PDP crisis: Jonathan meets with Obasanjo, 16 govs in Aso Villa
The visible crack in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which showed glaringly during the Saturday convention of the party has jolted President Goodluck Jonathan and prominent leaders of the party.
The leadership of the party including former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Sunday made frantic efforts to save the party's sinking ship.
The president held two separate meetings with former President Olusegun Obasanjo and 16 Peoples Democratic Party in what is believed to be his bid to resolve the crisis that led to the emergence of a splinter group in the party.
His meeting with Obasanjo, which was held behind closed doors, was said to have lasted about two hours. The meeting held the president's official residence in Aso Rock Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He subsequently met with PDP governors, numbering about 16 out of the total 23 which the party holds.
Four of the seven that formed a splinter group known as the New PDP were also present at the meeting.
The four are Babangida Aliyu (Niger), Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano), Muritala Nyako (Adamawa) and Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara).The other governors in the Group of Seven are Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto), Sule Lamido (Jigawa) and Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers).
The G-7 and a founding member, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, had walked out of the PDP special convention in Abuja on Saturday and consequently, announced the formation of the new PDP.
Also in the faction are a former Acting National Chairman of the PDP, Kawu Baraje; a suspended National Secretary, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola; and a former National Deputy National Chairman, Dr. Sam Jaja.
They were said to have been miffed by the way Dr. Bamanga Tukur and the Presidency had been running the party to the exclusion of other critical stakeholders.
the visist of Obasanjo to the presidential villa visit coincided with that of the President of Benin Republic, Boni Yayi, political pundits said that the fact that Obasanjo showed up at the seat of power barely 24 hours after the splinter group emerged was strong indication of the seriousness which the party leadership viewed the latest development in the party's crisis.
Obasanjo did not attend the special national convention at the Eagles Square, Abuja, showed up at the Presidential Villa.
Obasnjo, Iyai had first joined Jonathan and his wife, Patience, for Sunday service at the Aso Villa Chapel .
After the service, Jonathan led his guests to the children church where they took turns to pray for the children.
The President, former President, Yayi and the Chief of Staff to the President, Chief Mike Oghiadomhe, thereafter retired into the President's residence 'for lunch.'
It was however learnt that the President discussed issues bordering on the crisis in the PDP with Obasanjo and bilateral relations with Yayi.
It will be recalled that Wamakko, Aliyu, Kwankwaso, Nyako and Lamido had met with Obasanjo in his Abeokuta, Ogun State residence as part of their nationwide consultations over the state of the nation and the party.
They also met with former military dictators, Gen. Abdusalami Abubakar and Gen. Ibrahim Babangida in Minna, Niger State.
As part of efforts to resolve the crisis, Obasanjo had in August met with PDP governors inside the Presidential Villa for two days.The meeting did not however yield any positive result.
Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, confirmed to journalists that Jonathan met with Obasanjo and Yayi after worshipping together at the chapel.
In a brief statement made available to journalists, Abati explained that Obasanjo did not participate in the bilateral talks between the President and Yayi. He however did not say what his boss dscussed with the former President.
The statement reads, 'President Goodluck Jonathan met on Sunday at the Presidential Villa with President Boni Yayi of neighbouring Benin Republic.
'Both leaders attended Sunday service together at the Villa Chapel before proceeding to the presidential residence for lunch and bilateral talks.
'The talks between them focussed on issues related to the strengthening of developmental cooperation between Nigeria and Benin Republic, including trade and economic relations.
'Former President Olusegun Obasanjo worshipped with President Jonathan and President Yayi at the Presidential Villa but did not participate in the talks between them.'
Hours after meeting with the former President and Yayi, Jonathan also held a crucial meeting with Governors Aliyu, Kwankwaso, Isa Yuguda (Bauchi), Nyako (Adamawa), Idris Wada (Kogi), Liyel Imoke (Cross River), Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom), and Ahmed.
Others were Emmanuel Uduaghan (Delta), Ibrahim Shema (Katsina), Ramalan Yero (Kaduna), Garba Umar (Taraba Acting Governor), Seidu Dakingari (Kebbi), Theodore Orji (Abia), Ibrahim Dankwambo (Gombe) and Jonah Jang (Plateau).
As at 9.25pm when Jonathan arrived the venue of the meeting, the 16 governors had taken their seats inside the First Lady's conference room in the Presidential Villa
The PDP lawyer, Mr. Joe Gadzama (SAN), also attended the meeting alongside the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim and the National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.).
Former President Obasanjo in a statement in Sunday urged parties to the crisis to maintain the status quo, assuring that a meeting of the elders of the PDP would be convened before the end of this week over the matter.
The statement reads, 'The situation in our ruling PDP after the convention on Saturday and the parallel convention same day has given great concern to all well-meaning members of the party and particularly to the elders of the party.
'While some select elders are making efforts to get the situation resolved as soon as possible, it is imperative to emphasise that the move will bring back peace and return it to its vigorous and dynamic election-winning ways.
'I want to passionately appeal to both sides for now to sheath their swords, maintain the status quo, with earliest conveyance of the elders' meeting before the end of this week. Members are equally enjoined to remain calm until the elders' complete their peace-making meeting.'