US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson attempted to strike an upbeat tone Tuesday as he embarked on his first foreign trip since the White House called his future into question.
Tillerson arrived in Brussels for talks with EU and NATO leaders trailed by reports that President Donald Trump is frustrated with his performance and plans to sack him.
Before he began his official program in Brussels, Tillerson met US diplomats serving in the city to reassure them about his much-criticised efforts to renew US policy.
Three days to the national convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the politics of who emerges as the national chairman of Nigeria’s main opposition party has reached a high pitch.
Members of the Southwest zone of the party have for instance, raised alarm over an alleged adoption of one of the aspirants for the chairmanship position, Mr. Uche Secondus, by some stakeholders in the South-South zone describing it as a call to arms against the Yoruba people.
Raising the alarm yesterday, former Minister of Transport and member of the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT), Chief Ebenezer Babatope, said the insistence and protestation of Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State that the South-South is the zone that is providing succor for the PDP is crude and insensitive.
Dismissing Wike’s claim as total fallacy, Babatope said, “Right from the formation of the PDP in 1998, the Yoruba people have been consistent in their devotion and loyalty to the party. And they have been very supportive in adding financial fillip to it.”
Although the BoT member said the Rivers governor was not really the one to blame, he threw the blame at the Chairman, Caretaker Committee, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, whom he accused of being blinded by personal ambition and apparent greed that could not make him think clearly and selflessly about the issue at hand.
According to Babatope, “It is Makarfi who has deliberately mangled and distorted the micro-zoning tradition of our great party, which has given the PDP well over 16 years of inclusive and all embracing accommodating nature.
“Now the very fundamental fabric and dominating principle of the party is torn asunder. We are no longer at ease.”
He said the pronouncement of the South-South stakeholders was not only provocative “it is divisive, skewed, untidy, and a blatant slide into tribal political arrangement,” wondering whether the region think the good people of Southwest will just sit down and take it.
Said he, “The Yoruba people will never play second fiddle to anyone. We will never be servile to anyone at all. And most importantly, we will never compromise on the position of the national chairman of our great party. It is our turn! And this much must be respected. Anything less than this is unacceptable. This is why Makarfi must recue himself from the composition of all committees of the convention. Makarfi is not honest. He is working for Wike. That is the absolute truth.”
However, a top member of the party, who spoke for Makarfi on condition of anonymity yesterday said the strong words deployed by Babatope is nothing to be reacted to, few days to the convention.
According to him, “The issue at hand is not about personal, regional or selfish interest but the larger interest of the country and how to reposition the PDP to regain power at the centre.”
While he appealed to all aggrieved members of the party, particularly some section of the Southwest, the source assured that the convention would be very transparent and fair.
Reacting on the development yesterday, Secondus appealed for understanding as he also pledged to run an inclusive leadership, saying there is nothing to fear by other aspirants about his chairmanship.
He said his leadership would give everybody a sense of belonging while also guaranteeing good governance within the party.
Said he, “All interests would be accommodated; we will ensure a level playing for all contending forces within the party. We will not engage in winners take all. All stakeholders will have a sense of belonging, as we will enforce the party constitution. Please ignore those spreading fears and alarms about my candidature.”