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PDP Shops For Mu’azu’s Replacement

Paul Yovo x-rays the likely aspiranst scheming to replace former Chairman of the PDP who resigned last week under a cloud

With interim party Chairman, Uche Secondus, saying during the weekend that no member of the National Working Committee, NCW, of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, would resign, the search for ex-Chairman Adamu Mu’azu’ s replacement, has begun in earnest. Mu’azu resigned as National Chairman of the party on Wednesday, May 20, following strident calls from party leaders and members, for his resignation in the event of the loss of power suffered by the party in the just concluded general elections. Notable among his nemesis were Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State and his Niger State counterpart and governor of Northern Governors Forum Aliyu Babangida, Mu’azu.

Mu’azu, who was a two-time governor of Bauchi State could not withstand the avalanche of calls for his resignation, returned from an oversea trip he had embarked upon to cool off after the election fiasco and threw in the towel, citing the need to maintain party unity. President Goodluck Jonathan and governors had chosen Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu, as the new Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, in replacement of fractious Alhaji Bamangar Tukur after the 2013 August mini-convention of the party resulted in a crisis that eventually saw the exit of the G5 governors and former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, who all later pitched their tents with the All Progressives Congress, APC.

Mu’azu exit has calmed frayed nerves and reduced the blames and counter-blames that the party leaders have been trading against each other in the heat of the lose of power and refocused the stakeholders on who to pick for the position.

The National Secretary of the party, Adewale Oladipo, said, “The PDP at its NWC’s meeting on May 20, 2015 received and accepted the voluntary resignation of the National Chairman of our great party, Adamu Mu’azu.

“Consequently, in line with the provisions of section 45 (2) of the PDP constitution, the Deputy National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, acts in place of the national chairman pending a replacement from the North-East.

Speaker in the same vein in an interview last week, Chief Olabode George, the party leader in Lagos State said Secondus was standing in until a replacement is got from the Northwest where the former Chairman comes from. Without spelling the details, he said the replacement would be natural until a proper convention is held to elect a Chairman. For George, if the party maintains its zoning formular which helped Mu’azu to the party chair, then the Northeast is the favourite. Even so, The UNION gathered that, George may be right in a political sense given the fact that the party need to maintain its nation outlook with a Chairman from the North. But current reality is making an argument for a shift, according to party sources. They say that with the current structure in which the party has only Taraba and Gombe States in the northeast; only Kogi State in the North central and Ekiti and Ondo in the Southwest with the South south and Southeast as its major stronghold following its performance in the recent polls, its former national spread achieved with 21 States spread across the six, geo-political zones, is a debatable point in picking as a consensus candidate aa replacement. It is in this light that a group within the party is sadi to be mobilising for a “place for the Southsouth in the race for the Chairmanship” as the source puts it, without completely ruling out the participation of the Northeast. In this case, names of party chieftains have come for mention, even thought as the source said, their background would be properly screened to make sure some who have been involved in anti-party activity following the victory of the APC, to which many of its members were planning to defect until the latter snubbed them.

Surprisingly those who contested against Adamu Mu’azu in 2014 are said to be shpwing interests again, while in the South south an outgoing governor’s name has come up prominently. They are:

Idris Umar (Gombe), the Minister of Transport, Senator

Current minister of transport Audu Idris Umar is in serious contention following the performance of the party, against all odds, in the state. In fact, winning the governorship and majority in the House of Assembly despite the massive defection of the Governor Dankwabo’s over 30 Advisers and Special Assistants including members of the Assembly on the eve of the election, has rebranded the party in the state, which could not however deliver the votes during the presidential elections. He was elected Senator for the Gombe Central constituency of Gombe State, Nigeria, taking office on 29 May 2007 after he had served as a member of the House of Representatives in 1999, and was re-elected in 2003. After taking his seat in the Senate for the 2007 to 2011 tenure, Umar was appointed to committees on Air Force (as Chairman), Federal Capital Territory, Finance and Judiciary and Human Rights & Legal Matters. It was from there that he was appointed Minister. His record in the transport sector, in which the revived rail system stands out, stands him in good stead.

