BY NIYI ODEBODE, JOHN ALECHENU AND OLUSOLA FABIYI
There are indications that President Goodluck Jonathan and governors elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party have started searching for a new national chairman to replace Bamanga Tukur.
The PUNCH learnt that the President had acceded to the long time demand of the governors that Tukur be replaced as a panacea for the crisis rocking the party.
Our correspondents learnt in Abuja on Monday, however, that while Jonathan had agreed with the request for removing the second republic governor of the old Gongola State as chairman of the ruling party, the President had yet to be satisfied with any of the possible replacements being suggested to him
Some of the names said to have been suggested to the President include those of a former Governor of Bauchi State, Alhaji Adamu Mua’zu; and Dr. Musa Babayo, who emerged as the PDP chairman at the North-East congress in 2012.
It was gathered that while Jonathan rejected Mua’zu because of his closeness to former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, the President was said to have expressed the fear that Babayo was “too close to the governors” and could hijack the party from him.
Atiku’s son, Mohammed, got married to the daughter of Mua’zu, Malama Badariya, in June.
A member of the PDP National Working Committee who spoke in confidence with one of our correspondents said, “From all indications, both the President and the governors have agreed that Tukur should go.
“Although the governors have tipped Mua’zu and Babayo, the two candidates are not acceptable to the President.
“Jonathan wants Tukur to stay until a good replacement is found for him. He does not want to lose the control of the party because of the governors’ desperate move to sack Tukur.”
As a ploy to stall the removal of Tukur, the President was said to be insisting that the governors should wait for the outcome of the party’s mini-convention before taking a final decision on Tukur.
The PUNCH had reported on Monday that five PDP governors – Murtala Nyako, Adamawa; Rabiu Kwankanso, Kano; Babangida Aliyu, Niger; Sule Lamido, Jigawa; and Aliyu Wamakko, Sokoto – at a meeting with the President on Saturday insisted that Tukur should resign before the convention and all National Working Committee posts be declared vacant.
The party’s mini –convention, where some national officers of the party including the Deputy National Chairman are to be elected, has been fixed for August 31.
As a ‘Plan B’, The PUNCH learnt that the President was banking on the emergence of Chief Uche Secondus as deputy national chairman to check Tukur.
The second leg of the plan, it was learnt, would see the President appointing Secondus as the deputy to continue to act as national chairman in the event that Tukur is still pushed out after the convention.
Jonathan, under the plan, would refuse the possible appointment of a substantive national chairman thus allowing Secondus to conduct the party’s presidential primaries for the 2015 election.
Secondus, a former National Organising Secretary of the PDP, hails from Rivers State and he is a close ally of Jonathan.
He aspired to be the deputy national chairman during the last national convention of the party but did not receive the backing of his state governor, RotimiAmaechi.
Tukur’s spokesman, Oliver Okpala, on Monday, refused to respond to the latest development but promised that “an official statement” from him would be issued on Tuesday (today).
He said, “Tomorrow (Tuesday) morning I am issuing an official statement on the meeting of the governors with the President.
“You will also get the reaction of the national chairman to all the issues raised, including the call for his removal.”
In a related development, the PDP has recognised Mr. Ken Emeakayi as the chairman of the party in Anambra State.
A statement by the Acting National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr. Tony Okeke, said the decision to recognise Emeakayi was taken after consultations with major stakeholders in the state.
Okeke appealed to members of the party in the state to work with Emeakayi in order for the party to achieve a desired result in the forthcoming governorship election in the state.
The statement said, “Following comprehensive consultations with the major stakeholders of our great Party in Anambra State coupled with the desire to have a strong and united party to effectively reposition the fortunes of the Party as the November 16, 2003 State Governorship Election approaches, the leadership of the Party hereby announces the decision to recognize Ken Emeakayi, as the substantive Chairman of the party in Anambra State.
“All members of our party in Anambra State are hereby directed to work with Mr. Emeakayi towards achieving victory at the forthcoming governorship election in the state.”
Meanwhile, the security situation in the country, it was learnt, would be the subject of discussion at a proposed meeting between former President Olusegun Obasanjo and the PDP governors.
This is coming as two governors from the South-South zone met with the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, on the lingering crisis between President Jonathan and most of the governors.
The meeting with Obasanjo, said to have been brokered by some of the aggrieved governors in the party, was also said to have been sanctioned by Jonathan.
One of the PDP governors, who confirmed the proposed meeting said he was however yet to receive his own invitation.
The governor said, “Yes, the meeting with former President Olusegun Obasanjo would hold in August, though I have not received my own invitation.
“The meeting is going to discuss the crisis in our party and the Nigeria Governors’ ‘Forum. It will also look at the crisis in Rivers State.
“We are all scared about what is happening in the country, especially with a statement by a former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, that the nation’s democracy is at risk due to the Rivers crisis.
“That was a statement that made some of us to wake up from our slumber and start moving to address the matter. The former head of state is not a flippant person and does not talk recklessly. We have to take him seriously.”
The governor also confirmed the meeting between the President and the Governor of Rivers State, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, in Abuja on Friday night.
“Such consultations will continue and I can tell you that we are serious about saving this democracy,” he added.