President Goodluck Jonathan’s intervention into the crisis in the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP seems to offer hope for the former ruling party to rediscover itself.
GIVEN his preeminent position as the immediate past president of the country, it was not surprising that Dr. Goodluck Jonathan would step in to mediate in the ongoing crisis in the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. His eminent qualification is based on the fact that he is presently the only living president remaining in the party that governed the country for 16 of 17 years of the present Fourth Republic.
Sheriff visits Jonathan
President Umaru Yar‘Adua passed on in 2010 while President Olusegun Obasanjo tore his PDP party card on February 16, 2015; notably just before the general elections to tell all his opposition for a second term for Jonathan who was the party’s standard-bearer for the 2015 election. Even more, Jonathan’s qualification as a trouble-shooter is further enhanced by the bridge he has built between the two warring factions in the party.
Dr. Jonathan was instrumental to the defection of Sheriff from the All Progressives Congress, APC in 2014. Also as incumbent president, Dr. Jonathan reportedly ordered that the Maiduguri Airport be opened for him on July 14, 2014, and two days later as his private jet departed, the airport was again closed to traffic.
Dr. Jonathan’s bridge to the Senator Ahmed Makarfi faction is underlined by his closeness to many of the governors supportive of the faction including Governors Nyesom Wike of Rivers and Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti who could not have become governors but for the former president’s insistence on the level ground that allowed them. Four days after the Court of Appeal in Port-Harcourt endorsed Sheriff as the national chairman of the party, Sheriff and Makarfi, alongside their teams met separately with Jonathan.
The meeting with Makarfi was without the knowledge of most of the media. The Sheriff team, however, came along with newsmen understandably to make a point of their claim to the seal of the party. Sources close to the former president told Vanguard that the former president had met with the two groups at least twice since the Appeal Court judgment.
Speaking after the meeting with Sheriff on February 21, Jonathan said: “We are solving our problems. There are bound to be differences in politics. It is the way we resolve these differences that makes us human beings, and that is what makes us leaders. We are not factionalised. We are one. I have met with Sheriff. And I have met with others. I will meet with others so that we will be able to do what is expected of us as a political party.”
Mainstream of the party
Also speaking, Sheriff said he would not join issue with his adversaries in the mainstream of the party. “If I go down to their level, it means we are the same,” the former Borno State governor said.
But given the seeming legal cul de sac the PDP seems to have found itself, it is not surprising that even the most extreme members of the party who had vowed not to cohabit with Sheriff have had to do some rethink.
Governor Ayodele Fayose, chairman of the PDP Governors Forum and one of the arrowheads who foisted Sheriff on the party had in the past vowed to pursue a legal solution through to the Supreme Court. A week after he first met with Sheriff and Makarfi, President Jonathan met with the influential PDP Governors Forum. It was at the meeting that it was decided that a political solution should be pursued in resolving the crisis in the party.
Governor Fayose, who disclosed the outcome of the meeting to newsmen said: “He, Jonathan, is genuinely concerned about what is going on in the party, and he thought that an interactive session with the governors would go a long way to dousing tension.
We know that there are so many matters before the court, but we believe that a political solution will go a long way to solve this matter.
“If we believe in this party, we will all be willing and ready to pursue a political solution, which at the end of the day every interest will be well represented. That is the position of this meeting. We want to appeal to everybody to be wary of making statements that could further worsen the situation; we should make complimentary statements that can enhance the party the more.”
Following the meeting with the PDP governors, Dr. Jonathan again met with Sheriff and his team. At that meeting, Vanguard learned that the former president asked Sheriff and his team their way out of the crisis. Sheriff was said to have pledged the readiness of his team to organise a fresh convention that would set a new direction for the party.
Jonathan was said to have listened and subsequently again met with the Makarfi group during which he again deciphered the thoughts of the faction. The group has already pledged its acceptance of Jonathan’s intervention, and given the governors’ inclination, it could mean a truce could be reached in the near future.