By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor & Henry Umoru
LAGOS — The National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur and members of the National Working Committee, NWC are to quit their offices Thursday at the National Executive Committee, NEC meeting of the party scheduled to meet that day.
The decision, Vanguard gathered, was consequent upon the submission of a report by the Senator Anyim Pius Anyim-led presidential committee constituted to study the crisis in the party. The report was submitted to the President yesterday.
However, Vanguard learnt that the recommendation by the Anyim committee for the NWC members to resign was a political solution to the lingering court cases instituted by some displeased party members against the election of the NWC members.
Before the NWC members caved in, Vanguard learnt that they were promised re-election at a special mini-convention of the party to be convened in a few weeks.
Tukur reverses self
Tukur had also reversed himself on the suspension of Governor Aliyu Wamakko of Sokoto State from the party.
The suspension of Wamakko from the PDP was lifted upon pressures from The Presidency that Tukur had turned the conflict with the governor into a personal battle. Central to the point highlighted by members of the Anyim committee was the appointment of Senator Abubakar Gada, one of the fiercest political rivals of Wamakko as the Political Adviser to Tukur.
NWC members to resign
Other members of the NWC expected to submit their letters of resignation at the NEC meeting are 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 Secrtary, Elder Bolaji Anani; National Youth leader, Garba Umar Chiza; and National Treasurer, Bala Kaoje.
Vanguard gathered that the Anyim committee recommended that resignation of the NWC members was the only way out and the NWC members, a source said, have agreed to this.
But besides that, sources at the Wadata Plaza head offices of the PDP told Vanguard, yesterday, that the resignation became inevitable because of the on-going court case that arose from the report of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, that the national convention of the party where the NWC members were elected was irregular.
The INEC report had observed that the conduct of the election for eight of the national officers was irregular and did not follow the party’s guidelines. Upon the INEC report, some aggrieved party members had gone to court seeking removal of the NWC members from office.
Yesterday, party sources said the report of the Anyim committee became a cover for the party to honourably discharge the NWC members and avoid suggestions that the presidential contest that also produced President Goodluck Jonathan as presidential candidate was irregular.
“We do not want to embarrass the President or the party and this has become a neat way to solve all the problems facing the party,” a senior party official said yesterday.
Party recalls Wamakko
Earlier, Wamakko’s suspension was lifted by the NWC following a closed-door meeting between the NWC and the Anyim-led presidential committee. At the end of the meeting, Tukur said, the “NWC has rescinded the suspension of the Sokoto State Governor on the appeal of the PDP Governors’ Forum.”
Reliable sources, however, rebuffed the suggestion, saying that Tukur was forced to reverse the suspension following submissions by the Anyim committee that Tukur had translated personal issues into official party matters that could reverberate on both the party and the president.
Tukur’s personal battle
In imputing personal motives, members of the presidential committee, Vanguard learnt yesterday, were told that Tukur may have been influenced by the thinking of his recently appointed political adviser, Senator Abubakar Gada who is reputed to be one of the strongest political rivals to Wamakko in Sokoto State.
“How could the National Chairman have taken Wamakko’s arch enemy as his political adviser and this would not happen?” a source privy to the development in Abuja said.
Besides, it was learnt that the suspension of the governor was taken without the knowledge of the President.
“The President said he was not consulted and he read it in the papers the next day and secondly, they now told him that Alhaji Bamanga Tukur cannot give him a single vote but Wamakko has delivered the whole state from top to bottom to the PDP. The battle that Tukur was fighting was just a survival war, a number of people had started believing that the National Chairman had started overstepping his bounds,” another source privy to the developments said.
It was also learnt yesterday that the PDP got to know that Wamakko had mobilized lawyers to file a court action today against his suspension.
The party had not envisaged Wamakko going to court and officials were thus at a loss as to how they would defend the suspension of the governor for the reason that he did not answer the telephone calls of the National Chairman.
“Wamakko was rude to the National Chairman and he was suspended and it gave the impression that was part of the on-going crisis in the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, which it is not,” a presidential source said.
Addressing newsmen in Abuja at the end of the over two hours meeting between the NWC members and the Presidential Committee headed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Anyim, at Legacy House, Maitama Abuja, Tukur also disclosed that the National Executive Committee, NEC will hold on Thursday, June 20 2013 by 12 noon.
It would be recalled that the last NEC meeting was held July 19, 2012.
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.
All members of the committee were present except Governor Gabriel Suswam of Benue state.
Besides Tukur, other NWC members present at yesterday’s meeting were 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 and National Financial Secretary, Elder Bolaji Anani.
Tukur said, “NWC has rescinded the suspension of the Sokoto state governor on the appeal of the PDP Governors’ Forum and secondly the National Chairman is inviting the PDP statutory members to the meeting of National Executive Committee holding on Thursday, June 20 at 12 noon”.
According to Tukur, “Now this issue will never come again. It is a great party, we believe in our nation. We need a party as a platform to stand on, but based on unity, discipline and commitment.
“We are also have the support of NEC in lifting the suspension of our governor of Sokoto.
“With that we are ready for further business. So we are going to have our NEC meeting on Thursday the 20th of this month by 12noon.
Also speaking, Chairman, PDP Governors’ Forum and governor of Akwa Ibom State, Chief Godswill Akpabio who noted that the party could not have lifted the suspension of Governor Amaechi against the backdrop that he was already in court.
He said: “The matter is in court and doing anything on it would be prejudicial. He is in court.”