The much-publicised October 7 resumption of peace talks between President Goodluck Jonathan and the breakaway faction of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will not be — after all.
The Abubakar Baraje-led faction, which includes no fewer than seven governors has asked for a postponement. Baraje said some key members of the faction, including some governors, would be on pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia on October 7.
In a statement signed yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary, Chukwuemeka Eze, the faction said it had already sent an emissary to President Jonathan seeking a postponement.
According to the Baraje camp, the decision was taken Tuesday night at a caucus meeting of the New PDP held at the Adamawa State Government Lodge, Asokoro, Abuja.
It said: “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.
“Our National C hairman, Alhaji Baraje and most of our other key members, including most of the G7 Governors and the five other governors that have indicated interest to join us by next week, as well as members of the National Assembly, former governors and business moguls, are billed to perform the Hajj, which is already in operation.”
But a source said last night that the hajj excuse was just convenient. The faction has lost interest in the talks, he said, pleading not to be named.
“They are now thinking of another party to join,” he said.
In a swift reaction, the Bamanga Tukur-led PDP slammed the Baraje faction for making the decision to postpone the talks public.
In a telephone conversation with our correspondent yesterday, the National Publicity Secretary of Tukur’s PDP, Chief Olisa Metuh, took strong exception to what he described as the overdramatisation of the postponement by the Baraje faction.
Metuh said: “It is inconceivable that they are dramatising a matter that’s being discussed with the President. If they are responsible enough, they would not be making a public show of it by taking it to the pages of newspapers.
“It’s the height of irresponsibility for them to be discussing a matter they had with the President on the pages of newspapers. I am not sure that even some of the governors are aware of this.
“They are being childish and clownish. They can as well go to the National Assembly and hold a public hearing on it. They are free to go wherever they want to go.”
But the Baraje faction said their members on the hajj train had been mandated to use the opportunity offered by the holy pilgrimage to pray for the restoration of peace and unity in PDP, as well as peace in the country.
The faction assured its supporters and Nigerians in general of its commitment towards bringing the “glorious days” back to the PDP and the country.
It said: “We thank Nigerians for their understanding and support while appealing for continued prayers for the restoration of peace as there can be no progress in an atmosphere of chaos.
“The fact remains that we are not only committed to restoring peace to our party but resolute about it. We enjoin our teeming supporters to be steadfast in their support for our struggle to enthrone genuine democracy devoid of abuse of the rule of law.
“On our part, we as leaders are committed to ensuring that our current struggle does not end as an exercise in futility but would achieve the set objectives of restoring our party to the path of honour and greatness.
“In this regard also, the party’s NWC billed for October 5th is hereby called off until our chairman comes back from the Hajj.
“We sincerely regret the inconvenience(s) in any form this may cause our beloved President, party faithful and Nigerians’; as praying to our God should be the utmost part from us, particularly now, knowing very well that with God, the elusive peace in our party and country can be achieved”, the statement said.
Source: The Nation