The much-publicised October 7 resumption of peace talks between President Goodluck Jonathan and the breakaway faction of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will not be ‚Äî after all.
The Abubakar Baraje-led faction, which includes seven governors has asked for a postponement. Baraje said some key members of the faction, including some governors, would be on pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia on October 7.
In a statement signed yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary, Chukwuemeka Eze, the faction said it had already sent an emissary to President Jonathan seeking a postponement.
According to the Baraje camp, the decision was taken Tuesday night at a caucus meeting of the New PDP held at the Adamawa State Government Lodge, Asokoro, Abuja.
It said: ‚ÄúIt was discovered that the date of the proposed peace meeting clashes with this year‚Äôs hajj, in which several of our key members are billed to participate.
‚ÄúOur National C hairman, Alhaji Baraje and most of our other key members, including most of the G7 Governors and the five other governors that have indicated interest to join us by next week, as well as members of the National Assembly, former governors and business moguls, are billed to perform the Hajj, which is already in operation.‚Äù
But a source said last night that the hajj excuse was just convenient. The faction has lost interest in the talks, he said, pleading not to be named.
‚ÄúThey are now thinking of another party to join,‚Äù he said.
In a swift reaction, the Bamanga Tukur-led PDP slammed the Baraje faction for making the decision to postpone the talks public.
In a telephone conversation with our correspondent, the National Publicity Secretary of Tukur‚Äôs PDP, National Assembly, took strong exception to what he described as the over-dramatisation of the postponement by the Baraje faction.
Metuh said: ‚ÄúIt is inconceivable that they are dramatising a matter that‚Äôs being discussed with the President. If they are responsible enough, they would not be making a public show of it by taking it to the pages of newspapers.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs the height of irresponsibility for them to be discussing a matter they had with the President on the pages of newspapers. I am not sure that even some of the governors are aware of this.
‚ÄúThey are being childish and clownish. They can as well go to the National Assembly and hold a public hearing on it. They are free to go wherever they want to go.‚Äù
But the Baraje faction said their members on the hajj train had been mandated to use the opportunity offered by the holy pilgrimage to pray for the restoration of peace and unity in PDP, as well as peace in the country.
The faction assured its supporters and Nigerians in general of its commitment towards bringing the ‚Äúglorious days‚Äù back to the PDP and the country.
It said: ‚ÄúWe thank Nigerians for their understanding and support while appealing for continued prayers for the restoration of peace as there can be no progress in an atmosphere of chaos.
‚ÄúThe fact remains that we are not only committed to restoring peace to our party but resolute about it. We enjoin our teeming supporters to be steadfast in their support for our struggle to enthrone genuine democracy devoid of abuse of the rule of law.
‚ÄúOn our part, we as leaders are committed to ensuring that our current struggle does not end as an exercise in futility but would achieve the set objectives of restoring our party to the path of honour and greatness.
‚ÄúIn this regard also, the party‚Äôs NWC billed for October 5th is hereby called off until our chairman comes back from the Hajj.
‚ÄúWe sincerely regret the inconvenience(s) in any form this may cause our beloved President, party faithful and Nigerians‚Äô; as praying to our God should be the utmost part from us, particularly now, knowing very well that with God, the elusive peace in our party and country can be achieved‚Äù, the statement said.