The National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Dr. Bamanga Tukur, on Wednesday warned that the seats of about 124 PDP members in the National Assembly would be declared vacant if they failed to withdraw their loyalty to the breakaway faction of the party known as the New PDP.
Tukur, at a news conference at the Wadata House headquarters of the party in Abuja, also described the promoters of the New PDP as “undemocratic and unpatriotic elements,” who are bent on destroying “our common destiny.”
But he was referred to as “a joker” by the leader of the faction, Alhaji Abubakar Baraje, and the spokesperson for the House of Representatives, Zakari Mohammed, who advised him to study the Electoral Act properly before making a pronouncement on such an issue.
On Monday, 26 senators and 57 House of Representatives members announced their loyalty to the New PDP which other key officials are a former National Secretary of the PDP, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, and a former Deputy National Chairman, Dr. Sam Jaja.
Forty five members of the House of Representatives had earlier identified with the group that also has a former Vice-President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar; Governors Sule Lamido(Jigawa); Babangida Aliyu (Niger), Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto); Abdulfatai Ahmed (Kwara); Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers); and Rabiu Kwakwanso (Kano), in its fold.
An angry-looking Tukur said at the brief news conference that the leadership of the PDP would do everything within its powers to deal with anyone that attempted to undermine the authority of the party.
He added, “All persons elected on the platform of our great party at all levels who identify with these enemies of the oneness and greatness of our party shall have their seats declared vacant as required by law.
“We shall leave no stone unturned to ensure that such persons and indeed, any other individuals who attempt to subvert the leadership of the PDP shall reap in full, the consequences of such actions.
“I wish to emphasise that the PDP has adequate mechanism for internal conflict resolution. All party members are therefore advised to ventilate their grievances through this medium.
“There is only one lawfully recognised PDP and I am firmly in charge.”
Referring to Baraje, Oyinlola, and Jaja as “impostors,” Tukur, who was flanked by the majority of the members of the newly constituted National Working Committee of the party, enjoined the Police and other security agencies to treat them as such.
He said, “Gentlemen of the press, you are aware of the current developments in our great party. Our reason for being here is to inform you without any iota of doubt that the PDP has no faction and there is neither room nor reason whatsoever for such a claim under any guise.
“The PDP has only one duly elected National Executive Committee under my chairmanship. I wish therefore to state with all emphasis that any group of persons parading themselves as leaders of NEC or any other organ of our party are impostors and I urge all Nigerians, especially the security agencies and other institutions of democracy to regard them as such.
“Let me state categorically that the PDP as the sole custodian of the sacred mandate of over 160 million Nigerians and which, in the last 14 years has lifted high, the banner of democracy will not fold its arms while some undemocratic and unpatriotic elements destroy our common destiny by causing divisions and confusion among the people.
“Consequently, we shall ensure that any person who is not duly elected into any leadership position in our great party and has not been duly assigned any role but goes ahead to arrogate such to himself will be made to face the full wrath of the law.”
Tukur refused to field questions from journalists after the short press briefing.
But, Baraje declared Tukur and those in the PDP NWC as unfit to lead the ruling party.
Baraje said, “They are all jokers. They don’t know what is party politics. We are not surprised because they are ignorant of party politics.
“In any case, the process of declaring the seats of members of the national or state assembly vacant or calling lawmakers back is well known in the constitution. To wake up and say he is going to recall people back or declare their seats vacant shows that he is ignorant.
“Tukur is not fit to to be called the national chairman of the PDP.”
In the House of Representatives, its spokesman, Mohammed, who is also one of the 57 members of the House that on Monday declared support for the New PDP, said Tukur ‘should study the Electoral Act properly, before jumping to conclusions.”
His counterpart in the Senate, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, could not be reached for comments as his mobile telephone number indicated that he was out of reach. A text message sent to him was not responded to.