BY HENRY UMORU
THE Bamanga Tukur-led National Working Committee, NWC of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, last Monday, rolled out a list of 30 members under the name, ‘reconciliatory panel,’ with Governor Henry Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State, the home state of President Goodluck Jonathan, as chairman.
The idea of having a reconciliation committee to resolve the multiple crises bedeviling the PDP could have been a welcome development given that the party is preparing for the August 31 Special National Convention to correct the wrongs that were made in March 2012 when Tukur emerged as national chairman.
The issue of reconciliation also became imperative in the light of the approach of a tougher opposition in the form of the yet to be registered All Progressives Congress (APC) an amalgamation of opposition political parties including the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Democratic Peoples Party (DPP) and All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP).
The Dickson panel, which was inaugurated, yesterday, has Alhaji Asheik Jarma as deputy chairman and Amb. Umar Damagun as secretary. The members include Secretary, Board of Trustees (BoT), Senator Walid Jubrin; former Deputy Senate President, Ibrahim Mantu; Senator Hope Uzodinma; Prince Arthur Eze and Chief Onyema Ugochukwu.
Interests in the party
Announcing the composition of the committee, the party’s acting National Publicity Secretary, Tony Okeke said the reconciliation Committee was put up to ensure comprehensive reconciliation among members and interests in the party.
Other members of the panel are Dr. I. A. Obuzor, Alh. Salisu, Hon. Bello Mohammed Matawalle, Niyi Fadimula, Chief Jerome Eke, AVM Chris O. Marizu, Hon. Tijani Ibrahim Kiyawa, Dr. Christy Silas, Barr. Jangwe Yusuf, Mrs. Ngozi Olejeme, Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, Yakubu Shehu, Mohammed Kuchazi, Mrs. Adedeji Otiti Olarenwaju, Chief Emma Iwuagwu, Sen. Umar Gada, Asiwaju Dosun Fatokun, Engr. Harold Eze, Hajiya Fati Sabo, Hon. Wakili Mohammed and Shittu Mohammed.
According to Okeke, the committee was set up to carry out a comprehensive reconciliation of aggrieved members of the party.
Avalanche of reconciliation panels: Before now, the PDP had put in place a couple of reconciliation committees including one led by former Vice President Alex Ekwueme.
The Ekwueme’s 11-member reconciliation committee had some of the party’s founding fathers and grandees such as former Minister of Finance, Adamu Ciroma; former Deputy National Chairmen, Bode George and Shuaib Oyedokun, former Governor of Plateau State, Fidelis Tapgun and former Minister of Information, Professor Jerry Gana among others.
The Ekwueme panel visited the six geo-political zones and raised the alarm that the party was in very bad shape, even as it discovered that only six out of the 34 founding members remained in the party at that time. The report of the Ekwueme committee as good as many thought it to be was, however, thrown into the dustbin. Ekwueme, understandably, was in the position to attest to the ill-health of the PDP given his age, experience and forthrightness.
Rather than carry out a holistic implementation of the Ekwueme report, Prince Vincent Eze Ogbulafor who became the new national chairman, set up another 18-member committee to review the report. It was headed by the former Minister of Defence, Dr. Haliru Bello Mohammed, the then deputy national chairman of the party.
Other members of the committee were Shuaibu Oyedokun, Shetima Mustafa, Ibrahim Ida, Martha Bodunrin, Hakims Agoda, Halim Idris, Frank Ogbuewu; Onyeabo Obi and Aminu Wali, who is now Nigeria’s Ambassador to China.
Ogbulafor remarkably, did not give any reason for setting up a new panel but in a very tactical manner named his new committee as “elders committee” which he gave the task of ensuring “deep commitment towards fostering and consolidating reconciliation within the party”.
The 14-member elders’ committee, which had former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Senator Ike Nwachukwu, as chairman, was inaugurated on July 1, 2009 to among others ensure total reconciliation of members in states with crisis which then were Anambra, Kano, Bayelsa, Edo and Akwa Ibom among others.
