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Ahmadu Ali is PDP's new chairman

Posted by From John-Abba Ogbodo, Abuja on 2005/03/06 | Views: 1025 |

Ahmadu Ali is PDP's new chairman

A ONE-TIME Senator and an unforgettable figure in Nigeria's education history, Ahmadu A. Ali, yesterday emerged as the new national chairman of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

* Obasanjo says 'Ali must stay
* Anenih is trustees board head

A ONE-TIME Senator and an unforgettable figure in Nigeria's education history, Ahmadu A. Ali, yesterday emerged as the new national chairman of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Ali, a retired colonel of the Nigerian Army, replaced Chief Audu Ogbeh who resigned last December in controversial circumstances.

The National Executive Council (NEC) of the party also confirmed Chief Anthony Anenih as chairman of the party's Board of Trustees.

Ali was the Federal Commissioner for Education in General Olusegun Obasanjo's military government in 1978 during which a wild students protest rocked the nation. In the calls for his removal from office, the students chanted what became a refrain for all protests: "Ali must go." But at yesterday's ceremony, President Olusegun Obasanjo in his characteristic humour, said: "Now Ali has come. Ali must stay."
Giving his post-election speech at the NEC meeting held at the party's national headquarters, Ali pledged better deal for the members.

The retired colonel gave assurance that as a medical practitioner, he would apply his trade of caring for the sick and curing them to making the PDP the foremost political party in Africa.

His predecessor, Ogbeh, was conspicuously absent at the meeting that was witnessed by two of his predecessors, Solomon Lar and Barnabas Gemade.

The new national chairman said his immediate assignment would involve making the party a model for political parties in Africa.

Ali further said that with his emergence as national chairman, the journey of the PDP towards greatness had just begun.

He said: "The party has spoken and chosen me to lead. This is the best thing that has happened to PDP and the country. This is an extra ordinary opportunity to be a part of the build process. I pledge my unflinching loyalty and I promise to make PDP number one party in Africa. Those states that are not under PDP will be welcome under PDP. We are a disciplined party and this must show in the days ahead. My mission is to make the party a better and more effective platform," he said.

Apparently challenging the new chairman to take time to study the situation in PDP, President Olusegun Obasanjo in a speech full of humour expressed the hope that Ali would deliver on his promises.

Narrating his experience with Ali during their years in the military, Obasanjo recalled three instances where he and the new chairman shared intimacy.

The first, according to Obasanjo, was when both of them served in Gen. Yakubu Gowon's cabinet in the 1970s.

Obasanjo recalled that he thought Ali was his senior in the cabinet and therefore accorded him the respect due seniors but he later discovered that both of them joined the cabinet same day and he immediately told Ali, "from now on, you are not my senior."
The President said that the second instance was when Ali as Federal Commissioner for Education was awarding school projects while he, as Federal Commissioner for Works was in charge of road projects. Obasanjo further narrated that he, one day, asked Ali if there was any project he could give to Abeokuta and Ali asked him to go away but later told him (Obasanjo) that the road to his place (Idah) was bad.

Ali, according to the President, asked him to construct a road to Idah and he (Ali) would pay him back with a school in Abeokuta
The President said Ali fulfilled his promise by setting up an Advanced Teachers' College in Abeokuta.

The last experience, the President said was when one night, as head of state, he was looking for Ali because of students' unrest. Then Ali was Federal Commissioner for Education. He said Ali had a particular joint he was visiting every night until that fateful day when he ran into demonstrating students.

Ali, according to the President, parked his car and joined the students to walk for some kilometres without the students knowing.

It was in that process that Ali survived being lynched by students who were chanting "Ali-must-go".

The President ended his narration on an optimistic note, saying: "Now, Ali has come and Ali must stay". A roar of laughter ensued.

Anenih was also confirmed as chairman of the party's Board of Trustees.

Pledging to work for the success of the party, Anenih said he would not strive to rock the boat of the party but would always work for others to lead.

He said: "I will not use the position to attempt to wear the crown but rather help others to wear the crown."
Pledging to enforce discipline within the party, Anenih said he would not compromise ethics.

"I believe in discipline. I believe that if the answer is yes, it should be yes in the morning, in the afternoon and in the evening. There should be no compromise."
The NEC meeting was attended by Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, Senate President, Adolphus Wabara and Speaker of the House of Representatives Aminu Bello Masari, among others.

There were also governors of Benue, Nasarawa, Ebonyi, Osun, Ogun, Ondo, Kogi, Imo, Niger, Kaduna, Cross River, Anambra, Plateau, Enugu, Edo and Rivers.

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