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Obasanjo forces Ogbeh to resign

Posted by By FEMI ADESINA, Lagos, JACOB EDI, JOE OBI and JAMES OJO, Abuja on 2005/01/11 | Views: 531 |

Obasanjo forces Ogbeh to resign


Beleaguered National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Audu Ogbeh resigned on Sunday – with a gun virtually to his head.

Beleaguered National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Audu Ogbeh resigned on Sunday – with a gun virtually to his head.

Ogbeh himself broke the news to the media in Abuja on Monday, citing the need to forge party cohesion as reason. But Daily Sun authoritatively learnt that the resignation was by no means voluntary, having been obtained under duress by President Olusegun Obasanjo.

The chain of events that culminated in the weekend resignation began this way: The President had breezed into Ogbeh’s house around midnight on Saturday, asking the chairman rather gruffly why he had not resigned after he had earlier promised he was going to do so.

Ogbeh replied that he was still consulting and Obasanjo wanted to know when the consultation would end. When the former replied that he was still consulting, the President stormed out.
By 7.00 on Sunday morning, Audu Ogbeh was summoned to the Presidential Villa, given a sheet of paper on which to write his resignation, and he did.
He told his supporters privately yesterday that he threw in the towel at that point because he had become concerned for his life, the future of the PDP and democracy in the country.

"I did it under duress," he reportedly said. "I was not of a free mind and I do not even have a copy of the letter for myself. The kind of pressure brought on me was so much that it could easily lead to the loss of my life. The other side seemed so desperate."
The ex-chairman further said what he saw in the PDP in the past few weeks was not his own conception of politics, stressing: "It had become so deadly. I would rather be out of it and do something else with my life."

The resignation will be due by February 28.
Ogbeh’s resignation in the early hours of Sunday was the climax of power play and intrigues that began last month, following his letter to President Obasanjo on the state of affairs within the party, including the Anambra crisis.

Ogbeh by his resignation becomes the first chairman of the party whose tenure was prematurely cut short before expiration. He was due to leave office in November, this year at the party’s elective convention.
The hawks within the party, it seems, couldn’t wait any longer. And they struck.
Daily Sun gathered that the absence of Vice-President Atiku Abubakar from the country may have aided this last move to oust the party chairman who had survived two previous plots. The vice-president at the time of the ‘coup’ against Ogbeh was on official assignment in Kenya with the National Security Adviser to the president, General Aliyu Gusau [rtd].

In fact, Daily Sun sources at the state house, confirmed that the vice-president was disturbed by the development that he closed from office by 2pm Monday.
Ironically, Ogbeh denied he resigned under duress but said he had to quit for peace to reign in the party.
"With effect from February, I will not be chairman anymore. That’s all… I have been thinking of it. Let the party be at peace and grow and assert itself. I want the party to move on in harmony not in disharmony. That is why I resigned, " Ogbeh told newsmen at his residence, even as he struggled to keep a calm countenance.
Surrounded by a motley of aides, Ogbeh, dressed in a white caftan said that by resigning, he was not running away from any probe.

"Prosecution? No way. NEC will set up a committee to check its accounts because those who have been speaking on the party’s accounts do not know how party funds are managed. They have gone to the press but many of them participated in programmes which consumed a lot of money. But they have spoken. We will also speak," Ogbeh assured.

When Daily Sun visited Wadata House, PDP’s national secretariat, it looked deserted. Only a few staff of the secretariat were seen around in small groups discussing the latest development in the party. Some of them who spoke on condition of anonymity were only concerned about their unpaid monetisation allowances, and not who becomes the party’s next chairman.

It could not be ascertained what becomes of the National Working Committee [NWC] with the exit of Ogbeh. But by the party’s constitution, the deputy vice-chairman, North, Alhaji Ibrahim Safana is expected to take over the affairs of the party in an acting capacity.
In fact, Ogbeh confirmed as much when he spoke to journalists at his residence Monday. "The deputy chairman North is supposed to act when the chairman is not around. Later, the party will decide what it wants."

At Ogbeh’s residence, the atmosphere was serene, devoid of the usual beehive of activities. In fact, the security guards who kept saying that "oga no wan see anybody now" turned two Chinese visitors away. Only the FCT Minister Nasir el-Rufai was allowed to see Ogbeh. He was said to have arrived the residence at 11am and left at 1pm.

The simmering feud between Ogbeh and Obasanjo had become a public affair with a December 6, 2004 letter written by the former in which he warned on the situation in Anambra State, saying it could imperil the nation and her democracy unless the presidency acted decisively.
Ogbeh decried a situation in which the Dr. Chris Ngige–led government had been held at the throat by Chief Chris Uba and his cohorts, saying it appeared that the governor’s adversaries enjoyed the sympathy of the presidency.

The national chairman’s letter was leaked to the media, followed by Obasanjo’s reply, in which the President accused Ogbeh of bad faith and treachery. Since then, the PDP had been polarized down the middle, broken into pro-Obasanjo and pro-Ogbeh camps.
A meeting of the National Executive Council (NEC) held on Tuesday last week, in which it was expected that Ogbeh would be forced to resign.

Surprisingly, however, a seeming truce was brokered and the two leaders left in the same vehicle, with the President going for lunch in Ogbeh’s house. But on Sunday, Obasanjo came out with another trick from the fireman’s bag, thus speeding the PDP further on the path of disintegration.
Before Ogbeh, Obasanjo had seen to the exit of founding PDP chairman, Chief Solomon Lar, and Chief Barnabas Gemade who succeeded him.


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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.