By Henry Umoru & Ben Agande
ABUJA—Intense horse trading was on last night to determine the fate of embattled National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur.
While Tukur was adamant last night that he would not step down, his adversaries in the party closed ranks to push him out.
Tukur and members of his National Working Committee, NWC, last night launched desperate moves to counter the overwhelming pressure for their resignation from major party stakeholders.
Their efforts, including a meeting with the President was remarkably being countered from intense lobby by the second ring of national officers of the party, who themselves, yesterday, launched their campaign to replace embattled national officers of the party.
A defiant Tukur at the end of a meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan said he would not resign tomorrow, insisting that only the eight national officers affected by the report of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, would leave office.
Fate still hanging
His fate, Vanguard learnt, was still to be considered in a series of official and unofficial party meetings to be held ahead of tomorrow’s NEC meeting.
The leadership of the National Assembly, who also forms a powerful bloc within the party’s NEC, also met the President yesterday. At the end of the meeting, Deputy President of Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu said the legislators were still consulting on the fate of Tukur and his officials.
The national caucus meeting was on-going last night, while the Board of Trustees, BoT meeting, is to hold today. It is expected that Tukur’s fate could be decided at the end of the two meetings.
The latest crisis in the party was sparked after the Senator Anyim Pius Anyim-led Presidential Committee on the crises in the PDP submitted a report Monday night recommending the resignation of Tukur and all members of the NWC. The recommendation was based on fallouts from the report of the INEC on the PDP National Convention of March 2012 which was faulted by the electoral umpire as irregular. The INEC report had alleged that eight of the NWC officers were improperly elected. Upon the INEC report, some members of the party had gone to court to seek dismissal of the affected officers from office.
The Anyim committee, it was learnt, had recommended that members of the NWC step down not only to avert possible negative political consequences of allowing them to conduct a future presidential convention that could be legally defective. But yesterday, Tukur was defiant as he affirmed his determination to weather the storm after leading members of the NWC to a meeting with the President.
Tukur said his position as chairman of the party was not affected by the Anyim committee report upon which the news reports were based.
Affirming that there is no vacancy in the position of PDP National Chairman, he said the meeting with the President dwelt on rectifying the positions of the eight NWC members who were not properly elected.
Resign for what?
“It is not true that I am resigning. Resign for what? It is not true at all. We are here to run the PDP and we have done so and we will continue to run the PDP. We are going to have our caucus tonight, we are going to have BoT tomorrow (today); we are going to have our NEC on Thursday.
“It is not true, Chairman is there dam dam. The chairman is not only in office, he is in power. In PDP, there is no vacancy in the national chairmanship. The meeting is about regularising the family of PDP because there was an INEC observation, some of the members of the NWC were not properly elected so it has to be regularized.
“Those who have not been elected will resign and they will go back, they will have opportunity to regularize. About eight people are affected. There are three people that are not affected; they, the National Chairman, the National Financial Secretary, National Auditor and of course National Secretary which is vacant now.
“The other eight people- all the deputies, and ex-officios and the rest of them whose elections in the convention were considered irregular, by INEC, would resign,” Tukur stated.
His assertion nonetheless, it was learnt, yesterday, that plans were already on the way to nominate Professor Jerry Gana to lead a caretaker committee that will oversee affairs of the party pending the coming of a new set of NWC officials.
A source also revealed that Senator Stella Omu from South-South would also serve as a member of the Committee with other members drawn from the BoT to represent the geo-political zones of the country.
Vanguard also gathered that the Secretary of BoT, Senator Walid Jibrin and the Political Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan, Alhaji Ahmed Gulak were last night locked in a meeting at Legacy House, Maitama drawing the final list of the caretaker committee preparatory to presenting them before the BoT today.
Vanguard also gathered that the Gana-led Committee would oversee party affairs pending when zonal and mini congresses are held in July for the purpose of electing a new NWC.
PDP’s 2nd eleven gears up
Also yesterday, elected deputy national officers of the party who are the second ring of national officers after the NWC members launched a campaign to replace the embattled NWC members.
