House: Reconciliation Moves Deadlocked. G57 blames  disruption of Baraje’s visit on impunity  – It’s an insult on  our party- Tukur’s Group.

The  moves to reconcile the two  factions of the Peoples Democratic Party  in the House of Representatives after the visit of the factional leader, Alhaji Kawu Baraje,  appears to have ended in a stalemate.
The reconciliation committee headed by the Deputy Majority Leader, Hon. Leo Ogor, met with key leaders of  both  the Tukur and  Baraje groups over the weekend but could not reach a consensus.
The meeting, which held  at the  Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, featured  extensive discussions on how to resolve  the crisis of confidence that hit the lower chamber of the parliament following the visit of Baraje and the seven PDP dissenting governors.
It is gathered that  the expected  truce could not be reached because the Baraje loyalists were still angry with their colleagues on the other side of the divide for the treatment meted out to Baraje and his entourage during the visit. They have therefore  demanded an apology from the Tukur group but the latter group insisted that they only acted in defence of their party and to protect  the integrity of the parliament.
The reconciliation was conceived against the backdrop of threats by the Baraje loyalists to move against any executive bill, private member bill or motions emanating from lawmakers loyal to the mainstream party.
As part of the reconciliation, the Bamanga Tukur loyalists were said to have demanded from  their colleagues a  withdrawal of that  threat, but this was not forthcoming.
In turn, the Tukur group  has  also resolved to brace up for the challenges of a fractured majority  party in the Green Chamber.
However, the  reconciliation committee has resolved  to continue to mediate in the crisis, until  the parties are able to appreciate each other’s positions.
The reconciliation committee, it was learnt, promised to continue holding talks with both groups until  all the issues  have been resolved. The idea is to keep the channels of communication open to avoid the eruption  of another crisis.
The group of fifty seven lawmakers (G57) loyal to the New Peoples Democratic Party in the House of Representatives, had  blamed the commotion that occurred during the recent visit of their leader Baraje to the parliament on the culture of impunity and lawlessness in Nigeria. The group said the disruption of the visit by some lawmakers loyal to National Chairman of the PDP,  Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, was done out of fear and desperation that their party had become a sinking ship.
But the Tukur loyalists who are still  in the majority have described the visit as an affront on the legislature and an insult on the ruling party.
Chairman of the G57, Hon. Andrew Uchendu, who spoke on the aftermath of the visit said Baraje and the seven governors that accompanied him were in the House to meet with supporters of the New PDP and did not expect the other lawmakers to attend the meeting.
Uchendu said contrary to the position of their opponents, the visit was in order as the 1999 Constitution provides for freedom of association and freedom of movement in Nigeria.
“There was no problem with the visit of Baraje other than that some people wanted to show lawlessness.  They are carried away by this culture of impunity and they feel that they can do anything and go scot free. If not,  the Nigerian Constitution provides for freedom of movement and freedom of association and this is the parliament of the people.
“The Speaker has, within his discretionary powers, the  right to receive any Nigerian or group of Nigerians  if he deems it so fit and proper. We are not saying, come to the chamber to address members of the House of Representatives. This was in a meeting room.
“What is in it that a group  came  to pay a courtesy visit  and meet with their members – those who are loyal to Baraje? Do they lose anything by allowing the Speaker to receive in audience Baraje and his group? For now they are more in number so why are they threatened? There are  about 208 PDP  members  in the House of Representatives and about 57( as at when we came back from recess) are  no longer  going along with them. This means  they still have the majority.  Why are they threatened by an insignificant figure? They should have dismissed us that we are wasting our time; but by coming around to disrupt our proceedings implies that there is fire on the mountain for Bamanga Tukur and his loyalists. Of course there will be fire on the mountain until the proper thing is done,” he said.
Uchendu said that the crisis plaguing the PDP arose from bad leadership and the oppressive tendencies of the party’s current  leadership.
