By HENRY UMORU
If Bamangar Tukur, elected National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, on March 27, 2012, had expected the high wire politics of the partyy to be anything near the Second Rewpublic politics of old Gongola State, he was gravely mistaken – thirty years ago, he was governor of the defunct Gongola State now Adawawa and Taraba States.
Tukur who spoke at Wadata Plaza, National Secretariat of the party when he formally took over, had said, ‘’we have come to transform and build a great Party, not to play politics. We have come to help politicians play a decent politics, politics based on fairness and level playing field. We have come to be those neutral referees the PDP needs right now.’’
But the reconciliation move of the National Chairman has faced serious opposition by state governors who will not want those members especially their former political godfathers turned foes, to return to the fold. The PDP had a deluge of pre and post congress issues in some states including Ogun where the party is split between former President Olusegun Obasanjo and former Governor Gbenga Daniel factions, while a raging crisis in Edo is between some members who are asking the Dan Orbih-led party to resign, alleging that he did not lead the party well, which they say is the reason why the PDP lost the gubernatorial election to Comrade Adams Oshiomhole of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, last year.
Reconciliation has been a major 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 and Anambra States 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.
The PDP at the moment is troubled and like a joke, it started in the dormain of Tukur, Adamawa State, with the sack of the chapter’s exco, led by Alhaji Umaru Mijinyawa Kugama, deemed loyal to the state governor, Admiral Murtala Nyako, rtd in October last year. Ambassador Umar Damagun nine-member caretaker Committee was immediately put in place to oversee the affairs of the party there.
Emmanuel Tsamdu was appointed to serve as the Secretary with Mr. Eli Gamaliel; Barr. Dahiru Shehu; Alhaji. Sabo Mohammed; Mrs Grace Mamba; Mrs. Altine Inuwa; Adamu Wazirin Paka; and Mr. Samuel Zadok as members.
The decision to sack the Adamawa State Executive was announced through a statement by the National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, who said in October last year that the dissolved exco had “flagrantly disregarded and shown serial disobedience to the decisions of the NWC.
‘’On behalf of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of our great party, the National Working Committee hereby dissolves the Adamawa State Executive Committee of the PDP.
“This is in exercise of Article 31, section 2(e) and 29, 2(b) of the 2012 amended constitution of our party and consequent on repeated breaches of the constitution by the Adamawa State chapter. A caretaker committee has been set up in its place.”
“Article 31(2) (e) specifically empowers the NWC thus: ” where necessary, dissolve a State Executive Committee and appoint a caretaker committee to run the party until another Executive Committee is elected , provided that the period from the dissolution to the election of the new Executive shall not exceed 3 months.”
Metuh noted further that the dissolved exco conducted illegal local government elections and still went ahead to submit a list of candidates to the State Independent National Electoral Commission without the approval of the NWC.
He said, “this is contrary to the provisions of Section 50(1) of the constitution of the party which among others, states emphatically that the National Executive Committee which the NWC acts on behalf of in this respect, is the final authority for the formulation of guidelines and regulations for the nomination of candidates for election into public offices at all levels and conveying same to INEC or any other authority to whom it may concern.
‘’The NWC also referred to complaints and petitions from principal stakeholders of the party in Adamawa State on various unconstitutional acts of the dissolved state exco, especially the principle of zoning as enshrined in Article 7(3)(e) of the party constitution as well as several letters from INEC complaining of non compliance with relevant laws in the conduct of the Adamawa State congresses.’’
Barely twenty-four hours after the sack, the embattled Adamawa State governor took the next available flight to Abuja to beg Tukur and other members of the NWC for forgiveness having agreed that he erred. He met them at the PDP Presidential Campaign office, Legacy House, Maitama, Abuja.
It was difficult for the party to reverse its decision for fear of not setting a very bad precedent or a case of not starting what it could not finish. The governor was also having problems in his home state with elders, stakeholders and leaders of the party.
