From TAIWO AMODU, Abuja
Wadata Plaza, the national secretariat of the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party, [PDP] was a beehive of activities in 2012: it would remain an eventful year, albeit, with certain misadventures by the party that prides itself as the largest political party in Africa. From its electoral victory in the governorship election held last February in Bayelsa and the defeat it suffered in quick succession in Edo and Ondo states; the arraignment of sons of its former national chairman, Dr Ahmadu Ali and incumbent chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, for alleged subsidy scam, to the battle for control of its Board of Trustees, between former president Olusegun Obasanjo and his estranged political son, President Goodluck Jonathan, the PDP sustained its profile in the media. The Beginning: The year started on an exciting note for the party as its candidate for the February 12, 2012 governorship election in Bayelsa State, Henry Seriake Dickson won the election.
Dickson polled 417,500 votes to defeat the Change Advocacy Party candidate, Dr. Imoru Kubor, who came a distant second with 22,534 votes. March 24, 2012, a new PDP National Working Committee came on board to direct the affairs of the party as Alhaji Bamanga Tukur and Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, former old Gongola State governor and former Osun state governor respectively, emerged as national chairman and secretary of the party. In a phony democratic arrangement called consensus, other ten main rivals for the office of national chairman, were forced to step down as over 3,500 delegates from 36 states of the federation and Abuja, affirmed Tukur and Oyinlola as national chairman and secretary, respectively by ‘voting’, ‘yes or no. Ironically, Tukur had earlier lost at the North-east zonal congress in Bauchi state, where north-east governors picked Dr Musa Babayo as candidate for the position. Babayo, acting national secretary of the party, from Bauchi State garnered 14 votes, as against Tukur’s 2 votes. Tukur’s 3Rs: Once he came on board, the national chairman of the party unveiled his 3Rs’ agenda: Reconciliation, Rebuilding and Reforming, aimed at ensuring entrenchment of internal democracy and justice in the party.
To this end, a committee of 50 wise men was also constituted on May 30, 2012 by Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, with former vice-president and former chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees, Dr Alex Ekwueme as the chairman and Dr Mohammed Shata as secretary.
Tukur, at the inauguration, justified the composition of the Committee. ‘’At a time like this, when the country is facing a number of challenges, we require all hands to be on deck. With our governments at Federal, States and Local Government levels, the party must tap from the fountains of knowledge of its leaders to assist in finding lasting solutions to our national problems.
“We as members of the party must not be seen to be lamenting on issues but must be seen to be participating actively in finding solutions to these problems, hence my decision to bring all of you to assist us in not only repositioning our party but also proffer solutions to these enormous challenges facing our nation. I am optimistic that with the caliber of people before me today, we are almost there. The party will continue to leave its doors open for quality opinions especially from people of your standing.’’
But the same man who has been sermonizing on ‘’reconciliation, without confrontation,’’ has been engaged in a war of attrition for the control of the party structure in his home state of Adamawa with the Adamawa State governor, Murtala Nyako. On October 17, 2012, the PDP NWC after its meeting announced the dissolution of the Adamawa state executive of the party under the leadership of Alhaji Mijinyawa Kugama. It immediately constituted a nine member caretaker committee, with Ambassador Umar Damagun and Honourable Emmanuel Tsamdu, as chairman and secretary, respectively.
The caretaker committee has the mandate to run the state chapter of the party for three months. July 26, 2012:PDP disowns Tukur’s son Following incessant inquisition from the media, the PDP NWC distanced itself from the alleged financial sleaze, committed by the sons of two of its prominent leaders: National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur and his predecessor, Dr. Ahmadu Ali, in the subsidy scam. Tukur and Ali alongside others were arraigned in a Lagos court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, [EFCC] for a nine-count charge of conspiracy, obtaining money by false pretence, forgery and use of false documents.
EFCC prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs, alleged that they had between January and April 2011 in Lagos, fraudulently obtained the sum of N1.8 billion from the Federal Government. He alleged that the accused persons obtained the money from the Petroleum Support Fund (PSF) for a purported importation of 80.3 million liters of Premium Motor Spirit. The accused persons were also alleged to have forged a Bill of Lading dated April 28, 2011, which they used in facilitating the fraud. Jacobs said their alleged offences contravened Sections 1(3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act of 2006.
But explaining the party’s position on the issue, deputy national chairman of the party, Dr, Sam-Sam Jaja, cautioned newsmen not to link any member of the party’s national leadership with the alleged financial malfeasance.
He said: “On the issue of some PDP members being involved in oil subsidy, these are individuals; everybody bears his own cross. There were governors who are now facing prosecution as a result of their actions and inactions; so it’s not a party thing. PDP did not send anybody to go and misbehave. “Even if you mention my Chairman’s son, he is up to age. Assuming he is to go to jail, they will not come and jail the National Chairman because he did not send him. He is a man of age and he has household; he has his family; everybody accounts for his own position. And, of course it has to be mentioned, until they are proven guilty, they still remain innocent. “The party cannot just get out and breathe down on them and begin to condemn them.
