Setting a New Agenda for PDP

After spending the last one month to assess the situation in all the 36 state chapters of the party, the Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki-led National Reconciliation and Strategic Committee (NRSC) set up by the National Working Committee of the PDP on December 2, 2020 has now revved up its engine and in full swing to unite members, refocus the party, strategise on the best way to return it to power, rebrand the party and rebuild its various structures.

The committee, last Monday, had a meeting, which began about 8pm and ended about midnight in the Maitama home of its chairman and former Senate president, Saraki, to finalise its plans.

On Tuesday, it held a meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan at his Maitama office. At the meeting, the former President told the members of the committee that he had no intention to defect from the party that made him Deputy Governor, Governor, Vice President and President.

He said he pulled back since the party did not seem to need his assistance or involve him in their activities and did not want to impose himself on the party. He promised that now that the party had deemed it fit to approach him, he would make his resources, experience and contact available in rebuilding, repositioning and refocusing the party.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Saraki said the former President was ready to offer PDP his experience and resources whenever the party demands for it.

In a subtle swipe at the ruling All Progressives Congress, (APC), Saraki said the former president was bent on seeing the PDP bounce back to national reckoning as he was not ready to go to another party. Saraki expressed happiness at the turn of events, following unconfirmed reports that the ruling party had been making subtle moves to get the ex-President into its fold.

“We are members of the national reconciliation and strategy committee set up by the party and part of our task is to meet with our former President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.

“We are starting off with our former President and we are here to let him know what our plans are and also to hear his own views and advice on what we need to do and how to do it as well as how we need to strengthen the party and reconcile aggrieved members in order to bring about unity and focus in our party,” he said.

Continuing, he stated: “It was a very useful meeting. He gave us his views and we are very happy. He reassured all of us of his commitment to the PDP and he told us that he is still ready to offer his time, experience and resources to strengthen the party and that is very strong and important for us. Of course, you know there are funny issues going on but we are leaving this place very happy.

“He is also ready to work with the reconciliation committee to play his own. That is a great step for the party. We have put that behind us – all those people of the other party that would like to come and disturb our leaders. Our leaders are here and they are ready to work for the party,” he added.

Saraki, who was evasive on the 2023 presidency, however, said that the former President was ready to work in furtherance of the cause of the PDP was commendable.

According to him, “We spoke about what role former Presidents like him will play and he left us feeling very happy that yes, he will like to play that role in the PDP and helping our committee to move forward.”

He, however, added that those “disturbing” the former President into quitting the major opposition party should perish the thought as he (Jonathan), remains a PDP man to the core.

Present at the meeting were other members of the committee including former Governors Ibrahim Dankwambo, Ibrahim Shema and Liyel Imoke of Gombe, Katsina and Cross River states respectively; ex- Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim; and erstwhile House of Representatives leader, Hon. Mulikat Adeola-Akande.

Instructively, the meeting with Jonathan has put paid to the grandstanding by APC governors that the former President was being considered to come into their party to run for the 2023 elections.

That same Tuesday, the committee had another meeting with the PDP caucus in the Senate. The meeting held at the Maitama home of the caucus leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe and enabled the Senators to bare their minds on events within the party and what needs to be done to move forward.

On Wednesday, the committee had a meeting with former Governors elected on the platform of the party, held at the Legacy House Office of the party in Maitama and was well attended. It had many of the ex-Governors from the 1999 set to those who left in 2019. The ex-Governors gave frank views and candid advice that could help the committee navigate the way forward.

The former Governors in attendance included Liyel Imoke (Cross River), Gabriel Suswam (Benue), Ibrahim Shema (Katsina), Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara), Peter Obi (Anambra), Ahmed Makarfi and Ramalan Yero (Kaduna) and Boni Haruna (Adamawa). Others are Babangida Aliyu (Niger), Emmanuel Uduaghan (Delta), Ibrahim Idris and Wada Idris (Kogi) and Sam Egwu (Ebonyi) and Achike Udenwa of Imo State.

Speaking with newsmen after the meeting, Saraki said, “The party set up our committee, National Reconciliation Committee. Part of our terms of reference is to consult with key stakeholders. Yesterday, we met with our former President. Today, we are consulting with our former Governors, who are our key stakeholders. “Monday, we met with one of our former Presidents. Today, we are consulting with our former Governors, who are key stakeholders and leaders in their States. There is no way we can talk about consultations and unity of the party without consulting them. We have been here for two to three hours. We had a very useful and productive meeting.”

