…Jonathan woos Kwankwaso, Wammako, Gemade, Goje, others
The Presidency is in dilemma over how to handle former President Olusegun Obasanjo following calls for his expulsion from the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) for alleged anti-party activities.
The PDP is also ruing the defection of five of its governors and other stalwarts to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Some top shots of the ruling party and presidency officials have already launched secret moves to reopen talks with the governors.
They want them back as part of the last minute strategy to swing the tide of public opinion in favour of President Goodluck Jonathan.
The initiators of the peace talks, according to sources familiar with the development, are trying to prevail on the affected governors not to make things difficult for the President such that he could win between 25 and 40 per cent votes in their states.
But the Presidency and the PDP are confused about what to do with ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo following recommendation by some party bigwigs, including Ijaw leader Chief Edwin Clark that the ex-President should be expelled.
Some ex-PDP chiefs being wooed are Governors Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano); Aliyu Wammako (Sokoto); Abdulfatai Ahmed (Kwara); ex-Governors Segun Oni, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, Danjuma Goje, Bayo Alao-Akala, Rasheed Ladoja, ex-PDP National chairmen like Audu Ogbeh, Barnabas Gemade, Kawu Baraje, ex-ministers Labaran Maku, Samuel Ortom and others.
It was gathered that though Governor Sule Lamido has not defected, the presidency and PDP are worried that he is yet to show enough commitment to Jonathan’s re-election bid.
Investigations revealed that only Governor Rotimi Amaechi is being sidelined in the discreet lobbying because of what a source described as a “South-South” challenge.
It was learnt that the peace initiative followed moves to prevent any possible run-off poll with the presidential candidate of the APC, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari.
Some of these defectors are being begged to collapse their structures with PDP to ease victory for Jonathan on February 14.
A highly-placed PDP source said: “There is no point pretending, we are feeling the impact of those who have defected from our party to the APC.
“If they had remained in the party, it would have been a walk-over for Jonathan at the polls during the presidential race.
“We have discovered that our major obstacles are those who have left PDP because they are masters of the game in their own right.
“This is why some forces in the presidency and the PDP are making last minutes moves to engage them to have a rethink and work for Jonathan wherever they are.
“We know that after the elections, we will embark on massive reconciliation to bring back everybody under the same umbrella.”
Another privileged source said: “Emissaries are being sent to some of these defectors in the overall interest of the party.
“This is the kind of rapprochement that the late Chief K.O. Mbadiwe would describe as ‘Accord Concordiale’. The PDP does not want to lose the poll.
“The party has the war chest to win the elections but it needs votes to seal its victory at the first ballot.
“Besides the defectors, the party is worried about the siddon look attitude of leaders like Governor Sule Lamido and others.
Contacted, the National Publicity Secretary of APC, Chief Olisa Metuh, said: “Officially, I am not aware but I must restate that our doors are open to returning and new members.
“We know that most of these people who defected from PDP to APC are not happy where they are. They are free to come back.
“They have left a land flowing with milk and honey for the desert. They have left a party where they were major stakeholders to a party where only one or two people take decisions.”
As at press time, there was confusion in the presidency and PDP on what to do with ex- President Olusegun Obasanjo whom some party elders had accused of alleged anti-party activities.
While some elders like Chief Edwin Clark wanted Obasanjo expelled, majority favoured that the ex-President should be ignored.
A member of the NWC said: “The President has engaged Obasanjo like a father; it is left to him to chart his part.
“But do not forget that he said he cannot dump a party that made him the President of Nigeria.
“We are still hopeful that he will temper Justice with mercy. We will reconcile him too with the party.”
Another NWC member simply quipped: “I don’t discuss personality, I face issues. I cannot talk on ex-President Obasanjo.”
Via The Nation