Thursday, 21 March 2013

Amaechi, Akpabio, Uduaghan, Clash in Port Harcourt

By Dan Metong-Joseph

The ongoing move by the National leadership of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to reconcile aggrieved members in the South-South region is apparently facing serious crisis, indicating that the Alhaji Bamanga Tukur- led leadership has more fence-mending to do against 2015 election.

There are indications that some governors of the party in the region are still wallowing in sentimental grudges that continued to pitch then against one another.

The development which played up at the zonal executive meeting of the party held in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, presided over by the National chairman of the party, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, saw Governor’s Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State and Emmanuel Uduanghan of Delta State staging a walkout, apparently in anger of a pronouncement made by their counterpart Governor from Awka Ibom State, Chief Godswill Akpabio.

Governor Amaechi of Rivers State is the chairman of the Nigerian Governor’s Forum (NGF), while Akpabio is the chairman of the newly formed PDP Governor’s Forum (PDPGF).
Godswill Akpabio on Sunday gave N1million each to the six State Chairmen of PDP from the South-South geopolitical zone that had converged in Port Harcourt for a party reconciliation session.

Akpabio’s cash gift followed a speech by the Delta State Governor, Emmanuel Uduaghan, who had said that poverty is widespread among party members in the zone and that action needed to be taken to reduce the hardship faced by the party members.
Speaking earlier at the meeting, Uduaghan said that whatever differences members of the party may have, they should come together in the interest of the party.
He also called on the leadership of the PDP to endeavour to empower its members to engender greater commitment towards strengthening the party.
He said alongside providing requisite infrastructure and a clement environment for businesses to grow, the leadership should evolve measures to empower the party’s faithful.
He commended the leadership of the party, especially the National chairman of the party for his commitment to foster unity in the party, observing that the Governor’s forum who emerged on the PDP platform in the South-South zone were delivering practical dividends of democracy to the people.
Uduaghan noted that apart from the provision of infrastructure, it was also important for the electorate to be empowered, asserting that “we are committed to ensuring that the PDP will continue to have its stronghold in the South-South.”
“If you want to prevent our members from straying to other parties, you must put food in the stomach of our supporters,” Uduaghan said.
Shortly after he spoke, Akpabio announced that he would distribute N1million each to party chairmen at the venue as lunch money as a way of placating potential decampees who according to gov. Uduaghan, might be leaving the PDP because of hunger, not to do so.
He said, “My brother, Governor, Uduaghan, said our members are hungry and that we must put food in their stomach so that they don’t stray to other parties. I am giving all the state chairmen of the party N1 million each for Mr. Biggs. Our members must not be hungry.”
Continuing, Akpabio expressed appreciation to the Bamanga Tukur-led leadership of the party for supporting the South-South region to produce the nation’s president, Dr. Jonathan Goodluck, the NGF chairman, Amaechi, the party’s Board of Trustees (BOT) chairman, Chief Tony Anenih and the chairman of the People’s PDPGF, in the person of himself.
But the PDP leadership in Rivers state denied the allegation saying that the claims that Amaechi and Uduaghan left the meeting in anger was the handiwork of mischief makers, who were taking advantage of the development at the meeting to plot a smear campaign against the Rivers State and Delta State governors.
In a similar reaction, Delta State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Chike Ogeah had swiftly dismissed allegations, saying that his state governor did not walk out on Tukur over Akpabio’s remarks.
Bamanga while responding assured the party members that he was in the region on a reconciliatory tour to ensure fairness and equity in the activities, urging them to embrace peace in order to work together.
Tukur stressed that PDP remained the only national party fielded candidates in all elective positions in the previous elections  in the country, adding that the party will still be strong and resolute to maintain its position in the nation’s democracy as the leading party, despite the newly formed mega party, the All Progressive Congress (APC).
He assured that there would be a level playing field in the party without foisting candidates on anybody in the party in subsequent elections, and charged the party leadership to conclude the reconciliatory process in the region.
Meanwhile, the publicity secretary of the PDP in Rivers State, George Ukwuoma Nwogba, denied that as the host, Governor Amaechi decided to see him off.
The Rivers PDP publicity secretary further maintained that sometimes, “things happen coincidentally like it did at the meeting.”
Also, the Delta State Government on Sunday, 17th, described as false and misleading, the reports that the state Governor, Uduaghan and Rivers Governor Amaechi, walked out of the South-South special zonal Executive Committee meeting of PDP held on Sunday, in Port Harcourt.
A press statement signed by Delta State Information Commissioner, Chike Ogeah reads, “The attention of the Delta State Government had been drawn to the reports on the outcome of the South-South Special Zonal Executive committee meeting of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) held on Sunday, March 17, 2013 in Port Harcourt, Rivers State and presided over by the party, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur. Some reports say that the Governor of Delta State, Dr. Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan, CON, walked out of the meeting alongside the host governor, Mr. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi. This is absolutely untrue.”
He said that on arrival in Port Harcourt, Uduaghan has informed Tukur of his desire to return to Asaba same day. Given that Asaba airport closes to air traffic by 5pm, the Governor had sought the permission of the chairman to exit the meeting whenever it gets to the threshold of arriving Asaba airport ahead of its closure to air traffic.
According to him, Alhaji Tukur had graciously agreed to let Uduaghan leave to enable hi return to Asaba on time. When eventually it was time to leave for the return flight to Asaba, Dr. Uduaghan again notified the chairman who wished him safe flight.
Governor Amaechi, as the host governor, had to see Dr. Uduaghan off.
He stressed that there had not been any disagreement to elicit a walk out by anybody and that Tukur had conducted the meeting in an atmosphere of candour, adding that before Uduaghan left the meeting, all the parties present  had addressed the meeting.
Also speaking on behalf of Chairman of the PDP in the different states in the zone, the Delta State Chairman of the party, Chief Peter Nwaoboshi, thanked the party chairman for playing a fatherly role to the party, noting that the PDP will always emerge victorious in elections.
The Commissioner said that Delta Governor is a loyal member of the PDP and holds the office and person of the national chairman of the party in high esteem.
Earlier, the Governor of Rivers State, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi, said the ongoing reconciliatory forum being organized by PDP National working committee in different zones will rebuild the party.
Amaechi made the assertion while playing host to the party’s NEC.
He dismissed division in the party’s fold in Rivers State, saying, “We are PDP. I have told my cabinet members that if you want to win elections, you must first work in such a way that you will be popular both in and outside office.
The governor stated that the party was popular in the state due to the people- oriented programmes his administration was executing.
Amaechi told the party stalwarts that the only way to maintain popularity was to do what the people demand.
Earlier, Tukur thanked Amaechi for his sterling leadership qualities and making the party proud in programme execution.
He intimated Amaechi that they were in the state for a reconciliatory meeting as they had concluded with those of the South-West and South-East.
He sought for Amaechi’s support in the quest to cement relationships among party members in the zone.
Shortly after the visit, the group proceeded to the civic centre for a town hall meeting comprising party faithful in the South-South.
Governor Amaechi welcomed the group to Port Harcourt, and expressed the hope that the party has a bright future.
Governors that were represented at the forum were Cross River and Bayelsa state governors.

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