Presidency Replies Lamido, Says Tukur, Jonathan Are No Squatters

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Akin Akande, Abuja

The Presidency on Sunday replied statements credited to Governor Sule Lamido of Jigawa State, who had on Saturday described President Goodluck Jonathan and factional chairman, Bamanga Tukur as strangers within the party, insisting that both leaders of the ruling party had paid their dues.

Receiving some of his supporters from Kano State, Lamido had said: “At the time Tukur became chairman, we were already governors. He contributed nothing to us; we are the ones who favoured him after he was rejected by his zone and defeated by Babayo Gamawa in a shadow election conducted in the North-West zone. We said, don’t worry let us meet in Abuja. We met in Abuja; we supported him and we made him the national chairman.

“At that time, Nyako, Kwankwaso, Wamakko, Babangida Aliyu, Amaechi and I were already in office, having won our second term elections. What did Bamanga contribute to us? Who favoured who between and us?

“There is no way someone who was favoured and is squatting would be allowed to claim a house and attempt to send owners of the house out of their own compound. When the PDP was formed and registered, where were Tukur and Jonathan?”

However, in the Sunday’s reaction to the claim, the President’s Political Adviser, Ahmed Gulak, insisted that both Jonathan and Tukur are founding members of the party.

While he noted that Jonathan was the deputy governor of his state in 1999, less than a year after the party’s formation, he also recalled that Tukur was a founding father of the PDP.

Said Gulak: “Tukur was one of the pioneer members of the PDP. Tukur is a founding father of the PDP in 1998. So, they should know. Any governor should know that. Any governor that was there from G-18 to G-34 to PDP. Tukur was always there. So, nobody can tell us that Tukur was not there when PDP was formed.

“As for Mr. President, he was there when the PDP was formed and in 1999, he was the deputy governor of his state and today, by the grace of God, he is the leader of the party by all intent and purposes. So, nobody can call him a tenant in PDP.

“He is the real landlord that he is and he is the leader of the party. So, issues about politics, you know somebody will make statements for political reasons but the fact remains the same, that the President is the leader of the party and Bamanga Tukur is the National Chairman. This is legally recognized and constitutionally recognized.

“And anybody saying something to the contrary is wishful thinking but the fact remains the President is the leader of the party as at today and Bamanga Tukur is the National Chairman. That is known to Nigerians, that is known to the whole world.

“And there is only one certificate of registration of PDP with INEC. These are facts, they are not speculations,” Gulak stated.

The Presidential aide also feigned ignorance of the reported postponement of Sunday’s scheduled meeting with the aggrieved governors as part of efforts to bring an end to the lingering crisis in the party.

According to Gulak, President Jonathan was waiting to receive the dissenting governors today since he does not work with media speculation and has no reason to honour any emissary from the factional leader, Abubakar Bawa Baraje.

The President’s camp and the aggrieved governors had agreed in their meeting on September 15 at the Presidential Villa, to have a temporary peace and return to a final round of meeting today.

But the Baraje group went public with a statement that they were sending emissaries to the President to seek a postponement of the meeting since most of their governors would be away on pilgrimage in Mecca.

Gulak, however, noted yesterday that the President is officially unaware of such postponement and he is therefore going ahead with the preparations for the meeting which was expected to take place at the First Lady Wing of the Presidential Villa.

Gulak added: “That’s the report were are reading in the newspapers but the best thing is to wait for tomorrow (today) whether the meeting will hold or not so that if the meeting doesn’t hold, you can call me (to find out) why hasn’t it held and if we have any reason to give, we can then give you.

“But as of today, I don’t work on speculations on the papers, I have not seen their formal letter of request to postpone the meeting. I just read it in the pages of newspapers. So, maybe by tomorrow, we will know maybe the correct position.

“Well, as far as we are concerned, the President is waiting. Any time any day,” Gulak noted.