TUKUR AT 78: The life of an embattled PDP National Chairman
This is the story of how the National Chairman of People's Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, who operates from the Wadata Plaza, Wuse Zone 5, carry out his activities daily, with a cursory look at his actions after the August 31 Special National Convention of the party where the former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, who hails from the state with him, stormed out alongside six governors and later formed a 'New PDP'.
Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, who hails from Adamawa State, North-east, was born on September, 15, 1935. He was governor of old Gongola State between October 1983 and December 1983. He also served as Minister for Industries and Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA before his election as PDP National Chairman, March 24, 2012.
Tukur, Tafidan Adamawa, was also the Executive President of the African Business Roundtable and Chairman of the NEPAD Business Group.
Before the March 24, 2012 PDP National Convention where he emerged for the plum office, zoned to the North-east, there were aspirants like Professor Rufai Alkali; the former Acting National Secretary, Dr. Musa Babayo; Gambo Lawan; Ibrahim Shehu Birma; former Bauchi State governor, Adamu Muazu; among others, who came out very strongly, but were forced to step down.
Since he became the National Chairman, however, it has not been rosy for Tukur, especially with the stiff opposition he faced from the governors, some stakeholders and leaders of the party to the National Working Committee (NWC), led by him.
PDP Chairman, Bamanga Tukur
Amid the opposition came the report of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, which picked holes in the PDP 2012 Convention, alleging faults in the emergence of the NWC members but cleared him, the National Financial Secretary, Elder Bolaji Anani, the then National Secretary, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, and the then National Auditor, Bode Mustapha. The INEC report forced all the NWC members except Tukur and two other members, Anani and Mustapha, to resign. Oyinlola had earlier been kicked out following a court order which sacked him.
But the opposition against Tukur was not totally unexpected. As one of the founding fathers of the PDP, his mission has been to rescue the party, to return it to the people by allowing them to be part and parcel of decision making of the party. When he became the National Chairman,Tukur had vowed to turn around the ruling party through a 12-point agenda of action which he submitted to the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the PDP.
He promised that the agenda for transforming the PDP and Nigeria would be operated religiously with stakeholders playing major roles, such that the effect of the agenda would be felt across Nigeria, Africa and the rest of the world within a 12-month calendar period.
The Tafidan Adamawa, who noted that the era of party supremacy was back, however, stressed that all elected members of the PDP would be uphold the programmes and manifestoes of the party in national interest.
The agenda, according to the PDP Chairman, would rest on Triple-R, Triple-E and Triple-D and this would offer a road map in solving the nation's problems including terrorism, energy crisis, insecurity and corruption, adding that the Triple-R agenda would start with a genuine reconciliation process for members to embrace the party and its programmes while aggrieved members would be made to have a sense of belonging. The reformation of the PDP and a process of total rebuilding based on equity and justice would also hold paramount in the overall agenda, even as he said that the programme on Triple-D agenda would center on Defence, Diplomacy and Dialogue. He added that the ground work he had made on the agenda had convinced him that the endemic challenges of insecurity and scanty foreign investments in Nigeria would soon become a thing of the past.
However, midway into the August 31 Special National Convention, Tukur got a rude shock at the convention ground as the PDP split into two with former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and six northern governors staging a walk out to later address a press conference on the formation of a 'New PDP' while a former acting National Chairman of the party, Alhaji Kawu Baraje, was named the National Chairman, Dr Sam Sam Jaja, the Deputy National Chairman, and Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, the National Secretary.
Atiku and the governors were at the venue of the convention until 2.45 pm that Saturday when the names of candidates to be voted for were read and it was discovered that the name of the immediate past Deputy National Chairman, Jaja, had been removed, leaving only the former National Organising Secretary, Prince Uche Secondus, as the sole candidate for the office of Deputy National Chairman.
The governors in the 'New PDP' are Sule Lamido of Jigawa; Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara; Aliyu Babangida of Niger; Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko of Sokoto; Musa Rabiu Kwankwaso of Kano; and Murtala Nyako of Adamawa. Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State, under suspension from the PDP, immediately joined the 'New PDP'.