When Nyako’s pleas fell on deaf ears, he went to his colleagues, the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, NGF, for help. The Chairman of NGF and Governor of Rivers State, Chibuike Amaechi, led others to the National Secretariat, but still the leadership of the party was adamant and found it difficult to change the decision.
The governors are the leaders of the party in their respective states with enormous powers to swing anything to their side – they were behind the emergence of Tukur and other members of the NWC as well as being responsible for their nomination.
The governors had to come in with threats of sack of the present NWC and a Caretaker Committee put in place if the decision on Adamawa State was not reversed. Their decision was hinged in the issue of precedence, that if such an action was not taken, the leadership of the party could just sit down in Abuja and dissolve the state excos.
President Goodluck Jonathan was said to have set up the Governor Sule Lamido Ad-hoc Committee on the resolution of the Adamawa State crisis.
The Adamawa problem became so heightened because of allegations that Tukur was pushing to ensure that his son, Awwal, replaces Nyako, as the governor.
Sunday Vanguard gathered that some members of the NWC had spoken and preached to as well as beg Tukur that he could play the game without overheating the party.
But last week, for fear of being thrown out by the ‘Almighty Governors’ and the opposition not taking advantage of the logjam at a time of opposition merger plans, the leadership of the party, that could be termed the group of ten in the NWC, bowed to pressure from governors elected on the party’s platform and made a great U-Turn on its earlier decision by recalling the sacked Adamawa State Executive Committee.
This decision was the anticlimax of the fight for supremacy for the soul of Adamawa PDP between Nyako and Tukur, but the reversal was done in a way that the National Chairman was not around – a decision concerning his state was taken in his absence but with the excuse that he was preparing for the meeting of the Board of Trustees, BoT where a new Chairman ought to have emerged. Even the Bot election which could not hold was because former President Obasanjo almost snatched the slot from under the nose of President Jonathan inside Aso Rock. The intrigues that attended the meeting forced a postponement.
Announcing the decision of the party to rescind its decision on Adamawa State, the PDP Deputy National Chairman, Dr. Sam Sam Jaja however described the congress held in the state as null and void and that it never got the backing of the NWC.
Also present at the briefing were the National Secretary, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola; National Legal Adviser, Victor Kwon; National Woman Leader, Ambassador Kema Chikwe; National Youth leader, Garba Umar Chiza; National Auditor, Chief Bode Mustapha; National Organising Secretary, Abubakar Mustapha; National Treasurer, Bala Kaoje; National Financial Secretary, Elder Bolaji Akpan Anani and National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh. The only NWC members absent were the National Chairman, Bamanga Tukur and the Deputy National Secretary, Solomon Onwe.
Jaja at the briefing said, ‘’Today the 8th day of January 2013 the members of the NWC acting under Article 29(3), and with ten members present out of the twelve, held an emergency NWC on this burning subject. The emergency NWC decided to announce the following: The NWC in its 325th meeting of Wednesday 12th December 2012 had rescinded the dissolution of the PDP Adamawa State Executive.
‘’The NWC had earlier dissolved the Adamawa State Executive under Article 29(2)(b) wherein we acted on behalf of Article 31(2)(e) powers of the NEC. But it is instructive to note that the Ward and Local government executives of Adamawa State were never dissolved.
‘’Infact at its 314th meeting of 29th August 2012 the NWC had upheld the March 2012 ward and local government
executives except for one LGA which was later ratified. The NWC is therefore surprised, shocked and embarrassed to read in the Newspapers of the purported ward, local government and state congresses said to be on going in Adamawa State.
‘’ For the records, the National Working Committee, hereby dissociate the Party leadership from the purported congresses which were neither authorized by the NWC nor monitored and/or supervised by the National Secretariat.
In the history of the PDP only the National Secretariat of the PDP conducts state congresses.
‘’Based upon the above therefore the NWC hereby declare the purported congresses null, void and of no effect whatsoever.
‘’Consequently we hereby declare that the only state executive committee constitutionally recognized by this Party is the Mijinyawa Kugama Executive lawfully elected in March 2012 and endorsed by the National Convention.’’
