A major effort in peacemaking by the PDP ends with the exposure of internal dissensions traced to the style and schemes of its national chairman.
It was celebrated as the boldest peace shooting initiative ever in the history of the fractious Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. Central to the plan was a tour of the six geopolitical zones by the National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur and members of the National Working Committee, NWC to build bridges across the divides in the party.
What was announced as the grand finale of the reconciliation moves was to be a lunch and get together of the party’s top echelon where most top public officials of the party were invited.
Remarkably, the Sunday lunch gathering scheduled for the International Conference Centre was also to coincide with the first anniversary of the election of Tukur and his NWC.
The event, however, turned into an anti-climax as only two of the party’s 23 governors turned out for the historic lunch with the national chairman, Tukur. The president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan who was the man who forced the 78 year old billionaire on the party rank and file as national chairman last year, remarkably stayed away. His absence was perhaps to avoid the embarrassment of witnessing the boycott.
The two governors present were Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State who is also the chairman of the PDP Governors Forum and Governor Ibrahim Wada of Kogi State. Five governors, Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers), Babangida Aliyu (Niger), Ibrahim Shema (Katsina), Abdulafatah Ahmed (Kwara) and Ibrahim Dankwambo (Gombe) were represented at the meeting by their deputies, while 16 others did not bother to come or send high ranking officials for the celebrated lunch with the party chairman.
The absence of the governors, even including those who had lately tended to incline themselves towards President Goodluck Jonathan, it was learnt was indicative of continuing bitterness by many of the governors towards the national chairman.
Central to the beef of the governors is the grievance that Tukur has paralysed other organs of the party and that he is running a one man show that only accommodates the interest of his principal backer, Dr. Jonathan.
Notable among the organs of the party said to have been neutralised by Tukur is the National Executive Committee, NEC of the party which based on section 12.74 of the PDP constitution is supposed to meet at least quarterly.
The section reads: The NEC shall meet at least once in every quarter at the instance of the chairman or at the request of two-third of its membership, who shall notify the chairman at least seven days prior to the meeting and an emergency meeting be summoned by the National Chairman having regard to all the circumstances of the agenda.
However, since the advent of the Tukur executive, the NEC which should have met at least four times has met only once with no prospect of a meeting in the immediate future.
As such, crucial issues that ordinary should be taken up by the NEC have been either left undone or rather usurped by the national chairman.
It is an issue that is central to the apathy of the governors towards what could have been a celebration of the first anniversary of the Tukur administration.
As one source said last Monday, “The official reason is that we couldn’t make it, but if I must be truthful with you many of the governors are seriously angry with Tukur. This is not about Jonathan, but about Tukur’s style of administration as he has completely rendered all other organs of the party useless in one year,” the source said.
Another source speaking on the development said: “Saying the governors are angry is an understatement. There are so many things not working under Tukur, a whole lot of the party structures are not working and this is not just about people not attending one meeting, but there are fundamental issues that need to be tackled and unless those issues are resolved it would be continue to be a cat and mouse game.”
Besides rendering the party organs inactive, Tukur is also being accused of fostering division in the state and zonal chapters of the party. It is an accusation that remarkably flies against the NWC’s celebrated peace shooting missions throughout the country last week.
In his home state, Adamawa, Tukur’s ascension as national chairman led to the fracture of the party into two factions with one section rallying behind him and another rallying behind the state governor, Admiral Murtala Nyako.
What is happening in Adamawa is also developing in some other states where allies of Tukur or those who in the past were overwhelmed by their home governors are now going through Tukur to inspire rebellion at home.
In Kano State for example, Governor Rabiu Kwankwanso’s comprehensive dominance of the party is now being challenged by a group of party men who are reportedly being supported by either Tukur himself or his associates.
It is instructive that Kwankwanso has for most of the time showed ambivalence towards the Tukur regime hardly having any intercourse with it.
Kwankwanso, apparently has his reasons to be wary of the politicians at the PDP national secretariat in Abuja. It is not difficult to forget that just before the deadline for the submission of party candidates for the gubernatorial election in 2011 that some in the party bureaucracy apparently acting in concert with some in the presidential villa attempted to withdraw Kwankwanso’s name as the PDP gubernatorial candidate despite his massive win in the primary. The plot was about leading to a breakdown of law and order in Kano as adherents of his Kwankwansiya movement contemplated their options before the party hastily restored his candidature.
It was not surprising that a day after last Sunday’s boycott, that Chief Tony Anenih, the newly emerged chairman of the Board of Trustees of the party was sent to fix the problem in Kano.
Anenih, alongside some other senior officials of the party including two former chairmen, Ahmadu Ali and Barnabas Gemade, former senate president, Ken Nnamani among others met for some hours with Kwankwanso in the Government House.
At the end of the meeting, Anenih in his taciturn self, only muttered “we are here to discuss PDP, and the corporate existence of the Nigeria state”.
About the same time, party operatives and officials in Abuja were also in overdrive to manage the fiasco of the day before.
Even in the process of managing the disaster, the party still displayed its seemingly inherent proclivity to disorder or what its critics assert as deception.
Tukur in a briefing with reporters in his Abuja residence while aiming to explain the absence of the governors said that many of the governors took permission from him for one reason or the other.
“Many of the governors were absent from the rally mainly because they were part of the reconciliation meetings in their respective zones, and had made useful contributions during the visit by the National Working Committee members, a reason it was never compelling for them to be in Abuja. They contacted the National Headquarters about their inability to be in Abuja for the rally with stated reasons.”
However, speaking also about the same time after a visit to the presidential villa, Akpabio, chairman of the PDP-GF said the absence of the governors was due to poor communication as he said that the governors were not aware of the Abuja meeting.
“The PDP lunch was not well publicized. I had a meeting with the PDP publicity secretary, Olisa Metuh. Many Governors were not aware of the ceremony. Metuh mentioned to me if I will be at the International Conference center and I said for what? And he said for the grand finale of the zonal meeting of the National Chairman and I told him I was not aware of it.”
“I was receiving the Super Eagles in my state. I still said let me struggle to get to the International Conference Center to represent the Governors of the PDP many of whom were not aware that the event was going on. I knew that if the Governors were not there, Nigerians will think they boycotted the meeting. It was more or less a slightly rushed affair. It was not well publicized so you cannot blame any governor that was not there” he said.
The assertions of Tukur and Akpabio nonetheless, most governors contacted on their absence gave varied official reasons for their absence at the Abuja reconciliation talks. Almost all of them cited pressing engagements or failure to catch a flight back.
But beneath the veneer of the official reasons is the unofficial whisper of ill-feelings towards the national chairman.