Saraki contended that all former governors of the PDP had all renewed their commitment towards the party to go and strengthen the party in their States and the national level to ensure that the party was well prepared ahead of the next elections in 2023.

The former Governors, he added, had all pledged to bring about the areas of grievances, which is normal in any party, as leaders to help unify and bring people together, where there are problems and issues.

Asked what his take-home was from the meeting, he said, “I’m very encouraged, because a lot of them have a lot of experiences and resources, but felt that they’re not as involved in some of the issues that are ready to now work actively.

“And we’ve promised as a committee to keep them busy and brief them on what is happening in the party, get them involved in some of the workings within and outside the party, that people look to with respect.

“We want to see them to be more active, because their silence sometimes might be misinterpreted. But they’ve promised me, and the committee that, there’ll be more active workers of the party. You’ll hear more of their voices that they are available for comments on national issues.

“And so we can see at the caliber of some of them here. If they’re working at full blast, I think it will help the fortunes of the party.” Saraki said the committee was reaching out first to them and make them very active and very involved, stating that efforts were on to bring back those who had left the party.

“Of course, there are some, who are in other parties. We don’t start telling you who is coming until we know when they are arriving. Just be watching.”

He described the meeting as a huge turnout as about two-thirds of the former Governors attended the meeting.

“It has never happened before. It is a good side and they’re have committed to always be present. So, it’s a good sign and prospects for the party.” On the response from the former Governors, the former Senate President said, “That is why it is taking us longer. They have opened their minds and telling us what the issues are but they are not issues that are insurmountable. That is why we are encouraged that we need to play our own role in getting such people of experience involved.

“They still have their supporters. We must get them involved. They are committed to the party. They are not going anywhere. We have gotten their assurance that they are not going anywhere instead they are going to bring in more people.”

Former Governor of Niger State, Aliyu Babangida, in his comments said the APC was not a better option.

On Thursday, it was the turn of the PDP Board of Trustees members. The meeting also held at the Legacy House and all the members were in attendance. Here, Saraki met with the BoT members that eventually gave the committee a hundred per cent support.

On Friday, the group went to Minna to hold a meeting with former President Ibrahim Babangida. The effort was to explain the mission of the committee to the key stakeholders, solicit their support, seek their advice and get their buy-in into the strategy for moving forward.

The committee still intends to meet the PDP Governors Forum headed by Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State, the PDP House of Representatives Caucus, the Speaker of the States’ Houses of Assembly Forum and a meeting with some selected elders. Recalled that on the eve of the committee’s inauguration on December 1, 2020, the members, after series of separate meetings in Abuja with the feuding groups in Plateau State, moved to Jos, where it had a joint meeting with the Jeremiah Useni and Jonah Jang’s groups.

The efforts were to unite them and make them work together on the Senatorial bye-election in the state. Though the party eventually, albeit narrowly lost, the efforts of the committee became a move that thawed the ice of the cold relationship between the two groups.

Since then, the chairman of the committee and other members had made crucial interventions to douse tension in various circles in the party. For example, Saraki had hosted a reconciliation meeting between Governors Wike and Ayade of Rivers and Cross River States respectively.

He had also intervened to appease Governor Bello Mutawalle of Zamfara State, who expressed frustration over the attack on him by fellow PDP Governors in the oil producing States over the new mining rights granted his State on the solid minerals in its domain.

The committee, last Thursday, after the meeting with the BOT, received reports of a sub-committee set up on the crisis in the Imo State chapter and jointly headed by Rt. Hon Austin Opara and Senator MAO Ohunabunwa.

The report, which the committee had deliberated upon showed that the lingering crisis in the State would soon be resolved. Aggrieved members that had cases in courts had agreed to withdraw them. Others chose to move forward and forget the past while working to reclaim a State, which is traditionally PDP’s.

In all, the PDP reconciliation committee is set to reposition the party and stop the current hemorrhaging caused by the APC, which seeks to use the news of defection from PDP as a smokescreen for division in its own rank.

Source: This Day

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