Chuks Okocha in Abuja
Fresh facts have emerged on what transpired at the recent closed-door meeting between former President Goodluck Jonathan and the Reconciliation and Strategy Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) led by a former President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki.
A source privy to the meeting told THISDAY at the weekend that Jonathan complained to the Saraki-led committee that the PDP left him in the dark, without any role assigned to him.
According to the source, Jonathan told the committee that the All Progressives Congress (APC) was trying to poach him because the PDP did not carry him along in its activities.
APC had clarified that it was not wooing the former president to become its presidential candidate in 2023.
But the Chairman of the National Caretaker Committee of the party and Yobe State Governor, Mr. Mai Buni, had led some other governors of the ruling party to a private meeting with Jonathan in his Abuja residence without any member of the PDP in attendance.
Ebonyi State Governor, Mr. David Umahi, who recently defected to the APC from the PDP; Governor Atiku Bagudu, of Kebbi, who is the Chairman of the Progressives Governors’ Forum; and Governor Abubakar Badaru of Jigawa State were at the meeting.
Also in the team was Mr. Kashim Ibrahim-Imam, former presidential liaison officer to the National Assembly.
According to the source privy to the meeting between Jonathan and the Saraki group, the former president said he stood back because the PDP did not assign him any responsibility or role and he didn’t want to be seen as imposing himself on the party.
He explained that he perceived that the APC people might have approached him because the PDP did not assign him any responsibility as a former president on the platform of the party.
However, the source said: “Jonathan said that now that the PDP has sent a high-power delegation to him, led by the former Senate president, he would make himself available to the party, be it for reconciliation, party building, and any other responsibility. He said he is ready to play any role.”
The source said Jonathan told the PDP Reconciliation and Strategy Committee that he is a committed and loyal PDP member.
“He renewed his commitment to PDP to provide the needed leadership,” the source added.
After the meeting with the former president, the chairman of the Reconciliation and Strategy Committee, Saraki, told reporters that the committee was starting off with the former president and that they were in his house to let him know what their plans are and also to hear his own views and advice on what they need to do and how to do it as well as what they need to strengthen the party and reconcile aggrieved members in order to bring about unity and focus within the party.
According to Saraki, “It was a very useful meeting. He gave us his views and we are very happy. He reassured all of us of his commitment to the PDP and he told us that he is still ready to offer his time, experience, and resources to strengthen the party and that is very strong and important for us. Of course, you know there are funny issues going on but we are leaving this place very happy.
“He is also ready to work with the reconciliation committee to play his own role. That is a great step for the party. We have put that behind us. All those people of the other party that would like to come and disturb our leaders; Our leaders are here and they are ready to work for the party.”
The former Senate president who was evasive on the 2023 Presidency, however, said the former president’s readiness to work in furtherance of the cause of the PDP is commendable.
“We spoke about what role former presidents like him will play and he left us feeling very happy that yes, he will like to play that role in the PDP and helping our committee to move forward,” he said.
He further added that those disturbing the former president about quitting the major opposition party should perish the thought as he (Jonathan) remains a PDP man to the core.