By Vincent Ikuomola, Abuja and Uja Emmanuel, Makurdi
Second Republic Governor Bamanga Tukur looks good to become the next national chairman of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Tukur, 76, governor of the now defunct Gongola State (now Adamawa and Taraba states), is the President of the Economic body, African Roundtable. He is among the eight aspirants bidding for the position, which is zoned to the Northeast geo-political zone.
Other aspirants are: former Ambassador to the United States Dr. Hassan Adamu (Adamawa); former Minister of Petroleum Resources Prof. Jibril Aminu (Adamawa); former Minister of Commerce, Amb. Idris Waziri (Taraba); former Minister of Agriculture Shettima Mustapha (Borno); former National Chairman of the defunct Grassroots Democratic Movement (GDM) Gambo Lawan (Borno); former Governor Adamu Mu’azu (Bauchi) and Senator Danjuma Goje (Gombe).
The PDP National Convention is slated for March 24 in Abuja.
Tukur was at the Presidential Villa yesterday for a meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan. He was accompanied by Governors, Isa Yuguda (Bauchi), Danbaba Suntai (Taraba), Ibrahim Dankwambo (Gombe) and Murtala Nyako (Adamawa).
The Political Adviser to the President, Mr. Ahmed Gulak, was also at the parley.
Senate President David Mark, House Speaker Aminu Tambuwal, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu and Deputy Speaker Emeka Ihedioha were at the presidential Villa to see the President for what is not unconnected with the PDP national convention.
After the meeting, Nyako said: “The question is who the President wants. Whoever the President wants, we should support. Just like in my state, they should concede to me who I should like to see in the leadership of the party.
“The person should be somebody who is electable, who is marketable, somebody who can be voted for.”
Asked if Tukur fits the bill, he said the President is in a better position to know.
“Ask Mr. President; it is his decision. Why are you asking me? I’m a small man from Adamawa? We understand that the party hierarchy is interested in having a consensus chairman,” Nyako said.
He also supported the idea of a consensus candidate, saying: “It is only better than to go and get two-third majority. It adds to the unity of the party. It is easier for us and less costly.”
When reminded that the party threw the position open to Northeast candidates and people collected forms, he said: “If they want to contest, they can contest; it doesn’t mean that will make you the candidate.”
Tukur said he is not too old to take up the position. He said: “PDP leadership is not a job for the children. It is a job for the daddies at the moment.”
On whether his visit to the Villa is a proof of presidential backing, he replied: “Our party will take a decision at the Eagle Square with people voting.
He added: “Of course, the President is a member. I campaign for their support – the President, the governors, president of the Senate – all of them.”
Tukur also feigned ignorance of the move to have a consensus chairman, noting that competition is healthy for the party.
He said: “It is competition. It is good, the more the merrier. We want to deepen democracy. Everybody who believes they have the solution or improvement for our party, let them come.”
In Makurdi yesterday, Tukur expressed regrets over the dwindling fortunes of the PDP which he said requires a surgery.
Speaking during a visit to Benue State Governor Gabriel Suswam at the Government House, he likened the party to a house with a leaking roof that should be mended. He boasted that he would mend the umbrella party.
He observed with bitterness that the party lost the entire Southwest, saying the PDP needed commitment and discipline.
He sought the state’s support, promising to be a team player for the growth of the party.
“I am a team player and I like competition because it brings out the best in me and I want to be the best,” Tukur said.
Suswam described Tukur as a statesman, who possesses the qualities to restore the party’s lost glory.
He said the PDP needed an experienced person to reconstruct the party.
“We have over 100 delegates and we assure you that all the votes will be yours on March 24,” Suswam promised Tukur.
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