BY HENRY UMORU
‘’We have come to transform and build a great Party, not to play politics,” so the newly elected national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP Alhaji Bamanga Tukur said as he took over the reins of the party last March.
Tukur followed up with the inauguration of a 50-member High Powered Advisory Committee, HPAC which was saddled with the responsibility of advising and helping to reposition the PDP. Former Vice-President, Alex Ekwueme was named as the chairman of the committee with members including Chief Bode George; second republic Senate President, Joseph Wayas; former Minister of Justice, Chief Richard Akinjide (SAN); a former deputy senate president, Ibrahim Mantu; and Alhaji Dauda Birma, among others.
This move rather than boost party administration became a major problem as the action did not go down well with most members of the National Working Committee, NWC many of who boycotted the inauguration on the fear that the HPAC would lead to the marginalization of the NWC.
It is not surprising that the body after the inauguration turned comatose.
Tukur’s decision to also appoint high profile advisers also caused a rift within the party secretariat with one of them, Alhaji Habu Fari, who until then was the chairman of the board of trustees of the National Democratic Party, NDP causing the most stir with his appointment as Chief of Staff. His actions in the few weeks he lasted caused a rift with the national secretary, Chief Olagunsoye Oyinola who alleged that Fari had through his actions undermining his office.
With the realization that most of the state chapters of the party were enmeshed in crises, Tukur set as his agenda the principle of fair play by introducing 3Rs-reconciliation, reconstruction and reformation of the party.
Trying to reconcile aggrieved members as well as bring back those who left the party has remained a major challenge and headache for Tukur as nothing has been achieved in this direction.
PDP governors in Plateau, Kano, Abia, Enugu, Taraba and leaders of the party in Ekiti State are not comfortable with Tukur’s move and are not prepared to key into the agenda of allowing some members who left the party to return. A case in point is the orchestrated campaign to bar the former governor of Abia State, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu from returning to the party in his state.
The litmus test is Tukur’s own state, Adamawa where the national chairman is believed to be leading critics of the Murtala Nyako administration in an offensive to wrest control of the party from the governor.
The Tukur led NWC has gone the extent of dissolving the Adamawa State PDP Executive led by Alhaji Umaru Mijinyawa Kugama that was loyal to the governor and replaced with Ambassador Umar Damagun led nine-member caretaker Committee to oversee the affairs of Adamawa PDP.
Tukur’s reconciliation move is also being put to test in Anambra State, a state where the PDP is divided into multiple factions. In Enugu State, Governor Sullivan Chime and his associates are also believed to be standing against the integration of former governor Chimaroke Nnamani and the former National Chairman, Okwesilieze Nwodo and their associates.
The reconciliation process of Tukur is also suffering a similar fate in Kano as the governor, Musa Kwankwanso blocked all avenues for Alabo Graham Douglas’ committee set up by the NWC of the party to reconcile aggrieved members of the party in the state to carry out its duty.
Also in Taraba State, prior to the air crash that immobilized overnor Danbaba, he had blocked two senators; Abubakar Umar Tutare, Taraba Central and Jumai Aisha Alhassan, Taraba North from having a say in the affairs of the PDP in the State.
In the two gubernatorial elections conducted since the advent of the Tukur leadership of the party, the PDP was seriously bruised in the elections conducted in Edo and Ondo States.
Recognising the need to beef up its communication strategy and sell the party to the world ahead of 2015 Presidential election, the PDP organized a retreat for its Zonal, State Publicity Secretaries and Organising Secretaries in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital.
Another challenge for PDP is the emergence of a new Chairman of Board of Trustees, BoT come January 8, 2013 following the resignation of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, April this 2012. Members also expect the approval of the new constitution as the party enters another year.