President Goodluck Jonathan on Thursday night held an emergency meeting with some of his close allies over the continued call for the removal of the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Dr. Bamanga Tukur.
The meeting was attended by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Pius Anyim; Chief of Staff to the President, Dr. Mike Oghiadomhe; Minister of Niger Delta, Mr. Godsday Orubebe; and Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State.
Investigations by correspondents showed that the President might have taken the decision to force Tukur out after his meeting with the duo of Akpabio and the Governor of Delta State, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, earlier on Thursday.
At the meeting, both governors reportedly briefed the President on what transpired at the peace meeting called by former president Olusegun Obasanjo with governors elected on the party’s platform. The meeting lasted for two days in Abuja.
“The consensus is that Bamanga Tukur should no longer be the national chairman of the party,” a source privy to the discussion at the meeting told a correspondents.
Several suggestions were then made on how to get Tukur out. One of which was that he should be asked to resign like the other eight members of the National Working Committee, whose resignations were accepted by the National Executive Committee at its meeting held in Abuja on June 20.
Those, who resigned their positions as members of the NWC on that date were the Deputy National Chairman, Dr. Sam Jaja; National Organising Secretary, Abubakar Mustapha; National Youth Leader, Mr. Garba Chima; Acting National Secretary, Mr. Solomon Onwe; Woman Leader, Kema Chikwe; National Legal Adviser, Victor Kwom; National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Olisa Metuh; and the National Treasurer, Bala Kaoje.
Apart from the eight national officers, 12 other officers, who were either deputies or ex-official members, also resigned from their offices.
Their resignations followed the report by the Independent National Electoral Commission, which declared the way they emerged at the 2012 national convention, undemocratic.
But unlike others, whose resignations were based on the commission’s report, Tukur, who is 77 years old, might be asked to base his resignation on “old age.”
Baring any change in plan, Tukur might announce his decision to quit soon as the Presidency is said to have asked him to convene a NEC meeting.
The date of the meeting, which a top source in the party has put as Thursday, will be announced after an emergency meeting of NWC on Monday.
All members of the party’s NWC have a four-year tenure. Tukur and two other members of the NWC are already on their second year in office having been elected on March 20, 2012.
The NEC meeting, it was gathered, might also push for the postponement of the party’s mini-National Convention, already slated for August 31.
Initially, the date for the convention was put at July 20 by the last NEC, but was later changed by the members of the convention planning committee, headed by a former Minister of Information, Prof. Jerry Gana.
By the arrangement of the party’s leadership, eight interim members of the NWC of the party ought to have left office on July 21.
Some of the governors and aides of the President were said to have argued that their continued stay in office without the approval of NEC was illegal.
A top source of the party said, “It was NEC that gave them the exit date and also set the date for the mini-convention. We were merely told that the date had been changed. We did not authorise that.
“So, their continued stay in office is illegal. We also want to be careful so that someone does not hide under any guise to go to court to challenge the process that led to the convention.”
Our correspondents’ efforts to reach the politicians and government officials said to be at the meeting were not successful. A telephone call placed to Orubebe’s mobile telephone line indicated that it was switched off or in an area outside network coverage. Also, Orubebe did not respond to a text message later sent to him on the issue.
Several calls and text messages to the Special Assistant (Media and Communication) to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Sam Nwaobasi, were also not replied.
Efforts made to speak with the media aide of Tukur, Mr. Oliver Okpala, on Friday were not successful.