Govs Back Ogbulafor

THISDAY Newspaper- Chuks Okocha and Onwuka Nzeshi

Amidst tension in the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over moves to remove Prince Vincent Ogbulafor as the National Chairman, governors elected on the platform of the party have warned that it would not support such a step except the constitution of the party is followed.
It also emerged that intrigues have been intensified in the House of Representatives to effect a change of leadership and remove the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Dimeji Bankole, in what is interpreted as a ploy to stall the amendment of the 1999 constitution.
Rising from a meeting in Abuja last night, the PDP governors said they had noted how the media had been inundated with corruption allegations against Ogbulafor, “none of which has been proved”.

They wondered why some are calling for the removal of the chairman despite the fact that no allegation has been proved against him.
“The Governors condemn any move to remove the Party Chairman or members of National Working Committee, other than as laid down or stipulated in the Party’s Constitution,” the statement said.
Governors also asked members of the party to ignore moves being made by an “illegal group” to hold a meeting.
The statement said: “Governors noted the activities of an illegal group called PDP Reform Forum who has sent out letters purportedly signed by one Rt. Hon. Aminu Bello Masari, former Speaker, House of Representatives and one High Chief Aleogho Dokpesi calling for a meeting.

“The action of the group is not inline with the Party Constitution; we condemn the action very seriously. We urge the Party to take disciplinary action against these members in line with the Party’s Constitution.”
The governors called on all party members and supporters across the country to disregard the proposed meeting.
THISDAY had, yesterday, reported that there were fears in the PDP hierarchy over the planned re-opening of a case file against Ogbulafor by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).
The case, which borders on campaign donations, had already been investigated and closed in 2004 when he served as the Minister for Economic Matters under President Olusegun Obasanjo and was running for the office of National Secretary of the PDP.

The move to reopen the case is believed to be part of the calculations for the 2011 election in order to change the PDP leadership and install those who are more likely to work with Acting President Goodluck Jonathan.
Ogbulafor is said to be very loyal to the PDP governors who installed him two years ago at the expense of Dr. Sam Egwu, Obasanjo’s preferred candidate. Obasanjo is a known backer of Jonathan.
A former aide to Obasanjo, Chief Andy Uba, is allegedly co-ordinating the move to remove Ogbulafor. He is said to be well funded and has already identified Chief Bernard Eze as Ogbulafor’s replacement.
However, close aides to the Acting President told THISDAY that he is not be aware of the moves against Ogbulafor.
The same forces are said to be behind the move to impeach Bankole in a bid to stop constitution amendment which has already been passed by the Senate.

“The plot is not aimed at Bankole,” a source told THISDAY last night. “It is aimed at unsettling the House and making sure no work is done on constitution amendment and electoral reform in order to buy time for 2011 plans. It is clear that some of these hawks do not want Professor Maurice Iwu removed as chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and would do everything to frustrate change.”
There is yet no direct link to Jonathan in the unfolding intrigues, but the forces behind the moves are said to be working ahead of the presidential election in 2011.
Meanwhile, Nigeria First Forum (NFF), the 140-member strong pressure group of lawmakers in the House of Representatives, yesterday debunked claims that it was plotting to impeach Bankole.

The group said that though the House had in recent times fallen short of the expectations of the Nigerian public on account of lapses in leadership, its major concern at the moment was putting the House back on track in terms of setting the right agenda rather than embarking on leadership change.
The clarification came just as the House reaffirmed its plans to commence the consideration of reports of its special Ad-hoc Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution on “A Bill for an Act to Amend the Provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 and for Other Matters Connected Therewith, 2009.
Chairman House Committee on Climate Change and a member of the NFF, Hon. Eziuche Ubani said that reports in some national dailies insinuating that the group was gunning for the impeachment of Bankole was wrong as the forum had been meeting regularly over the past few months to consider issues of common interest in a bid to chart a positive direction to the legislative functions of House of Representatives.


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