19 January 2014

Nigeria: Exclusive - Tukur's Last Days in Wadata Plaza

The Peoples Democratic Party needs to search for A new person that Can unite the party, to ensure that the party comes back on track. That is the ... ( Resource: PDP Crisis: Searching For Tukur's Replacement )

For 79-year-old Bamanga Tukur, his last days at Wadata Plaza headquarters of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) may be considered as the most tensed up in his life. Thinking that he was in the same boat as President Goodluck Jonathan in whatever is considered as the reform of the ruling party, his confidence was unshaken even when seven PDP governors insisted that part of the reforms in the PDP included his sack. But his confidence waned, and the tide actually turned against him when all the forces in the party, including the governors, National Working Committee (NWC) members, the Board of Trustees, and party elders provided no shoulder on which he could seek solace.

"I'm surprised that Tukur thought he could still remain the chairman of PDP," one of the elders told our reporters last week. "By now, he should have packed his personal effects from Wadata Plaza. He has done a great damage to our party."

One of the most embarrassing moments for the former chairman was the refusal of the NWC members to honour an emergency meeting he called to seek their support against his impending removal at the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting. Like one drowning and finding no buffer, he waited hopelessly for the executive members who never came. It would be the second NWC members who would dump him.

The first set of NWC members who disagreed with him was sacked, and a new set was elected in its place in August last year. Indeed, his last days in the PDP began on August 31, 2013. But losing some of its top chieftains to the opposition was not one of them. Apart from hosting its mini-national convention, the party also rolled out its drums to mark its 15 years anniversary. However, events of that day turned out to provide sad footnotes on the pages of the party's history under the leadership of the ousted national chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur. As the national chairman made his way to the podium to perform the ceremonial cutting of the anniversary cake, there was a dramatic twist at the Eagle Square, venue of the occasion. Seven of the PDP governors, accompanied by former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar dramatically walked out of the party's national convention and headed for the Shehu Yar'adua Centre where they announced the formation of a parallel structure that ultimately fused with the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC last November last year.

The above scenario is just one out of the many sinews of theatrical events that characterized the almost two year tenure of the embattled national chairman of the PDP, Bamanga Tukur, thereby leaving no oxygen in the air for the Adamawa born business mogul-cum politician to breath. The anti-climax of the unfolding drama was his eventual resignation during the last National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the party held in Abuja last Thursday.

The genesis. It all started on March 21, 2012 when the PDP held its North-East zonal congress in Bauchi. Although Bamanga was believed to have been President Jonathan's anointed and preferred candidate for the chairmanship seat, he suffered a major political setback, when he was defeated by his opponent, Musa Babayo. Despite being rejected at home, Tukur, emerged the new chairman of the ruling party after 10 rivals dramatically stepped down on the convention ground that took place on March, 24 2012.

The first seed of discord in the PDP under Bamanga was sown in October, 2012 when the National Working committee, NWC, dissolved the Adamawa State PDP executive committee led by Alhaji Umaru Kugama and replaced it with the Amb. Umar Damagun- led nine-member caretaker committee to oversee affairs of the party. This was the beginning of the crisis in the party. On January 8, 2013 ten members of the NWC distanced themselves from the actions of Bamanga Tukur's concerning the running of the party in his home state, Adamawa.

The crisis assumed a new dimension on February 24, 2013 when the PDP formed its own governors forum in Abuja with Akwa Ibom State governor, Godswill Akpabio emerged chairman; a development believed to have been informed by the need to reduce the influence of the Nigeria Governors Forum,NGF, headed by River State governor, Mr Rotimi Amaechi.

On May 23, 2013, the controversial Rivers State governor, Rotimi Amaechi, got re-elected as chairman of the Nigeria Governors' Forum (NGF) defeating president Jonathan backed Jonah Jang of Plateau State, by 19 votes to 16. Consequently, some PDP governors later converged at Akwa-Ibom Lodge and declared Jang as their chairman. In June Tukur survived the hammer as the National Executive Committee meeting named a 20 man team to fill the vacancies in its National Working Committee, NWC following the INEC report that had faulted the process adopted during the party's national convention that led to the emergence of certain members of the NWC.

Another major twist to the crisis was recorded in May last year when the NWC suspended Governor Amaechi of Rivers State. National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh who announced the suspension in a communiqué, said the decision was taken in furtherance of the determination of the leadership of the Party to enforce discipline at all levels. Similarly The PDP under Bamanga slammed the hammer of suspension on Sokoto State, Aliyu Magatakarda Wammakko. The decision was made at the 388th National Working Committee (NWC) meeting.

The unfolding drama in the theatre of the PDP got to a head on August 31 last year; exactly 15 years after its formal launch. On the fateful day the lingering crisis imploded at the special national convention when former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and seven governors broke away, formed a faction and named new national officers for it.

