Saraki’s Panel Gains Big in Bayelsa, Kogi Peace Efforts

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Bukola Saraki
  • Bayelsa almost done as Dickson makes huge concessions
  • All agree to work together in Kogi, all eyes on ex-governor Idris

Shola Oyeyipo from Maryland, USA

The political experience and influence of former Senate President Bukola Saraki might have come through for him as his reconciliatory panel, constituted recently by the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the crises in Bayelsa and Kogi States had begun to yield results ahead of the November 16 governorship election in both states.

THISDAY gathered at the weekend that the former Kwara State governor had already met all the gladiators in the two states at different times and at least, between two and three times, during which he analysed the importance of the two elections to the party and Nigeria as well as the need for all to see the larger picture.

Sources in the PDP claimed that Saraki’s analysis and understanding of the situations in both states had convinced a majority of the gladiators, who immediately shifted grounds and agreed to let go and work in collective interest.

For instance, in Bayelsa State, THISDAY sources hinted that though there were three camps in the struggle for supremacy and that Saraki had sufficiently convinced two, which are the Timi Alaibe and Seriake Dickson camps, the third leg being former President Goodluck Jonathan’s group, has only been reached through phone, because Jonathan had been away on international assignment.

According to sources, while the panel expected Jonathan to be back at the weekend to further discussions with him in person, talks with the Alaibe and Dickson groups had yielded some good as the governor was said to have committed himself to some huge concessions that could give everyone a sense of belonging.

Also, in the case of Bayelsa, the panel was said to have further secured the support of other governors in the South-south region, particularly, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, believed to have been initially averse to the state of things in the state, because of the way matters were handled.

But realising the larger implications of the opposition taking over a crucial South-south state, where a former president also hails from, might be too dastardly for the peoples Democratic Party (PDP) hence the change of mind, which is said to now see Rivers giving its all for the state.

Explaining the Kogi scenario, sources in the panel claimed though Kogi was not as intricate as Bayelsa, where there are three camps, the panel however had to deal with one major tendency in the person of former governor Ibrahim Idris of the state, whose disavowal was more of a family politics than intra-party hitches.

The source claimed that like the situation in Bayelsa, other tendencies in Kogi too had seen the need to close ranks and go to war as one house despite their misgivings, but that the panel had not been able to ‘pin down’ Idris, who had since been out of the country.

Idris, who would rather one of his sons, Abubakar Idris, become the governor of the state, now contends with the fact that his son-in-law, Musa Wada, is the candidate of the PDP in the state, in addition to the fact that a majority of the family members were also believed to be with the son-in-law.

While Idris might have felt betrayed by family members and some of his political allies, the panel was worried that he might also lose relevance if the Igala people came together in spite of him to support one of their own (Musa Wada) for the election since he has become a bit recalcitrant to see the larger picture.

The other leg to the concern shown by the panel to Idris’ plight was the fact that he might also lose face with his Igala people if as a result of his hard posturing their people lost the governorship election, making the scenario a dicey one for him.

Although the panel was confident that Idris too would come around at the end of the day as he is billed to return to the country before the end of the week, the Saraki panel, the source said, was confident that apart from the fact that the panel had so far gained big in its reconciliatory efforts, it would ultimately pull off a lasting peace in the states and bring everyone together for collective good of the party.

The source maintained that the panel did not think Idris was edgy especially given that he is the leader of the party and that it was natural he felt the way he did, given what he had invested in the party. But above all, the source stated that ensuring one house had become more compelling than any other personal reasons.

Already, about 29 out of the 34 former governorship aspirants from Kogi and Bayelsa States were said to have expressed support for the PDP National Reconciliation Council led by former Senate Saraki panel.

According to a Punch Newspaper report, the aggrieved members were hopeful that the panel would address their grievances and reconcile them so that the party would be more united for the November 16 governorship elections in the states.

An aspirant from Bayelsa State, Tariela Oliver, who spoke to Punch, had said no fewer than 19 former aspirants from the state had accepted to be reconciled and were already working for the victory of the party in the state, adding that the Saraki panel was a welcome development.