The eventual exit Thursday, of Bamanga Tukur from the exalted position of national chairman of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) confirmed that the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) is actually its power house.
It had previously appeared that President Goodluck Jonathan, to whom Tukur was seen as an errand boy, wielded overwhelming power over the party, to the chagrin of other power blocs, including the state governors who had formed an association with a view to amassing more muscle and started to defect to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The flushing out of Tukur also indicates that the opposing forces angling for control of the party’s structure are now ready to yield ground.
Moreover, there are indications that Tukurs forced exit was indeed a trade-off of some sort, to appease aggrieved members who had left the party on account of their displeasure over alleged mishandling of the party by Tukur.
Until last week, members of the NWC were not visibly anti-Tukur. But the equation seemingly changed as the party continued to drift, raising fears that if the ugly trend was not checked, it would ultimately affect the party’s electoral fortunes in 2015.
Reports had it that nine out of 12 members of the party’s NWC refused to show up for the emergency meeting called by Tukur Tuesday, a development that further indicated increasing isolation of the now deposed chairman.
Announcing Tukur’s resignation Thursday at the party’s NEC meeting, President Goodluck Jonathan, who personally co-ordinated the ratification process, said a replacement from the North-East, where Tukur comes from, would emerge next Monday at another NEC meeting of the party.
Jonathan, who eulogised Tukur for relinquishing the office in the interest of the party, assured party members that the five governors of the party who defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC) would return to the PDP.
The President, who exonerated Tukur of any wrong doing, said: “We have had some internal problems that had been agitating the minds of our people. And let us really commend the NWC of the party led by Bamanga Tukur.
“The chairman of our party, you have all known, did not just wake up to be chairman of the party. He is one of the founding fathers of our party, has held several offices and has done very well. And for us to make sure that we rest this issue, the party chairman has agreed to step aside.
“He is not guilty in anyway. In fact, I have to give him an assignment that is tougher than PDP. Because we need people like Bamanga Tukur to market this country and PDP, he has been doing that at the platform of African Roundtable, but he will get a tougher job than African Round Table. So, this is the letter from him announcing his stepping aside from office. We did not read it to the media; it is from the party chairman to the secretary of the party.
“Let us meet on Monday, so that we will formally inaugurate a chairman, according to our constitution. So, between now and Monday, we will look at our party leaders from the North East.”
Of the members who had defected to APC, the President said: “I also use this opportunity to plead with our party members to be steadfast and committed to party activities. Even some of those people who appeared to want to leave us and have left, from all indications and discussions, some of them will come back to the party. All that we need to do is ensure that the party is united.
“From this January, we want to make sure we hold more meetings and we want our National Working Committee members to ensure more caucus meetings are held every quarter. We don’t want to miss any one. And for the NEC meeting, we believe it should be held more regularly because this is an election year. I have no alternative than to call NEC meeting, so we have to liaise with the NWC to, if possible, hold the meeting every other month.”
According to Jonathan, the party’s governors and himself have agreed to hold meetings every month to improve the fortunes of the party and assist party members from states that are not controlled by PDP.
While pleading with party members to be steadfast to party activities, Jonathan added that as long as they continued to work together, PDP would continue to be the ruling party.
The President, who said the party had continued to bring development initiatives over the years, pledged that his administration would continue to deliver dividends of democracy to the people.
Recall that seven governors had accused Tukur of impunity and consequently formed a new political association, New PDP under the leadership of Kawu Baraje, a former acting national chairman of the party.