A meeting that was held in Abuja on Sunday as the grand finale of the zonal reconciliation meetings of the Peoples’ Democratic Party fell short of expectations as 16 governors elected on the platform of the party did not show up for it.
The zonal meetings, which acted as a prelude to the grand finale had also been boycotted by the governors. The PDP constitution designates the governors as the leaders of their state chapters, in the same way the President is the national leader of the party.
President Goodluck Jonathan; the Board of Trustees Chairman, Chief Tony Anenih; the Senate President, David Mark and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal were also not in attendance.
While Mark is said to be in Ecuador for the inter-parliamentary union meeting, the other three are in the country, and it is not known if they sent in their apologies.
Only two out of the 23 governors of the parties were in attendance – Akwa Ibom State Governor, Godswill Akpabio and Kogi State Governor, Idris Wada – and another five were represented by their deputies. Those who sent their deputies are Governors Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers), Babangida Aliyu (Niger), Ibrahim Shema (Katsina), Abdulafatah Ahmed (Kwara) and Ibrahim Dankwambo (Gombe).
No explanations for their absence of the party chieftains was offered by the organizers, even though they were listed in the programme of events.
Curiously enough, the speech by the party’s National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur expressed profound appreciation to the President and “so many of our party members at occasion”.
He said: “Let me begin by first expressing my sincere appreciation to His Excellency the President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR, and the Vice President, Mohammed Namadi Sambo, GCON, for finding time to grace this historic occasion…
“I must admit that I am overjoyed and greatly overwhelmed by the presence of so many of our party members at this occasion. This is how it should be, given that PDP is the only real political party in Nigeria. No wonder that PDP is called the greatest party in Africa”
Tukur identified the problems plaguing the party to include lack of respect for one another, respect for the party’s constitution and rules, funding and federalism, while he also listed openness, inclusivity, fairness, fair-play and internal democracy in the party’s processes; and transparent and sanitised membership, as well as enlargement of membership as signs of growth of the party.
The party chair warned that the party would continue to face daunting challenges unless these and other issues are properly addressed.
He added: “Unless we effectively address these issues and challenges and as well modernise our operations as an enlightened organisation, we cannot reposition our party and prime it for the tasks ahead.
“In addition, we must strive to restore the integrity of our programmes and policies as enunciated in our manifesto. We also need to urgently bring our ideas and policies as a party in line with the realities of a fast changing world”
Tukur said the PDP acknowledges the right and entitlement of all political parties to exist and compete for political power and it also recognised the right of the Nigerian people to vote out a non performing party in government.
“We want it to be on record, that our party acknowledges the right and entitlement of all political parties to exist and compete for political power.
“We acknowledge and respect the rule of electoral practices and recognise that a party that does not perform well can be voted out of power as easily as it was voted into power.
“In a democracy, political parties are not anti-system and anti-constitution in their mode of operation. National interest mediates all their engagements and actions.
“Let us, however, leave no shadow of doubt, that we are prepared to bear any burden, shoulder any hardship, support any friend, oppose any opponent in order to assure the survival and success of democracy in Nigeria”.
Tukur appealed for cooperation of governors and leaders of the party at all levels in the party’s quest for reconciliation, reform and rebuilding processes, based on equity and justice.
Sambo, who also spoke at the event only re-read the same speech he delivered at the party’s reconciliation meeting in Kaduna on Saturday.