By HENRY UMORU
AFTER months of intrigues, manoeuvring, backstabbing and political intrigues, the embattled National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur on Thursday finally bowed to pressure and agreed to resign as Chairman of the party at least to save the party from total collapse.
Problems with Tukur, the former governor of old Gongola State started even before he came in as National Chairman of the self acclaimed largest party in Africa. From his North East geo- political zone of the country where the position was zoned to, he had problems as he was rejected through a shadow election which favoured the then acting National Secretary, Dr. Musa Babayo from Bauchi State as it was speculated that the governors and even his own, governor Murtala Nyako of Adamawa State.
Alhaji Bamanga Tukur who was President Goodluck Jonathan’s anointed and preferred candidate for the chairmanship seat in March 21, 2012 was humiliated at the North East Zonal Congress of the PDP in Bauchi State.
Tukur was soundly defeated at the North-East zonal congress by Dr. Babayo Musa who polled 14 votes to the two votes scored by Tukur in the poll conducted among members of the zonal caucus.But Tukur in a sharp reaction to the adoption of Babayo however dismissed the zonal caucus as a non-event, nonsensical and a vindictive action he claimed was put together by Governors Isa Yuguda, Murtala Nyako and Danbaba Suntai of Bauchi, Adamawa and Taraba states respectively.
But all is now history as well over twelve aspirants for the position from Gombe, Adamawa, Yobe, Borno, Bauchi, and Taraba were first cajoled, wooed to step down and later forced to do that for him at Eagle Square, Abuja, venue of the March 24, 2012 National Convention and at the end of the convention, Tukur emerged the National Chairman of PDP.
Swallowed in the euphoria of winning and now the chairman of the ruling party, some of the aides of Tukur who contributed immensely to his final fall at 63 rd National Executive Committee, NEC meeting forgot to let him know of the urgent need to mend fences and heal the deep wounds that were inflicted.
To say the least, PPD since inception as a party in 1998 never went through the state of confusion, crisis the way it did during Alhaji Bamanga Tukur as the National Chairman. From late Chief Solomon Lar to Senator Barnabas Gemade, to Chief Audu Ogbe, to Dr. Ahmadu Ali to Prince Vincent Ogbulafor, to Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, to Dr. Haliru Bello Mohammed and then to Abubakar Kawu Baraje, Tukur had the most bitter part of it as the political quagmire in the party took a different dimension with a crescendo passage. And when writers of history, examiners of major examinations and scripts settle down to assess and mark the PDP and on the question, controversies, bitterness and management of crisis since inception, Tukur’s period will be scored a B+ for not managing the political crisis properly and his aides never helped him as they saw everyone, including members of the National Working Committee, NWC as enemies of the National Chairman.
First, his then Principal Secretary, Habu Fari started an in house fight with the then National Secretary, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola with exchange of letters, but when Tukur discovered that if not nipped in the bud where a non NWC member was fighting an elected NWC member, it will be dangerous, the National Chairman sacrificed Fari to save his job and for peace to reign, but the scar was already there and Oyinlola, a soldier did not take it lightly.
Tukur again brought in two aides, Senator Ibrahim Ida and Alhaji Ahmed Gusau but the intrigues and fight with NWC members continued. Tukur sacked them. The problem was titillating there. Then Senator Umar and Alhaji Mohammed Shittu and plenipotentiary aide like former Deputy Senate President who then escalated the problem, blocked Tukur from seeing NWC members, stopped Tukur from holding meetings at Wadata Plaza and meetings then held at Wuse 2, Private residence of the National Chairman.
Infact, they saw themselves as more powerful than members of NWC and defacto National Chairman. It was at this point Tukur was ill-advised and took one of the decisions that nailed him by suspending the Sokoto State governor, Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko in June last year, for among other offences, not picking his phone calls and when he was later recalled, it was already late. It is now history. Tukur humiliated the governor following the kind of aides he had.
Aliyu Wammako was suspended soon after Tukur appointed Senator Umar Gada, an arch rival to Wamakko in the Sokoto State governorship race as Special Adviser and may be it was Gada’s first suggestion to Tukur and this did not go well in the party, but Tukur and his NWC had a re- think by recalling Wammako; but the wounds had already been inflicted.
