Contrary to expectation, Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso of Kano State and his Sokoto State counterpart, Aliyu Wamakko, who had earlier announced their defection to the All Progressives Congress, stuck to their guns at the end of the meeting.
Wamakko told State House correspondents at about 2.15 am on Monday that he used the opportunity of the meeting to formally inform the President of the defection of five PDP governors, including himself, to the APC.
He explained that Kwankwaso and himself only attended the meeting out of respect for the President, who invited them.
Wamakko said, “The meeting went on very well because some of us came here as governors. In the PDP matter, our position has been known.
“On behalf of the five of us, I have already briefed Mr. President of our position as G-5, that we are no longer in the PDP mainstream and that we are already in another party.
“But as a President of this country, if he calls us, we will come and listen to him and respect him as a leader of our country, otherwise what we had there was mostly a PDP affair.”
When asked why he sat through the meeting which started around 10pm on Sunday and ended in the early hours of Monday when he knew he was no longer a PDP member, the governor replied, “We had to tell the President and the Chairman of the PDP BOT (Chief TonyAnenih) our position. We can’t just be going about talking; we had to come and tell them the truth where the truth must be told and that is why we came here.”
Jonathan had on Saturday in France boasted that three of the ex-PDP governors were still “sitting on the fence.”
Apart from Wamakko and Kwankwaso, the other governors, who left the PDP for the APC are Rotimi Amaechi(Rivers), Abdulfatah Ahmed(Kwara) and Murtala Nyako(Adamawa).
The Chairman of the PDP Governors Forum, Godswill Akpabio, however claimed that the defection of the governors was not discussed during the meeting with Jonathan.
Akpabio also said if Wamakko insisted on leaving the party, he was only one out of the thousands of PDP members in Sokoto State.
He said, “I think the meeting we had was part of the dialogue with Mr. President. Months back, at that time we had the G-7 governors. The last time we met, we met with the G-2 governors and today(Monday), we had the G-3 and so it is part of the continuing dialogue to ensure harmony and peace in the party and Mr. President is not relenting.
“He is very serious about consulting with all strata and all the bigwigs in the party, particularly the governors who are aggrieved with a view to bringing everybody on board and ensuring harmony and unity of the party and the governors.
“You have to distinguish the issues state-by-state. I wasn’t here when the governor of Sokoto was talking to you and I know that the governor of Sokoto State is just one member of the PDP in Sokoto and if he says he is leaving the PDP, I am sure there are still thousands of other members of the PDP who will say we are staying within the PDP.
“So you can’t say all hope is lost. How can all hope be lost? The party is very robust and large. As much as possible, we are interested in keeping our leaders together. That is why, we as governors, are all here.
“We will continue to dialogue; this is not going to be the end. We have narrowed down few issues which we are taking up with Mr. President and the governors are also going to discuss.
“You saw the number of governors today (Monday), we are more; I think 17 or 18 governors and you can be sure that the number will keep increasing.
“I think the issues differ from state to state. They are all family issues. They are mostly issues that linger within the PDP and we believe strongly that the President is very poised and determined to ensure there is harmony.”
Akpabio also denied knowledge of media reports that the PDP governors were demanding the sacking of the national chairman, Dr. Bamanga Tukur.
Sign that the meeting did not end well emerged when Anenih hurriedly left the venue of the meeting with the President and Vice-President Namadi Sambo at about 1.40am.
The National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.), also left with them, leaving the governors to continue meeting for about another 30 minutes.
Other governors, who attended the meeting were those of Abia, Kebbi, Kogi, Katsina, Bauchi, Plateau, Enugu, Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Delta, Ebonyi, Kaduna and Taraba states.
Before the meeting ended, the APC had said in a statement by its Interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, that Wamakko and Kwankwaso would not return to the PDP.
It said there was no reason why any governor would not honour an invitation by the President.
The statement reads in part,“There is therefore nothing extraordinary about the correct decision of the two governors to meet with the President, even as we note that the decision by some PDP governors to attend the meeting is purely within their prerogative.
“The decision by the governors to leave the PDP is irreversible, in spite of the meeting. Therefore, Governors Wamakko and Kwankwaso remain APC governors.”