President Goodluck Jonathan and Peoples Democratic Party’s governors from the North East may have adopted the option of a consensus candidate for the post of the chairmanship of the party.
The party’s former chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, officially resigned his position at the 63rd National Executive Committee meeting of the party in Abuja on Thursday.
President Jonathan, Saturday PUNCH learnt, considered having a consensus candidate when his preferred candidate, a former governor of Bauchi State, Alhaji Adamu Muázu, was rejected by governors from the North East, the zone expected to produce the next chairman of the party.
The President held a closed door meeting with the three governors and a deputy governor from the North East zone on Friday. The meeting which lasted over an hour took place inside the President’s Office.
Those who attended the parley with the President were Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo of Gombe State, Governor Isa Yuguda of Bauchi State, the Acting Governor of Taraba State, Garba Umar, and the Adamawa State Deputy Governor, Bala Ngilari. Ngilari did not join the state governor, Murtala Nyako, to defect to the All Progressives Congress.
The meeting started shortly after the President had also met with the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Senator Bala Muhammed, who is also from the zone, (Bauchi).
A source close to the meeting told one of our correspondents that issue bordering on a consensus candidate for the coveted party job dominated discussion during the meeting.
The four governors arrived in two cars, suggesting that they might have decided to come and brief the President on the outcome of an earlier meeting they had on the matter. The President had on Thursday charged the governors with the responsibility of coming up with a name for the coveted position.
But Yuguda who spoke with State House correspondents on behalf of his colleagues claimed they were only in the Presidential Villa to pay Friday homage to Jonathan. He urged stakeholders to exercise patience till Monday when the new party chairman would emerge.
“We just came to say hello to the President and wish him a Good Friday. Monday is the day the NEC will decide who the chairman is going to be. So, let’s wait till Monday,” he said.
The governor also denied insinuation that PDP state governors do not want the party chairman to emerge from their states for fear of supremacy tussle.
“Are we God? It is God that gives power. Supposing he gives somebody from my state, a PDP state, what will I do? I will follow him. Let us not go into that kind of imagination,” Yuguda said.
When asked to give a hint on the kind of PDP chairman the governors would want to emerge on Monday considering the crisis that characterised Tukur’s tenure, the governor said there would always be crisis in the party but that the important thing is how leaders manage such situation.
He said, “Crisis will always be there. If there is no crisis, there won’t be managers anyway. So, somebody must be in charge to manage the situation. That’s why God structures leadership. And even at the family level, you have a leader to manage problems and crisis.
“So, we cannot be insulated from crisis. It is a continuous thing. The capacity to manage it is what makes you a good leader.”
When asked if the governors were not concerned about the high turnover rate of PDP national chairmen, Yuguda said, “I have been discussing that with my colleague from Gombe and he gave me a very wonderful answer that we are on democracy learning curve. So, that’s the dynamics of democracy. So, we are learning. So, we will cross the line very soon, Insha Allah.”
He said since PDP state governors who defected to the APC claimed that Tukur was their problem, now that the party chairman had resigned; the defectors were free to return to the party. “Wait for those who said he was their problem. He is no longer there. So, they are welcome,” he said.
Also on Friday, PDP governors held a meeting in Abuja in their plot to install their own candidate for the party chairmanship position.
Investigations by our correspondent in Abuja on Friday indicated that the governors would meet again in Abuja on Sunday to strategise ahead of another NEC meeting slated for Monday, where the new chairman would be made known.
A governor, who spoke with our correspondent on condition of anonymity, said that though they would consult with President Goodluck Jonathan on the matter, there was no way they would not have a say in who would lead the party.
He said that it would be wrong for anyone to think that they would not take interest in who leads the party, given the experience they had under the leadership of Tukur.
He said, “We are meeting, I think on Sunday, to look at the background and credibility of who is going to lead us. We won’t just sit down and allow an individual to pick anyone and impose him on us.”
Asked who the candidate would likely be, he said it was too early to agree now, adding that “one minute is enough to rubbish agreement reached over a year ago.”
He, however, added that some aspirants had either been visiting or asking people to speak with them (governors) on their (aspirants’) behalf.
Already, a former Special Adviser to late President Umaru Yar’Adua on National Assembly Matters, Sen. Abba Aji, has joined the race.
The Borno State-born former lawmaker, who was also in the race for the job before the imposition of Tukur by President Jonathan, was said to have reopened his campaign.
Some members of the party were said to have reasoned that the next chairman of the party must not be too old, which counted against Tukur, or too young.
Meanwhile, the party has described the voluntary resignation of Tukur and the peaceful resolution of its leadership challenges as a climax of political maturity and another eloquent expression of the internal democratic mechanism that form the building blocks of the party.
A statement by the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Chief Olisa Metuh, in Abuja on Friday said the development had proved the in-built conflict resolution capacity of a party whose leaders were ever mindful of its historic responsibility as the custodian of the fate of over 160 million Nigerians.
The statement said, “On Thursday, the selfless efforts of our leaders to re-engineer and strengthen our great party peaked with the selfless example of our former national chairman, Tukur, who voluntarily resigned.
“It was a denouncement which brought to the fore, the unimpeachable democratic features of the PDP as a political party whose leaders and members are at all times willing to sacrifice personal interests in the overall good of the party and the nation.
“This is a true character of a political party attuned to the essentials of progress and national unity.”
Metuh said that the occasion re-affirmed that despite the party’s large size and diversity, its capacity to internally resolve all its challenges and by extension hold Nigeria together as well as boost her fortunes and improve the lots of the people was without rival.
He added that the peaceful manner through which the PDP had continued to resolve its problems was an assurance that the challenges facing Nigeria today would equally be resolved with the cooperation of the people.
“We therefore wish to send a fresh clear signal to the opposition and detractors who must be hugely disappointed with the outcome of our National Executive Committee meeting that the PDP has come to stay and shall continue to win elections, having been deeply rooted in the province of the people,” he added.