Two Peoples Democratic Party governors who had defected to the All Progressives Congress made a surprise appearance at a peace meeting called by President Goodluck Jonathan on Sunday.
The two governors are Rabiu Kwankwaso of Kano State and Aliyu Wamakko of Sokoto State.
Kwankwaso and Wamakko were driven into the premises of the First Lady Conference Hall, Presidential Villa venue of the meeting in the same car at about 9pm.
They arrived about an hour after one of the aggrieved PDP governors, Babangida Aliyu of Niger State, arrived the venue.
Aliyu, and the National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.), were already seated at the venue when Kwankwaso and Wamakko arrived.
The Chairman, Board of Trustees of the PDP, Chief Tony Anenih, who also arrived before them went to confer with the President inside his residence before joining them at the venue.
Jonathan and Vice -President Namadi Sambo arrived the venue at about 9.50pm.
At 10pm, other PDP governors who had earlier met at the Akwa Ibom State Governors Lodge in Asokoro arrived the venue of the meeting.
Those who arrived alongside the PDP Governors’ Forum Chairman, Godswill Akpabio, were the governors of Abia, Kebbi, Kogi, Katsina, Bauchi, Plateau, Enugu, Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Delta, Ebonyi, Kaduna and Taraba States.
Another aggrieved governor , Sule Lamido of Jigawa State, who has not declared for the APC, did not attend the meeting.
The meeting was still ongoing as of 10.20pm when this report was filed.
Jonathan had on Saturday boasted that the defection of five PDP governors to the APC would not affect the fortune of the ruling party in future elections.
In his first public reaction to the development , Jonathan said three of the five governors were still sitting “on the fence.”
The five governors are Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers), Abdulfatah Ahmed(Kwara), Wamakko, Murtala Nyako(Adamawa) and Kwankwaso.
Jonathan, spoke with some media houses before departing Paris for Abuja at the close of a two-day summit on peace and security in Africa, said as the governors had decided to leave, those still in the PDP would work harder to attract more supporters .
He said, “We want those governors to come back to the PDP, but in an event where some of them feel that it is better to stay outside, they can go and try.
“If they are leaving , we will work harder to make sure that we get more supporters so that at the end of the day, the equilibrium will be maintained. But I still believe that in Nigeria today, the PDP is still the party to beat.
“As they are leaving the ruling party to the opposition, there are other key political actors who are ready to come to the PDP. At the appropriate time, we will also receive them.”
Jonathan said the governors should not be under the illusion that all their supporters would join them in defecting to their new party.
While describing politics as dynamic, he said “a governor elected by the people must not see himself as a king’’ who could lord it over the electorate.
He said, “I was elected by Nigerians and I will not say because I am the President of Nigeria now, 100 per cent of Nigerians are for me and when I am moving to the left or right, I will be moving with the whole 100 per cent.
“Like the governor of a state, a faction of a state elected them by simple majority and you are declared as a governor. When you are moving, you should know that you are an individual; not all your supporters will want to move with you. They are not your employees and therefore some of them will stay.
“In some cases, the deputy governors in the states are saying that they are not ready to move. I have said that let us see how things will play out.
“However, in politics any party will want everybody in its camp and in the PDP, we want everybody.”
Despite the five governors’ open declaration for the APC, Jonathan said only two appeared that they had actually moved while others are still on the fence.
He however did not name the governors in the different categories.
Jonathan said,”They said they have some grievances with the party and some of them said they were going to leave. But so far, two have openly declared that they are not leaving the party and we are talking to them.
“Out of the remaining five, two appear that they have actually moved to the other political party while some are still on the fence. I believe in a couple of weeks, it will not be too long, it will be very clear whether they are leaving or not.’’
But Amaechi and Nyako faulted the President, saying the future will tell.
Amaechi, who spoke through his Chief of Staff, Chief Tony Okocha, stated that the impact of the governors’ defection would soon be obvious.
“ The governor will not controvert Mr. President. But let us watch and see. When you have 23 children and you lose five, it will impact on you, especially when you are losing them to your opponents and not to death,” he said.
Also, Nyako, through his Director of Press and Public Relations, Ahmed Sajoh, said “It is a pity that the President still thinks and feels that way. It is really a pity.”
The APC Interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, in an interview with one of our correspondents, said the defection of the five governors was a tragedy to the PDP.
“Unless he(Jonathan) is planning to rig massively, the defection of the five governors is a tragedy to the PDP,” he added.
The APC spokesman said the statement by the President clearly showed that he had no regard for the rule of law, adding that it was very unpresidential.
He stated that the PDP would feel the impact of one governor much less five.