And trying to settle down to face his national assignment of leading a national party with national problems, Tukur dabbled into the politics of his home state by dissolving the Adamawa State PDP executive committee led by Alhaji Umaru Kugama that was loyal to governor Murtala Nyako and replaced it with the Amb. Umar Damagun- led nine-member caretaker committee to oversee the affairs of the party, thus setting the pace for his problem and that of the party.The decision then created a deep sharp divide among members of the NWC as ten members disowned the actions of Tukur regarding the affairs of the party in Adamawa State.
The logjam for the PDP continued with the sack of the National Secretary, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola following the January 11, 2013 judgment of the Federal High court, Abuja by Justice Abdul Kafarati which had declared that Oyinlola’s nomination and subsequent election as the National Secretary of PDP were invalid, null and void and ruled that with that, Oyinlola should be sacked.
Another major problem crept up and that was the resignation of former President and Chairman, Board of Trustees, BoT, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo in April which however generated a lot of controversy until Chief Tony Anenih who was removed then with Obasanjo coming in, bounced back to replace the former President.
After this, PDP problems because of Tukur and hatred for him reared its head at Eagle square last year, August 31 st Special Convention organised to right the wrongs that were made during the March 2012 National Convention and it was not the best moments for the Alhaji Bamanga Tukur led National Working Committee, NWC when viewed from his desire to have a total reconciliation of aggrieved persons in the party.
Tukur got the national secretariat involved in Rivers crisis when it immediately rushed to swear in Felix Obuah following the sack of Godspower Ake led State Executive, loyal to governor Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers State; maybe taking directives from the Presidency and Amaechi was eventually suspended from the party.
All these problems and others put together were now taken to Eagle Square, locale for a very serious revenge and on that beautiful Saturday that later became a dull one, was the August 31st tumultuous walk-out of Eagle Square by the aggrieved governors and their delegates from their respective States.
Crisis then ensued when the party split into two parallel NWC, with former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and six northern governors who staged a walk out to later address a press conference on the formation of what they tagged new PDP with governor Chibuike Amaechi in attendance and former Acting National Chairman of the party, Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje named himself the national Chairman and Sam Jaja,Deputy National Chairman and Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola as National Secretary.
“The governors who stormed out of the Convention venue were Sule Lamido of Jigawa; Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara; Aliyu Babangida of Niger; Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko of Sokoto state; Musa Rabiu Kwankwaso of Kano; and Murtala Nyako of Adamawa.Following the irreconcilable nature of these problems, governors Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara; Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko of Sokoto state; Musa Rabiu Kwankwaso of Kano; Murtala Nyako of Adamawa and Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers dumped the party for the opposition, All Progressive Congress, APC, “leaving Sule Lamido of Jigawa and Aliyu Babangida of Niger behind.
It was the worse moment in the history of the party since inception because no amount of problem the party had in the past made five of its Governors, followers and supporters to just go enmasse and followed by elected members of the House of Representatives where before the very eyes of Tukur, thirty- seven lawmakers left the party shortly after the governors with some on the waiting list especially the Senators.
When the problems started, there were moves to resolve them and the first attempt to bring the warring factions together under one roof and solve what the PDP usually call a family matter was by former President Olusegun Obasanjo who led other elders of the party on trouble shooting mission and met with the leaders of the party as well as the aggrieved governors, with a vow to resolve and bring peace to the party. The locale was Transorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja.
Though a good move by the former Chairman, Board of Trustees, BoT of PDP, but the meeting was deadlocked as issues raised did not go down well with the Baraje led faction as they stormed out and immediately went to inspect the office of the new PDP at plot 3206A, No 4, Oyi River crescent, Maitama, Abuja which was under renovation, but was later sealed by the police, barely twenty four hours after the Obasanjo meeting, thereby generating another bad blood from the camp of Baraje.
