WE DIDN'T WALK OUT ON TUKUR - UDUAGHAN, AMAECHI
By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor, Henry Umoru, Ikechukwu Nnochiri & Suzan Edeh
Peoples Democratic Party,PDP, yesterday, rebuffed insinuations of a fresh division in the ranks of its governors, describing as grossly untrue reports that two of its governors walked out on the national chairman during a stakeholders meeting in Port-Harcourt, weekend.
The party's claim came as the two governors, Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State and Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State, besides denying the reports, pledged loyalty and commitment to the Bamanga Tukur-led national executive of the party. Amaechi specifically faulted mischief makers for initiating the reports.
Ameachi, who refuted the allegation while fielding questions from newsmen at the end of the 2013 Founders' Day Lecture at the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, NAILS, in Abuja yesterday, said there was no truth that he stormed out of the meeting alongside Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan.
I went for lunch - Amaechi
Visibly angered by the accusation, Ameachi said: 'Didn't you also read that I didn't walk away? That story was pure mischief.
'What really happened was that my colleague was leaving to travel back and I had not had lunch. So I had to follow him and somebody went and wrote that I walked away. I didn't walk away.'
Amaechi, Chairman, Nigeria Governors Forum; and the national chairman, PDP, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur
Delta State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Chike Ogeah, in a statement denying the report of the alleged walk-out said: 'Governor Uduaghan is a leader that has distinguished himself in the exercise of democratic principles and will never engage in acts that do not bind or unite.'
PDP, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, said the party held a successful stakeholders meeting in Port-Harcourt for members from the South-South zone as it has held in three other zones.
Asserting that the meeting in Port-Harcourt was devoid of rancour, he said: 'No governor walked out of the meeting. Governor Uduaghan had an appointment to keep and duly informed the National Chairman who gave him permission to leave.
'Governor Chibuike Amaechi just escorted him and he also took permission from the National Chairman. Nobody is above the party and it is totally untrue that they walked out. Our governors are cultured and decent and, therefore, cannot engage in unruly acts.
'The issue of hunger and Mr. Biggs was actually a play of words by Governor Uduaghan and Governor Akpabio, who added humor to showcase the leadership appreciation of sacrifices of those who attended.'
On Akpabio's N1m donation
Defending the N1 million donation made by the Akwa Ibom governor to each state chapter of the party at the meeting, PDP said: 'The cost of the venue and other logistics were handled by the host governor and Governor Akpabio showed his commitment to party faithful by assisting them with transport allowance as well as assisting them with some welfare.
'Politics all over the world is expensive and any gesture towards accommodating the sacrifices of the ordinary PDP faithful is important.'
Mr. Ogeah, in his own rebuttal of the assertions of a walk-out by governors Uduaghan and Rotimi Amaechi, said: 'On arrival in Port Harcourt, Dr. Uduaghan had informed Alhaji Tukur of his desire to return to Asaba same day.
'Given that Asaba Airport closes to traffic by 5pm, the governor had sought the permission of Tukur to leave whenever it gets to the threshold of arriving at the Airport ahead of its closure.
'Tukur had graciously agreed to let Governor Uduaghan leave to enable him return to Asaba on time. When eventually it was time to leave for the return flight to Asaba, Uduaghan again notified the chairman who wished him a safe flight. Governor Amaechi, as the host governor, had to see Uduaghan off.'
Tukur challenges North-East govs
Meanwhile, Tukur yesterday urged governors in the north-east zone to ensure that all broken relationships within the party are restored ahead of the 2015 general election.
Speaking yesterday at the PDP North-East stakeholders meeting in Bauchi, Tukur said his decision to tour all the zones of the party within the country was to rebuild and address challenges against the background of the threats from opposition parties.
He said: 'Our great party has got what we call the triple 'R' which means, reconciliation without confrontation, reformation without revenge and rebuilding the party based on equity and fairness and no imposition.
'Our party is respected because our manifesto and constitution delivers the dividends of democracy to the people.'
In separate remarks, governors Isa Yuguda of Bauchi State and Ibrahim Dankwambo of Gombe State urged PDP members to embrace one another irrespective of political differences, saying under Tukur, PDP had opened its door for members to express their differences.
Others present at the meeting were the Deputy Governor of Taraba State, Alhaji Umaru Garba; Deputy Governor of Adamawa State, Mr. Bala Nginare; Senators Abdul Ningi, Babayo Gamawa, Adamu Gumba.