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Tukur must stay - Jonathan

By The Citizen
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Last minute high-level pressure to oust Alhaji Bamanga Tukur as National Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP today was last night rebuffed by the Presidency which observers said last night, was turning the battle into an ego tussle.

The pressure to remove Tukur at today's National Executive Committee, NEC meeting of the party was being mounted by vested party interests including governors and the powerful caucus of state chairmen.

Alhaji Bamanga Tukur  and President Goodluck Jonathan

Alhaji Bamanga Tukur and President Goodluck Jonathan

President Goodluck Jonathan according to sources insisted on retaining Tukur with a source saying: 'Is it every battle that the President must lose? He lost the battle to make Jonah Jang chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, so must he also lose this one?'

At press time last night there were high level meetings in Abuja by major stakeholders including the influential caucus of state chairmen where most of them said   Tukur has to go.

Besides, state governors including those identified as pro-presidency were also said to be canvassing that Tukur  join other eight national officers that have decided to resign in accordance with the report of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.

The efforts against Tukur were despite recruitment by the Tukur camp of high level stakeholders to project the sustenance of the Tukur regime. Erstwhile Federal Commissioner for Information, Chief Edwin Clark was one of the high profile party men that came out yesterday to back Tukur. Clark in a statement alleged that the move against Tukur was another ploy by those against President Goodluck Jonathan, even as he asserted that the man had done no wrong.

Besides, a group sympathetic to Tukur, last night, said that removing Tukur would be contemptuous of the judiciary which it warned has ordered otherwise.

Their positions notwithstanding, party insiders confided last night that the party was already making preparations for a Convention Planning Committee, CPC, which would take over the running of the party in the short period before the organization of a mini-convention to elect a new set of national officers for the party. The inclination towards a CPC follows the rejection of a caretaker committee by party apparatchik on the grounds that it could lead to another round of legal disputes.

align="left">Tukur storms PDP secretariat

Meanwhile, Tukur, in a show of physical wellness showed up at the PDP national secretariat, yesterday, countering the increasing mutterings ofparty stakeholders that he is too old to run the party. He, however, did not talk to waiting reporters as he moved straight to his office.

Ahead of the meeting of state chairmen, an influential state chairman disclosed that the exit of Tukur has become the only solution to the endless crises in the party.

'The situation we have now is like a mad man being given a dagger and willing to kill himself and others,' the influential party official said.

Another senior party official from the South-East also speaking on the condition of anonymity, lamented the erosion of party unity and the continued crises in the party since the advent of the Tukur regime.

Indicative of the pressure against Tukur, one member of the influential G-84 in the NEC told Vanguard, last night, that retaining the national chairman would be unrealistic after a presidential committee comprising the Secretary to the Government of the Federation; the President's Chief of Staff among others, recommended his exit so the party can have peace.

'How can he be saying that the president wants him when the SGF, the Chief of Staff and several others working for the President submitted that Tukur's exit was the only solution for the restoration of peace?' the official quipped.

Another position being canvassed by state officials of the party was Tukur's failure to visit state chapters since his advent.

'This is not a party you run from Abuja or your house. You have to go round and so far maybe because of his age, he has largely failed to do so,' one state chairman quipped yesterday ahead of their meeting.

Besides, there were indications that the party governors who have lately been divided over the choice of a chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, NGF could be united in pushing for the ouster of Tukur today.

A source said that the issue has united the governors of the party who could today mend fences to push Tukur out. A senior aide of one of the pro-Jonathan governors speaking on the condition of anonymity said: 'It is the consensus of the governors that he has to go for the party to move forward.'

align="left">Metuh resigns, backs Tukur
Support for Tukur was, however, not totally absent. The outgoing National Publicity Secretary of the party, Chief Olisa Metuh who submitted his resignation letter yesterday, said Tukur should not go given that his election as National Chairman was not faulted by the INEC report.

Answering questions from journalists yesterday at the PDP National Secretariat, Metuh said: 'The National Chairman is not going to resign; he is not only in office but in power. There is no controversy about his election, he is not in court. The INEC report did not say his election was flawed. He complied with the constitution of the party and the guidelines of the 2012 convention.'

On his resignation, he said: 'I want to inform you that I am resigning as the National Publicity Secretary with effect from Thursday 20th June 2013. This resignation is in the overall interest of the party and is being done to put a final stop to the controversies generated by the INEC report on the mode of my election as National Publicity Secretary.

'I have served this party as a member of National Executive Committee for over 10 years and therefore my interest is to ensure that this party stabilizes and progresses. I have written and submitted my letter; I am resigning with effect from Thursday 20th June 2013'.

Metuh who hailed President Jonathan, Tukur, state governors, members of the National Assembly, leaders of the party from the South-East and PDP elders that assisted him during his tenure, said: 'I have noted that the PDP is the only party that can safeguard democracy in Nigeria, in whatever capacity I may find myself, I will always vote and support the PDP.'