Contrary to the issues raised that the Adamawa Congresses were never authorised by the national leadership of the party, Sunday Vanguard gathered that Bamanga Tukur and Oyinlola jointly signed a letter to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, notifying the Commission of party congresses in Adamawa State.
The letter which was dated December 5, 2012 read ‘’in keeping with the provisions of Section 87 of the Electoral Act 2010, we write to inform the INEC that the National Working Committee, NWC of our Great Party has approved the conduct of the following Party Congresses in Adamawa State, sequel to the upcoming Party Congresses in the State. Ward Congresses, December 27,2012; LGA Congresses, January 3, 2013; State Congress, January 8, 2013.’’
There was another letter signed by the National Organising Secretary, Abubakar Mustapha, dated December 6, 2012, and addressed to the PDP Caretaker Committee, Adamawa State Chapter of the approval of a time-table for the congresses on the above dates with Appeals on State Congress fixed for January 10, 2013.
Relying on these decisions, Tukur described the decision and action by the ten members of the NWC to reinstate the sacked Exco as stabbing him on the back and a total betrayal of trust from those who were privy to the action and who even signed. As the problem continued, there was no longer trust as members avoided one another. Members even snubbed one another.
The NWC members were summoned to As Rock Presidential Villa by the president, but he was said to have asked them at the meeting to go and work together for the interest of the party and the nation.
Rather than drive in the same bus with the Chairman to Villa for the meeting, others left the same time at 11.02am and Tukur later drove out of the Secretariat at 1.18pm, probably to Villa for same meeting.
Just as they were recovering from this, the Court sacked Oyinlola as the National Secretary.
Tukur savouring the scent of a pound of flesh, immediately asked the Deputy Secretary, Solomon Onwe, to take over in an acting capacity.
The exit of Oyinlola, which may be temporary following the appeal by the PDP, will affect the political equation of the party because the South West may be schemed out of the position like in the case of South East when it lost the position of National Chairman following the removal of Prince Vincent Ogbulafor from Abia State, and Dr. Ezekwesilie Nwodo from Enugu State, who were replaced by the immediate past Minister of Defence, Dr. Haliru Bello Mohammed from Kebbi State, North West and the same tenure later completed by Abubakar Kawu Baraje, Kwara, North Central.
With the movement of Baraje, who was then the National Secretary to the top to replace Bello Mohammed, who was until then Acting National Chairman, was the Deputy National Chairman – even the slot of Speaker, House of Representatives, reserved for the South West, was taken by North West in a high wire game of politics which left President Jonathan and former President Obasanjo scratching their heads in utter embarrassment.
But the people of the zone are insisting that they should complete the tenure of Oyinlola if he would not be reinstated. Chief Ebenezer Babatope, who is also from Osun State and a major contender for the position before he was forced to step down for Oyinlola, is waiting in the wings.
It will be recalled that when Audu Ogbeh, Benue, North Central left as PDP National Chairman, Ahmadu Ali, Kogi also from the same zone completed the tenure, just as when the former National Secretary, Chief Ojo Maduekwe, from Abia State, South East, became a Minister, late Bernard Eze from Enugu State stepped in and also when John Odey, Cross River, South South, was the National Publicity Secretary and later made the Minister of Information, Lady Ime Udom, Akwa Ibom, South South stepped in and completed the term.
As the party awaits the outcome of the appeal as that would determine the next line of action of the party and whether permanent peace will return to the PDP family, and also as we await the outcome of Tukur’s meeting with former President and ex-chairman, Board of Trustees, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo; Chief Ebenezer Babatope; former Minister of Justice, Chief Richard Akinjide; Senator Bode Olajumoke; former Deputy National Chairman, Chief Olabode George; General Olatunji Olurin; Chief Dapo Sarumi; Professor Tunde Adeniran, Engr. Segun Oni; Otunba Oyewole Fashawej Alhaji Shuaib Oyedokun; Alhaji Tajudeen Oladipo, Chief Yekeen Adeojo, Chief Lekan Balogun, and Chief Joju Fadiro, tension is still in the air.