The officers who went as a group in a white Coaster bus first met with Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State at the Akwa Ibom Governor’s Lodge in Asokoro, Abuja from where they proceeded with the governor to meet with the President. The outcome of their meeting could not be ascertained last night.
The deputies are campaigning that since there are no provisions for a caretaker committee in the constitution of the party and that based on Section 45 of the 2012 PDP constitution as amended, they should take over.
According to Section 45 (1) of the constitution, “:if a National Officer of the Party is removed or resigns from office, he shall immediately hand over to the National Secretary all records, files and other properties of the Party in his or possession.
(2) In the case of the National Chairman, he shall hand over to the Deputy National Chairman who shall, without prejudice to Section 45(6) of this Constitution, act as the National Chairman pending the election of a replacement.
(3) In the case of National Secretary, he shall hand over to the Deputy National Secretary.
(4) This provision shall apply mutatis mutandis to other levels of the Party structure.”
The National Deputy officers of party are Senator Umaru Tsauri, Deputy National Auditor; Mrs Hannatu Ullam, Deputy National Women Leader; Dr. Okey Nnaedozie, Deputy National Organising Secretary; Binta Masi Garba, Deputy National Publicity Secretary; Awwalu Gwadabe, Deputy National Financial Secretary; Barrister Mohammed Doho, Deputy National Legal Adviser; Dennis Alonge-Niyi, Deputy National Youth Leader and Clafius Enegesi, Deputy National Treasurer.
Appointees, aides mull situation
At the National Secretariat of PDP yesterday, dozens of political appointees and personal aides to the affected NWC members as well as staff of the party were seen in clusters outside their offices discussing in very low tone over the developments.
Some of the NWC members including the National Woman Leader, Kema Chikwe; National Financial Secretary, Elder Bolaji Anani; National Youth Leader, Umar Chiza; the National Organising Secretary, Abubakar Mustapha and the National Auditor, Adewale Adeyanju came into their respective offices briefly.
The Anyim-led presidential committee set up by President Jonathan to X-ray the lingering crises rocking the PDP recommended that the Tukur-led NWC should resign as a solution to the problems that have engulfed the party since the emergence of Tukur as National Chairman last year.
President Goodluck Jonathan had on June 8, set up a committee, with Anyim Pius Anyim, as Chairman, and the Chief of Staff to the President, Chief Mike Oghiadomhe; governors Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom; Ibrahim Shema of Katsina; Theodore Orji of Abia; Isa Yuguda of Bauchi; Gabriel Suswam of Benue and Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State and the Political Adviser to the President, Alhaji Ahmed Gulak as members to recommend ways of arresting the worsening crisis in the PDP.
Anyim’s report had recommended that though Tukur and former National Secretary and National Auditor, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, Elder Bolaji Anani and Bode Mustapha respectively were the only officers duly elected, the committee nevertheless called for Tukur’s resignation on the grounds that it would be untidy to allow him remain in office.
Besides the National Chairman, other members of the NWC whose resignation are being demanded are the Deputy National Chairman, Dr. Sam Sam Jaja; the Acting National Secretary, Solomon Onwe; National Organising Secretary, Abubakar Mustapha; National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh; National Auditor, Adewale Adeyanju; National Legal Adviser, Victor Kwon; National Woman Leader, Kema Chikwe; National Financial Secretary, Elder Bolaji Anani; National Youth leader, Garba Umar Chiza; and National Treasurer, Bala Kaoje.
We are still consulting – Ekweremadu
Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ekweremadu who led the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha, Deputy Leader of the Senate, Abdul Ningi and the Deputy House Leader, Hon Leo Ogor told State House correspondents that the meeting was part of consultations with the President on how to resolve the crises in the party. Ekweremadu was hopeful that despite the crises in the party, it will come out stronger.
“It is a routine consultation between the President and the leadership of the National Assembly. But this one has to do with our party’s issues because we are of the same political party. It is essentially a party affair,” he said.
On media reports that the chairman and some members of the National Executive Committee would resign, Ekweremadu said “we are still consulting. In the evening (yesterday) we are going to have a national caucus of the party to look at all the options available to the party.
This is a party of consultation so that by tomorrow (today) or later this evening we will have a position of the PDP on these issues,” he said.