Members of the Elders’ Committee were former Governor of Delta State, Chief James Ibori; Prof. Jerry Gana; former Governor of Gombe State, Senator Danjuma Goje; Alhaji Dahiru Manga Ignatius Ajuru; Alhaji Shuaibu Oyedokun; Governor of Benue State, Gabriel Suswam; Senator Ayim Ude Chukwu; Hon. Dave Salako; Chief Ebenezer Babatope; Mrs. Herberta Okonofia and the present Minister of Women Affairs, Hajia Zainab Maina. Former Acting National Secretary who was then the Deputy National Secretary, Dr. Musa Babayo served as the secretary.
Just as the Ekwueme committee, the Nwachukwu team after much traveling and talking also came out with a report which is lying fallow somewhere in the national secretariat of the party.
It is thus interesting that the party has again come up with another reconciliation move. However, the thrust and components of the present trouble shooting move are being questioned.
There was also the move as disclosed by Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State that President Goodluck Jonathan would lead a panel to resolve the multiple crises in the party, but it received attacks especially from former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and the idea died on arrival.
But the panel resurrected in another form, this time with Dickson as the chairman. Dickson is Jonathan’s governor, whom critics said would not go against the wishes of President Jonathan and Tukur because he would want to come back again as governor.
If reports of men like Ekwueme, Nwachukwu, Gana, Oyedokun, Babatope, Yahaya Kwande and Adamu Ciroma among others as assembled in the past were thrown into the dustbins and total reconciliation eluded the party, how far can Dickson’s committee go?
Will Dickson have the needed muscle to bring former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Adamu Ciroma; Olusegun Agagu, Gbenga Daniel, Yayaha Kwande, Ayo Fayose, Caleb Olubolade, Christopher Alao- Akala, Rasheed Ladoja, Wole Oyelese, Chief Richard Akinjide, and the Ubas, Ukachukwu and Ulasi in Anambra, among others, together, and tell them the truth? Will he have the same muscle that Ekwueme, Nwachukwu, Babatope, Gana and others had in the past?
Will Tukur’s men like Senator Umar Gada, Shittu Mohammed, and Ibrahim Mantu go contrary to his wishes? How will these men reconcile Wammako, Nyako, Lamido, Kwankwaso with others? How will Dickson reconcile Amaechi with Jonathan and Tukur knowing what happened after the election of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, NGF when Dickson, Akpabio stormed out, rejected the results where Amaechi scored 19 as against the 16 votes of Governor Jonah Jang of Plateau State?
Skepticism trails move: Since the emergence of the committee, criticisms, skepticism have continued to trail the reconciliation train.
Chief of Staff, Rivers Government House, Mr. Tony Okocha, feared that the Committee might not achieve anything because the chairman is an interested party. Also, a former governorship aspirant in Adamawa State, Dr. Umar Ardo, described the panel as one that is dead on arrival. ‘’With all due respect, I write to respectfully urge the National Chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, and members of his National Working Committee, to kindly reconsider the appointment of Gov. Dickson of Bayelsa State as Chairman of the Reconciliation Committee of the party.
‘’Other than the fact that as a governor, Dickson would have little time to devote to such an onerous and time-consuming task, I also think that he is eminently unqualified to handle such an assignment. In the first place Dickson lacks the national exposure and experience that such a task requires.
Secondly, Dickson himself is a subject of conflict within the party apparatus and membership. The way and manner in which he was brought in as governor, and the furor and controversy that it generated across the country, drain him of all moral standing to undertake a reconciliatory mission.
Also, as a governor of the president’s own state, Dickson cannot be objective and fair in his judgment. Given that one of the most central causes of the present disputes within the party is the inordinate ambition of the president for 2015, I cannot see how Governor Dickson can depart from this goal should it be imperative for the committee to do so in the course of its assignment.
‘’In fact, Dickson’s appointment will only be seen as an act of nepotism aimed at satisfying the impulsive determination of the president to achieve his aspiration. This perception will automatically estrange most aggrieved members and stakeholders of the party. The committee will thus be dead on arrival.”
Given this view, which is shared by many members of the party it is not yet Uhuru for Bamanga Tukur. It is to be seen how far the Dickson’s panel will go.