Leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Tuesday met former President Goodluck Jonathan amid speculations that he (Jonathan) was planning to dump the party for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
Members of the PDP Reconciliation and Strategy Committee led by former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, held a meeting with Mr Jonathan in the latter’s Abuja residence.
Members of the committee at the meeting were ex-Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Pius Anyim; former governors Ibrahim Shema, Liyel Imoke and Ibrahim Dankwambo of Katsina, Cross River and Gombe states respectively.
Also at the meeting was a former Majority Leader of the House of Representatives leader, Mulikat Adeola-Akande.
The committee was inaugurated to reconcile aggrieved members who left the PDP as well as woo new members into the party ahead of 2023 general elections.
The committee, which was set up in 2019 to resolve the internal crisis within the opposition party, arrived at Mr Jonathan’s residence at 1:30 p.m. and immediately went into the meeting.
Media reports recently indicated that some APC leaders wooed Mr Jonathan to decamp to the party and become its presidential flag bearer in 2023.
Mr Jonathan was president on the platform of the PDP between May 2010 and May 2015.
He lost the 2015 presidential election to the incumbent, President Muhammadu Buhari.
It was also gathered that the APC leaders are also planning to convince a former governor of Gombe State, Danjuma Goje, to run for the position of the national chairman of the party. Mr Goje is also a former senator.
A committee has reportedly been set up to meet Mr Goje, also a former senator, to convince him to run for the party’s number one seat.
Mr Saraki told journalists after the meeting that lasted for over one hour that it was successful, saying that Mr Jonathan pledged his commitment and support for the advancement of the PDP.
According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Mr Saraki said after the meeting that the committee members were at former president’s residence ”to brief him of their mandate, plans as well as to seek his advice on how to go about it to strengthen the party, by reconciling aggrieved members”.
“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.
“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 part. That is a great step for the party,” Mr Saraki said.
He advised ”those disturbing Mr Jonathan to defect to forget the thought”, saying ”the former president remained a PDP man”.
Mr Saraki said Mr Jonathan’s pledge to work for the cause of the PDP was 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 help our committee to move forward,” he said.
Jonathan denies planned defection
Meanwhile, Mr Jonathan has denied reports that he was planning to join the APC.
Speaking on Sunday at the Supreme Court/thanksgiving service held for the Bayelsa State Governor, Douye Diri, in Yenagoa, the state capital, the former president said he was still a member of the PDP, describing it “as a friend that carries people along”.
“PDP has been a very friendly party. I am a PDP member, and I know from the beginning till today that it has been a very friendly party. PDP is a party that carries everybody along. Let us work together for the interest of our people,” Mr Jonathan said.
“We should learn to play politics as politics and not as a war; at the end of every political process, let all of us come together and support whoever by divine providence God has made to be there.
“In Nigeria, what we know, especially at the national level, is government change through coups. And at the end of that coup, whether the coup succeeds or not both parties live as enemies. Sometimes they stay as enemies till they die.
“But our democratic process is recognised by law. So we the modern-day politicians should not begin to practice democracy and contestation to power as if we are organising a coup.
“At the end of the political process, we expect that both parties should come together. The winner carries everybody along, and leaders who contested the election must know that it was a political process known by law and whoever wins, we agree that God gave him that position.”
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