*N/East gets chairman; S/West secretary; Baraje to head interim NWC
By Henry Umoru
FOLLOWING the appointment of the acting national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Dr. Bello Haliru Mohammed, as a minister, the party has begun the search for his replacement.
Mohammed’s replacement also became imperative for the PDP following the distortion of the zoning arrangement of the party especially by members of the House of Representatives and to put to rest the relentless agitations by the South West and South East.
President Goodluck Jonathan, who doubles as the leader of the party, members of the National Working Committee, NWC, PDP South East, North East, and some stakeholders of the PDP rose from a meeting yesterday with the decision to hold a special national convention in November to elect new national officers of the party as against March 2012 earlier fixed for the officers to emerge.
Sunday Vanguard also gathered that the meeting, which took place at the Presidential Villa, on Friday night and ran into yesterday morning, resolved to rejig the party zoning arrangement of key party offices, just as the South West will get the position of the national secretary of the party to compensate the zone initially scheduled to get the Reps speaker but which was snatched by the North-West in addition to the vice presidency.
The meeting, called at the instance of Jonathan, as learnt, resolved that the national secretary, Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje, from Kwara, North Central, is to take over from Mohammed, who was sworn in on Friday as a member of the Federal Executive Council.
Baraje will act until a substantive national chairman is elected in November, just as this has reversed the decision of the party that a member of the NWC from the North East should take over from Mohammed.
Another member of the NWC, Dr. Samuel Ortom from Benue State, North Central, was until his swearing in as a minister, the national auditor of the PDP, thereby creating another space and the need for a replacement.
The present NWC has the following from the North East: deputy national secretary, Dr. Musa Babayo from Bauchi; national publicity secretary, Professor Rufai Ahmed Alkali from Gombe; national woman leader, Hajia Maryam Inna Ciroma, though from Borno, but married to Mallam Adamu Ciroma from Yobe as well as the national vice chairman for the zone, Senator Paul Wampana.
At the meeting, described as “business-like and frank”, a source said that leaders of the PDP from the South East in attendance told party leaders that they did not agitate for national chairman before the April general elections after the former chairman, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, resigned because they wanted the acting chairman to lead the party through the April elections without distractions.
They said their position was vindicated and that from the performance of Mohammed, that decision had proved to be worthwhile considering the excellent way the acting chairman led his team to achieve what they termed massive victory for the party at the polls.
It was also gathered that when the South East leaders, which included the deputy Senate president, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, and deputy speaker of the House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha, insisted that, now that elections were over, the PDP should return the chairmanship to their zone till a fresh convention was organised by the party, the president intervened, just as he urged them to accept the status quo in the overall interest of the PDP.
At the end of the day, the South East leaders were said to have agreed with Jonathan and accepted his plea.
The president was further reported to have expressed the need for all members of the PDP across the country to continue to keep faith with the leadership of the party while giving it loyalty and showing support for its policies and programmes.