PDP National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur
In spite of the troubleshooting efforts of President Goodluck Jonathan and former President Olusegun Obasanjo, the faction of the Peoples Democratic Party led by Alhaji Abubakar Baraje has said it will not abandon its mission to salvage the PDP.
To prove its seriousness, the faction known as the New PDP, has gone to a Lagos High Court in Ikeja, seeking to stop officials of the National Working Committee of the Bamanga Tukur-led faction from parading themselves as members of the National Executive Committee of the party.
Besides the suit which was heard on Monday by Justice Ganiyu Safari, and adjourned till Monday, September 9, the New PDP will on Tuesday (today) open a parallel secretariat at the Maitama District of Abuja.
In the suit, the plaintiffs – Baraje, Dr. Sam Jaja, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola and the PDP – asked the court to restrain Tukur, Prince Uche Secondus, Mrs. Kema Chikwe, Olisah Metuh and others from parading themselves as PDP NEC members.
The plaintiffs, according to a statement by Oyinlola, who is the national secretary of the faction, also sought a motion exparte, asking for the leave of the court to serve the defendants outside their jurisdiction.
They said in the statement which was made available to journalists in Abuja on Monday, that the court granted them leave to serve the defendants in their various locations.
On the claim by the faction that the NWC officials parade themselves as NEC members, the court said there was no urgency as to the fact of who should hold what office. It then directed that the status quo be maintained till September 9 when their arguments on the motion on notice would be heard.
“What this means is that in the meantime, both executive committees are to remain until the court resolves the matter,” the statement explained.
Before the statement was made public, the Baraje faction which has a former Vice-President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, and Governors Sule Lamido (Jigawa); Babangida Aliyu (Niger); Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto); Abdulfatai Ahmed (Kwara); Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers); and Rabiu Kwakwanso (Kano) as some of its key leaders, had said that it was encouraged by the overwhelming support it had been receiving across the country.
Because of this, the group said in another statement by Oyinlola, that it would not abandon its mission of rescuing the party.
The statement reads in part, “Alhaji Baraje and other leaders of the party appreciate the overwhelming outpouring of support and encouragement from genuine members and leaders of the party across the country. We assure them that we will not disappoint them in the mission to make the PDP work again in the interest of Nigeria and its people.
“We also appreciate the efforts of leaders of the party, particularly President Jonathan and former President Obasanjo who, we note, have scheduled a meeting of the party elders for this week.
“We respect the elders and will be guided by them.”
Baraje had earlier on Monday told an online news agency on the telephone that the parallel secretariat of the New PDP was equipped with “the needed paraphernalia of office” ahead of its opening on Tuesday.
“Our plan is to address the media and announce the names of other members of our National Working Committee at our own secretariat,” he added, declining to give the exact address of the secretariat in Abuja.
If the faction opens the secretariat, it would be the second time in PDP’s history that it would split into two groups, each operating from separate secretariats.
A group led by Lar, and a former Deputy National Chairman, Shuaib Oyedokun, had on June 9, 2006 formed a parallel faction after accusing the then Ahmadu Ali-led leadership of sidelining many founding members.
The group then proceeded to open a new secretariat in the Jabi District of Abuja. The Obasanjo administration promptly deployed security agents to seal the secretariat.
A meeting on Sunday night between Jonathan and the PDP governors, including Aliyu, and Ahmed over the factionalisation of the party had ended in a deadlock.
A top source in Abuja, who disclosed this, said the meeting, which would continue at the Presidential Villa in Abuja on Tuesday (today), might also end in a deadlock.
“This is why the elders or leaders would meet in Abuja on Thursday to chart a new course and see if they could achieve anything new,” he stated.
The PUNCH learnt that the elders’ meeting which is being convened by Obasanjo would have among others, a former Vice-President, Alex Ekwueme, a former Chairman of the party, Chief Solomon Lar, and former military President Ibrahim Babangida in attendance.
Obasanjo had on Sunday implored the two factions to “maintain the status quo” while efforts were being made by the elders to broker a truce.
The Tukur-led faction however said on Monday that it would make its position on the action of the G-7 and Abubakar known at the end of its consultations.
Its National Publicity Secretary , Chief Metuh, said after the inaugural meeting of the newly constituted NWC in Abuja that, “Consultations are going on at the highest level of this party. The President, national chairman of our party, the chairman BoT and the PDP governors are meeting on this and their discussions so far have been very encouraging.”