The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, and Jigawa State Governor, Sule Lamido, on Thursday shunned a visit by leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party in the North-West to President Goodluck Jonathan.
Sources however said their absence from the meeting might not be unconnected with their perceived opposition to the running of the PDP at the national level and in their respective states.
Lamido is one of the seven PDP rebel governors who sought the removal of Bamanga Tukur as the national chairman of the ruling party.
Five of the G-7 governors defected to the opposition All Progressives Congress, but the Jigawa governor elected to remain in the PDP with his Niger State counterpart, Babangida Aliyu.
Tambuwal is from Sokoto which is one of the states in the North-West .
Although the speaker’s media aide, Imam Imam, said he (Speaker) “travelled out of the country, “ a source at the meeting said his absence was not justifiable.
“The speaker was aware that a delegation from the North-West was to meet with the President today (Thursday). So I wonder why he isn’t with us,” he added.
The Jigawa State chapter of the PDP, however, said Lamido and its other leaders were not invited to be part of the delegation to the Villa.
The state Secretary of the party, Alhaji Aliyu Tukur Gantsa, said, “We were not invited. I can tell it was not a meeting with PDP leaders in the North-West.
“Maybe it was a meeting between the President and some people from this part of the country.
“Because you cannot talk about the PDP not only in the North-West but in Nigeria and not involve Alhaji Lamido.”
The North-West leaders who visited Jonathan at the Presidential Villa, Abuja were led by a former National Chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Haliru Bello.
Among them were Governors Ramalan Yero ( Kaduna); Ibrahim Shema (Katsina); Seidu Dakingari (Kebbi); and the Sokoto State Deputy Governor, Mukhtar Shagari, who led other PDP bigwigs to the Villa. Others were from Zamfara State.
Jonathan used the opportunity of the PDP leaders visit to fault the claims by some people that he was anti-North.
He listed some of the areas where his government had done well in the North to include road infrastructure, railway, agriculture and education among others.
He said he intervened massively in the educational development of the region because of his strong belief that education was the first step to emancipate people.
The President regretted that most times, people sold the wrong idea to foreigners that he did not want to develop the North.
He said he had taken time to explain to some envoys that if he was against the North, he wouldn’t have established nine federal universities in the northern states.
The President said, “If I am against them would I have done that? The issue of Almajiri education, if I am against the North, would I have encouraged that we work with the governors to provide for quite a number of children who are out of school?
“We can go on and on but this is not the time for that because all these are blackmail, political blackmail.”
The President also faulted media reports that only N2bn was budgeted for the North this year.
“I read an article in the paper where somebody said government has budgeted N2bn for the North? How can a government budget N2 bn? That was seed money. In some northern states alone, we are intervening with N14bn which I have approved.”
He said by the time the security challenge in the north was resolved, Nigerians would see how much his administration had transformed the economy of the country.
Jonathan, however, commended the party chiefs for their visit and reminded them that once they remained united, no party would be able to displace the PDP in their zone.
He urged them not to allow anybody to deceive them into defecting to any party they don’t know anything about.
The President flayed those he said “call themselves progressives,” saying the only thing they know how to do well was to abuse him.
He said, “Some people call themselves progressives. Today, if you can abuse Jonathan, you are a progressive and if you can attack the Federal Government, you are a progressive. Even if nothing is happening in your state, you are progressive. We have seen the progressives before.
“But just like the Vice-President said, the PDP is still the number one party and it will continue to be so. People may have access to the media and use it robustly to their own advantage or disadvantage.
“But as long as we are united, we will do everything possible to keep our party together. PDP will continue to dey dam dam. No shaking.”
Jonathan boasted that the PDP remained the only national party with presence in all voting units in the country.
He challenged those who criticise him to compare the achievements of his administration with those of any other administration in the county and outside.
The President said, “Sometimes, when you hear people talk about this government , you will think it is 10 years old, but we are only two years and eight months in office.
“By May this year, we will be three years old and by May 2015, we will be four years. And I challenge some of those who criticise without thinking, to compare what we have done with that of any other administration in this country and outside.
“When we presented our mid-term report for two years, I asked people to develop their marking schemes. It is not just to criticise but you have to compare and especially a government that is facing too many challenges.”
Jonathan, therefore, asked some unnamed elders to blame themselves, and not him, for the nation’s woes.