From TAIWO AMODU, Abuja
It was one week of rigorous trips across the geo-political zones of the country. Visits of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Working Committee (NWC) under the leadership of Alhaji Bamanga Tukur was aimed at creating a forum for aggrieved members of the party to ventilate their feelings and through the process build lasting peace in state chapters and the zones. Tukur’s admonition to party faithful to work as one team was in line with his reconciliation agenda as articulated in his 3Rs: reconciliation, re-building and reforming the party.
But the turn out at the zones he visited in his recent trouble shooting drive leaves a sour taste in the mouth. While former governors in the South-West zone boycotted the forum held in Ibadan, Oyo state capital, former President Olusegun Obasanjo was also absent. In the North-Central zone, none of the governors attended the event; at the North-West rally, Governors Sule Lamido, Rabiu Kwankwaso and Wammako, of Jigawa, Kano and Sokoto states respectively, were absent.
The message that there is no end in sight to the cold war between the PDP governors and the party national leadership was not lost on members as 21 governors boycotted the grand finale of the rally held last Sunday at the International Conference Centre, Abuja. Only Kogi State Governor, Idris Wada, and his Akwa Ibom counterpart, Godswill Akpabio, who is equally chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum were in attendance. Explanations offered by the embattled Bamanga Tukur and Godswill Akpabio were conflicting.
While Tukur told newsmen that the Abuja rally was not meant for governors since he met with them at the zonal rallies, Governor Akpabio told journalists that the governors got the invitation for the event very late. What went wrong with the reconciliation trips and for how long can the PDP NWC put up with the façade of a warm relationship with the governors? Reconciliation by confrontation Sunday Sun findings revealed that the governors are not comfortable with the leadership style of Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, which tends to alienate them from the administration of the party.
While he acknowledges the President as leader of the party at the national level, there have been steps and pronouncements at the national secretariat to undermine authority of the governors at state chapters. They are not bemused that while Alhaji Bamanga Tukur has been preaching reconciliation through dialogue, he has been permanently engaging in a war of attrition with his home state governor, Murtala Nyako, over control of the state chapter of the party.
Chairman of the party in Adamawa State, under the leadership of Alhaji Mijinyawa Kugama, believed to be loyal to Governor Nyako was removed last October and a nine-member caretaker committee was constituted by the party’s NWC to run affairs of the party in Adamawa State for three months. It took the intervention of PDP governors and the Presidency to ensure reinstatement of the Alhaji Kugama executive in Adamawa State. A committee put in place at the instance of President Goodluck Jonathan to come out with a position acceptable to both parties in Adamawa is yet to make its findings known.
Jigawa State Governor, Sule Lamido, is chairman of the committee. Mutual distrust in NWC Tukur was preparing for a meeting of the Board of Trustees ahead of the election that produced Chief Tony Anenih as chairman of the advisory organ of the party when his colleagues at the NWC announced reinstatement of the dissolved executive in Adamawa. A Sunday Sun source revealed that it was an action Tukur took as a betrayal and it culminated in the scheming and intrigues that led to removal of the national secretary of the party and former Osun State governor, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola.
“The man who presided at the meeting where the decision to recall Alhaji Kugama was taken and the media briefing that followed is the deputy national chairman of the party, Dr Sam Sam Jaja. Incidentally, Jaja is from Rivers State and was actually encouraged to seek the office by his state governor, Rotimi Amaechi, to displace President Jonathan’s candidate for the same position, Uche Secondus, former national organizing secretary of the party, who is also from Rivers State.”
The source further revealed that Prince Oyinlola, whose emergence as national scribe of the party was facilitated by the governors was also believed by Tukur loyalists to have emboldened his other colleagues to reinstate the dissolved executive in Adamawa behind Tukur. “Oyinlola’s argument had always been that since Governor Murtala Nyako had apologized to the PDP NWC when he was summoned, there was no need dissolving the state executive. That, in Oyinlola’s view, was an overkill meant to embarrass Nyako.”
Tukur versus Anenih Further findings revealed that even as Tukur’s reconciliation moves have been shunned by most of the governors, Tukur’s loyalists are horrified that the same governors are throwing their offices open to embrace the chairman of PDP BoT, Chief Tony Anenih, and the Tukur team are complaining in hushed tones. The Anenih team, which has former Senate President, Chief Ken Nnamani; secretary of the board, Senator Walid Jubrin; former governor of old Anambra State, Chief Jim Nwobodo; former deputy national chairman of the party, Chief Shuaib Oyedokun; Chief Ebenezer and few others as members, have met with Sule Lamido, Rabiu Kwankwaso, and Babangida Aliyu, governors of Jigawa, Kano and Niger states, respectively.
The governors in their private discussions are insisting on the removal of the national chairman of the party whom they allege has shut the door against discussions of crucial party issues by refusing to convene the national executive committee meeting of the party. The governors, however, dismissed as mere speculation media reports that they are planning to dump PDP. “They expressed their disappointment over the intransigence of the Tukur-led national executive to convene the executive committee meeting of the party in spite of the governors’ demand for it in a communiqué issued at the end of one of the meetings.
The governors further told Chief Anenih that they have no issue with President Jonathan but the man in the saddle at the party’s national secretariat. They were very open, and assured Chief Anenih that they were not going to leave the party.” No governor is after me –Tukur While it remains an open secret that he is presiding over a divided house, National Chairman of PDP, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, continues to assure party supporters that all is well between him and the PDP governors. At a session with newsmen on Wednesday in his residence, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur dismissed media reports of a sustained feud between him and the governors.
“I am 100% with my governors, all of them. They call me, all the governors; there is no place we went that the governors did not come out specifically to say they are supporting me. All the governors believe in me, they came out, even they came out to correct the stories written in the papers. We work very cordially. They are our commanders, mind you, the chairman heads PDP, but a governor is his own commander in the state.
The only thing the chairman and NWC do is to strengthen his followership to support the governor, so that in the next election we will still have the PDP winning. That is it. “So, there is no dissension, how can we have dissension anyway, PDP governors and PDP chairman? It does not make any sense, it doesn’t. “Are we competing for anything? No, we are complementing, there is no competition between the chairman and the governors and therefore, there is no element of truth in the stories at all,” Tukur said.