The efforts by the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) at mending broken fences within the party hit a wall when the Governor of Rivers State and Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Rotimi Amaechi; Delta State Governor, Emmanuel Uduaghan and some other dignitaries walked out of the party’s South-South zonal meeting.
The meeting, which was held in Port Harcourt, took place just as a similar meeting held for the South-West zone of the party saw its different factions disagreeing on the outcome.
It was reported that Amaechi and Uduaghan walked out of the meeting when the Akwa Ibom State Governor and Chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum, Godswill Akpabio started addressing the gathering.
However, the PDP National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, who was present at the meeting, defended the action of the governors, specifically referring to Uduaghan, whom he claimed rushed home to attend to an important family matter.
However, the Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari said that Amaechi left the venue of the meeting to see off the Delta State governor, even though Amaechi did not return to the venue before the meeting ended.
“You noticed that the Governor of Delta State was leaving at the same time, Governor Amaechi had to be a proper host. So he had to see off his colleague, the governor of Delta state.
“I do not see any reason Governor Amaechi would feel insulted by the comments of Governor Akpabio because he (Akpabio) was responding to the comment of Governor Uduaghan.
“The people were obviously the ones who responded, the Governor of Rivers State had no interest in that. Governor Akpabio thought it necessary to dole out some charity to the various states visiting as chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum. That might be one of the ways he felt like reaching out to the people,” Semenitari said.
Amaechi, Uduaghan and some members of the PDP in attendance appeared to have been angered by the donation of N1m to each state chairman of the party in the South-South by Akpabio based on Uduaghan’s call that members of the party should be well-fed by the PDP.
Uduaghan had said earlier that even if all the roads were tarred, members of the PDP would appreciate the provision of food on their tables.
“I join all my brothers in the South-South in welcoming you (Tukur). Even as an elected governor, I must tell you this. Even if you tar all the roads in the South-South without putting food on the table, our members will not appreciate the party.
“If you want to prevent our members from going to other parties, you must put food in the stomach of our supporters,” Uduaghan had said.
But Akpabio, apparently responding to Uduaghan’s speech, added that the N1m should be used by the party chairmen for their lunch in order not to defect to other political parties.
“My brother; Governor, Uduaghan said our members are hungry and that we must put food in their stomachs so that they don’t stray to other parties. I am giving all the state chairmen of the party N1m each for lunch. Our members must not be hungry,” he said.
In a veiled reference to the 2015 election, Akpabio urged party faithful to support President Goodluck Jonathan and to see the success of Jonathan as that of the South-South.
“There is a hand of God in every position of leadership. Bayelsa is, perhaps the smallest state in Nigeria, but God decided to choose Goodluck Jonathan from Bayelsa State to become the President. We must all support our brother to succeed. For us, we shall not fail and we will never fail,” Akpabio added.
He also urged Tukur to make sure that the reconciliation meeting of the party was held twice every year, adding that if such measures were taken by the national leadership of the party, the PDP would easily win 30 states in 2015.
“The party needs unity and cohesion to win. We must compensate the disciples in each state. If you are not a good follower, you cannot be a good leader,” he said.
Tukur, in his response, promised that the National Working Committee of the party would do everything within its power to strengthen the party.
Tukur said “You are the owners of PDP. We will ensure that the party is brought back to the owners of the party. Yes, there are disagreements, but we can end our differences and still deliver our party in 2015.”