THE founding fathers of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, envisioned a strong and virile political association which will stand the test of time and serve as vehicle towards the propagation of a liberal and republican democracy in Nigeria.
The circumstances of the conception and birth of the PDP are fresh in the memory. The idea behind the formation of the Party was mooted by a group of Nigerian patriots and nationalists who dared the former military regimes. The records of the former military regimes are now history.
Suffice it, however, to say that despite the readiness and willingness of some military administrations to clamp Nigerians who disagreed with the government into prison, a group of brave Nigerians stood out and challenged the anti-democratic status quo. Alhaji Bamanga Tukur was one of them.
As Nigerians feared for dear lives, these patriots stood their ground and demanded the return to constitutional democracy and republicanism. They midwifed the PDP which has blossomed to become perhaps the largest and strongest political association in Nigeria’s political history and the Black world.
Dr Tukur mounted the saddle in the PDP at a time when the experience, unique nature, wisdom, maturity, ambience, commanding stature and sheer grit of a composite and complete leader was needed to give the party a wholesome direction and a positive sense of purpose.
As a man who had seen it all before, Tukur rose to the occasion. The position of the National Chairman of the PDP was not just another post or office. It is not the run-of-the-mill political job. It is a seat occupied by the Chief Executive of the Party which produced the Federal Government.
A party which produced more than 70% of the elected governors in the country and which returned more than 70% of the members of the National Assembly. Needless to say, these achievements were replicated in the state Houses of Assembly all over the Federation.
What stands Tukur out as the National Chairman of the PDP is that he came to serve and to help the party to live and fulfill its dream. He did not come to make a name or to build a curriculum vitae or to indulge in crude materialism. Prior to his election for the PDP job, Alhaji Tukur was already a household name in Nigeria’s business and political circles.
On assumption of office, Tukur enunciated the policy of three cardinal Rs – Reconciliation, Reformation and Rebuilding. As a great politician with an even greater vision and mission, Tukur resolved to sanitize the party and to instill discipline in its ranks.
Those who do not appreciate the need for change are definitely bound to oppose it. This was what happened in the PDP because many people were used to doing things their own way regardless of whether it was in sync with the rule of law or due process; they resisted Alhaji Bamanga’s clearly defined agenda to root out impunity. This led to some differences in the ranks of the party.
Now, there is a new way of thinking in the party. He has institutionalised the true creed of due process and rule of law in the party. It is now beyond dispute that the party is supreme. Every member of the party is bound by the decision and constitution of the party. Nobody, no matter his position, is above the party for, afterall, it was the party which gave its members the platform upon which they were able to stand and win electoral offices and positions across the country.
Tukur effectively brought to an end the practice whereby certain persons felt they were greater than the party. Tukur ended the era when some people took delight in dictating to the party or imposing their views on the party.
It is of importance to allude that Tukur’s administration in the PDP has elevated reconciliation to an art. As a big political family, party members are bound to hold divergent views on certain issues. Differences will certainly arise. There will be disagreement every now and then. It is in the area of resolution of these differences that Tukur has excelled tremendously. There are various organs within the party for the resolution of conflicts. There are also various means and modalities for the ventilation of grievances within the party by aggrieved members.
This conflict resolution mechanism in the party runs down the line. In the party, there are ways of resolving differences. In all branches, there are internal mechanisms for the cross-fertilization of ideas and ventilation of perceived differences. In fact, the Tukur administration has established a reconciliation committee in the party. This committee has performed its task with immense results as many members are now back in the fold following the peace committees peace overtures and dexterity in handling conflicts.
*Okpala is Special Assistant on Media to the National Chairman of PDP.