Perhaps the most turbulent period of the Bamanga was recorded in the last three months preceding the drama at the Eagle Square. Some of the events within the period under review are highlighted below:

On October 10, 2013, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) rejected Alhaji Kawu Baraje's request to be recognized as PDP chairman. Two days later the Ministry of the Federal Capital Territory sealed off the Adamawa State Governor's Lodge, Asokoro Abuja, which was serving as the temporary secretariat of the New PDP. On October 18, 2013, the Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja, affirmed Alhaji Bamanga Tukur as PDP chairman and restrained the New PDP from operating a parallel structure.

The move to woo the G-7 Governors commenced on October 29, 2013 in Sokoto when the APC leaders visited Governor Aliyu Wamakko. Leaders of the APC later visited Kano and Jigawa States to woo Governors Kwankwaso and Lamido. On November 1, the APC chieftains were in Adamawa State to lobby the governor, Murtala Nyako, to cross over to the party. Three days after, precisely on November 3, a meeting of the G7 governors at the Kano State Governor's Lodge in Asokoro, Abuja was disrupted by the DPO of Asokoro Division, Nnanna Amah, who claimed to be acting on orders from above.

On November 4, 2013, the G-7 governors visited former President Obasanjo to brief him on the developments. The following day the APC and its team were in Rivers to woo Governor Amaechi from where they moved to Niger State to invite Governor Babangida Aliyu. Same day, the Court of Appeal quashed the sack of Olagunsoye Oyinlola as PDP National Secretary.

In continuation of their consultation, the APC leaders were in Kwara State on November 7 to meet with Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed and on November 11, the NWC of PDP suspended National Chairman of New PDP Abubakar Kawu Baraje, its National Secretary Olagunsoye Oyinlola, Dr Sam Sam Jaja, and Ambassador Ibrahim Kazaure for anti-party activities.

On November 12, Oyinlola wrote the national leadership of the party and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), informing them of the judgment of the Court of Appeal that invalidated his sack from office. The leadership of the PDP also wrote INEC, informing it of the suspension of Oyinlola and three others.

November 26 saw five PDP governors, Rotimi Amaechi, Rivers, Rabiu Kwankwanso, Kano; Murtala Nyako, Adamawa; Aliyu Wamakko, Sokoto and Abdulfathah Ahmed, Kwara of the New PDP finally aligning with the APC. On December 4, ex- President Obasanjo advised the aggrieved governors, who visited him to beg and reconcile with President Jonathan. The governors also proceeded to Lagos, where they had private audience with Head of the defunct Interim National Government, Chief Ernest Shonekan and Lt Gen Theophilus Danjuma.

On December 11, former President Olusegun Obasanjo in a letter launched a frontal attack on President Jonathan, accusing him of sundry misdeeds, including the PDP crisis. President Jonathan replied Obasanjo's letter, saying that the former President deceitfully manipulated facts and figures to impugn his credibility. He vowed that he would not for any reason mortgage a bright future for the country. He accused the former President of instigating the PDP crisis.

On January 10, 2014, Obasanjo wrote another letter, this time addressed to the chairman of the ruling PDP, in which he said he would temporarily cease to be a member of the party by withdrawing from its activities at the local, state and federal levels.

On January 10, 2014 Tukur pleaded with former President Obasanjo not to leave the party. Tukur, and President Jonathan met again three days later over attempt to force him to resign before the PDP National Executive Council meeting. The embattled national chairman vowed to stay in office, insisting that only the national convention can remove him from office.

The move for the removal of Tukur, intensified on January 14 as the 36 state chairmen of the party and their counterpart in the Federal Capital Territory FCT, rose from a meeting in Abuja and passed a vote of no confidence on him. They also demanded Tukur's resignation.

Following mounting pressure from embittered members of the party caucus, especially state governors, over the role he played in the crisis plaguing the party, the embattled chairman eventually caved in last Thursday during the party's NEC meeting after spending nearly, two years which were characterized by crisis and confusion.

The last days: The last days of Bamanga Tukur in office as national chairman of the PDP were characterized by intense lobbying to prevent his ouster especially ahead of the last NEC meeting of the party where there were reported plans to disgrace him out of office through a vote of no confidence. Apparently conscious of the impending danger, Bamanga effortlessly lobbied state chairmen of the party to save his job. He also put up a bold face when he tacitly threatened court action against his removal when he stated in a terse statement that no one, President Jonathan inclusive, could remove him as chairman but the national convention of the party that brought him on board.

In spite of the lobbying, the D-day finally came as President Goodluck Jonathan painstakingly announced Bamanga's resignation during the last NEC meeting. Like many other who had come before him, the curtains at Wadata Plaza were eventually drawn against Bamanga Tukur who was described by Governor Sule Lamido of Jigawa State as 'a virus' in the ruling PDP.

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