Monday, 7 October 2013

Three rebel govs to meet Jonathan today

Niger State Governor Babangida Aliyu

Governors Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers), Babangida Aliyu (Niger) and Rabiu Kwankwanso (Kano) are to meet with President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday (today) at the Presidential Villa, Abuja to seek the postponement of their peace meeting.

The meeting was originally scheduled for today but the New Peoples Democratic Party, through its National Publicity Secretary, Chief Chukwuemeka Eze, announced in a statement last week, that it had been cancelled because most of the seven aggrieved governors were billed for the 2013 Hajj in Saudi Arabia.

He had said, “This decision was taken during the Caucus Meeting of the New PDP held at the Adamawa State Government Lodge, Asokoro, Abuja, during which it was discovered that the date of the proposed peace meeting clashes with this year’s Hajj, in which several of our key members are billed to participate.”

But in a statement in Abuja on Sunday, Eze said the chairman of the New PDP, Alhaji Abubakar Baraje, gave the directive that Amaechi, Aliyu and Kwankwaso should officially notify the President of the need to shift the meeting to a later date.

Eze said, “Alhaji Baraje, the national chairman of the New PDP just called from Saudi Arabia around 9pm on October 6, 2013 to direct that the governors and stakeholders of the (New) PDP that include Rotimi Amaechi, Babangida Aliyu, Rabiu Kwankwaso, who have yet to travel to Mecca should meet with the National Leader of our party and President, Dr. Jonathan by 9am on October 7, 2013 to formally obtain permission from Mr. president to shift the meeting date to a more convenient date when all our leaders may have come back from Hajj.

“Shifting the meeting to morning period is to allow the mentioned governors apart from Amaechi to travel to Mecca later in the day (October 7) for the Haji operation.”

The statement explained that “this step is born out of the plea by President Jonathan and respect we have for his office.”

The other governors in the New PDP are Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), Sule Lamido(Jigawa), Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara), and Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto).

Before Eze’s statement, there had been indication that the Presidency was not formally informed of the postponement of the truce meeting.

A Presidency source had told journalists in Abuja on Sunday that the President was not aware of the postponement and therefore would not act based on newspaper reports.

He wondered why the aggrieved governors who, he said, had access to the President chose to use a statement to announce the postponement of the meeting.

The source said, “President Jonathan is not a local government chairman and there are procedures for passing information to the President. He was not contacted and the President is looking forward to tomorrow’s(today) meeting.

“If the governors in question said that they were proceeding on Hajj for their religious obligations, President Jonathan is certainly not against such, but what is right is right. As far as the President is concerned, he was not informed of the shift and he cannot act on press statements carried by the media.

“Let it be said in clear terms that President Jonathan is not and will never stand against the religious obligation of any Nigerian, let alone the governors, whom he has great regards for. But the right thing in protocol ought and should be done. For crying out loud, Dr. Jonathan is the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.

Asked what the President would do, the source said, “ Oga (Jonathan) is waiting for the meeting. Humility is not an offence; that the President is humble is not a crime”.

However, Eze defended his statement last week, saying he was asked to issue it after a meeting by the leaders of the PDP faction at the Adamawa State Governor’s Lodge in Abuja.

“I was asked to issue the statement and I did as directed. I cannot say whether the governors got in contact with President over the shift of the meeting or not,” he told one of our correspondents in Abuja on Sunday.

When contacted, Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Mr. Ahmed Gulak,said he was not aware whether members of the New PDP informed the President formally that they would not be able to attend the Monday peace meeting or not .

Gulak said he only read the position of the PDP splinter group on the pages of newspapers.

“I am not aware whether the President has been informed or not. I don’t know if they had communicated with him on their position. I just read it on the pages of newspapers,” he said.

The presidential aide had told Sunday PUNCH that members of the group had not been sincere from the beginning.

He, however, said whenever they were ready, the President would listen to them.

Gulak had said, “I don’t believe they are sincere from the beginning. If you have followed the trend of events, you will see that the President has been bending backward to accommodate everybody. He is ready to go to any length to achieve peace. But it just appears that they are not ready for peace.

“Immediately after the last meeting was adjourned till October 7, they went to the National Assembly and you know there was no need for that. It was a fundamental breach of the agreement reached at that meeting, that all parties should refrain from further actions until October 7.

“Nigerians now know that they are not sincere. So whenever they are ready, I believe Mr. President will be ready to listen to them once more.”

Source: Punch Nigeria

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