” a highly-placed source said, adding that since the deed had been done, Jonathan, BOT members, governors and leaders of his faction had been pondering options available to the government to address the challenge.
The source said: “The atmosphere in the Presidency has been worrisome. There are three options available to the government. These are: .dumping National Chairman Bamanga Tukur to pave the way for the reunification of all PDP governors, leaders and members; .damning the consequences of Atiku and the seven governors; and .exploring legal options to frustrate the emergence of the PDP faction.
Some party leaders are said to be in favour of Tukur’s exit, as he is central to the crisis. They alleged that Tukur and his team were not circumspect in stopping statutory delegates from some states from attending the Special National Convention.
As at last night, Jonathan was yet to make up his mind on the option to choose.
It was learnt that some members of the cabinet are looking at the larger picture behind the split of PDP on the administration.
There are fears over the likely control of the National Assembly by the opposition and the new PDP faction.
“If we allow the crisis to fester, it may lead to a gang-up against this administration in the National Assembly, which could threaten our democracy. It means they can frustrate any bill from the Presidency.
“Some of us are in support of rapprochement since we are all members of the same family,” a source in the Presidency said.
There were signs last night that more governors, ex-governors National Assembly members and leaders might join the new PDP.
According to one of the leaders of the Atiku-governors faction, the full picture of the split in the PDP will emerge in the next few weeks.
The top leader said: “Our leaders will be coming out soon to identify with the new PDP and you will be shocked. Other governors will join us too.”
At a crucial meeting, which ended at about 1am yesterday, the leaders of the New PDP planned how to consolidate their faction.
At the meeting, which was held at Kano Governor’s Lodge, Asokoro District in Abuja, were Atiku, all the seven governors and members of the National Assembly.
The leaders constituted the new National Working Committee of PDP, discussed choice of a new secretariat and how to handle threats/ intimidation from the Presidency.
The release of the list of the factional NWC members was being awaited last night.