Also insisting that Tukur should not go, Chief Clark in a statement made available to newsmen yesterday said:

align="left">Tukur must stay - Clark

'I have observed from the print and electronic media the many discordant, unwarranted or cacophony of calls from some party members including some governors who have conspired with the opposition to cause confusion in the Goodluck Jonathan administration to destabilize and undermine the government of President Jonathan and the Peoples Democratic Party, hence the unwarranted call on Alhaji Bamanga Tukur to resign his position.

'Under the party constitution and from the Report of INEC, Alhaji  Bamanga Tukur and five other officers of the National Working Committee (NWC) were lawfully and properly elected in the last convention of the party, while six or eight other officers were alleged not to have been properly elected on the grounds that the guidelines provided by the party were not followed. Is it an offence of the National Chairman who was not in office that the guidelines were not followed? What is therefore required, is for a mini-convention to be held by its NEC meeting on Thursday June 20, 2013.

'Or is it not more reasonable for the objectors to call for a mini-convention after the NEC meeting of Thursday, June 20, 2013 to correct the issues raised by INEC.

'It is most disturbing that the party machinery is being manipulated by disloyal party members in collaboration with the opposition for no valid cause simply because they are nominated members of the National Working Committee and are either being removed by court action or party  disciplinary process.

'It would be recalled, that the Court of Appeal recently affirmed the removal of the Secretary and the Auditor of the party.

'It is therefore, very unfair, unjustified for the constant harassment of the National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur by those who believe that without them there is no PDP as a party using the media for negative publicity such as 'no governor attended the chairman's party'.  The ugly truth is that today, the PDP as a political party is no longer in control of its various organs,' Clark submitted.

align="left">He must go - Stakeholders

His assertions notwithstanding, a group canvassing the ouster of Tukur known as PDP Stakeholders Forum addressed the press yesterday, insisting that the national chairman was ab initio not qualified to lead the party having been expelled in 2001.

Speaking through its National Coordinator, Ikenga Ugochinyere, the group said: 'Bamanga Tukur is ab-initio not a bonafide member of the PDP that is capable of being elected into the office he currently occupies. Alhaji Bamanga Tukur was expelled by the National Executive Committee of the party after being indicted for 'high level anti-party activities' alongside five others including Chief Edwin Ume-Ezeoke on May 31, 2001.

'The expulsion of Alhaji Bamanga Tukur and five others in 2001 by the PDP passed through the due process of law as enshrined in the party's constitution and still subsists as same has never been contested, challenged or set aside.

'Article 17(2)(g) of the PDP constitution 2009, now Section 49(4) of PDP constitution 2012(as amended) provides as follows: 'No member of the party shall be qualified for nomination or election into any offices of the party unless he has been a registered member for not less than two years and is of good financial standing in the party, except there is a waiver by the appropriate Executive Committee.'

He continued: 'Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, at the point of his nomination for election as National Chairman was never a registered member of not less than two years since his expulsion from the party in 2001, which expulsion has not been lifted by the PDP or set aside by a court of law.

'Alhaji Bamanga Tukur did not apply for, nor obtain the requisite waiver by the National Executive Committee of the party before offering himself for election into the office of National Chairman of PDP in 2012.

'Further, Article 10(b) iii of the PDP constitution 2009 now Section 8(17) of PDP Constitution (as amended) provides thus:

'Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, since his purported 'return', has refused and or failed to follow the above clearly-spelt out constitutional procedure since his expulsion from the party as Adamawa PDP has not written to the NWC, neither has there been any PDP NEC meeting that met to consider his re-admission since 2001.

'The legal effect of the foregoing is that, with an utterly flawed and incurably defective membership, the nomination, subsequent election and continued stay in office of Alhaji Bamanga Tukur as chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party is fraudulent, illegal and unconstitutional.

'That the performance of the National Chairman has brought so much disunity, cluelessness and lack of direction for the party. The illegality and abuse of office by the National Chairman is endless (Removal of officers of the party without following due process, illegal appointments, refusal to hold statutorily meetings etc)'

The group was also supported by the Mass Mobilisation for Transformation, MMT, led by Comrade Joe Ambakaderimo. The MMT said the recommendation for Tukur's exit by the presidential committee was long over due, saying the sack vindicates the group's long demand for Tukur's exit for peace to return to the party.

align="left">NEC plans CPC
Meanwhile, Vanguard gathered last night that today's NEC may end up constituting a Convention Planning Committee, CPC to organise the mini-convention.

A source told Vanguard yesterday that the Convention Planning Committee which would be chaired by the former Minister of Information, Professor Jerry Gana, has members  drawn from the Board of Trustees, BoT, State, Zonal, and National Assembly. Deputy National Officers who were not affected in the INEC report would also be used to help run the party, pending when a date will be fixed for the mini-convention.

A source told Vanguard that the party was changing its plans on Caretaker Committee because there was no constitutional provision for that.

Meanwhile, a group under the aegis, Movement for Change and Empowerment in the Peoples Democratic Party (MCE - PDP), yesterday warned that attempts to sack Tukur using the INEC report would not be realistic.

In a statement by its National Coordinator, Mr. Kola Dakova-Vaughan, the group noted that no matter how well the move may be hatched, it would be sub judice and ultra vires, against the backdrop that the matter was already pending before the Federal High Court in Abuja.