BY HENRY UMORU
ABUJA — FORMER Governor of Bauchi State, Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu, yesterday assumed office as National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP with a vow to restore the lost glory of the party.
To achieve this, Mu’azu promised, to as a matter of urgency, embark on sweeping reforms against the backdrop that party administration must not be run like in the 19th century, stressing that as a party, PDP must run and meet international standards.
Speaking shortly after he was administered the oath of office as Alhaji Bamanga Tukur’s successor, Mu’azu, who hails from Bauchi State, noted that PDP as a ruling party must lead by example by ensuring that primaries are rancour free.
The new PDP leader said to achieve these lofty heights all hands must be on deck.
Mu’azu, who promised not to tamper with Governor Isa Yuguda’s structure in Bauchi State or others, stressed that he would not entertain gossips.
His words: “I won’t tamper with any of your structures, including that of Yuguda. But please allow the chairmen to allow everyone to register. Those without work should stay off PDP secretariat . Those who want to gossip should be able to say whatever they tell me in the presence of the person they are gossiping about. I’m not here to listen to gossip.”
The oath of office was administered on Mu’azu by Mr. Augustine Taxy.
Why we chose Mu’azu – Jonathan
Mu’azu spoke as President Goodluck Jonathan, in his remarks, yesterday, at the 64th National Executive Committee, NEC, meeting gave an insight into why Mu’azu was chosen to replace Bamanga Tukur. The President said the new PDP chairman has a wide outreach, has a unique character with friends across the country, and that at this period in the life of PDP, the party requires a bridge builder like Adamu Mu’azu who is friendly, one who can reduce tension in the states and not fight.
The immediate past National Chairman, Alhaji Tukur and Speaker, House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal were however conspicuously absent.
According to President Jonathan, most PDP governors do not want chairmen from their states, but the party was making history with the new chairman having the total support of his governor, Mallam Isa Yuguda, adding that with the latest development, the story would change. He urged the new National Chairman to ensure that there was no infighting between the national Secretariat, the Governors and leaders of the party, even as he reiterated that the Party lost in some states because of the fight among the leaders.
According to President Jonathan, “when the issue of chairmanship came up, a number of people came to me, talking about who should be the chairman of the party. Some mentioned the attributes of somebody that we should select to lead the party and I agreed with them totally on those things they raised.
In terms of the political situation in the country, the key thing is that we need somebody that can build the party, somebody that can reach out to people, somebody that is friendly with so many people, including the toxic assets that Mr. Chairman mentioned. So, we were looking for somebody that can do that: to bring the party together.
“Let me at this point appreciate really all those who showed interest; we didn’t call them aspirants, because we didn’t sell any form. So, there was no aspirant, but people showed interest and all those who showed interest are eminently qualified to chair the party. But among these people that are qualified, we selected Adamu Mu’azu. We selected you because most of those who made comments about you, which of course, a lot of things have been said, were that you have some unique attributes as a person. You have so many friends from the North to the South, from the West to the East. You are somebody that could be clearly described as not tied to tribal sentiments.”
Earlier at the start of the meeting, the Deputy National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus who presided, stressed the need for genuine reconciliation as well as the restoration of confidence among members of the party. He stressed that Article 47(6) of PDP’s constitution, however, approved the appointment of Mu’azu as National Chairman pending when an election would be conducted.
Secondus thereafter called on Governor Isa Yuguda of Bauchi State to move a motion for the nomination of Mu’azu for the position and the motion was seconded by Senate leader, Senator Victor Ndoma- Egba.
Governor Yuguda’s motion that his predecessor in office be appointed PDP national chairman caught a lot of people napping as it came amid counter speculations in the media that none of the governors from the North East wanted an indigene of their state to occupy the plum position as a result of imminent power tussle.
While moving the motion for the appointment of Mu’azu, Governor Yuguda who acknowledged that there was indeed friction between them, however, informed NEC members that they have been together from their childhood and understand each other very well, adding, “we know what is between us. I want to assure everyone here that Ahmed is my friend and brother.”
