By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
With two governors suspended from its fold, the prospects of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP suspending more senior personalities in its fold are very real.
For a party that had in the past used all manner of intrigues to force recalcitrant party members into line, the decision of the PDP to suspend two of its governors could be regarded as a return to the rule of law. In the latest development on Wednesday, the PDP’s National Working Committee, NWC in its 338th meeting in Abuja issued a terse communiqué suspending Governor Aliyu Wamakko from the party.
Wamakko’s suspension was the second time in as many weeks that the party would be taking such a severe action against an incumbent governor.
Before the recent rash of suspensions, the only other time that the party had suspended an incumbent governor was in 2003 when the party suspended Governor Chris Ngige of Anambra State from the party after he had been allegedly taken away from the office by a member of the party’s Board of Trustees, Chief Chris Uba.
Indeed, the PDP had until now largely been regarded as a party where anything goes given the party’s often resort to taking things of consequential constitutional importance to the realm of the family or as the party is wont to say, “it is a family affair.” The decision to suspend Governor Rotimi Amaechi on children’s day, penultimate Monday, was an apparent determination of the party hierarchy to show that it would no longer treat dissent with kid gloves.
Amaechi’s offence according to the party was his refusal to heed the party’s instruction to reinstate the elected council executive in Obio/Akpor local government area of Rivers State.
The executive had been suspended by the Rivers State House of Assembly apparently in a bid to cut the influence of the Minister of State for Education, Nyesom Wike who is the arrowhead of the movement directed at cutting down Governor Amaechi. Wike is from that area and has the loyalty of the council chairman and councilors.
Wamakko who was suspended from the party for serial disobedience to party summons according to a party statement had continuously shown himself to be antagonistic to party authorities including the authority of the national chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, the party said in Abuja yesterday.
Influence of the governor
In suspending Wamakko, the party it is alleged may have shown its willingness to forsake Sokoto State in its 2015 permutations given the strong influence of the governor on the politics of the state. For the PDP to win the gubernatorial seat in 2007, it had to tempt Wamakko with its guber ticket and drop its own candidate, Alhaji Mukhtar Shagari.
Among those generally believed to also be on the firing line of the party are Speaker Aminu Tambuwal and three other governors known to be sustaining their independence from the party elders in Abuja.
The governors include Alhaji Rabiu Kwankwanso of Kano, Babangida Aliyu of Niger and Murtala Nyako of Adamawa, all of who are from the north, which is presently the backbone of the political opposition to the president. All southern governors who had in the past been suspected of showing some independence have all fallen in line. Senator Liyel Imoke who had obvious reasons including the loss of oil wells from Cross River to Akwa Ibom State to be apathetic or rebellious towards the party hierarchy, has lately been in the forefront of the pro-Jonathan campaign.
The speculation about the party’s whip lashing Speaker Tambuwal have echoed since he in May 2011 led rebellious members of the party to team up with the opposition to win election as speaker of the House of Representatives.
Since then, Tambuwal had been regarded as a marked man. His actions have not shown otherwise as he has approached party affairs with serious caution and spoken very frankly on issues affecting the party and polity.
Tambuwal has also irritated many party patrons by his open association with the opposition parties especially governors of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN.
He was in Osun State earlier this week when the ACN administration there launched its tablet of knowledge and was a star appearance at Bola Tinubu’s 60th birthday anniversary last year.
Tambuwal’s relationship with the party would understandably have been further stressed after Wednesday’s suspension of Governor Wamakko. Wamakko is generally regarded as Tambuwal’s political backbone at home.
The prospect of Tambuwal being marked out for trouble may also be heightened by speculations that he is one of those being penciled by the North to challenge President Goodluck Jonathan for the party’s presidential ticket in 2015.
Governor Aliyu’s troubles with the national party came to full light earlier this year after he came out openly to claim that President Jonathan made an agreement with northern governors to serve for only one term prior to the 2011 election. But so far he has not been able to produce that agreement.
As chairman of the Northern States Governors Forum, NSGF, Governor Aliyu has also been seen as the rallying point for the political opposition within the party. Like Speaker Tambuwal, Governor Aliyu has also not been coy in relating with the opposition and especially the emerging All Progressive Congress, APC.
He was one of those to have formally welcomed the emerging party saying that it would be good for the PDP.
Governor Aliyu may also have stoked anger in the party after he openly endorsed Governor Jonah Jang as the consensus candidate of the northern governors on the day of the Nigerian Governors Forum election two weeks ago but allegedly worked against him by mobilizing against him during the election.
Indicative of the emerging crisis that may confront the governor was the boycott of the NSGF meeting in Kaduna yesterday by 14 of the 19 governors many of whom are sympathetic to the president.
Governor Murtala Nyako’s problems with the party are personal and flow from a rivalry with the national chairman, Tukur who is also from Nyako’s Adamawa State.
The rivalry between both men who are said to be in-laws, it is alleged, flows from their rival quest to control the state structure of the party. Nyako apparently saw the trouble coming ahead before Tukur’s emergence as national chairman last year leading him to mobilize northern governors against Tukur.
However, Nyako relented, albeit reluctantly, after President Jonathan intervened to project Tukur as his personal project.
Even after Tukur’s emergence as national chairman both men have continued to clash over control of the party structure with both men recognizing different party chairmen for the PDP in Adamawa State.
Tukur has given his backing to Joel Madaki while Nyako has continued to support Umar Kigama. Finding excuse to suspend Nyako may not be difficult for the Tukur led NWC should the party ask the local faction led by Madaki to come up with anti-party activities of the governor.
Governor Rabiu Kwankwanso has in no way hidden his superiority to many of the political players on ground today. A former deputy speaker of the House of Representatives in the third republic, he was elected governor in 1999 and subsequently served as minister of defence following his defeat in his re-election bid in 2003.
Given the fact that even President Jonathan was a deputy governor while he, Kwankwaso was governor, it could be tempting for Kwankwanso to consider many of those calling the shots today as subordinates. So far, even some in Abuja believe that Kwankwanso is acting above the law. He has stayed away from the fawning habits of many of his colleagues and continuously asserted the north’s contention for the presidency in 2015.
Kwankwanso like Wamakko, it is also believed, is one of the northern backers of Governor Amaechi. Only few weeks ago he caused the state owned university to award an honorary degree to the ACN national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.