By The Nation
Three former ministers are leading an exodus of top members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) after efforts to heal the wounds of the last national convention of the party hit the rocks.
Ex-Information Minister Jerry Gana,ex-Education Minister Tunde Adeniran and ex-Niger Delta Minister Godsday Orubebe are moving to the Social Democratic Party (SDP) which is merging with the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), Peoples Salvation Party (PSP) to form a formidable party ahead of next year’s elections.
More chieftains of the PDP are expected to join them, The Nation gathered yesterday.
The Olusegun Obasanjo-inspired Coalition for Nigeria Movement (CNM) is in talks with the SDP to work together.
The likes of Gana, Adeniran and Orubebe,all founding members of the PDP, are still displeased with what they see as the hijack of the party by Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and others during the party’s last national convention.
Adeniran was defeated in a bitter chairmanship election by Wike’s candidate, Uche Secondus.
A high powered committee headed by Governor Henry Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State to reconcile the aggrieved members could not help the situation.
The aggrieved party chieftains launched into a marathon meeting/negotiation with the leadership of SDP on Thursday night in Abuja for a merger.
The meeting ended early yesterday with the the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding by the coalescing group at Ladi Kwali Hall in Sheraton Hotel, Abuja.
Joining Gana from the PDP are a former Military Administrator of Katsina State, Sen. Joseph Akaagerger; a former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Elder Peter Godsday Orubebe; Chief Mike Oghiadhome, who was a former Chief of Staff to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan; ex-Governor Saminu Turaki of Jigawa State; and ex-Minister of Defence, Dr. Olu Agunloye and a former Deputy Speaker of Ondo State House of Assembly, Hon. Dare Emiola.
Also teaming up with SDP are a former member of the House of Representatives, Dr. Junaid Mohammed; Sen. Bassey Ewa Hensaw; a member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Olamide Oni; Supo Shonibare (South-West Zonal chairman of SDP), Hon. Dipo Olaitan (a former leader of the Alliance for Democracy in the House of Representatives); a former Speaker, Oyo State House of Assembly, Kehinde Ayoola; Amb. Yemi Farounbi; leaders of the Middle Belt Forum; Mr. John Dara; the leaders of the National Intervention Forum led by Dr. Tafawa Balewa; Amb Bejide; Shehu Gabam who gave the vote of thanks.
A former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief Olu Falae is a stalwart of the SDP.
Although ex-Governor Babangida Aliyu of Niger State and a former Deputy President of the Senate, Sen. Ibrahim Mantu were part of the preliminary talks, it was unclear why they were not at the signing of the MoU.
A highly placed source in the group said:”As a matter of fact, Mantu propped up the name of a party which should be included in the merger but it was rejected. He attended the initial meeting but by the time the MoU was signed, he was not there.
“We are hopeful that he will be at our subsequent meetings. Some of our leaders are suspecting that Mantu may chicken out because he has been begging Adeniran and Gana not to leave PDP.
The MoU entered into by the leaders was obtained yesterday by The Nation.
Jointly signed by Falae (for SDP) and Prof. Gana (for Movement for a New Political Order), the MoU reads in part: “Whereas on the 12th Day of February 2018, a joint resolution was adopted at Sheraton Hotel Abuja, for working together to ensure the emergence of a new and credible political order to deepen democracy, good governance and genuine development, with peace, security and social justice. The said meeting also unanimously resolved to build:
a)a restructured, balanced equitable and truly functional Nigerian Federation:
b)a humane, free, seIf-reliant and democratic society;
c) a dynamic, productive, transformed and sustainable economy;
d) a just, fair, egalitarian and peaceful nation
e) a land of bright and full of opportunities for all Nigerians; and
f) a national culture of raising good leaders through effective mentoring;
“Whereas, it was also agreed that the proposed movement shall be directed, driven and defined by such core values as: 1. Justice, fairness, equity and progress; 2. Democracy, good leadership, good governance and sustainable development; 3. Transparency, integrity, truth and honour; 4. Accountability and zero tolerance for corruption; 5. Respect for human dignity, human rights and sanctity of human life;; and 6. Peace, security, harmony, cooperative solidarity, within the rule of law; and 7. International cooperation for a common humanity within a secure and peaceful order.
“Whereas, the movement further resolved to be inspired and motivated by the ideals of social democracy, with great emphasis on: the triumph of social justice; the nobility of human dignity; the harmony of fairness and equality; the power of working together in solidarity; the excellence of good governance, driven by good leadership; the wisdom of reforms and transformation far beyond mere growth; the horror of poverty, demanding eradication; the dignity of prosperity; the imperative of democracy and the security of peace with justice
“Whereas with due reference to these objectives, core values, and ideals, a Strategy Committee was mandated to search for a suitable, popular, meaningful and widespread platform, with a name that already resonates with the people and to make appropriate recommendations; and
“Whereas, the Strategic Committee, comprising representatives from all the six geopolitical zones of the Federation, have met and submitted their report, unanimously recommending the adoption of Social Democratic Party(SDP) vehicle by the movement for a new political order:
“Therefore, we hereby resolutely agree to: (a) Fuse together into one political form; (b) adopt the Social Democratic Party(SDP) as the political vehicle for the fused political formation; (c) Convene a non-elective convention for Saturday, 14th April, 2018; (d) authorize the National Working Committee to serve as the Interim Management Committee until the said convention; Set up a National Steering Committee of 12 members to guide the Interim Management Committee during the transition period; Raise a Constitution Review Committee to consider all necessary amendments to the party constitution.”
Speaking with our correspondent last night, Dr. Junaid Mohammed said: “Those involved in SDP are the Peoples Redemption Party(PRP), Peoples Salvation Party(PSP), the Social Democratic Party(SDP) and some elements of Peoples Democratic Party(PDP). It was like a merger but we do not want to call it so because the All Progressives Congress(APC) has destroyed the concept of merger.
“I am an optimist, I believe SDP will make a great impact. The main reason I want to be associated with it is because it is ideologically driven. Even it was not ideologically driven before, it has to be ideologically driven.
Asked if some governors and National Assembly members have subscribed to SDP, Mohammed added: “It is not compulsory to have governors or members of the National Assembly in a party to succeed. There are about 65 to 67 parties thereabout in the country. In terms of electoral performance, most of the parties are not on ground. The two parties which have led the country are not doing well. They have impacted negatively on the economy and our political life. A three-party or a four or five -party system will be better.”
A top source in the SDP said: “The SDP has been approached by the Coalition for Nigeria Movement (CNM) which has been founded by ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo. We are hopeful that our ongoing talks will be fruitful.
“We share common ideals with the CNM on how to move the nation forward.”