As part of efforts to address the crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Nigeria’s former President, Goodluck Jonathan, has announced the composition of a special Reconciliation Committee.
The committee would be made up of former Vice President, Namadi Sambo, former Senate President, David Mark and other eminent members of the party.
The former president made the announcement in Abuja, after a stakeholders meeting. He appealed to members of the party to bury their differences in order to end the crisis bedeviling it.
He stated in his address that although the party has experienced some difficulty in the last two years, the situation was not strange especially in a democratic setting.
“There is no doubt that our party has in the last two years, gone through some difficulties. However, in a democracy, this is not strange in the life of a political party, especially after losing power to the opposition party as we did.
“I should note that the situation is similar, albeit milder, even in advanced democracies. We should not forget that the labour party in the United Kingdom, the Democratic Party in the United States both of which lost power at different times, have also been making efforts to reunite, reconcile and and re-energise to become stronger before the next general elections.
“I will like to point out that every election cycle throws up challenges as well as opportunities for a political party,” Mr Jonathan stated.
Other members of the committee include all PDP governors or their deputies, two former governors to represent the north and the south, Deputy Senate President, Senate Minority Leader, two former ministers and two representatives from the youth wing of the party.
Some leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) on Wednesday held a consultative meeting on issues affecting the party and the nation.
This was revealed in a statement by the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity in the Office of the Vice President, Laolu Akande.
Mr Akande said that the meeting, which held at the Vice President’s conference room, was very useful and resourceful towards achieving the goals of the party and the APC-led government.
Some of those in attendance include: the National Leader of the Party, Bola Tinubu, former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, Deputy Speaker of the House Representatives, Honorable Suleiman Lasun-Yusuf, and the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu.
On no account would any presidential aspirant of the All Progressives Congress (APC) decamp from the party, no matter the outcome of the primaries.
The party at a press conference, organised by the National Publicity Seretary, Mr Lai Mohammed, told journalists that its not a mere agreement as all five presidential aspirants have been compellled to sign an undertaken on the order.
The five aspirants are, former Head of State, Muhammadu Buahri, former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, Governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha, Governor of Kano State, Rabiu Kwankwaso and publisher of the Leadership Newspaper, Mr Sam Nda Isaiah.
The APC also stated that the secret ballot system of voting will be used to elect the party’s presidential flag bearer at its national convention holding in Lagos on Wednesday and Thursday.
Mr. Mohammed said that over 8,000 delegates drawn from the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, are expected to participate in the convention and the presidential primaries that would elect the party’s flag bearer out of the five presidential aspirants of the party.
The five aspirants according to Mr. Mohammed include, a former head of state, Mohammadu Buhari; a former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar; Governor of Kano State; Rabiu Kwankwaso; Governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha and Publisher of Leadership Newspaper Group, Sam Nda-Isaiah.
“The five aspirants would address the delegates, stressing their programmes before the commencement of voting, which will be by secret ballot,” he said.
Mr. Mohammed said adequate arrangements have been made by the National Convention Committee (NCC) headed by former Governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi for a hitch-free convention.
“The various sub-committees are working round the clock to ensure that the convention succeeds and become a reference point in the political history of the country.
“We are also collaborating with relevant agencies to ensure effective security, crowd control, traffic management, medical attention among others,” he said. He also assured Nigerians who may not be opportune to be at the venue of the convention that arrangements have been made for effective live coverage of the entire process by some radio and TV stations.
In secret ballot, delegates will have the sole liberty to decide who to vote for without fear they may be victimized after.
A former Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo and his former deputy, Mr Atiku Abubakar have held a closed door meeting at the hill top residence of the former President in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, south west Nigeria.
The meeting which lasted for about 30 minutes may not be unconnected with the 2015 general elections, as the former Vice President had declared his interest in contesting in the 2015 presidential election.
Atiku is vying for the position under the platform of the All Progressives Congress.
Answering questions from reporters at the end of the meeting, the former Vice President described his relationship with his former boss as cordial, saying that the former President remains a national leader.
The meeting is an indication that both former leaders may have resolved their face-off that was widely reported in the media during and after their tenure.
On the crisis between the Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun and a former Governor in the State, Olusegun Osoba, Atiku hinted that efforts were being made to reconcile the two leaders of the party in the state through internal mechanism being initiated by the party leadership.
Ahead of the 2015 general election, northern youths, under the aegis of Arewa Youth Stakeholders, declared on Thursday to support only a northern candidate with credible antecedents to challenge President Goodluck Jonathan.
At a summit held in Kaduna, North West Nigeria, representatives of the various youth groups noted that with the unanimous endorsement of President Goodluck Jonathan by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) as its sole candidate in 2015, there is the need for the North to screen all presidential aspirants from the region in order to come up with a consensus candidate.
They emphasized the need to have a credible candidate who would contest on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC, which is seen as the only alternative platform for the region to challenge the incumbent President.
