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Baraje loses confidence in PDP, resigns as NRC chairman

ABUJA- THE suspended Chairman of the splitter group of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje yesterdaybowed to pressure and resigned asChairman, Nigeria Railway Corporation Governing Board.

According to Baraje, the move became imperative to avoid being blackmailed, just as he stressed that the resignation would give him the ample time to concentrate in managingthe splitter group of the PDP.

In a statement signed yesterday by the group’s National Publicity Secretary, Eze Chukwuemeka Eze read, “The National Chairman of the New PeoplesDemocratic Party (nPDP), Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje, today resigned his position as Chairman, Nigeria Railway Corporation Governing Board to give him room and time to manage the nPDP adequately and avoid any insinuation or plot to use the appointment of his NRC Chairmanship to blackmail or embarrasshim in future.

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Kawu Baraje

“According to him the struggle to emancipate and enthrone proper democracy in our polity is atask that must be won.

“The decision wasconveyed through a “LETTER OF GRATITUDE AND RESIGNATION OF APPOINTMENT AS CHAIRMAN, NIGERIA RAILWAY CORPORATION GOVERNING BOARD” addressed to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator Anyim Pius Anyim.

“The letter personally signed by Alhaji Baraje said: “I hasten to express my sincere gratitude to His Excellency, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR, President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, through your good office for the confidence he placed in myability to have appointed me to such an exalted position as Chairman, NigeriaRailway Corporation.

“His Excellency, Mr. President, will recall that this appointment came from his discretion in allottingsome positions to our great party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). However, it is no longer news that there is an ongoing disagreement in principle between some top stakeholdersof our party of which I am among on the one hand and the current leadership of the party on the other. This quagmire has upturned my belief in the present leadership of our greatparty and has consequently made my continued stayasthe Chairman, Nigeria Railway Corporation Governing Board uncomfortable.

“Realizing that the position of the Nigeria Railway Corporation Chairmanship wasallocated to the partyand of which I am supposed to symbolize, I would appreciate if your good office could please convey to HisExcellency, Mr. President, of my intention to relinquish this position with immediate effect because I can no longer represent the interestof the party whose leadership I no longer believe in.”

But yesterday there were plans to remove the suspended Chairman of the splitter group of the party, Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje as the Chairman, Board of Directors, Nigerian Railway Corporation, just as strong indications showed that the presidency had polarised the board membersagainst Baraje.

The plot to remove Baraje, Vanguard gathered that the presidency was using some members of the board, just as the membersunder the aegis,”concerned members of the Board of Directors of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) have written a letter to President Goodluck Jonathan which was submitted on Monday where they passed a vote of no confidence on him against the backdrop that Baraje had failed to promptly convene board meetings as prescribed by NRC Act.

The Abubakar Baraje led Board of NRC of sixteen non executive and four members drawn from the NRC, Nigeria Port Authority, NPA; Ministry of Transport and that of Labour wasinaugurated May 28th, 2013.

Baraje, itwill be recalled was elected National Secretary of PDP in 2008 alongside former National Chairman, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor, later became the party’s Acting National Chairman when Dr. Haliru Mohammed who was then actingnational chairman became the Minister of Defence and Baraje stepped into his shoes as Acting National Chairman.

Baraje was in May made the Chairman of NRC board of Directors by President Goodluck Jonathan before August 31st when former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, six aggrieved governors stormed out of Eagle Square, venue of the convention and later joined byGovernor Chibuike Amaechi of Riverswhere a press conference took place at the Yar’Adua Centre with Baraje leading the briefing where the Baraje led splitter group came up. Dr. Sam Sam Jaja became the Deputy Chairman and Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola as the group’s National Secretary.

The seven governors in this group of G- 7 are the chairman of the Northern States Governors’ Forum, NSGF, and governor of Niger State, Babangida Aliyu; governor Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers State; Rabiu Kwakwanso of Kano; Sule Lamido of Jigawa; Murtala Nyako of Adamawa ; Aliyu Wamakko and Abdulfattah Ahmed of Kwara.

In a letter addressed to President Goodluck Jonathan, and titled, “NIGERIAN RAILWAY CORPORATION (NRC) BOARD IN COMATOSE – A Vote of No Confidence on Alhaji Kawu Baraje, Chairman, NRC Board”, the concerned board members stressed that the refusal of Baraje to convene Board meetings as prescribed and required by law has negatively affected the expectations of the Board in the discharge of its duties, adding, ” thereby undermining the purpose of the Board, which is to bolster progress in the Railwaysector.”

