The People Democratic Party is wielding both the stick and carrot in its attempt to mend its fences to be at a vantage position for the 2015 elections by wooing former President Olusegun Obasanjo to its side as well as suspending Bamanga Tukur, former national chairman for anti-party activities
| By Olu Ojewale | Dec. 15, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT |
THE Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, appears to be putting its house in order ahead of 2015 general elections. While holding out olive branch to the aggrieved, it is also apportioning punishment where necessary. On Thursday, December 4, five of its governors led by Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State and chairman, PDP Governors Forum, held a closed-door meeting, which lasted for three hours, with Olusegun Obasanjo, a former president, at his Hilltop residence in Abeokuta, Ogun State. Other governors on the trip were Isa Yuguda, Sule Lamido, Liyel Imoke and Babangida Aliyu of Bauchi, Jigawa, Cross River, and Niger states, respectively.
Speaking with journalists after the meeting, Obasanjo said the governors’ visit was in connection with nagging issues of the Boko Haram insurgents and the economy. He also dropped the hint that his frosty relationship with President Goodluck Jonathan was also discussed. He said that his criticism of Jonathan in recent times was not aimed at castigating or bad-mouthing him but out of genuine concern for the situation in the country. Obasanjo observed that the situation in the country currently had become bad, but added that it was not totally irretrievable. He said: “When we look at these issues closely, very objectively and we came to the conclusion that yes, we have a bad situation, but not irretrievably bad. Something can still be done and what is now required is the will and the courage to do something when and how it needs to be done.”
Obasanjo, who expressed appreciation for the governors’ concern for the nation, said the task to save the country was not for one man or group but for all Nigerians. “All hands must be on deck. And as they have said and as they have assured me that they would have this type of consultation with other leaders so that this country which is ours and for which we have no alternatives, but to move forward,” he said.
Both Akpabio and Aliyu, who spoke for the governors, said they came to consult Obasanjo because of his wealth of experience and influence both nationally and internationally. Akpabio said: “The intention here is that all Nigerians are determined to reposition the country, we have no other country than Nigeria and so, no matter the challenges we may face today, we must work together as a team to redeem the situation.”
While the PDP appears to be making amends to reconcile with one of its leaders, it also dealt a big blow on the other that stepped out of bounds. Also on Thursday, December 4, the party announced the suspension of Bamanga Tukur, former national chairman of the ruling party, for daring to institute a court case against it. The National Working Committee, NWC, of the PDP at a meeting presided over by Adamu Mu’azu, acting national chairman of the party, on Wednesday, December 3, night, suspended Tukur and Aliyu Abuba Gurin, a PDP aspirant for the House of Representatives for anti-party activity. The NWC hinged its action on the duo took Muazu to court without exhausting the party’s internal mechanism of resolving crisis. The case of both men from Adamawa State has also been referred to the party’s disciplinary committee.
Victor Kwon, legal adviser of the PDP, who communicated the party decision to journalists in a statement on Thursday, said the NWC took the decision because of the court case instituted against Mu’azu by the two men. Kwon’s statement read in part: “Among others, the NWC deliberated on the court case instituted against the national chairman of the Party, Ahmed Adamu Mu’azu, by the former national chairman, Dr. Bamanga Tukur.
“The NWC reasoned that for instituting a claim and counter claim in suit FHC/ABJ /821/2014; