• Monday, February 26, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Tukur: Consumed by power play

Bamanga-tukur

Until yesterday when the curtain fell on his exalted position as national chairman of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Bamanga Tukur, had fought with the “beasts in Ephesus”.

 For him, it was a “crown of thorns” by virtue of the travails he passed through since he rode to the exalted seat in March 2012, at the party’s national convention.

Since last year, intense pressure had been on Tukur from various quarters to step down. Many governors on the platform had mounted pressure on the Presidency to trade off the national chairman. President Goodluck Jonathan’s refusal to acquiesce to such request gave rise to the floating of a group known as G7 governors. Before his forced exit, the National Working Committee of the party had in the last few days passed a no confidence vote in Tukur. They wanted him to resign his plum job .

Reports had it that nine out of 12 members of the party’s NWC refused to show up for the emergency meeting called by the national chairman Tuesday, a development that further indicated increasing isolation of Tukur ahead of the party’s National Executive Committee meeting scheduled for next week.Bamanga-tukur

 The genesis

Tukur’s problem began even before his emergence as the PDP national chairman. At the point of the election in March 2012, he was not enjoying a robust relationship with the governor of his state, Murtala Nyako and other political heavy weights in the state.

Although he received an overwhelming support from the South-South, South-East and South-West delegates, Tukur had no support base from his home state and his geo-political zone.

The slot was zoned to the North-East geopolitical zone, made up of six states of Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba and Yobe. Over 11 aspirants jostled for the post.

At the zonal congress held in Bauchi a few days to the national convention, Musa Babayo, a former acting national secretary of the party, was said to have defeated Tukur by 14 votes against 2, to emerge the zone’s consensus candidate.

However, Tukur’s camp insisted his loss

 would not prevent him from standing election at the convention. The chairman of the African Business Roundtable and highly successful businessman won the election as other contenders were allegedly browbeaten by the Presidency.

Unlike in the past when past chairmen were forced to resign by president, Tukur’s problems did not emanate from President Jonathan. The chairman, it is alleged, has been the President’s man-Friday. While the President was doing everything possible to protect the PDP chairman, the hawks in the party fought very ferociously.

 Tukur continued to insist on hanging in

Since Monday, Tukur was being rumoured to have resigned, but in a swift reaction he continued to refute the insinuation.

Speaking through his Special Adviser on Media, Oliver Okpala, he said: “Be informed that contrary to the report making waves in the internet and other social media, the national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Bamanga Tukur has not tendered any resignation letter to any person or quarter as the national chairman of the party.

“Please disregard any information or report in this regard since the national chairman is busy fashioning out new structures and areas of taking the party to greater heights.”

Tukur insisted that having been elected at the national convention of the party, not even President Jonathan could pressure him to resign.

“I am an elected national chairman; I have my certificate of return. I cannot resign. The convention brought me, so it has to take the convention that brought me for me to resign. Not even the president can ask me to resign”, he said.

Tukur can’t resign – Birma

Speaking with BusinessDay Wednesday, Dauda Birma, a former presidential aspirant on the platform of the defunct All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) and a member of the Presidential Committee on National Dialogue, said Tukur cannot run away from battle, and has no business resigning his position.

Birma, who is a close confidant of Tukur, said: “I want to confirm to you that Tukur has not resigned and cannot resign. I am in a position to tell you the truth on this matter. He can’t run away from battle. Those who want him out are enemies of the party.”

On the possibility of those governors who defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC) returning to PDP if Tukur resigns, Birma said, though that might be on the card of the defected governors, it would not work out for them.

“I am aware that it is part of their plot. They have not actually gone, but is it not dishonorable for them to deceive APC while their heart is still in PDP? They only use APC as a stop gap. That is dishonorable. The party they said they have joined, do you think those people will welcome them? It is Obasanjo that is trying to destroy them. He has told them to use APC as a stop gap while he continues his destructive work in PDP, but they have all failed,” he said.

On the lasting solution to the PDP crisis, Birma emphatically said: “You can never, never solve PDP problem as long as Obasanjo is alive. Quote me.”

Is Jonathan a weakling?

Pundits had accused the President of not displaying enough political sagacity in the way he handled the crisis that led to the defection of five governors to APC.

Those who faulted him along this line said politics was all about “win some and lose some.” According to analysts, a more political savvy president would have yielded some grounds to please the aggrieved governors, who would have in turn worked for his return to power.

A commentator, who believes that Jonathan should have sacrificed Bamanga Tukur to satisfy the governors, says: “Tukur is neither going to win those states for PDP nor for Jonathan. It is the governors that call the shot in their individual states that can determine electoral victories of their parties in their domain. Jonathan ought to have struck a deal with Tukur, and should have done everything possible to ease Tukur out of the PDP national chair. That is politics.”

Rumour, rumour, then authentic

Wednesday evening, speculations went wild and wide that Tukur had finally thrown in the towel. He was said to have tendered his letter of resignation earlier in the morning to the leader of the party, President Jonathan.

It was also said that the alleged resignation saved him from suspension, as other members of the National Working Committee (NWC) had concluded plans to suspend him as the national chairman.

Although many national dailies went to town Thursday with news of Tukur’s resignation, the politician still refuted such insinuation, insisting he had not resigned.

But the story changed when the President himself announced at the party’s NEC meeting that the former chairman had indeed tendered his resignation.

“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 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,” the President said.

 What to watch

-Aggrieved members who had dumped the party may return

-Another Jonathan’s man-Friday may replace Tukur

-A new round of battle for control of party machinery may ensue

By: Zebulon Agomuo