By Chuks Okocha
Former Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, has cautioned the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Uche Secondus, against interfering with the party’s ongoing reconciliation efforts.
Saraki warned that himself and other members in the reconciliation committee would not hesitate to resign if Secondus and his colleagues in the National Working Committee (NWC) failed to give members of the committee a free hand to operate.
Saraki said: “We are however very clear that our most important partner in this assignment is the NWC. Therefore, we seek your support and cooperation to ensure the success of this committee on its Herculean assignment.
“As members of this committee, we have decided to do only what is right. We do not have any personal interest and will not allow any interest other than of the party and what represents the truth, equity, objectivity, unity and peace to influence what we will do.
“The NWC must also give us free hand to operate. I want to make it very clear that we will put in our best. That is why we seek the cooperation of the NWC.
“However, if we see any sign that the NWC is working to undermine us or that we are not working in sync in the performance of this assignment, with all sense of responsibility; we will not hesitate to tender our resignation. That is what the members of the committee have asked me to convey to you, Mr. Chairman”.
Dr Saraki issued the warning in Abuja yesterday shortly after the reconciliation committee was inaugurated by the party chairman.
The committee, which is mandated to reconcile aggrieved members of the PDP across the six geopolitical zones, is chaired by Saraki.
Members of the committee include former Katsina State Governor, Ibrahim Shema; former Gombe State Governor, Ibrahim Dankwabo; and forrmer Cross River State Governor, Liyel Imoke.
Others are former Senate President, Anyim Pius Anyim; and a former Majority Leader in the House of Representatives, Mrs Mulikat Akande.
Saraki’s warning may not be unconnected with speculations that the NWC, particularly the party chairman, has been taking sides with PDP factions in some states and geopolitical zones where such factions exist.
A party source on Wednesday, alluded to what he described as a disinterested stance of the national leadership of the PDP in the ongoing leadership tussle in the Southwest zone where a faction, led by a former Ekiti State Governor, Ayo Fayose, is at logger heads with another faction led by the Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde.
The source, who pleaded anonymity, said Saraki’s word of caution was informed by the strength of contending interests struggling for the control of the party structure, particularly in states where the PDP does not have sitting governors.
Some party leaders have cautioned that the PDP might witness mass defections in the months ahead, if urgent steps were not taken to address existing grievances among prominent members in many states across the federation.
Recall that the Ebonyi State Governor, Mr Dave Umahi, had recently dumped the PDP for the All Progressives Congress (APC) citing “injustice and marginalisation” of the Southeast zone.
But Saraki promised that his committee will pursue genuine reconciliation drive, with a view to strengthening PDP structures and addressing the grievances of members.
Speaking further on the chances of the PDP in the 2023 general elections, he said the party remained the best platform to rebuild and unite the country.
“I am proud to note that PDP is still the best platform through which we can rebuild and unite Nigeria. One indication about the significance of this party is that it is the only political party that has at least a governor in all the six geopolitical zones of our country.
“Our party is also the only party which has members in all the households, streets, polling zones, wards, local government areas, states and across the country such that it is said that any street or community where the symbol of the umbrella is not sighted may not be part of the Nigerian territory.
“It is our belief and that of many members of this party that our chances in the 2023 elections are very bright and we need to unite ourselves to further brighten the chances,” Saraki said.
Addressing the committee members earlier during the inauguration, Secondus said the PDP had carefully chosen men of integrity and those with the best skills in the country to address the plight of the party.
The party chairman said: “We have absolute confidence in them to carry out this assignment. We also believe that reconciliation is a major assignment in our party.
“And as you are aware that the country is falling apart, Nigeria required the leadership qualities domicile in our party to show the path way for the next general election in 2023.
“It is so important at this time that they come on board to serve not only the party, but also to serve the entire country.
“The country is in dire need of men of high integrity who will prepare our party and our people for 2023 general election.
“As you are aware that without any fear, the APC, having failed and with the belief in God Almighty that we have all the experience and we are getting ready.
“We will be setting out various conferences and movement that will engage the youths of our country because they are the future of the country.”