The letter which wasdated November 6, 2013, and signed by the Board’sChairman, Mechanical, Electrical, Signal and Communication, Ehiozuwa J. Agbonayinma on behalf of other concerned memberswhich Vanguard obtained yesterday read, “We, concerned members of the Board of Directors of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) humbly wish to draw the attention of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR, to the comatose statusof the NRC Board. We have painstakingly reviewed the activities, in recent times, of the Board Chairman, Alhaji Kawu Baraje and come to the conclusion that his conduct is a violation of the NRC Act and therefore not in the interest of the Corporation.

“We wish to inform you of the persistent inability of the Board Chairman to promptly convene Board meetingsas prescribed byNRC Act. Itis statutory for the board to hold a minimum of four (4) and a maximum of eight (8) meetings in every quarter of the year in order to effectively discharge the statutory obligation of the Board in line with the President’s Transformation Agenda.

“It is of great concern that, the Board did not meet up to the minimum requirement in the last quarter and is yet to have ameeting in the new quarter which isalmost coming to an end.

“Alhaji Baraje’s abandonment or refusal to convene Board meetings as prescribed and required by law has negatively affected the expectations of the Board in the discharge of its duties, thereby undermining the purpose of the Board, which isto bolster progressin the Railway sector.

“It is also noteworthy to reckon thatAlhaji Baraje’s refusal to participate in the just concluded Public-Private Partnership (PPP)summit organized by the Nigeria RailwayCorporation and Ministry of Transport isan indication of further serious negligence of his primary responsibility to the Board.

“We hereby, call on you Mr. President, to wade into these issues highlighted as amatter of urgency in order to restore normalcy in the runningof the constituted NRC Board.”

Vice President Namadi Sambo; PDP national Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur; Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim and Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar were copied.

Vanguard gathered that there was already a sharp division among the members of the board of NRC against the backdrop that while some are against the vote of no confidence on Baraje, some are saying there was no need for that while some are sitting on the fence.

The NRC which is led by Baraje, has Alhaji Y.Y. Suleiman; Hon. Ibrahim Muhammed Gimi; Sqd.LDR. Mukhtar Gambo Ashu, rtd; Alhaja Atinuke Oyawoye; Hon Abdukareem Saliu; Alhaji Umaru Liman Suru ; Ogbu Emma; Wakili Aliyu; Ikwue Theresa; Mohammed Kabir Abubakar; Iguo Minimah; Austine Nwachukwu; Chief Mike Ajinima; E.J. Agbonayinma as members.

Other members of the board are, Abdullahi Jalo; Engr. Ahmed Muhammed; B.B Gafai; and Abdulkareem Saliu.

Vanguard also gathered thatsensing the development and worried over the letter to the President of his refusal to call for meetings, the embattled Baraje immediately sent an SMS to all the Chairmen of the seven Committees of the NRC board to write a detailed report of their variouscommittees that mustbe submitted on Friday, 15th November, but the Chairmen, asource told Vanguard that they have refused to reply againstthe backdrop that he belongs to a splitter group in the PDP and mayuse the report against the Bamanga Tukur led PDP and the Federal government.

Baraje’s text to the Chairmen read thus, ” Pls.treat as urgent. Thismemo is to be sent to ALL committee Chairmen.”I am directed to inform you by the Chairman RailwayCorporation that all committee reports must be submitted to hisoffice latest by Friday 15th Nov.2013. These reports will be used for the preparation of the next Board Meeting.”

The NRC Committeeswith their chairmen are Finance and General Purpose, Muhammed Kabir Abubakar as Chairman; Establishment Committee with Chief Mike Ajinima as Chairman; Civil Engineering Committee with Hon. Wakili Aliyu as Chairman; Mechanical/Electrical, Signal / Telecommunication, with Mr. E.J. Agbonayinma as Chairman; Traffic Committee with Alhaji Abdullahi Jalo as Chairman; Trainingand Manpower Development Committee with Alhaja Atinuke Oyawoye as Chairman and Project Monitoring Committee with Hon. Austin Nwachukwu asChairman.

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