By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor & Henry Umoru
ABUJA—The odds against the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur increased, yesterday, when the state chairmen of the party passed a vote of no confidence on him and asked that he should be removed to enable the party move forward.
The resolution of the party chairmen came amid moves by party stakeholders to resolve the leadership crisis in the party with the embattled Tukur fighting on all fronts and changing strategies to retain his office.
His efforts, including the conscription of peacemakers to meet aggrieved governors, however, suffered a setback, with the resolution of the chairmen who joined Tukur’s colleagues in the National Working Committee, NWC to reject his continued leadership of the party.
Besides the state chairmen, all but two of the deputies to the members of NWC were said to have also turned against Tukur despite his earlier efforts to court them.
The state chairmen at press time met in the Utako area of the Federal Capital just as about the same time that the national caucus, comprising leading stakeholders including President Goodluck Jonathan, principal officers of the National Assembly; the chairman of the Board of Trustees, Chief Tony Anenih; Chairman of the PDP Governors Forum, Governor Godswill Akpabio commenced a meeting in the presidential villa.
The chairmen said that the party had suffered seriously under Tukur’s leadership and pledged their determination to use every energy to ensure he was removed.
Sources at the meeting of the state chairmen told Vanguard last night that they were convinced that only the removal of Tukur from office would save the party from implosion.
The meeting which was taking place at 3J Hotel, Utako under the chairmanship of Eng. Emmanuel Agbo, the Benue State chairman of the party Vita Abba, (Enugu), Chief Dan Orbih, (Edo), Peter Nwaoboshi, (Delta), Alhaji Rabiu Gambo Bakori (Katsina) and 25 other chairmen in attendance.
One of the state chairmen present at the meeting told Vanguard last night that they were prepared to use their number, 37, which is the single highest voting bloc in the National Executive Committee, NEC, to force Tukur out.
Why we want Tukur out
“We have passed a vote of no confidence on Tukur as National Chairman of the party,” one of the chairmen said.
“The truth is that while the PDP governors are only found in PDP governed states, we have PDP chairmen in all 36 states and we have said that our action is predicated on our determination to save the party. We want to save the party and we have the controlling bloc vote,” the state chairman told Vanguard on the sidelines of the meeting last night.
It was learnt that the state chairmen had been exchanging views on the problems in the party and were now preparing strategies to ensure that Tukur is removed.
It was learnt that the chairmen at that meeting lamented the dwindling fortunes of the party as a result of what one described as “Tukur’s lack of direction and his inability to give leadership to the party.”
One source said that the chairmen threatened that they would abandon the party for Tukur if he refuses to resign saying: “It is evident that some of the state chairmen are threatening that they would resign enmasse from the party if Tukur is not relieved of his position as the future of the party cannot be guaranteed by the clueless leadership of Tukur,” a party chairman present at the meeting said, though he was not categorical if he would himself resign.
I’m on the same page with Jonathan — Tukur
Earlier yesterday, Tukur in a bid to save his job issued a statement clarifying his assertion on Monday that only the national convention could remove him from office.
He said that his mission ahead of the 2015 Presidential election was to provide a shield for President Jonathan, saying that they were on the same page to move the party and the country forward. He affirmed that he would never dare his leaders especially President Jonathan, but support him in all ramifications.
In the statement he personally signed, Tukur said:
“I want to assure Nigerians and outside world that the Chairman of PDP (my humble self) and Mr. President are standing shoulder to shoulder to transform Nigeria. As for the mischief makers, all I can say is that “from their works ye shall know them”.
“I have stated, it is totally out of place for me to lecture Mr. President as suggested in the scurrilous article and write up. It is preposterous and smacks of indiscipline. The sad aspect of these mischief makers is that they tarnish the image of Nigeria at home and abroad. They present a picture which must be scaring investors. They join the enemies in fanning the embers of disunity.
“I am confident that any discerning Nigerian particularly his Excellency the President, Commander-in-Chief, will easily see through this shallow mischief.”
Also yesterday, Tukur raised a team comprising mainly stakeholders from his native Adamawa State to help reach out to strategic stakeholders in the party.
The meeting with the stakeholders in Tukur’s Wuse 2 residence in Abuja lasted for about one hour following which it was agreed that the team would meet with Governors Jonah Jang, the factional chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, NGF and Governor Godswill Akpabio, chairman of the PDP Governors Forum.
It could not be confirmed if the meeting with the two men had held though Governor Akpabio was confirmed to be in Abuja while Jang was said to be on his way to Abuja as at last night.
The Adamawa stakeholders it was learnt urged Tukur not to continue with his confrontational stance as they reportedly urged him to negotiate especially with the two key governors.
The committee set up to meet with Akpabio and Jang has former Military governor of Plateau State, retired Air Commodore Dan Suleiman; Former Head of Federal Road Safety Corps, General Anthony Haladu Hananiya, rtd; former Adamawa State governorship aspirant, Dr, Umar Ardo and erstwhile governor of Adamawa State, Wilbersforce Juta as members.
A source also told Vanguard that members of the committee immediately moved into action soon after they were constituted and had called the two governors to get an appointment with them, just as the source disclosed that the outcome of the meeting would determine the posture Tukur will take in reaction to moves to remove him from Office.
Confirming the efforts by the committee, yesterday, Dr. Ardo noted that the need to approach the two governors became imperative given the positions they hold on behalf of the party.
“We decided to explore this option with the national chairman as we agreed that it would not be right to take any action without hearing from them since they hold key positions on behalf of the party and our position would be decided by the outcome of the meeting with them.”
Rebuffing reports that he had resigned upon the pressure on him, Tukur blamed the reports on hawks who were bent on seeing him out of office.
Tukur said he neither resigned, planned to resign, nor told anyone in confidence of his intention to do so.