Jonathan, rebel govs in make-or-mar meeting • President won't shift ground -Presidency
President Goodluck Jonathan and seven aggrieved Peoples Democratic Party governors will today hold a crucial meeting that will determine the future of the factionalised ruling party.
Already, there are strong indications that the peace meeting may end in a stalemate.
The first indication came from the Presidency on Friday, when it said the President would not meet any of the demands of the aggrieved governors and other members of the New PDP.
Also sounding unyielding, the National Chairman of the New PDP, Mr. Kawu Baraje, on Friday, said the aggrieved leaders of the party and the G-7 governors would give Jonathan a deadline at today's meeting.
Their demands include the sacking of the National Chairman of PDP, Dr. Bamanga Tukur; sticking to one-term tenure by the President by foregoing seeking re-election in 2015, and stopping the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission from further investigating the governors.
Others are resolution of the Nigeria Governors' Forum crisis and the recall of the Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, from suspension.
But the Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Ahmed Gulak, in an interview with one of our correspondents on Friday, insisted that Jonathan would not meet the governors' demands.
Gulak said the decision was based on the fact that the demands were unconstitutional and the President would not identify with anything strange to the nation's extant laws.
The presidential aide added that it was wrong for any individual or group to give the President conditions.
He said, 'Please note that no individual or group can give the President conditions.
'Let me say again that all the demands being made by these governors are unconstitutional. The conditions, be it the call for the sacking of Bamanga Tukur; be it the call for the EFCC to stop its work by not investigating them; be it the call on the President to abridge his rights under the law and not contest for second term; all the conditions are strange to the extant laws of this country.
'I have said it before and I don't want to be repeating myself on this issue because our position has not changed on the matter. The conditions are unconstitutional. The President will not meet them.'
Similarly, the National Publicity Secretary of the Tukur-led faction, Mr. Olisa Metuh, said Baraje had derailed from the path he was following while serving as the acting national chairman of the party.
Metuh, who spoke with one of our correspondents on the telephone, said while in office, Baraje insisted that the activities of the party must not be discussed in the media.
He said Baraje's new stance was not in consonance with PDP's constitution.
He said, 'It is unfortunate that the former acting chairman has derailed. He was a stickler for the rule of law while here; he insisted that the party's matter must not be taken to the pages of newspapers and also said the party's machinery must be used to settle party issues.
'Why did he change? Does he have any sinister motive? But let me add that because we are talking about reconciliation, that is not a licence to give unnecessary conditions.'
Metuh appealed to members of the party to remain calm, assuring that the crisis would soon be resolved.
But one of the aggrieved governors, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said they would not abandon Amaechi, who they said the President would want them to abandon.
He said they would also insist on all the conditions earlier given for reconciliation.
The governor said, 'We won't abandon any of us, including Amaechi. That is a promise from me and my colleagues. We won't yield to blackmail on this matter. We don't want to be dubbed as betrayers on this matter because it is a collective matter.'
Jonathan and four of the aggrieved governors, namely Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers); Babangida Aliyu (Niger); Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto) and Muritala Nyako (Adamawa), had on Sunday met with the President at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The meeting was reported to have ended in a deadlock as the President rejected the governors' demand for the removal of Tukur as the party's national chairman.
The PDP was factionalised on August 31, 2013, when seven governors and former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar walked out of the party's mini-convention in Abuja to form a faction. Punch