Former President Goodluck Jonathan has denied any involvement in the crisis currently rocking the Peoples Democratic Party.
Five governors are currently at loggerhead with the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, and are insisting on the removal of the PDP Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu.
There have been unsuccessful moves by the party to bring the warring parties to the negotiation table as governors Nyesom Wike, Seyi Makinde, Okezie Ikpeazu, Samuel Ortom and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Rivers, Oyo, Abia, Benue and Enugu states, respectively, continue to keep a distance from Atiku’s presidential campaign activities and insisting on Ayu’s removal.
A former governor of Benue State, Gabriel Suswam, had on Thursday stated on Arise Television programme, The Morning Show, that Jonathan had been drafted to resolve the crisis.
Reports indicated that the aggrieved governors had thrown open the door of reconciliation, with Atiku immediately pledging his readiness to negotiate with them in the overall interest of the party.
Reacting to the development, the former President in a statement signed by his Media Adviser, Ikechukwu Eze, denied having anything to do with the crisis rocking the party.
The statement titled, ‘Re: Aggrieved PDP governors loyal to Jonathan’, read in part, “Our attention has been drawn to news media and social media reports linking former President Dr Goodluck Jonathan’s name to the current troubles in the Peoples Democratic Party with a false claim that the aggrieved PDP governors are demonstrating their loyalty to him.
“We would have ignored the strange tale since it is obviously baseless. However, we are offering this clarification because we have been reached by many Nigerians, who are concerned that such fabrication with a vague and suspicious attribution could be given undeserved prominence on the front pages of some national dailies.
“We are also not unmindful of the fact that, this being an electioneering season, bizarre tales are often contrived, propagated and weaponised to either smear others or deliver cheap political advantage to the purveyors.
“First, we would like to make the point that it is not out of place if there were crises in a political party like the PDP and a former President, who served under the party’s platform, is called upon to intervene. That being the case, we initially did not see anything wrong with the headlines in some papers, indicating that the former President was being persuaded to help resolve the issues in the party.
“However, we are dismayed that the seemingly purpose-minded headlines were only cast to mask the mischief of the sponsors of the story and hoodwink the unsuspecting populace. Our attention was called to provocative and insulting statements in separate but similar versions of the story in different news media, either claiming that ‘the whole thing we are seeing in the PDP…is orchestrated for President Jonathan’, or that ‘he (Jonathan) is encouraging governors Nyesom Wike, Makinde, Ikpeazu, Ugwuanyi and Ortom to behave the way they are doing’, knowing that ‘these five governors are fighting his cause’.
“We believe that such duplicitous statements could not have emanated from the camps of those who truly wish the party well. It simply shows that the so-called ‘sources’ of the story are not disposed to the peace and unity they pretend to be seeking in the PDP.”
The former President also dismissed claims that he was nursing a grudge against the party’s flag bearer, Atiku.
Eze said, “How could anybody turn around in 2022 to accuse Jonathan of bearing a grudge against the PDP when the former President had campaigned vigorously for the party and its presidential candidate during the 2019 elections?
“Those who insinuate that Dr Jonathan is not happy with the PDP presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, because of whatever roles he played ahead of the 2015 elections forget that the former President actively campaigned for Atiku in 2019, attending the flag off of his campaign in Sokoto and subsequently participated in the campaigns in some states like Rivers and Bayelsa.
“The fact that Dr Jonathan stood out as an exemplary politician who, throughout his political career, abhorred treachery and mean-mindedness, and played politics without bitterness, needs no gainsay. Unlike many of his detractors, the former President has, out of office, progressed to a higher level of statesmanship, faithfully applying himself to causes that promote peace, love, unity and progress across the entire West African sub-region.
“It is Dr Jonathan’s wish that the PDP is able to resolve its internal crisis, unite all members and have a good showing in the forthcoming 2023 elections. We wish to however point out that it will be difficult to achieve this aspiration if some forces in the party continue to engage in mudslinging, disinformation and manifest tendencies that negate the values that are dear to loyal party members.
“Former President Jonathan has served this country meritoriously at both the state and federal levels. He has now been out of office for almost eight years and Nigerians have come to trust and love him for who he is. While in office, he had no enemies to fight. He still has no enemies to fight now that he has become a private citizen.”
Atiku camp reacts
Meanwhile, Atiku has expressed readiness to negotiate with the five aggrieved governors to resolve the lingering crisis in the party.
In a statement signed by his Media Adviser, Paul Ibe, the presidential candidate said he was excited over reports that Wike and his group “are favourably disposed to the resolution of the issues with the PDP candidate.”
The statement read in part, “Atiku Abubakar expresses his commitment to a negotiation that will resolve the crisis of confidence and pave the way for a much stronger and united PDP.
“The former Vice-President of Nigeria notes that never at any time of the differences that have ensued have the doors been shut to Governor Wike and his group.
“He enjoins every leader of the party and their supporters irrespective of their leanings to be open-minded and support the process of resolution of the extant issues.”
‘We’ll resolve crisis’
Meanwhile, Atiku has given an assurance that the lingering crisis in the PDP will be resolved and the party will come out stronger.
Atiku, who gave this assurance when he visited Minna on Friday for a high-powered meeting, said the crisis was a family quarrel that would be resolved.
“It is a family quarrel and we believe that we will resolve it before the elections and you will see a very united and strong PDP that will face the elections,” he told journalists.
The presidential candidate also stated that his camp would not be weary of reaching out to the G-5 governors, adding that they were family members and would resolve their differences.
“We have always engaged the five governors and we will continue to engage them,” he added.
Atiku also described the recent attack on his convoy in Borno State as unfortunate and accused the political leadership in the state of sponsoring the attack.
“The Borno incident is unfortunate and the whole thing was sponsored by the political leadership in the state,” he claimed.
Atiku also stated that it was wrong to sign a peace pact and go against the agreement.
“It is most unfortunate that this is happening when a peace accord was signed,” he added.
Members of his entourage included his running mate, Governor of Delta State, Ifeanyi Okowa; the Director-General of his campaign council and Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal; Taraba State Governor, Darius Ishaku; a former governor of Adamawa State, Senator Boni Haruna; a former governor of Imo State, Emeka Ihedioha; a former Jigawa State governor, Sule Lamido; and a former Niger State Governor, Dr Babangida Aliyu.
Others are Ali Gusau, Senator Ben Obi, Senator Dino Melaye, Senator Abdul Ningi and the Niger State PDP Chairman and executive members of the party in the state.