The Presidency has started lobbying the Peoples Democratic Party governors to avert the removal of the National Chairman of the party, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, during the January 8 National Executive Council meeting of the party.
It was learnt that President Goodluck Jonathan had finally been convinced that those calling for Tukur’s removal had their agenda.
It was also gathered from the camp of the chairman that the defection of five of the party’s governors played a major role in convening the January 8 meeting.
A member of the National Working Committee of the party, who spoke with our correspondent on condition of anonymity, however admitted that the defection of the five governors was painful.
He said there would have been tension at the January 8 meeting, if the five governors were still in the party.
The NWC member said the Presidency and the National Working Committee of the party were aware that there were some governors who were still bent on seeing Tukur removed.
The governors, who defected to the All Progressives Congress are Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara); Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto); Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers); Murtala Nyako (Adamawa); and Musa Kwankwaso (Kano).
Two governors, who were members of the G-7 but are still in the PDP are Sule Lamido (Jigawa) and Babangida Aliyu (Niger).
The NWC source said, “We know that the constitution of the party says we should hold NEC meeting at least once in a quarter; but we didn’t want to be embarrassed at such meetings. This was one of the reasons why we did not call the meeting until now.
“There are those, especially among the governors, who want our chairman’s removal. But the Presidency has stepped in and appealed to other governors not to support the call for Tukur’s removal by those who believe that the President signed a single tenure agreement.
“Now that those who were insisting that Tukur should go have left the party, we can at least manage the remaining dissenting voices among the governors.
“We know most of the remaining governors would not have enough courage to confront either the President or the chairman at the January 8 meeting.”
One of the governors, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, “If the retention of Tukur is what the President wants, we will not press for his removal.
“But we have told him that the party is dying and if he wants the party dead, because we are approaching elections, good luck to him.
“We told him that it will be difficult to win elections when the party is not popular and its leaders are not united.”
It was also learnt that governors on their second term were told that they would not be allowed to influence the choice of their successors if they failed to support Tukur.
Our correspondent gathered that governors eligible for second term were told that they would be stopped if they insisted on Tukur’s removal.
Tukur is also said to have the support of the President’s wife, Patience.
When contacted, the Senior Special Adviser to the President on Political Affairs, Ahmed Gulak, said there was no need for Tukur’s removal.
He added that anyone who wanted to work with the President should back the national chairman or lose his job.
Gulak however said the agenda of the meeting would not include Tukur’s removal.
He said, “Those calling for Tukur’s removal are not for the President. They have their hidden agenda.
“Anybody who wants the progress of the President should work with the chairman of our party, who is doing well for the PDP and the President.
“Those calling for his removal have their own agenda, which is not in the interest of the party.”
Tukur, had in an interview with a national newspaper on Wednesday, said the alleged plan to remove him was not in the agenda of the NEC meeting.