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PDP CHAIRMANSHIP: NORTH BACKS TUKUR, AS ATIKU WALKS TIGHTROPE

By NBF News

Bamanga Tukur
As the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, gears up for its National Conventon on March 24, support for the chairmanship ambition of septuagenarian politician, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, has enlarged as more northern power blocs have thrown their weight behind him.

Tukur is the perceived choice of the presidency and the presidential support for him has drawn some flaks from governors. While the South-south and South-east governors are believed to be in tandem with Tukur, being the apparent choice of the presidency, governors from the North are divided on two broad flanks.

While the first group, broadly referred to as 'orthodox', would not want to rock the boat and are ready to throw their hats behind Jonathan, the second group, known loosely as 'core interests,' who somehow believe that the North has been marginalised in the last few years are opting out for a chairman that will protect the North's interests and do it's bidding in 2015. The governors in the current constitution control most of the delegates and are central to the emergence of members of the National Executive Committee, NEC, of the party.

Some of the governors believed to be in the latter group include a governor in the North Central Zone and two in the North-west. One of the governor's election is a subject of an impending re-run.

Efforts are already underway to get them key into the presidential choice. There is, however, a convergence of interests between the presidency and the northern political elite in Tukur. He is the favourite of leading PDP leaders mostly from the North-west, who are already advancing into political menopause and have yearned to have one of their own in power at the topmost rung of the party or government. They include Alhaji Adamu Ciroma, and Alhaji Uba Ahmed.

The ongoing configuration leaves former vice president Atiku Abubakar in the cold over his interest to run in the 2015 presidential election.

Atiku and Tukur come from the same state of Adamawa, and the calculation to zero in on Tukur according to our source is to 'zone him and others considered as threats out, should President Jonathan decide to run in 2015.'

But Atiku's spokesman, Shehu Garba disagrees. He told Daily Sun, that the principle of zoning was between the North and South and not on other mundane considerations.

He explained: 'Zoning is between the North and South. Before our very eyes in this country, it was observed rather in the breach. The president and the chairman of the party emerged from the South-the same place. Turaki is not putting his hand on any candidate. Whoever emerges as the chairman, he will work with him.'

Daily Sun investigation showed that the presidency in the last 10 conventions of the party had the upper hand in the emergence of the chairman.

According to our source, 'most disagreements over the presidency's choice(s) usually peel off just before the convention. This one will not be different. The few discordant tunes from a few groups, governors and other power blocs will be resolved before the convention. If Jonathan remains adamant on his choice, it is not likely that the governors will oppose him. Most of the governors opposed to his choice are second term governors and have nothing to lose.'

Already, pockets of opposition to his choice in the North are uncoordinated and seemingly in disarray. The few that are still hell bent lack the financial means 'to play the PDP game.'

The young turks in their midst who have the valve to oil the opposition machine have been consigned to the cooler by the overbearing governors and are rather busy fighting for their political lives. They have no strongholds as the 'governors have taken over the entire swimming pool.'

The involvement of serving NEC members in the rat race for positions at the convention is another fly in the ointment and a boost for Tukur's ambition. About six of them are already in the race. They include Chief Uche Secondus (national organising secretary) who is running for South-south zonal chairman, Olisa Metu (South-east zonal chairman) who is running for the seat of publicity secretary and the Acting National Secretary, Musa Babayaro, who is seeking a return to the seat.

Others are the national legal adviser, who is running for the seat of national secretary and the Publicity Secretary. Prof. Rufai Alkali, who wants to be the national chairman. The NEC as presently constituted has remained loyal and consistent with the wishes of the president, even during the time of Dr. Okwesileze Nwodo as national chairman.

'They are still in charge, will organise the convention and it is feared that they will do it in the best way to improve their chances,' the source explained.

Some of them view the current scenario as payback time for their consistent loyalty and support. The presidency is, however, believed to be only keen on the chairmanship slot and is ready to throw other positions open to other loyalists.