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Monday, 29 July 2013

Jonathan Reaches Out

Goodluck-Jonathan-3007.jpg - Goodluck-Jonathan-3007.jpg

President Goodluck Jonathan
  • Meets Amaechi, northern govs, Saraki 
  • To meet IBB, Abdulsalami, others
  • To summon peace meeting of PDP stakeholders    •Obasanjo holds talks with PDP govs Aug. 1
By Olawale Olaleye
President Goodluck Jonathan engaged in a series of meetings at the weekend to douse tension in the polity, especially in Rivers State.
The president began his fence-mending talks with Rivers State Governor, Mr. Chibuike Amaechi, both of whom have been locked in an acrimonious battle in recent time.
Jonathan, whose aides have repeatedly denied that he has hand in the festering political crisis in Rivers State, and Amaechi met behind closed doors for about three hours at the weekend to pave the way for the resolution of the crisis in the state, where the president’s wife, Mrs. Patience Jonathan, hails from.
The first lady has also been fingered as one of the people fanning the embers of discord in the state.
The president also met with five northern state governors - Dr. Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano), Alhaji Sule Lamido (Jigawa), Alhaji Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), Dr. Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu (Niger) and Alhaji Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto) — who have been shuttling around Nigeria, consulting eminent personalities on how to resolve the multi-faceted crises in the country.
THISDAY checks revealed Sunday that the president also met with former Kwara State Governor, Dr. Bukola Saraki, now a senator.
As part of his efforts in searching for peace, the president is to meet with former military president, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, and a former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, both of whom the northern governors had consulted in a bid to reduce tension in the polity.
He is also billed to summon a peace meeting to be attended by critical stakeholders in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to forge a consensus on how to resolve the crises.
In furtherance of the peace efforts, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who is the immediate past chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT), has also scheduled a meeting with PDP governors for August 12.
THISDAY learnt that the meeting between the president and Amaechi was brokered by the National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd), who sat in on the discussion between the duo.
It was learnt that Dasuki initiated the process of fence mending between the duo to douse the political crisis in Rivers State that has been threatening the security and stability of the country.
Dasuki, in his capacity as the NSA, was said to have taken the initiative to invite Amaechi to a meeting with the president, certain that the Rivers State crisis amongst other security challenges, could do a lot of harm to the nation’s fragile democracy.
Presidency sources said the NSA had been toying with the idea since eight opposition governors met with Amaechi in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, about two weeks ago to plead with him to meet with Jonathan and formally brief him on the situation in his state.
The governors from the opposition parties had visited Rivers State a day after four PDP governors visited following the brawl in the state House of Assembly involving pro and anti-Amaechi lawmakers.
During their discussion, Jonathan and Amaechi, according to sources, discussed their grouses and mooted suggestions on the way forward.
Although, a follow-up meeting has been slated for a yet-to-be fixed date, sources told THISDAY that the president told Amaechi where he felt he had wronged him, adding that he was not comfortable with his anti-government stance.
He was said to have cited the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) leadership crisis and what he perceived as the regular confrontation with the governor, as some of the reasons for the frosty relationship between the duo.
On the way forward, a source quoted the president as telling the governor that the matter was beyond him now as everybody on the presidency side who have issues with Amaechi would have to be brought together so that their grievances could be finally addressed.
However, Amaechi, sources said, made it clear that the crisis was not essentially about him as his first condition was that the president should meet with his group, that is the northern governors in his camp, who at their meeting with Jonathan, listed the terms for peace.
It was learnt that the fact that Amaechi avoided listing conditions at the meeting was deliberate because he thought of the need to go along with the team that has stood by him as well as leaving the peace terms at their discretion.
This, sources said, was the reason the president met with the five northern governors who gave the terms for peace, citing the Rivers crisis as a major item on the agenda.
Amaechi, sources said, intentionally avoided discussing the NGF issue as well as the alleged partisanship of the state Police Commissioner, Mr. Joseph Mbu, with the president but the meeting with the five governors raised them.
In addition, sources explained that Amaechi did not raise the issue of the first lady’s alleged meddlesomeness in Rivers politics as well as the activities of the Minister of State for Education, Nyesome Wike, and the PDP factional chairman in Rivers State, Mr. Felix Obuah, who are edging on the anti-Amaechi opponents.
At the meeting with Kwankwaso and others, the governors were said to have told the president that the main problems in the polity were the Rivers crisis and the hijacking of the party in some states by some PDP national officers.
Another source told THISDAY Sunday that Jonathan, during his meeting with Saraki, who was Amaechi’s predecessor as NGF chairman, solicited for his cooperation in resolving the crises in the country.
On his part, Obasanjo is billed to meet PDP governors on August 12 shortly after his return from Zimbabwe where he is leading the African Union (AU) Election Observer Mission for the Zimbabwe general election, slated for this week.
The former president is one of the personages consulted by the northern governors who met with him in his Abeokuta home on July 20; the same day Jonathan also met with him.
The president was on a condolence visit to the town to commiserate with his spokesman, Dr. Reuben Abati, who lost his mother.

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