By SONI DANIEL, Regional Editor, North
As several blocks within the troubled Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, jostle for the control of the party through the appointment of a new chairman, indications emerged yesterday that President Goodluck Jonathan might have settled for the Minister of Transport, Idris Umar.
Incidentally, Umar, an unassuming but active politician from Gombe State, is the same candidate that the President’s wife, Patience and the Governor of Bayelsa State, Seriake Dickson, are soliciting support for to emerge as the new National Chairman of the party.
A close source to the Presidency told Saturday Vanguard that the President was favourably disposed to supporting the emergence of Umar, who had been showing what it called ‘absolute loyalty’ and support to the administration since coming on board as a minister.
The source said, “It is clear that the post will be given to Umar because of the fact that the President has already given a nod to his candidature.
“Barring any change in the way things are, Umar will be announced as the new Chairman of the PDP,” the source, who pleaded anonymity, said.
It was gathered in Abuja yesterday that in a bid to pave the way for Umar to move into the new role, he might be dropped in an impending cabinet reshuffle to be announced by President Goodluck Jonathan.
The President had even given a hint of tinkering with his cabinet when he told a delegation of PDP stakeholders from the North-West that the list of new ministers to be appointed by him would be forwarded to the National Assembly, which is expected to resume from their Christmas and New Year break next week.
Although it was not clear, who would replace Umar in the event of his being dropped in order to take up the new challenge, a source said that Jonathan was planning a major cabinet reshuffle that might sweep away the jobs of no fewer than 25 ministers.
The purge, it was learnt, was to pave the way for the emergence of ‘politically relevant’ ministers, who would be able to deliver the needed support for Jonathan to win his second term election and stay till 2019.
Findings by Saturday Vanguard showed that in a bid to counter the G5 governors and win election in those states, Jonathan had pencilled down the names of top PDP politicians who can match the governors politically.
A source close to the Presidency pointed out that in Rivers State for instance, two former Deputy Speakers, Austin Opara and Chibudum Nwuche, were being considered for ministerial appointment so as to be able to tackle Amaechi and win the state for PDP.
Amaechi was among the five PDP governors, who recently defected to the APC. The governors vowed on Thursday not to return to the PDP even with the removal of Bamanga Tukur, insisting that the virus of impunity and lawlessness had affected their former party.
In Niger State, the name of the former governor of the state, A.Y.Kure, who is believed to still enjoy a strong followership in the state might also emerge as a minister in the new cabinet being put together by Jonathan. The move is to ensure that Kure wins support for Jonathan in 2015 should the outgoing governor, Babangida Aliyu, who is torn between the PDP and APC, finally ditches his party.
The Presidency has also pencilled down the names of Boni Haruna, former Adamawa State Governor, as a potential minister in his cabinet so as to checkmate Governor Murtala Nyako, who has already moved over to the APC.
The same scenario is also playing out in Kano, where the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ghali Na’aba is being considered as a minister from the state so as to counter the influence of Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, who is not politically friendly with Jonathan.