Disqualification: ‘Mama Taraba’ quits ministerial position, APC

Women Affairs and Social Development Minister, Aisha Jummai Alhassan, popularly called Mama Taraba, yesterday resigned her membership of the feder

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Alhassan

Women Affairs and Social Development Minister, Aisha Jummai Alhassan, popularly called Mama Taraba, yesterday resigned her membership of the federal executive council.

She also pulled out of the All Progressives Congress (APC), citing ‘grave injustice’ to her by the party, a veiled reference to her disqualification from the APC’s governorship primary in Taraba State scheduled for today.

She immediately joined the United Democratic Party (UDP) to which she handed over a plaza in Jalingo, the state capital, and offices in other parts of the state, she had donated for the use of the APC.

Alhassan was the APC’s candidate in the 2015 election which she narrowly lost to Mr. Darius Ishaku of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The former minister in a September 29, 2018 letter to President Muhammadu Buhari expressed shock and dismay over her disqualification by the APC leadership.

In her letter she said: “I write with a lot of respect to inform Mr President of my decision to resign my appointment as a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and as a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC)

“You may wish to recall that I joined the APC in 2014 along with other members of the then new PDP, contested the 2015 governorship election as the flag bearer of the APC and to the glory of God,” she detailed how much she contributed to the party’s success in Taraba and thanked the president for making her a minister.

She added, “Mr President may also wish to recall that I wrote to notify you of my intention to again contest for governor of my state in forthcoming 2019 election under the umbrella of APC and you again graciously blessed my intention and wished me well.

“I purchased the APC nomination forms and went for the party’s screening on Thursday, the 20th of September 2018 along with 10 other contestants for the governorship of my state, Taraba. I, with your permission, proceeded to Taraba on the 23rd of September 2018, to prepare for the presidential and governorship primaries then scheduled for the 25th and 29th of September 2018 respectively.”

She protested her disqualification to contest the 2019 governorship by the National Working Committee of the party (APC), saying no reason was given for her disqualification.

Alhassan restated that she was a “very committed and loyal party member and was at no time queried or admonished for any wrongdoing or unconstitutional behaviour” adding that grave injustice had been done to her by her disqualification.

She thanked the President for the honour, rare privilege and lifetime opportunity “you gave me to serve under your great and credible leadership. I learnt a lot (especially patience) under your leadership,” and also thanked Vice President Yemi Osinbajo “from whom I have also learnt a lot and my colleagues, other members of the Federal Executive Council, the SGF and cabinet office staff for their fellowship and support to me both as minister and personally.”

National chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, had told reporters in Abuja on Friday that Alhassan was disqualified because she “has issues that have to do with party loyalty.”

He added: “Our constitution is clear and it dictates that to contest elections or even hold office in the APC, you must be loyal to the party in every material concern.

“From all she had said in the past and even her comments and general attitude during the screening, the NWC reviewed everything taken together and we arrived at the conclusion that she does not possess the level of loyalty that the APC requires for her to contest elections on our platform.

“The Electoral Act and the APC constitution forbid anyone from being a member of more than one political party at a time.”

He was apparently referring to a video recording that went viral last year in which the former minister was heard endorsing former Vice President Atiku Abubakar for the 2019 Presidential election.

In a follow up interview with the BBC Hausa Service, Alhassan said: “Atiku is my godfather even before I joined politics. And again, Baba Buhari did not tell us that he is going to run in 2019.

“Let me tell you today that if Baba said he is going to contest in 2019, I swear to Allah, I will go before him and kneel and tell him that ‘Baba I am grateful for the opportunity you gave me to serve in your government as a minister but Baba just like you know, I will support only Atiku because he is my godfather. If Atiku said he is going to contest.”

The former VP earlier this year returned to the PDP, but Alhassan remained in the APC and sought the president’s permission to join next year’s governorship race.

One of her associates said by phone from Jalingo yesterday that  the UDP leadership has  “wholeheartedly surrendered the party machinery to her and her candidates for the national and state House of Assembly positions.”

Oshiomhole: We can’t continue to habour people who don’t have our core values as a party

Giving an update yesterday on the decision of the APC to disqualify Alhassan and Communications Minister Adebayo Shittu from the party’s governorship primaries, Oshiomhole said that the party “cannot continue to preach discipline and harbour people, who in our view, conduct themselves in a way that suggest that they do not have those core values that should bind us together as a political party.”

Inaugurating committees charged with conducting the APC’s governorship primaries, the party chairman said: “if we must sustain this tradition, obviously we must begin to look beyond paper qualifications in terms of who is eligible to be fielded on the platform of our party.

“It is in view of this and several other reasons that we found ourselves unable to clear otherwise two very eminent Nigerians who are members of our party- one a lady, one a man- which shows that we are balanced and sensitive because there are issues that might even be right in the eyes of the law but – are immoral and they are indecent in the eyes and in the minds of very ordinary, decent human beings.

“Society is governed and sustained by the rule of law. But the rule of law alone is not enough to guarantee peace and progress.

“ If there are no values, no ethics, no commitment, no passion, which is why some criminals are walking freely because Senior Advocates are able to persuade their Lordships that there are no convincing reasons to jail them.

“So, based on this commitment, we disqualified two eminent Nigerians and I am glad that we found the courage to do so.

“We cannot continue to preach discipline and harbour people who in our view conduct themselves in a way that suggest that they do not have those core values that should bind us together as a political party.”

Presidency unaware of Alhassan’s resignation, says Garba Shehu

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam  Garba Shehu, said yesterday that  Buhari was  yet to receive Alhassan’s  letter of resignation.

“Her resignation letter, if any such letter is written, has not been received at the Villa,” he said.

“Understandably, the President, to whom such letter is to be directed is away attending the UN General Assembly.

“We therefore are unaware that she has left the Cabinet.”

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