Speaking on behalf of the PDP governors, their chairman, and governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio who lamented that the governors were blackmailed especially on the issue of 2015, however, promised that the governors will back President Jonathan for 2015 presidential election, adding, “looking at 2015, we the governors are very sure that Goodluck Jonathan would be returned as a second term President on the platform of this party.”
He expressed hope that the emergence of Mu’azu would “break the jinx” that has surrounded and caused friction between party chairmen and state governors. He pointedly said Tukur ran into trouble waters when he fell out with his governor over tussle for state party control.
Chairman, PDP State Chairmen, Emmanuel Agbo of Benue State also expressed the support of state chairmen.
All past chairmen, past secretaries came out one after the other to congratulate the new chairman.
Speaking further on his programme, Mu’azu said, “ In the last few months, the PDP has occupied front pages of our newspapers with negative screaming headlines. Most political analysts predicted that the end of the giant has come. Over the years, the PDP has developed its home grown internal conflict resolution mechanism. So while false prophets were prophesying its collapse, insiders, knew that the crisis is a storm in a tea-cup. Today, we have proven to the whole world that we have an instant cure for what looked like a terminal disease. Indeed, we have demonstrated our political maturity and sagacity as the Number 1 party in Africa.
“Let me at this juncture congratulate and commend our immediate past Chairman, Alhaji Tukur for taking the path of honour. He voluntarily sacrificed the exalted office of Chairman in order to save the party. He demonstrated that the party is greater than his or any body’s ambition. He demonstrated an uncommon loyalty, sacrifice and commitment to the survival and success of the party. This spirit of sacrifice should be emulated by our party men and women at all levels of our party leadership.
“There is no doubt that all has not been well with our party. However, the crisis that has rocked the party is a common phenomenon with large parties. Any party the size of PDP would definitely experience such challenges from time to time. This is so, because the PDP as the ruling party in Africa’s most populous nation offers its members the opportunity of realizing their lifetime political ambitions. Therefore, there is bound to be healthy and unhealthy political rivalry, each one trying to outwit the other. It is however the ability to resolve these crisis amicably, that makes the difference between boys and the men.
“As I take over as Chairman of our great party, I want to assure you of my determined efforts and total commitment to restoring the lost glory of the PDP, with your total support. I have helplessly watched the dwindling fortunes of our party from 2003 to date. From controlling a record 28 states in 1999 down to 23 states currently. This situation is unacceptable and must change. The good people of Nigeria still love the PDP and will continue to love and vote the PDP as long as we meet their expectations and aspirations. Nigeria is PDP and PDP is Nigeria.
“I therefore wish to invite all our party men and women as well as all well meaning Nigerians to make their inputs and contributions to my Reform programmes. I do not claim to have the monopoly of wisdom to turn the fortunes of the PDP around, but I believe that if we all resolve here and now, to turn around the dwindling fortunes of the PDP, the party will regain its lost glory in record time and remain the toast of the Nigerian people, once again.
“In this connection, in the coming weeks and months, we will engage in sweeping reforms in the administration of the party to bring it in tandem with global best practices.
“Party administration in Nigeria cannot continue to be run as it was in the 19th century. We must hurry up to be on the same page with advanced democracies, otherwise our elections will continue to be discredited by the international community. The beginning of credible, free and fair elections starts with credible, free and fair party primaries. Free and fair primaries are the foundation of free and fair elections. The PDP as the leading party, must therefore, lead the way for other parties to follow. We cannot and will not condone questionable primary elections..
“We will do everything possible to ensure the supremacy of the party under my chairmanship. In this connection, I will plead and appeal to the Executive Governors, who have tremendous roles to play to join hands with me in ensuring the actualization of the supremacy of the party. The supremacy of the party will guarantee internal party discipline, credibility and electoral victories. We therefore cannot compromise on these.”