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PDP and fresh heat on Tukur’s ouster

The  denial by First Lady Patience Jonathan  of meeting and imploring  some loyal  Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governors to ensure that the embattled  national chairman…

The  denial by First Lady Patience Jonathan  of meeting and imploring  some loyal  Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governors to ensure that the embattled  national chairman of the party, Bamanga Tukur, retains his seat , upped the tension  in the drum beats  of  the deepening crisis rocking the ruling party in recent times.
Mrs Jonathan, in a statement on Thursday her media aide, Ayo Adesugba,  did not only refute  such insinuations, but added that  she had never threatened anyone, let alone serving governors.
She was reacting to a media report suggesting that she met and discussed with Governors Idris Wada, Godswill Akpabio and Theodore Orji of Kogi, Akwa Ibom and Abia states respectively to help save Tukur’s job and by extension her husband’s perceived 2015 presidential ambition.
This First Lady’s involvement in the fresh  ‘Tukur –Must-Go and its counter variant,  Tukur -Must -Stay’  campaigns is  coming on the heels of the reported demand  for the ouster of Tukur by majority of the remaining PDP governors. This fresh campaign against Tukur’s sack   by the Pro-Jonathan PDP governors is energised by   the exit, from the party into the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC),   five of their colleagues who initiated the ‘Tukur –Must- Go campaigns’.
Governors Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano), Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto), Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara) and Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers), left the party for the APC recently. This followed the reluctance of the PDP hierarchy to sack Tukur among other retinue of demands, including a declaration by President Goodluck Jonathan of disinterest in contesting the 2015 presidential ballot. But Jonathan has refused accede to these demands, thereby deepening the intra-party crisis that has polarised it and taken a worst turn with mind-boggling defections into the APC.
A long-standing politician and businessman, Bamanga Tukur’s candidacy for the national chairmanship of the PDP was controversially backed by President Jonathan, despite his rejection in his home state of Adamawa and the North-East geo-political zone.
Therefore,   March 24th,  2012 in Abuja, Tukur  emerged as the new leader of the ruling party after 10 rivals dramatically stepped down in a last minute manoeuvring that seemed  to underscore the party’s aversion for free and transparent election.
Jonathan absorbed embarrassing circumstances to ensure Tukur’s emergence, though the  ambition was dealt a blow a week earlier after governors from his north east region, teamed up to reject his candidacy. Governor Murtala Nyako’s open antagonism of Tukur’s candidacy climaxed at a zonal vote in Bauchi State where Tukur was defeated by a far less popular Musa Babayo who scored 14 against Tukur’s two votes.
The remaining PDP governors last week held series of meetings with President Jonathan where it emerged that they were no longer on the same plane with the President over the continuous stay of Tukur as PDP  national chairman.  A soft-landing was reportedly canvassed for Tukur with a choice ambassadorial appointment.
The President reportedly did not give a specific answer to the open, fresh demands by the governors.
“The governors admitted that a change of party leadership is crucial to any reconciliation in PDP. They also said they have realised that with Tukur still in charge, some governors are just managing to stay in PDP”.
“They called for pre-emptive steps to prevent more defections from PDP to the main opposition coalition, the All Progressives Congress (APC). They also agreed that PDP cannot afford to be in tatters if it wants to win the 2015 polls. So, they have opted for far-reaching reforms in the party where all members and organs will play their roles without inhibitions,” an unnamed source reportedly said of the outcome of the meeting.
But Adamawa state PDP secretary, Barrister A.T. Shehu disagreed with those calling for the fresh sack of Tukur.
His words, “ They are not sincere because he (Tukur) has shown commitment to discipline and restoration of party supremacy. The sin of Tukur is his   efforts to stop imposition and other undemocratic practices, which some people are used to, especially at the state level. But the defection of five governors will not affect the PDP, as more people are decamping from the opposition party to the ruling party”, Shehu said.
But chairman of  nPDP in Benue, Hon. Tivlumun Ahure, told Weekly Trust in Abuja that  the latest calls by the  Pro-Jonathan PDP governors, who earlier rejected   calls   for  sack of Tukur  is  belated, as he should be allowed to remain and devour the carcass that is left  of the PDP. 
