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Friday, May 14, 2010

Nigeria picks Namadi Sambo for vice president

Namadi Sambo, Vice-President-designate
Namadi Sambo, Vice-President-designate
After much horse-trading, President Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday yielded to the wish of governors and picked one of them, Governor Namadi Sambo of Kaduna State as Vice-President-designate.

His decision followed a meeting with the governors last night where they also agreed to withdraw their support for the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Prince Vincent Ogbulafor who is undergoing trial for corruption.

THISDAY learnt that the party chairman may resign today.

The governors held a crucial meeting after which they visited Jonathan at the Presidential Villa in Abuja to present a candidate.
It was during the meeting that the President informed them that he was picking one of them for nomination to the National Assembly as Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

They went into another meeting when they left the Villa. The details of that gathering was not clear. However, some of them went back to thank Jonathan for picking Sambo.

Earlier in the day, Ogbulafor had made it known that he would not quit and that the governors cannot remove him from office.

His statement came a day after three PDP South-east governors namely Sullivan Chime of Enugu, Ikedi Ohakim of Imo and Martins Elechi of Ebonyi requested that he quit.

The chief executives had after a meeting with Jonathan on Tuesday conveyed the President's message to the party chairman. Jonathan had said they should persuade Ogbulafor to step down on moral grounds because of corruption allegations against him.

By last night, the governors asking him to go had become 23.
Ogbulafor and four others were accused of verifying government contracts with fictitious companies to the tune of N104 million, when he was minister of special duties under the former President Olusegun Obasanjo administration.

He has appeared in court and was granted bail.

But the national chairman had argued that he got his position with the support of all PDP governors, National Assembly members and all members of the party and therefore would not succumb to the pressure of only three of them.

"I have not resigned from my office as the National Chairman of the PDP. I want to gladly tell you that it is a speculation in the air. I have not resigned from my office as the national chairman of PDP," he replied to rumours that he had thrown in the towel.

He said he would fight it out until proven guilty by a court of law. Also some members of the National Working Committee (NWC) reacted to criticisms that they are backing Ogbulafor.

"Ogbulafor's plight is personal to him and has nothing to do with the PDP. The alleged offence committed by Ogbulafor was not committed when he is the chairman of the party," they said. One of his supporters Hon. Emeka Atuma, said that the party chairman would not be stampeded into resignation as "the era of garrison politics is over".

According to Atuma: "We will fight this injustice. He will not resign. The current President of South Africa was charged with corruption charges. He was not forced to resign. He contested the charges against him and won. Today, he is the President. Ogbulafor will not resign until proven guilty. He would only be removed through due process, that is if he is found guilty."

Ogbulafor was in his office yesterday where he held a valedictory session for the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua with members of the NWC in attendance.

At the valedictory session, both Ogbulafor and members of the NWC showered praises on the late President Yar'Adua decribing him variously as a man of peace and a transparent leader.

Below is the interaction Ogbulafor had with newsmen:

Are you under pressure to resign?
I am not under any pressure.

What is the situation in your party?
The party is very much intact and my working committee is on. I had a meeting here yesterday evening with all members of my working committee and they are all with me and we are working to move the party forward.

Did three Eastern governors actually meet you to resign?
Yes. Three governors spoke on that subject matter, to the best of my knowledge I was not elected by the three governors of South-east. I was elected by the entire members of the...PDP governors, National Assembly members, and PDP family in the entire country, so it is not only three PDP governors from South-east.

Were you at any time contemplating resigning?
You know I have an allegation in court and I appeared in court two days ago and got bail. My case is still on if I am found guilty I’ll be glad to throw in the towel but I have not been found guilty. So I’ll stay and do my job and make sure there is internal democracy in the party.

What is you relationship with the President?
I am still loyal to President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.
But after last night’s meeting, the support for Ogbulafor fell through. It was also learnt that Jonathan was under immense pressure from the international community to east out the party chairman.

Source: Thisdayonline.com

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