Chuks Okocha in Abuja
Last week’s resignation of Adamu Mu’azu as the national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has thrown open the contest for the party’s topmost position.
Stakeholders are considering the outgoing Minister of State for Power, Mohammed Wakil; outgoing Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Senator Bala Mohammed; former Special Adviser on Politics to the President, Ahmed Gulak; and former National Administrative Secretary of PDP, Habu Fari, as top contenders for the plum PDP job.
The new national chairman is expected to come from the North-east as the office is zoned to the geo-political area.
This came to light as fresh facts emerged on how President Goodluck Jonathan got the Chairman, Board of Trustees of PDP, Chief Tony Anenih, to step down from the office, in spite of the willingness he had earlier shown to do so.
THISDAY learnt that Wakil, who is from Borno State is top on the list of the possible replacement for Mu’azu. His consideration for the office of the PDP chairman is due to his experience on party administration.
Wakil was the leader of the House of Representatives from 1999 to 2003 and later vice national chairman of PDP in the North-east zone. Before the choice of Mu’azu as national chairman in 2014, he lost out in what could be considered as ‘injury time.’
He also served variously as committee chairman and secretary in most of the committees set up for one reason or the other for party’s sundry issues. Members of the PDP National Working Committee (NWC) are said to be favourably disposed to have him as the national chairman of PDP till the next national convention of the party in March 2016. He stands close to pick the ticket because the Yobe / Borno axis is yet to assume national importance in holding of the NWC offices.
Next in the line, THISDAY also gathered, is Mohammed, the outgoing Minister of FCT, because he is from Bauchi, the same state with Mu’azu. Fari, the former National Administrative Secretary of PDP, who is from Taraba State, is also under consideration. A former minister of state for Transport in the Second Republic, he is seen as the father of PDP in Taraba. He served briefly as Chief of Staff to the former national chairman of PDP, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur.
THISDAY sources said Gulak, the former political adviser to President Jonathan, is among those being mentioned as possible replacement for Mu’azu, if Adamawa state is to be given consideration. This is because Tukur, who had occupied the office from 2012 to early 2014, hails from Adamawa State.
However, following the defeat of President Jonathan in the March 28 presidential election, Anenih was said to have voluntarily proposed to Jonathan that he would step down for him (Jonathan) to assume the position in order for him to have a platform on which he would be relevant within the party after leaving office on May 29.
A few party leaders were said to be privy to the proposal, which Anenih has already confirmed in his May 20, 2015 letter to Jonathan in which he formalised his decision to step down. The letter and its content are already in the public domain.
Jonathan, THISDAY learnt, then rejected the proposal on the grounds that he would need enough time to rest, having been in government at the state and federal levels since 1999. There were media reports that the First Lady, Patience Jonathan, was not happy with her husband for rejecting the offer of BoT chairman.
There were feelers, however, that following intense pressure from some quarters within the party on Jonathan to assume the position, he caved in, but could not go back to Anenih to tell him that he was now interested in assuming the position.
The president was said to have quietly entered into a deal with some members of NWC to put pressure on Mu’azu to resign, in order to also pave the way for the resignation of Anenih as the BoT chairman because of his (president’s) renewed interest in the position.
It was learnt that the plan was that as soon as Mu’azu resigned, the NWC should send a delegation to meet with Anenih to convey President Jonathan’s request to him that he should resign as BoT chairman.
Anenih, who was said to have been pissed off by the manner Jonathan went about his renewed interest, did not waste time in sending a one-page letter to the President, recalling his conversation with him (Jonathan) on the issue so as to show how he had voluntarily proposed to hand over to him (president).
Apparently explaining that he had already, even without prompting from any quarters, expressed his readiness to step down for the president, Anenih had, in the letter, formally announced his decision to resign from the office of BoT chairman.
The letter, titled: “Notice of my decision to step down as Chairman, Board of Trustees of the Peoples Democratic Party,” reads: “Your Excellency will recall that in a conversation I had with you a few weeks ago, I had offered to step down from the office of the chairman of our party’s Board of Trustees and proposed to hand over to you as its new chairman in a ceremony that would have taken place on the 23rd of May, 2015. I had also repeated this position in our subsequent meetings.
“As a follow-up to the above proposal and in view of the current state of affairs in our party, I have decided to formally put my offer in writing to enable you effectively assume the chairmanship of Board of Trustees or approve a process that will enable any other member of the BoT, who is considered competent, to assume the position.
“Kindly accept, therefore, this letter as notice of my decision to step down from the position of Chairman of the BoT of our party with effect from today, the 20th of May, 2015.
“I am happy to inform you that, I remain a loyal foundation member of our great party and will continue to pray for the prosperity of Nigeria, our party, and for you and your family. Your Excellency, kindly accept the expression of my highest regards.”
Meanwhile, PDP said it has put behind the recent challenges that confronted the leadership stating that its NWC is “firmly in the saddle and very determined to stabilise and re-engineer the party to re-take its pre-eminent place in the polity.”
The party also said the voluntary resignation of Mu’azu and Anenih has become the huge sacrifice for the rebuilding process.
PDP National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh, in a statement yesterday said: “The National Working Committee appreciates the concerns, sacrifices and valuable contributions of critical stakeholders during the trying time” noting that “the party is emerging from its challenges a stronger and more united front.”
The leadership said: “Though our party in the past few weeks has been in the news more for internal challenges than for preparations for active opposition, effective mechanisms are being put into place by the NWC to reverse the trend, while leveraging on the new spirit of accommodation, the confidence and support of critical stakeholders including PDP governors and legislators-elect as well as other officials of the party across board to return the PDP to its winning ways.
“Currently, our great party is searching for an appropriate and suitable replacement for the National Chairman from the North East geopolitical zone. In this regard therefore, we expect that our committed members should turn their focus on this very important task, which is essential in the repositioning process”, the party said.
The national leadership then charged all its members across the country to continue to work with the leadership at all levels while ensuring that they are not in any way distracted by certain forces including those working for the APC, who are still bent at using a section of the media, especially the social media as well as sponsored protests to instigate further discordance in the PDP.
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