PDP Leaders Angry Over Jonathan’s Silence As Crisis Rocks Party
Penultimate week in Abuja, some PDP senators had gone to seek an audience with Jonathan. Sources that were privy to the meeting said they got no commitment from the former president on his intervention.
A former member of Jonathan’ s campaign told New Telegraph yesterday that what they got from Jonathan was not encouraging. He said: “His body language was that he did not want to meddle into politics now. He was like, his entry back to politics now would jeopardise the ongoing probes and investigations by the Federal Government on different activities of his administration.
They left without a firm promise from him of his intervention. ” Some of the leaders, who spoke with New Telegraph, expressed worries that Jonathan, who benefitted from the party from 1999 until 2015 on different levels, could not just fold his hands and watch the party in ruins on the pretence that he was on a sabbatical from politics.
Between 1999 and 2015, Jonathan was a Deputy Governor and Governor of Bayelsa State; Vice President, Acting President and President of Nigeria.
But soon after his defeat by the Muhammadu Buhari - led All Progressives Congress (APC), just few days before the handover ceremonies, Jonathan had stunned select party leaders in Aso Rock, when he told them that he was taking a sabbatical from politics. He had thanked them for their efforts and the height the PDP had taken him. Efforts by leaders of the party to persuade the former president from ‘retiring’ in form of sabbatical hit the brick walls. He did not shake.
You should continue to manage the party until another presidential candidate emerges.’ That is because in our party, the president is the leader of the party, ” said Chief Bode George, a former Deputy National Chairman of the party. Reminded that both Jonathan and former President Olusegun Obasanjo, two former presidents of the party were no longer playing active roles in the party, George said that has affected the party badly.
He said: “I remember that night. It was a night I would not forget because a lot of appeal went to him that he has to stay because that ’s what happens in America. He must manage the party until a new candidate emerges.”
Many within the party believe that the failure of Jonathan to intervene in the crisis was responsible for the lingering feud, especially between Sheriff and Markarfi. A party leader from the North told New Telegraph last night that if Jonathan or Obasanjo were in the party, the situation would have been different. “All these rubbish would have stopped if we had any of the former presidents as leaders of the party now.
All they needed to do was to summon a meeting of the parties. Overnight, the problem would be over. But now , we are in the hands of the governors, who are toying with the future of the party.”
He said that what was shocking was the fact that Jonathan knew that the party was rudderless and has not made efforts to settle the intra- party strife. Another source, who was a member of the Jonathan’s Presidential Campaign team , blamed the former president for the crisis in the party today. He asserted that but for Jonathan’s insistence to run in 2015, against advice from party leaders and the then PDP governors , led by now Transport Minister, Rotimi Amaechi, the party would not have lost the election and arrived on a path to perdition so soon.
He said that the interest of the former president to vie for another term pitched him against the then Amaechi-led Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF). According to a source who was privy to what transpired at the time, the governors were initially against the 2011 candidature of Jonathan, but he threatened them and they caved in because their political interests were also at stake.
He said: “After Jonathan finished Yar’Adua’s term, stakeholders within the PDP, especially the governors, felt he had benefitted enough after one year and six months in office as president. They actually wanted a Northerner to take over from him by barring his candidature in 2011.
“But the ex- president threatened them and said he was going to sink the ship if they didn't allow him run , which means some of the governors who wanted a second term may not get it and those who wanted to install their successors may be frustrated.
“After different parleys, the governors gave him the passage to run, but an agreement was reached that he would only run for a term and the ex-president agreed to that term.” While noting that the North deliberately worked against the party and its candidate in the presidential election, he noted that if the party had fielded a Northerner as its presidential candidate in the 2015 election, PDP would not have been in its present crisis.
“There is no way one can divorce the unbridled ambition of Jonathan which was fuelled by sycophants and those making fortunes from the administration, from the present crisis within the party. A Northern candidate in 2015 instead of Jonathan would have put the party in a pole position to maintain its winning streaks since 1999 and those governors won’t have left the party and our structure would have been intact,” he said.