The Chairman, Board of Trustees (BoT) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Tony Anenih, on Sunday lampooned the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), saying the body has been hijacked by opposition governors who have turned the forum into an anti-Jonathan body.
He also warned that the merging All Progressive Congress (APC) poses a major threat to the dominance of the PDP.
Anenih gave the warning while addressing a meeting of governors, federal legislators and state chairmen of the party from the South-south zone in Asaba, Delta State.
He said the recent activities of the NGF portrays it as an anti-Federal Government lobby in contrast to its avowed mission statement of “providing a common platform for synergy, collaboration among interests” or “serving as a bi-partisan lobby group which fosters, promotes and sustains democratic ethos, good governance in Nigeria, Africa and beyond.”
According to Anenih, “Indeed, the general perception is that the NGF has become a formidable group of power wielders, seeking to control governments at all levels, including the Federal Government. What is now beyond doubt is that the NGF has been hijacked by opposition Governors and is no longer promoting the interest of the PDP. It is for this reason that I fully endorse the formation of the PDP Governors Forum.”
On APC, Anenih declared; “We must not live under the illusion that our party is invulnerable. Although, the existing opposition parties are still too small, fragile and sectional, we must not ignore the possibility that a merger of these parties may constitute a threat to our current dominance of the political terrain.”
He however boasted that “The proposed merger of four political parties under the umbrella of the All Progressives Congress (APC) appears to be a house built on sand, which is likely to collapse with the first rain.”
Anenih nonetheless cautioned that “we cannot afford to be complacent,” adding” We must expect any eventuality and prepare to overcome them.”
Anenih also called for a new system of selecting presidential and governorship candidates of the party that would forestall frictions and acrimony.
He said “our party primaries have, over the years, been the most serious sources of rancour and disunity in our ranks.
“Almost two years are devoted to pre-election processes for political offices and another two in managing post-primaries/election bitterness and disunity.
“More pernicious is the fact that we invest so much resources and energy fighting ourselves in the primaries that should have gone into the larger battle against our political rivals.
“We cannot continue this tradition of internal warfare. We must not live under the illusion that we can fight ourselves to the finish and hope that we can continue to have enough energy left to win elections.”
According to him, “We must (therefore) evolve a new system of selecting our flag-bearers at the Presidential and Governorship levels that would preserve our unity and reserve our energy and resources for the greater battle for political power.
“We must seriously consider this in order to avoid frictions and acrimony in the overall interest of our party and the nation.”
Describing the issue and others raised in his address as weighty, Anenih expressed confidence that the party leaders would consider them dispassionately and wisely.
He said at the meeting that the persistent negative profiling of the administration of President Jonathan was a major issue which had been of concern to him.
The BoT chair drew attention to what he described as “a well-oiled wheel of insidious media propaganda which has been tirelessly churning out sinister information about the Jonathan Administration for the purpose of destabilising (and eventually replacing) his Government.
“Unfortunately, some of these political enemies have PDP members as accomplices.
“What the anti-Jonathan forces are doing is to create tension in a desperate bid to unsettle and disrupt the Administration,” Anenih said.
He advised that “any of our brothers and sisters being used to play mischievous roles should be dissuaded from doing so,” adding, “I also wish to enjoin our Governors and Federal Legislators to assist in promoting the policies and projects of the Jonathan Administration.”
According to the BoT chairman, “Our historical and political experience demands that we give him (President Jonathan) the maximum cooperation to succeed in transforming this country into a stable and prosperous industrial nation. His success will be our success and a testimony to the greatness of our people.
“We must not labour under the illusion that we can be spectators in the bold and necessary drama of national reconstruction, or worse still; align with those who seek power for its own sake rather than for the good of our people.”
Anenih also reviewed the reconciliation tour embarked upon by the BoT under his leadership, saying “it is true that some governors have complaints against the leadership of the party; however, such complaints are not sufficient to warrant any rebellion as speculated.
“There have also been some complaints against the governors.
In any case, the problems raised are not insurmountable as, indeed, they are already being addressed by the leadership of the party.”
He appealed to the party leaders in the zone not to lose sight of the critical role which the PDP has played and continues to play in sustaining Nigeria’s unity.
“Today, ours is the only national party in Nigeria with its members spread across all the nooks and crannies of the country. We, therefore, have a strategic obligation to put our house in order so as to sustain the peace which we have enjoyed in the last 14 years.
“We must always be conscious that if the PDP becomes fragmented as a result of the inordinate ambitions of a few members, our country, our democracy and our people will suffer. We must, therefore, subsume our ambitions to the greater good of our party and our country,” he stressed.
He said the BoT was exerting itself to deal with issues in the areas of discipline and unity, stressing that “the party suffers from widespread indiscipline in nearly all of its chapters.”
According to him, “Internal schism, lawlessness and disorder now permeate the party nationwide, and as Chairman of the BoT, my focus is on reconciliation, party cohesion and discipline. I enjoin all of you to take up this challenge in your various States.”
He tasked the meeting to be fully aware of the antics of mischief makers who thrive on rumour-mongering, saying “day-in-day-out, there are unfounded rumours and speculations about issues that have no factual basis.
“In Nigerian politics, rumour-mongering has become the main menu of the opposition parties. They are behind such rumours as: The Presidency using EFCC to witch-hunt governors who refuse to support President Jonathan’s alleged interest in contesting for the Presidency in 2015. Massive acts of corruption against certain government functionaries. Plans by some PDP Governors to defect to opposition parties. Death or hospitalisation of public officials, including governors. PDP members planning to contest presidential election on the platform of the ACN or APC.
“Such rumours are totally baseless and lacking in factual content. Yet, they have tremendous impact on gullible Nigerians and the nation’s political stability.
“I can assure you, for instance, that the PDP has no reason to witch-hunt any of its Governors, or indeed, any other political leaders.
“As far as we are concerned, our Governors and Federal Legislators who have served the people meritoriously deserve to either retire gracefully or move on to higher political responsibilities at the right time.
“PDP State Governors and other leaders must guard against rumours and the manipulative antics of the opposition.
“The question to ask is: why are PDP leaders so susceptible to manipulation by opposition parties?,” he stated.