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Abuja Meeting: Akpabio Explains PDP Govs' Absence, Insists It Wasn't A Boycott

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SAN FRANCISCO, March 25, (THEWILL) – Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State, who is also the chairman of the PDP Governors Forum (PDP-GF), Monday, explained that the absence of 23 governors at the party’s reconciliation meeting and first anniversary of the tenure of the party’s national chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, in Abuja on Sunday, was not deliberate.

Maintaining that his colleagues wouldn’t have boycotted the meeting, he said the notice of the meeting was not adequately publicised.

Though Akpabio was one of the two governors who attended the event chaired by Vice President Namadi Sambo at the International Conference Centre, the meeting was largely shunned by senators and several bigwigs of the party.

Akpabio, who disclosed this at the State House in Abuja where he held a private meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan, insisted that the meeting was a success.

Refuting reports that the meeting was a flop because the other PDP governors did not show up, Akpabio said that governors could not attend the event because it was not well publicised, stressing that there was no crisis in the PDP.

“The PDP launch was not well publicised. I had a meeting with the PDP Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metu. Many governors were not aware of the ceremony. Metu mentioned to me if I will be at the International Conference Centre and I said for what? And he said for the grand finale of the zonal meeting of the National Chairman and I told him I was not aware of it. And somehow, I was receiving the Super Eagles in my State,” Akpabio stated.

“I still said let me struggle to get to the International Conference Centre to represent the governors of the PDP many of whom were not aware that the event was going on. I knew that if the governors were not there, Nigerians will think they boycotted the meeting.

“It was more or less a slightly rushed affair. It was not well publicized, so you cannot blame any governor that was not there. I was even surprised that the Governor of Kogi State heard about the function that morning and he managed to be there. I asked why the PDP governors were not involved in the zonal meeting and they said the initial letter of invitation contained the date of the grand finale in Abuja.

“This is the first time that kind of celebration is taking place. So it is just something that is embedded in the PDP agenda,” he stated.

The PDP-GF chairman said the Alliance for Progressive Change (APC) was not a threat to the PDP, maintaining that the ruling party has remained a big, strong and coordinated party that would not lose sleep over coalition of opposition parties.

He explained that the PDP was poised to even woo more governors and membership from the opposition parties to the fold of PDP. “The thing is that even now, the opposition is rattled. You can see the barrage of attacks against the chairman of the PDP Governors Forum.

“That is a sign that the opposition is rattled because there is really no need for the attacks. For instance, we made a paltry donation of N1million to a state to help delegates and you make it an issue, set up panels in television and radio stations to discuss the issue.

“If you translate the money, it will come to less than N2000 per person. How does it feel if a delegate appears at a function that the party leader does not buy lunch, or give money for transport.

“So it is something that we are leaving the main issue and going into trivial issues and I want them to challenge the PDP on developmental issues and not on trivial issues. There is no overture that anybody will make. You have a big fish inside the water and tilapia is making noise.

“The PDP is too large and too organised. It is the only national party. All the other parties are ethnic based. But when they try to come together, you still see the ethnic coloration in their formation. The only truly national party in Nigeria is the PDP. It is the party that can actually make overtures to others to join them.

“We as PDP Governors are poised to bring our other colleagues to join us and that is what we are trying to do now. We have set up a tactical committee to also reach out to the "opposition" because we want to be more than what we are. When we started, we were more than 30 governors so there was no need for PDP Governors' Forum .

“Now that we have been reduced to 23, there is now need for us to come together and ask ourselves why. We want to get back to the number. We should be over 30 after the next election. That is why we are coming together and this seems to have rattled the opposition and I am assuring them that they should challenge us on developmental issue,” he said.

Akpabio insisted that opposition parties were in the habit of making a mountain out of a molehill in any matter concerning him or the PDP because they were afraid of the ruling party.

This is why, he explained, that the opposition raised unnecessary dust when he recently donated a "paltry" N1million to state chapters of the party in the South-South, which translated to no more that about N2,000 per delegate.

He said while the opposition are dreaming of luring PDP governors to their fold, it is the PDP that is making stronger and better tactical moves to attract the opposition governors and retrieve the few states the party lost in the last general elections.