They will be given equal opportunity to defend themselves in competent court of law. Until they are found guilty, then the party will come out and take a position. But for now for the party now to begin to condemn them is absolutely premature and prejudice,” he submitted. Anenih, PDP suffer defeat: In what was viewed as a make or mar electoral contest for PDP in Edo state, the ACN governorship candidate in the July 14 election in Edo state, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, gave Dr Tony Anenih, the PDP kingmaker in the state, the man with the sobriquet, ‘Mr. Fix It,’ a bloodied nose, as the Edo electorate returned the former as state governor.
The Returning Officer, Prof Osayuki Oshodi, who officially announced the result of the election at INEC headquarter in Benin said that Oshiomhole scored 477,478 votes to defeat five other candidates in the election. Oshodi said Major -General Charles Airhiavbere of the Peoples’ Democratic Party scored 144, 235 votes, while Chief Solomon Edebiri of All Nigeria Peoples Party scored 3,642 votes to come third. The ACN candidate won in the 18 local government areas of the state and satisfied the requirements of the law to be declared winner of the contest.
Even as it assured its supporters that it would regain lost grounds, the PDP again suffered another defeat, on October 20, as it lost Ondo governorship election to the incumbent governor and Labour Party candidate, Dr Olusegun Mimmiko who won overwhelmingly to retain his seat. According to figures declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission’s Chief Returning Officer for the election and Vice-Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Prof. Biyi Daramola, Mimiko scored a total of 260, 199 votes and beat 12 other contestants to clinch a second term.
He was followed by Mr. Olusola Oke of the Peoples Democratic Party, with 155,961 votes; and Mr. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of the Action Congress of Nigeria, with 143,512 votes. As PDP faithful expressed discomfort over these electoral misfortunes in Edo and Ondo State, national organizing secretary of the party, Alhaji Abubakar Mustapha told newsmen that it was nothing to worry about. Mustapha argued that having pockets of states under opposition parties would help to strengthen democracy.
Hear him: ‘’Let me quickly say that it is autocratic for any government to believe it will have one hundred percent success in any given election and viable opposition is welcomed, to provide check and balances to our government, because we believe nobody has monopoly of wisdom.’’ October 17, 2012: ‘PDP carpets Mark, Tambuwal’: At a joint session of the National Assembly on 2013 Budget presentation, Senator David Mark and Honourable Aminu Tambuwal, Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives, respectively had made some remarks.
The Senate President in his speech had said the National Assembly was not a rubber stamp parliament in the hands of the Executive. The Honourable Speaker while presenting vote of thanks had made some observations which he noted were infractions on the part of the Presidency in budget implementation and execution. Among such infractions according to the Speaker of the House of Representatives was what he viewed as poor releases of funds and poor utilization of such funds by agents of the federal government.
While the comments of Mark and Tambuwal courted applause for them on the floor of the House and public acclamation from Nigerians, it infuriated the Alhaji Bamanga Tukur led national leadership of the party as it viewed the comments as an insult on Dr Goodluck Jonathan, the party’s national leader, and an affront on the PDP.
Addressing journalists on October 17, 2012 at the end of its emergency NWC, national publicity secretary of the party, Barrister Olisa Metuh read a riot’s act to Senate President David Mark; Speaker, House of Representatives, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal and other elected officers on the platform of the party to guard against their utterances. Metuh’s words: “The NWC exhaustively discussed and frowned at the disagreeable trend where members of the party elected and appointed into federal positions engage in utterances and actions that portray the PDP in bad light and as having no unity of purpose.
“We wish to emphasize that our manifesto as well as our constitution are abundantly clear on the need for all party members, especially the elected representatives of the people, to be on the same page at all times to ease the realisation of our policies and programmes for the benefit of the people. “We, therefore, warn that the party will invoke the full weight of its disciplinary measures on any elected or appointed members, who engage in any act that will bring the party to disrepute.
It is an offence under the constitution of the party. The NWC will no longer tolerate any act of indiscipline at any level.” December 15: ‘I won’t keep quiet- Obj’ The trouble shooting mission of the PDP NWC to the residence of the former president and the immediate past chairman of the party Board of Trustees, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was quite revealing. Obasanjo’s vow to continue to criticize President Goodluck Jonathan was quite instructive: that the combatants in the party were not tired of fighting.
It also gave the nation an inkling of what to expect in 2013 and beyond and in total disregard of the so called party supremacy, the former president told Alhaji Bamanga Tukur to his face that he, (Obasanjo) would continue to squeal in the public against perceived inadequacies of the PDP leadership and the Dr Jonathan led federal government.
“If there is anything that requires my comment, position or views, I will say it. It is only if you kill me. It is my passion, patriotism and love that will continue to make me state my views. If I see something inimical to the party’s growth, I will talk. “And also to disabuse the minds of rumour mongers, the President is my President. Without Nigeria, there will be no party. Even when I was in prison, I was not quiet. Those who want me and the chairman to quarrel; this visit will keep them quiet. But my mouth will not be quiet,’’ the former president had declared.