Guest Speaker at the summit, Mr Hassan Ibrahim, said that with the array of aspirants from the North jostling to succeed President Jonathan, like the former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, General Muhammadu Buhari, Kano State Governor, Rabiu Kwankwaso and a host of others, there is the need to scrutinise all of them based on their contributions to the development of the North and thereafter make a good choice.
Their argument was that the North has been marginalised for a long time by present and past leaders, and now needs a trusted leader who would address the issue of insecurity, poverty and unemployment in the region.
To achieve this, the youths said that the North must seek the support of their brothers and sisters from other parts of the country, using all democratic and peaceful means.
They, however, faulted the PDP for endorsing President Jonathan as the sole presidential candidate of the party in 2015, stating that such endorsement negates the principles of true democracy and rule of law.
The youths also advised the President to concentrate on tackling the various challenges facing the country.
It was not the first time that a group from the North would come up with this type of consensus arrangement.
In 2011, a group of northern political leaders endorsed former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, as the region’s sole candidate who contested against President Jonathan during the PDP primary.
Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, believes that the People’s Democratic Party should have subjected President Goodluck Jonathan to a contest for the party’s ticket for the 2015 presidential election.
Speaking to Channels Television in Abuja, Abubakar explained that President Jonathan does not stand a chance against the All Progressives Congress, APC, because Nigerians now have a choice of which party to vote for at the 2015 general election.
Abubakar also informed Channels Television that some governors under the ruling PDP would join the APC in protest over the decision to make President Jonathan the sole presidential candidate of the party.
The Board of Trustees of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Wednesday night, resolved that President Goodluck Jonathan be the sole candidate of the party in the 2015 presidential election.
They said the resolution is born out of their conviction that President Goodluck Jonathan has done an excellent job in his first term and should be allowed to contest for a second term unopposed.
President Jonathan, who was elected into the office in 2011, was formerly the Vice President to late President Musa Yar’Adua.
Although he is yet to officially declare his ambition to run for a second term, thousands of supporters have been campaigning all over the country.
The All Progressives Congress, APC, in the South West and Kogi State have dissociated themselves from the zoning formula, saying it is a PDP agenda that has not worked well for the country.
Some leaders of the APC from all the 6 states of the South West and Kogi, who converged on Ibadan the Oyo State capital to rally support for former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, as the presidential flag bearer of APC, made this known during an interactive session with the press.
The group was made up of various political associates of the former vice president, whose mission was to garner support ahead of his formal declaration.
They argued that if the constitution was strictly adhered to, President Jonathan has spent more years in governance than the 8 years stipulation.
The group also added that the era of imposition of candidates can never thrive in the APC as all candidates who emerge from ward to federal level would be the choice of the majority.
The group, who call themselves ‘Friends of Atiku’, posited that their candidate has been tested and trusted for the task ahead.
The zonal leader of the Abubakar supporters, Bode Ajewole, in his brief speech, was optimistic that the desired change needed for Nigeria’s stability could be realistic if Atiku gets the ticket.
Ajewole and his colleagues engaged the press on various issues militating against good governance in Nigeria. Chief among these undemocratic practises, according to this group, include zoning, imposition of candidates among others.
A Public Affairs Analyst and former Vice President, Transparency Nigeria, Ezenwa Nwagwu, has called on the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, to either defect to the opposition party or lose his position as the All Progressives Congress (APC) now boasts of having majority of the members in the House.
The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) had obtained a judgement from a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja stopping the House of Representatives from changing its leadership pending the determination of a suit filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) seeking to restrain the lower chamber from altering the composition of its leadership.
There have been agitations by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as a result of mass defection of member lawmakers who cross carpeted to the APC. The party had also gone ahead to seek redress in the court of law to deter more members from decamping, as well as to ensure that the court declares seats of the decampees vacant.
Nwagwu, who is the Chairman, Partners for Electoral Reform, told Channels Television that the Speaker, a PDP member, has no choice in the matter. “You have a PDP speaker now, if majority of the members are opposition. It’s common sense. You can’t continue to be speaker. There’s no magic, all you need to do to retain that position is to defect,” Nwagwu said.
Nwagwu, who noted that the PDP’s decision to go to court is “immoral,” said that the party had benefitted from similar events in the past.
“The PDP as it stands now, going to court is immoral” because “you’ve benefitted from this process in time past, you are still benefitting really.” The PDP “swallowed up majorly most of the smaller parties, in our recent history” and so “to begin to worry now that there’s a change that looks like it’s going to be a vista of hope for serious democratic practice is worrisome.”
The struggle put up by the ruling party “is about contest and leadership. It’s about who controls the leadership of the National Assembly in both Houses, he said, adding that “the agitations of the PDP are not fuelled by principles but by power.