The ruling party, Uchendu said,  had been afflicted with a general  misdirection and loss of focus while the push by some  well-meaning party leaders to reposition the party had been misunderstood and tagged rebellious.
“For those of us who had the opportunity  of being the  founding members of the PDP, we  had  a clear idea of where we were going. We assured Nigerians that things would be done transparently; there will be rule of law; there will be adherence to due process and that  we would guarantee good governance.
“Remember that the party is the platform upon which whoever wants to contest election would stand to achieve his ambition. This party has held power for many years but we seem not have made much progress.
“Generally, there has been misdirection and loss of focus. A good number of well-meaning party leaders have  complained and  amongst them were seven PDP governors.  They went round, pleading and suggesting that we reposition the party for the greater task ahead. The idea is that if the party is repositioned then the general administration and governance  would be refocused for the greater good of majority of Nigerians. That repositioning does not seem to have taken place and this was what led to the walk out of delegates from seven states during  the  National Convention of the party held at the  Eagles Square on August 31, 2013,” Uchendu said.
Asked why the crisis in the PDP appears to be worsening in spite of the consultations and reconciliation meetings to resolve it, Uchendu said members of the New PDP were not satisfied with the progress made so far in restoring  peace to the party.
He noted that as members of the  House of Representatives who have aligned themselves to the  new idea and vision to  reposition  the PDP, they would continue to stand by Baraje and  the seven governors.
“We have made our position very clear. We’ve told Nigerians that we are for them. We are believing that the problem would be solved; that is our prayer. But then,  we are not satisfied with the progress being made so far.
“Our other brothers in PDP that are not seeing it the way we are seeing it, will definitely be threatened and when somebody is threatened he gets into a state of desperation. You can see the needless disruption of a genuine mission of the Baraje group and the governors.  The Nigerian Constitution provides for freedom of movement and association. If the governors have decided to identify with themselves as like minds and some  members of the PDP in the  House of Representatives have also  agreed  with them, can’t our leader come to the National Assembly and address us?
“If we are irrelevant, then leave us alone to go with our irrelevance, because  what you  think is not relevant you ignore. It is because they know that we have made the point; the Nigerian people have seen our position and that we are relevant that is why our brothers on the other divide have  done what they did,” he said.
In a separate chat, a member of the mainstream PDP, Hon. Betty Apiafi, described the visit of Baraje as an unnecessary distraction, which could have been avoided by the legislature.
Apiafi said the crisis rocking the party ought to have been resolved by the party’s leadership and not allowed to engulf a critical  machinery of government such as the National Assembly.
She  argued  that the crisis between Baraje and the PDP had  nothing to do with the House and should have been resolved outside the National Assembly.
According to her, the  legislators  have not been part of the  discussions  that have  been going on between the Presidency and the  seven governors since they staged a walkout at the mini-national convention of the party and wondered why they dragged the legislature into it.
“This is an unnecessary distraction. We had  so many issues pending before we went on recess- issues relating to the budget, Petroleum Industry Bill, Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act (BOFIA) and many others.
“You know that  in the game of politics, some people believe in a  lot of intrigues.
I can’t understand the kind of coincidence that happened on the day of resumption.
Suddenly,  we were told that Bamanga Tukur wrote that he was coming to the National Assembly. As soon as that letter arrived, Kawu Baraje also wrote that he was  coming to the National Assembly.
“Eventually, we were told  that Bamanga Tukur withdrew his letter that he was no longer coming and then Baraje came with the seven governors.
“There must have been something fishy about all this  chain of events. The way the entire crisis and challenges in the PDP has been going, it  appears as if some people somewhere just  want to get the whole structure and  machinery of government engulfed in the  crisis,” Apiafi said.
The lawmaker said contrary to the position of the Baraje loyalists, the disruption of the meeting was coincidental because it only began after the organisers of the meeting decided to ignore a point of order raised by Hon. Offorngu who was seeking some explanations on the nature of the meeting.