Mohammed Wakil (Borno), a former member of the House of Representatives

Though this name has come up for mention several times, particularly during the move to replace Tukur, Mohammed Wakil, Minister of State for Power since March 5 2014, may not stand a chance. The massive defeat suffered by the party in the state and the current crisis of leadership troubling the party there has seriously affected his chances. Moreover this former member of Nigeria’s National Assembly and Vice -chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (North East) may have the onerous challenge of going back home to join others to rebuild the party in the state as part of the party’s agenda to reposition itself as a formidable opposition in the country’s new political reality. He has the expreience. During the Obasanjo/Atiku first democratic term (Nigeria’s Fourth Republic) from 1999–2003, he was majority leader in the House of Representatives of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and since then has remained with the party

Alhaji Gambo Lawan (Borno), a former National Chairman of the Grassroots Democratic Movement (GDM)

Gambo Lawan, who won a last minute court case to fly the party governorship flag in Borno State is also said Wakil’s chance are stalking his chances. Though a grassroots mobiliser, the outcome of the governorship and House of Assembly elections in the state, where APC held sway, does not augur well for him. In fact his chances to pick the party governorship ticket was dogged from the beginning and despite the court ruling in his favour, it took the personal intervention of President Jonathan for the former Chairman of the Grassroots Democratic Movement and ex-Chairman of Maiduguri Metropolitan Council, to pick the party’s governorship ticket . Now with election over, the lingering disagreement over the PDP governorship ticket in the state would resurface in another crisis that his contest for the chairmanship ticket would unveil.

Amb. Idris Waziri (Taraba), a former Minister of Commerce.

The performance of the PDP in Taraba in the face of overwhelming popular campaign by the APC in the state, has palced Ambassador Idris Waziri in consideration mode. For the man who once headed the Federal Ministry of Commerce, until the June 2006 cabinet reshuffle, when he was replaced by Aliyu Modibbo Umar, he is seen as a party loyalist whose influence in the state is widespread and with the record win of the governorship and House of Assembly majority by the party, he is likely to have the support of his constituents for the role

Waziri gained a degree at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, then joined the government as an administrative officer. He had a successful career, becoming a Permanent Secretary and then Commissioner of Finance, Commerce and Industry, retiring in 1993. He then worked in private industry. He was a founding member of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in 1999, President Olusegun Obasanjo appointed him Nigerian Ambassador to Pakistan. He was appointed as Minister of Commerce in July 2003.

During his tenure as commerce minister, Waziri was known for his enthusiasm for exporting cassava. In fact the global attention that cassava achieved under the Obasanjo’s regime is attributed to his zeal and effort as Minister.

Governor Emmanuel Ogbeta Uduaghan

The most pronounced name from the Southsouth as next likely Chairman of the PDP is the outgoing governor of Delta state who is said to be well ‘loved’ in the party following his unalloyed loyalty, and party man to the core, who did a great deal of personal sacrifice to ‘plug all the loopholes’ which APC was waiting to capitalize on, according to a source, during the recent polls, particularly the governorship. He dropped his senatorial ambition when it was threatening the peace of the party in his South senatorial district; he sank his differences with party chieftains and cooperated fully to work for the emergence of the current Governor-elect, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, when his, Uduaghan, candidate failed to clinch the party ticket and his party’s performance in the presidential election was outstanding in the party consideration. Besides, he among others who may be interested in the Chairmanship has the money to spend. In a series of interviews he has granted the press since the elections, Uduaghan, has however, neither confirm nor deny any interest in the party position. What he has only said is that he is not gunning for it, which is like saying he is not pushing his candidature. But reading his lips and making meaning of his optimistic words spoken for the rebranding of the party if it needed to win the next election and stay effectively in opposition for now, it is clear he is in for such a stake. For him, the reasons for the defeat of the party in the elections were “arrogance of power, elbowing of committed party chieftains by many presidential aides and the party’s disconnect with the people after sixteen years in power”. Manu who are asking him to go for it, according to a source, say he has the youth, dynamism, connection and platform. For this group of party elders, the chairmanship should stay in the South south since the party would in all likelihood zone the presidency to the North in 2019.

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