By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
There is a self-confidence that radiates around Bamanga Tukur that has repeatedly caused people to call upon him at crucial times in the nation’s history.
When, in the mid-1970s, a traffic snarl at adjourning areas of the seaports in Lagos caused congestion therein, Tukur was called upon to manage the nation’s ports.
Four decades later – and then well into his 80s – when President Goodluck Jonathan needed a man to clear the cogs in the wheels of the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Tukur was also the one called upon to clear the mess.
In between his public service as General Manager of the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, and his appointment as chairman of the PDP in 2012, Tukur can be credited with a string of laurels that fittingly positioned him among the most outstanding personalities of his generation.
As general manager of the NPA, Tukur helped to permanently clear the congestion in the ports with the construction of new modern ports around the coastal regions including the Tin-Can Island Port Complex.
By 1982, he had acquitted himself at the ports and successfully navigated himself into the political arena. The following year, he emerged the candidate of the National Party of Nigeria, NPN, in the then Gongola State governorship election and easily won the main election.
Tukur’s inauguration as governor on October 1, 1983, exposed to the world his capacity to draw men and women from far and wide to achieve his mission. As governor, one of the first things he did was to appoint Dr. Raymond Dokpesi from the then Bendel State as his chief of staff. He also disregarded mutterings from some quarters to appoint a medical doctor from Benue State as the commissioner for health.
After his governorship tenure was terminated by the military coup of December 1983, Tukur returned to the private sector, amassing the fortune that was to position him as a major player in the political evolutions of the Third and Fourth Republics that followed.
His business empire, built around the DADDO Group of Companies, included but may not have been limited to subsidiaries in maritime, commodities, agriculture, gas, shipping and logistics.
He was one of those experienced persons called upon to stabilise the Sani Abacha regime and served as Minister of Industry between 1993 and 1995.
Tukur’s business acumen has been recognised far and near, and it is no surprise that he is the recipient of several national and international recognitions.
As president of the African Round Table, he helped frame a linkage between private sector participants in the continent, helping to boost disparate economies on the continent.
For his efforts in boosting the business environment on the continent, he was awarded the national honour of Commander of the Order of the Niger, CON.
Having helped in consolidating the private sector in the continent, it was not totally surprising that when President Goodluck Jonathan needed a man to help clear the contagion of indiscipline that was sweeping through the PDP in 2012, he tapped Tukur for the job.
The move was surprisingly not resisted by entrenched interests in the party. However, for a man who had the reputation of clearing the cement armada, it was a job he took with quiet assurance. Tukur was to conceive one of the most far-reaching reforms ever thought of in the life of the PDP when he moved with confidence to take the party away from the hands of the governors. The move, through the e-registration scheme for members, and other measures, aimed at removing the party from the apron-strings of the governors, was fiercely resisted by the latter group. But Tukur was unwavering. His principled fight on the issue of party supremacy over the governors, was to lead to the fracture that many believe led to the party’s loss of cohesion which was to be responsible for its loss in the 2015 general election.
What Tukur saw with his old eyes, other leaders of the party were too myopic to see, including, unfortunately, Jonathan who eased relieved Tukur of the chairmanship of the party.
Well into his eighties, Tukur had lived so much on his principles that it was too late to bend and compromise on ideals. The ideals had pushed him through various successes in life and positioned him on a pedestal of global recognition.
For his contributions over the years in public service, for his unwavering political principles and his pursuit of private enterprise, Dr. Bamanga Tukur, CON, the Tafidan Adamawa, gets Vanguard’s Lifetime Achievers’ Award.