Also at the Obasanjo’s meeting were former Military President Ibrahim Babangida; Chairman, Board of Trustees, BoT, Chief Tony Anenih; former PDP National Chairmen, Dr. Ahmadu Ali and Senator Barnabas Gemade, even as Chief Obasanjo apologised on behalf of former Vice President, Alex Ekwueme and late Chief Solomon Lar who were not in the country supported the move.In between the peace moves, the Abubakar Kawu Baraje led splinter group and the aggrieved Governors under the aegis, G7 suffered serious humiliation as they will not forget in a jiffy the humiliation they went through.
First, it was on Saturday, September 7, when the headquarters of the new PDP at plot 3206A, 4, Oyi Crescent, Off Ibrahim Babangida Way, Maitama District, Abuja, was sealed off by the Police. Next was the group’s operational base, the Adamawa Governor’s Lodge at No. 12, Gurarara Street, Maitama, Abuja when the Federal Capital Territory Administration, FCTA immediately sealed it. On Sunday night, November 3 when the presidency in its continued clampdown on them, stormed the venue of their meeting with armed policemen. The venue was Kano State Governor’s Lodge, Asokoro, where the group has been using for meetings.
Amidst all these, the governors, NWC members, State PDP chairmen, stakeholders asked for Tukur’s head for the party to be salvaged especially ahead 2015 Presidential election.
Just as Tukur caved in after losing confidence of key party officers, elders and all , it not deviate from past patterns as he fell in the manner of most past PDP chairmen. Interestingly, Tukur like Audu Ogbe and Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo resigned January, 2005 and 2011 respectively.
Announcing Bamanga Tukur’s resignation on Thursday at the 63rd National Executive Committee, NEC meeting of the party, President Goodluck Jonathan noted that he was stepping aside having paid his dues and agreed to resign for peace to return to the family of PDP. President Jonathan who declared that Tukur will be stepping aside as a personal sacrifice for the party to reinvent itself in the face of emerging challenges, said that his successor will come from the North East zone and will be someone acceptable to all stakeholders in the party and the person will emerge next week Monday when the party would hold another NEC meeting.
Hailing Tukur for making what he termed a very rare sacrifice, President Jonathan however reiterated that, for the avoidance of doubt, Tukur was not guilty of breach of the party’s constitution, but for his love for the party, adding that steps were being taken to reposition the party in view of the increasing tempo in political activities of the country ahead of the 2015 general election.
President Jonathan said, “On some of the issues that we have internally, because I wouldn’t want to waste too much of your time, myself and the Chairman would leave you and the Deputy Chairman will coordinate and the meeting will progress to discuss other things. Myself and the Chairman will go to State House for some issues that we need to discuss. We have some internal problems that have been agitating the minds of people and let us really thank the National Working Committee,NWC, led by Alhaji Bamanga Tukur.
“They have done very well; the Chairman of our party, we have all known, he didn’t just wake up to be Chairman of our party, he has paid his dues.He had held several offices and worked for this country and he has done very well. For us to make sure that we rest these issues, the party Chairman agreed to step aside.”
Now, the question with Tukur’s exit, is it yet Uhuru for PDP? Will the issue of getting a new Chairman on Monday put to rest all the problems? Will the person be acceptable? Will he finish his tenure as National Chairman? Will he learn from the mistakes of Tukur? Will the governors agree with the choice of Tukur’s replacement if not their candidate? Will the President allow the governors get a new Chairman for the party or will the governors allow Dame Patience Jonathan get for them Tukur’s successor?
“With Tukur stepping aside, will the governors and other members who defected to APC return as boasted by the President? President Jonathan had said on Thursday that “Members of this party are still loyal to this party. We have few defections which is normal. I don’t think there is something we should worry ourselves too much about.
As long as we continue to work together, as long as we do things the way we should do, PDP will continue and I believe and I am convinced that PDP will continue to be the number one party in this country.Even some of those who want to leave us or have left, from all indications, from all discussions, some of them will come back to the party.
All we need to do is to make sure that the party is more united.It is hoped that the governors, stakeholders, members of NWC, state chairmen, others will rally round themselves with Tukur’s exit.” Tukur has finally bowed to pressure and stepped aside but is it yet Uhuru for PDP? We watch as events unfold.