Others in the 'New PDP' are deputy governors of Sokoto, Murktar Shagari; Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of Kano; Ahmed Musa Ibeto of Niger state; former governor of Kwara State, Senator Shaaba Lafiagi; former governor of Nasarawa state, Senator Abdullahi Adamu; Senator Magnus Abe; chairman, House Committee on finance, Honourable Abdumumini Jibrin; Honourable Farouk Lawan, and many other members of the National Assembly, among others.
Since the split in the 'PDP family', there have been moves by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, former Military President Ibrahim Babangida, ex PDP National Chairmen Ahmadu Ali and Senator Barnabas Gemade, as well as other elders of the party to reconcile the warring factions.
Meanwhile, Tukur, 78, seems to be weathering the storm. He still resumes at Wadata Plaza between 10 and 11am everyday except when he is out of town like on Wednesday when he had to travel to Calabar, Cross River State. But there are also some days that he drives to Wadata plaza around 9am especially when high profile visitors come around. On such days, people know as his convoy races in from Sky Memorial Shopping complex with heavily armed policemen accompanying him and, once he drops from the car, he goes to his office on the third floor. The moment Tukur enters his office, he will ask his police men to leave while his Principal Secretary, George Korgba, briefs him.
Other aides will take their turns to brief him.
Thereafter, he attends to visitors. Members of the PDP NWC have assess to Tukur's office any time. Then, there are some powerful Nigerians that he must call and they include President Goodluck Jonathan, Vice President Namadi Sambo and a close friend, Professor Emeka Enejere.
He does not eat in the office.
Tukur is said to be settling down to work with his new deputy, Secondus; the National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh; National Woman Leader, Mrs Kema Chikwe; National Youth Leader, Abdullahi Maibasira; Deputy National Secretary, Onwe Solomon Onwe, among others.
To keep the Wadata Plaza busy, there have been solidarity visits. Conference of PDP State Chairmen from the thirty-six states and the Federal Capital Territory, on Monday, were on hand to endorse President Goodluck Jonathan for the 2015 presidential election during one of such solidarity visits, citing his transformation agenda as reason for that, just as they also passed a vote of confidence on Tukur.
According to the Chairmen, members of the party must remain steadfast as there was no reason to panic against the backdrop that ' the transformation programme of the PDP-led administration will surely take us to 2015 and beyond.'
Responding, Tukur, who noted that the challenges confronting the PDP were not beyond solution, said that nobody wants to invest without profit, adding, 'Whatever disagreement that may show up in the party is not beyond resolution. If we bring a proposal and the majority believes that proposal should be shelved, amended or discarded, so be it'.
Thanking the state PDP Chairmen for ensuring that the principle of internal democracy was upheld in the state chapters, he urged them to always ensure consensus in their states, even as the National Chairman said that it was critical to guarantee the delivery of true democracy dividends to the people and the relevance of the party at all times.
Tukur, who maintained that the PDP was the only party that could guarantee the unity of the country, said that the party believes in freedom of expression irrespective of whatever situation it may find itself, adding, 'It does not really matter, democracy to me, means that the majority will have their way but the minority will have their say.
'We believe that every member of the party has the right to express himself. Majority will have their way while the minority will have their say. We have the hope to lead our people in the comity of nations. Nigerians accept our party as their own party. Our difficulties are not beyond solutions. Whatever the disagreements, they are not beyond resolutions.
'We are the managers of the party and you are our field commanders…People like us are at our departure lounge and we must pay back to our nation. My prayer is that all of you should do better than me, your father. Only PDP can guarantee the unity of Nigeria today, integration of Africa. I agree that I'm an analogue man and you are digital, but you must be an analogue man first before you move to digital. Nobody wants to invest without profit. You must all do better than me.'
But the mood of some visitors to the National Chairman 's office is sometimes aggressive. A good example is that of the delegation from Kano which stormed the Wadata Plaza on Tuesday, demanding action against Governor Kwankwaso and the sack of the State Working Commttee, SWC.
The Tukur leadership is said to be disposed to granting their request as it is believed to have concluded arrangements to put in place a Caretaker Committee for the Kano PDP.
At the Wadata Plaza, the staff are, in the meantime, believed to be concerned about the crisis rocking the party, especially how it will end, as well as issues of welfare and monetization.
Tukur is embattled as he celebrates his 78th birthday, today.