Friday, January 17, 2014

Tukur’s successor to emerge on Monday


President Goodluck Jonathan; Vice President Namadi Sambo and former Peoples Democratic Party National Chairman, Bamanga Tukur, at the 63rd National Executive Committee meeting of the PDP in Abuja ... on Thursday.
Barely 24 hours after President Goodluck Jonathan confirmed The PUNCH’s exclusive report on the  resignation of Dr. Bamanga Tukur as the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, the search for his successor has begun.
Among those who have shown interest in the post  are the former National Publicity Secretary of the party, Prof. Rufai Alkali  (Gombe); a former Acting National  Secretary of the PDP, Dr. Musa Babayo (Bauchi), and an ex- Minister of Commerce,  Amb. Idris Waziri (Taraba).
The PUNCH also gathered that a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mr. Ibrahim Bunu (Borno) and  the Minister of Transport, Sen. Idris Umar, who is believed to be the choice of  Patience Jonathan,  are  also  in the race.
Jonathan had  at the 63rd National Executive Council  meeting of the party in Abuja on Thursday announced Tukur’s resignation  amid jubilation by the NEC members.
He added that the party would  get a replacement for Tukur on Monday when  the NEC reconvenes.
The President, who explained that a replacement  was  necessary so as not to leave a vacuum,  assured that the next chairman would still come from the North-East.
Asked how the new chairman would emerge, the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Prof. Wale Oladipo, said the party’s constitution would be used.
“We will follow the constitution in doing that,” he said.
Jonathan told the NEC members that Tukur  agreed to leave the scene in order to restore normalcy to the PDP.
He said he would leave the meeting with the former chairman and allow the deputy national chairman of the party, Uche Secondus, to continue with the proceedings.
The President said, “On some of the issues that we have internally, because I wouldn’t want to waste too much of your time, myself and the  ex- chairman would leave you and the deputy chairman will coordinate and the meeting will progress to discuss other things.
“The  ex-chairman and myself  will go to the  State House for some issues that we need to discuss.
“We have some internal problems that have been agitating the minds of people and let us really thank the  NWC  led by Alhaji  Tukur.
“They have done very well.  We  all know that Dr. Tukur    didn’t just wake up to be chairman of our party, he had  paid his dues.
“He had held several positions  in  this country and  he did  very well.  For us to make sure that we rest these issues, he  agreed to step aside.”
As soon as he said this, there was a loud ovation inside the hall where the meeting held in the national secretariat of the PDP.
Before the President pulled  Tukur’s resignation    letter  from his pocket, he  made reference to those who had defected to the opposition  All Progressives Congress, saying that defection was  normal  in democracy.
Five PDP  governors – Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers); Rabiu Kwakwanso (Kano);  Murtala Nyako (Adamawa); Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara) and Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto) – had defected to the APC, claiming that the leadership of the PDP was autocratic.
Few weeks ago, 37 members of the House of Representatives also left the PDP  for  the APC while 27 out of the 30 members of the Sokoto State House of Assembly also left the ruling party.
But the President said these  should not  worry  the party and its leadership.
Jonathan  said, “Defection is normal and  it is nothing we should worry ourselves  about too much because as long we continue to work together, the  PDP will continue to  be the  number one political  party  in Nigeria.”
He pleaded with the members of the  party to be steadfast and be committed, adding that those who had  left the PDP would come back.
The President however advised  that there must be regular meetings by the leadership of the  PDP as well as the governors elected on its platform.
He said, “We must encourage more meetings. NWC  meetings must be held regularly.
“Meetings of  the Board of Trustees, national caucus and NEC  should also be held  regularly because  election year is almost at hand.
“If we don’t hold meetings people will  think they have overtaken us. The  governors and I  met yesterday (Wednesday) and we  agreed to be meeting monthly.”
He then  raised Tukur’s resignation letter and asked whether it should be read to the hearing of the journalists present, but there was no definite response.
He, thereafter, handed it over to the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Prof. Wale Oladipo.
The President went further to ask  the Governor of Cross River State, Liyel Imoke, to move the motion for the acceptance of Tukur’s resignation.
He also called on Sen. Abdul Ningi to second the motion.
Imoke and Ningi,  while doing  so, praised  Tukur who they described as fatherly and an astute politician.
When the motion was seconded, the President asked that those in support of  Tukur’s  resignation to  say “ayes”  and  those  against to say “nay.”
Every one  in the hall shouted “ayes.”
The NEC members then rose in unison  and  sang, “for he is a jolly good fellow”  for Tukur, who was beaming with smiles.
Jonathan also gave an inkling that Tukur might be appointed as ambassador when he said that with his experience, he would be given an assignment to market the country’s image “even outside the country.”
The PUNCH  had also reported on Thursday that Tukur was  being considered as Nigeria’s  Ambassador to China.
Earlier, Tukur had said that there were challenges ahead of 2015, but added that such challenges were not insurmountable.
He appealed to the members of the party to be ready to make sacrifices and called on the elected officials to perform well in their respective offices.
When  Oladipo was asked how the new chairman would emerge, he  replied, “We will follow the constitution in doing that.”
The National Publicity Secretary of the party, Chief Olisa Metuh, also praised the members of the party for standing by it.
“With what happened today (Thursday), you can see that the party is well-organised and well-structured. We are the best organised party in the country,” he boasted.
The NEC meeting was also attended by  Vice-President Namadi Sambo,  Senate President David Mark and Deputy  Senate President  Ike Ekweremadu.
The  Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mallam Aminu Tambuwal, his deputy, Emeka Ihedioha; the governors of Benue, Akwa Ibom, Plateau, Niger, Delta, Ebonyi, Kogi, Katsina, Taraba, Kaduna, and  Abia states, among others, were also in attendance.

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