He traced the history of the culture of defection to the 50’s during the “AG and NCNC saga, where members of the then NCNC had to move to the Action Group, which had consequences (till date),” he said, and also noted that the defection “affected the relationship between followers of Nnamdi Azikwe and those of Obafemi Awolowo,”who are still alive.
“That debate is still on as to what really happened. Some said the AG bought over the members of the NCNC,” he said.
He berated PDP’s agitations and further noted that the “The Peoples Democratic Party had benefitted immensely from defections in this democratic dispensation.” He cited instances including the defection of Governor Ikedi Ohakim, “who got his ticket under the PPA and moved to the PDP, with almost all the members of the House of Assembly.”
He also mentioned the case of the governor of Bauchi state (Isa Yuguda) who “did not just marry the PDP. He also married the President’s daughter to cement that relationship.” Also, “In the Senate, Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe who moved from AD.”
“It was exciting for everybody and the PDP lapped all of that up.”
Mr Nwagwu, who was on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, expressed hope that the rise in cases of defection would lead to “a situation where the opposition will be leading an arm of government.” “If it truly becomes opposition, then Nigerians would be in for (truly) what democracy is about, which is about checks and balances.” he said.
Responding to claims that the Senate President (SP) will take action against defectors, Mr Nwagwu said the SP cannot do such as he is only ‘primus inter pares” and not the ‘Senate.’ “You can’t by yourself say you would stop people,” he added.
He continued by saying that: “The majority of your colleagues need to stand up to you and show you and show you this history. That’s the point that I’m making.” “I think if democracy is about majority rule, then if in the House of Representatives, you have opposition having the number, it’s just important that you allow them have their way.”
“My expectation as a citizen is that I would want to see a situation in which you have true opposition.”
Fillers coming from the Federal Government suggest that resolution may be in sight for the ongoing industrial action embarked on by Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) in Nigeria.
Rising from a meeting between the President and the leadership of ASUU, the Minister of Labour, Emeka Wogu who spoke to Channels Television State House Correspondent on behalf of the Federal Government said that considerable progress has been made and that Nigerians should expect a positive reaction from the striking lecturers.
The meeting which lasted 13 hours raised hopes among Nigerians, and there were expectations that the President stepping in personally would yield an immediate result, but ASUU President, Nasir Fagge insisted that it was too soon for the union to make any statement until members are briefed on the meeting.
“We now have a message from Mr. President that we are going to take to our members, and we are expecting that our members will respond appropriately to the message of Mr. President.”
When asked about the possibility of going back to the classrooms, Mr. Faggie said “that is up to our members.”
It will be recalled that the legislative arm of the government had stepped into the 4 month old ASUU crisis by appealing to the lectures to embrace a dialogue with the government towards finding a “win-win” resolution to it.
Senate President, David Mark remarked that “national interest is at stake as students have been out of classrooms for about 4 months now and that is not in the interest of anybody. We are not happy, the parents are not happy and the Government is not happy…it’s only proper that we have it resolved as quickly as possible.”
President Goodluck Jonathan has met with the leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) as part of the ongoing efforts to end the industrial action by the lecturers.
The meeting which took place at the Presidential Villa came on the heels of several failed attempts to get the lecturers to return to the classrooms.
Channels Television State House Correspondent, Chukwuma Onukekwusi, reported that President Jonathan gave the assurance that all the issues must be resolved immediately, and that Nigerian students must go back to school.
The meeting also had in attendance, Minister of Labour, Emeka Wogu, Minister of Education, Yesom Wike, President of the Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC, Mr. Abdulwaheed Omar and the Chairman of the National Universities Commission, Prof. Julius Okojie.
The ASUU team was led by its President, Nasir Fagge.
The Federal Government has been tasked to increase funding for education in Nigeria or risk further stagnation in the sector and in the development of the country.
At a national dialogue on education and good governance in Abuja with Oby Ezekwesili, a former Minister of Education and H.E Mohammed Sa’ad Abubakar III, the Sultan of Sokoto in attendance, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Former Vice President of Nigeria said Nigeria risks being left at the lowest rung of development with the unchecked decay in the sector.
Statistics from the Ministry of Education indicate that of the 61 million children out of school globally, 31 million are in sub-Saharan Africa and out of that number 10.3 million are Nigerians.
Recent UNESCO data also shows Nigeria ranking last out of 136 countries on the list for public spending on education.
Improper funding of the sector led to the closure of public universities with the industrial action by the Academic Staff Union Of Universities (ASUU), and the situation has graduated to a worrisome state for Nigerians, hence the move to capitalise on the strike action as a platform to sanitize the nation’s education sector as the starting point for the sanitization of the sector which has brought key players and products of Nigerians post-colonial education system together to brainstorm on ways to salvage the sector.
They however challenged Nigerians in all sectors to get involved in making informed demands on government, make valuable contributions that will lift the education sector and future of Nigeria out of the doldrums as quality and good education at all levels in Nigeria is no longer a federal government business alone.