“It portrays them as political dwarfs, who are using political immaturity to destroy our PDP. May be,  these governors have secret plans to decamp to the APC after everything. We told them then that a stitch in time,  saves nine, but they wouldn’t listen. If they had reasoned with us when we said Tukur should go, our dear sinking PDP ship would have been rescued. The game is up. The new plot on Tukur is sheer senselessness. A governor like Dr. Gabriel Suswam amongst them, should rather come out to tell us if what OBJ said about him being in the know of a no-recontesting pact with Jonathan is true or false, so that the Jonathan must-run campaigns would cease”, Ahure chipped.
However, Weekly Trust gathered that the governors were unable to agree on where Tukur’s successor should  emerge. Some suggested the retention of the office in Adamawa State; others opined that the new chairman should come from any of Bauchi, Gombe, Taraba or Borno states.
The governors of Bauchi, Gombe and Taraba states were said to have opposed such moves  because of likely interference by such a chairman in the affairs of the local PDP. They recalled the incessant disagreements between Tukur and Nyako and between Dr. Okwesilize Nwodo and Governor Sullivan Chime in Enugu State.
Those being speculated include a former acting National Secretary of PDP, Alhaji Musa Babayo; former Governor of Bauchi State, Adamu Muazu; former Ambassador to the United States, who is also the Wakilin Adamawa, Alhaji Hassan Adamu, (Adamawa); Mr. Boni Haruna, former governor of Adamawa State; Political Adviser to the President, Alhaji Ahmed Gulak (Adamawa); Senator John Wampana and a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mohammed Abba Gana.
In his latest response to the call for his removal, Tukur was on Thursday emphatic that he was not ready to take up any ambassadorial position because he had not completed his tenure as the national chairman of the ruling party.
He was talking when a team of PDP youth drawn from 19 northern states paid him a solidarity visit at his Abuja residence.
He debunked the reports, which suggested that he was being considered for an ambassadorial position as a way of easing him out of his job, saying there was no iota of truth in the reports and that it was a figment of the imagination of their authors.
 Tukur  told the youth, led by Galadima Yahya, that he was not distracted by the sustained campaign of calumny against him, the PDP and the Presidency, more so when the source of such campaign had been traced to familiar quarters.
He said,  “I have a job to do as the PDP  national chairman, and I cannot throw in the towel in the middle of it just because certain individuals known for selfish motives get to the media to fund fictitious reports  often crafted to precipitate crises in our party and ultimately cause its fall.”
He said the crisis within the party is a phase that would pass away once preparations for 2015 general elections begins.
 “If you check it very well, the people who say Tukur –Must-Go cannot lay hands on one reason to justify their wish,” the national chairman said.
“I  have done nothing to violate the constitution of the party. I did nothing to wrong anyone. I did nothing to soil my hands in anything. My conscience vindicates me every time. So I am free as the PDP National Chairman”, Tukur opined.
“Now some people said I am not a friend of the governors. But they forgot that during my campaigns, I visited all of them one by one to sell my programmes for the party. We started with the process of reconciliation and asked estranged members to return to the party. Some people opposed it. They preferred the way of dictatorship rather than being democratic. And when these are not allowed, then they say Tukur –Must-Go.”
Earlier, Tukur’s Political Adviser, Senator Abubakar Gada said in Abuja that those seeking to oust Tukur, are mainly aiming at hitting at the President’s 2015 ambition and that Tukur is merely used as a smokescreen to smoothen the path.
“By setting the gimmick for the removal of Tukur as national chairman,  they are going to make the President vulnerable and open for  attacks”, Gada warned.
As part of his own strategy reportedly backed by the presidency, Tukur yesterday met with party members of the House of Representatives,  in Abuja in what was believed to be an attempt to starve off his removal and the gale of defections  of some key members of the party including the governors and 37 Reps members.
Akwa Ibom State Governor Godswill Akpabio-led PDP Governors Forum had earlier in the day held a close-door meeting with Tukur and his deputy Mr. Uche Secondus at the Akwa Ibom government lodge, before he left for the meeting with the Reps.
Inquisitive reporters were however not briefed on Tukur`s meeting with the governors.
House Leader, Hon. Mulikat Akande Adeola, however briefed reporters at the end of their own meeting with Tukur, saying it was at the instance of the lawmakers.
Tukur in his comments expressed appreciation for the confidence reposed in him by the House members and the governors.
Present at the meeting were members of the PDP NWC, Chief Emeka Ihedioha, Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives. Governors of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Bauchi and Katsina states,   with other PDP members of the House of Representatives.

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