BY HENRY UMORU & BEN AGANDE
ABUJA—CONFUSION reigned in the polity yesterday, over whether or not Alhaji Bamanga Tukur was still the National Chairman of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). One account said he had given his resignation letter to President Goodluck Jonathan, which the President was expected to read to members of the National Caucus, that reconvened at 6 pm at the Presidential Villa. The National Caucus meeting was planned to dovetail into the Board of Trustees, BoT, meeting last night.
As an indication that Tukur had quit, the weekly Wednesday National Working Committee (NWC) meeting, yesterday, was chaired by Deputy National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus with other members in attendance. The NWC meeting, which took place at the office of the Deputy National Chairman lasted from 2 pm to 4.30 pm when the members drove out immediately to the meeting of the National Caucus at the Presidential Villa, it was gathered.
Those who attended included the National Organising Secretary, Abubakar Mustapha; National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh; National Auditor, Adewole Adeyanju; National Secretary, Professor Wale Oladipo; National Financial Secretary, Elder Bolaji Anani; National Woman Leader, Mrs Kema Chikwe; National Legal Adviser, Victor Kwom; and National Youth leader, Abdullahi MaiBasira.
I have not resigned — Tukur
As members were waiting for President Jonathan to read Tukur’s resignation letter, the embattled chairman made a surprise appearance at the Board of Trustees meeting in Abuja, saying he had not resigned.
Alhaji Tukur, who walked into the Banquet hall of the Presidential villa at about 7:50 PM said he was not the sort of person that would resign in secret.
The PDP chairman, who walked in with former chairman of the party, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor told State House Correspondents that the rumour of his resignation was not true.
“I have not resigned. I am not somebody that would resign and you would not know. I have not resigned,” he said curtly before walking into the hall where the meeting of the BOT was to hold.
Before the dramatic twist, a source told Vanguard that Tukur had submitted his letter of resignation to the leader of the party, President Jonathan, who was expected to read the letter to members of the National Caucus, which was to lead to the BoT meeting, which was in progress at press time.
A NEC member told Vanguard yesterday that should Tukur sustain his reluctance to voluntarily step down, the issue will be thrashed out in today’s NEC meeting. “If Tukur had resigned yesterday, today’s NEC would have been for mere ratification,” he said.
A source told Vanguard that Prince Secondus called for the agenda of today’s NEC meeting where he made some corrections which may not be unconnected to the perceived resignation of Tukur, meaning that Secondus will take charge at today’s meeting.
A member of NWC who spoke with Vanguard said: “You know that the arrangement before now was to hold NEC meeting after the National Caucus and BoT meetings. We now have to look at the possibility of changing the agenda of the NEC meeting. If he has truly resigned, it means that issues like moving motions for removal of chairman or any other person would be stepped down.”
Members of the NWC also vowed to suspend Tukur and thereafter expel him from the party if he failed to resign as arranged.
At the national caucus meeting, President Jonathan was also said to have pleaded with members to save Tukur and tolerate him till the mini-convention of the party in March this year.
However, sources told Vanguard that the governors, National Assembly members and other members of National caucus kicked against it, insisting that Tukur must go.
It was further said that earlier at the Tuesday meeting, two governors stayed with the chairmen of the PDP in the 36 states and Federal Capital Territory, Abuja at the 3J Hotel, by Chida Hotel, Utako to ensure that they never changed their minds on the vote of no confidence passed on Tukur. The state chairmen eventually submitted their report to President Jonathan on why Tukur must go late on Tuesday.
What the party constitution says
Meanwhile, according to Article 45(1, 2) of the 2012 amended constitution of PDP, the Deputy National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus will step into the shoes of Alhaji Tukur if he quits until the party conducts an election for a replacement.
Article 45 (1) of the constitution reads: “If a National Officer of the Party is removed or resigns from office, he shall immediately hand over to the National Secretary all records, files and other properties of the party in his or her possession.”
Sub-section 2 also reads, “ in the case of the National Chairman, he shall hand over to the Deputy National Chairman who shall, without prejudice to Section. 45(6) of this Constitution, act as the National Chairman pending the election of a replacement.”
Babayo, Mu’azu, Adamu in line to succeed Tukur
Meanwhile, three names are being touted as possible replacements for Tukur. They include former Acting National Secretary, Dr. Musa Babayo; former Bauchi State Governor, Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu, all from Bauchi State and former Nigeria Ambassador to the United States, Alhaji Hassan Adamu, Wakili Adamawa.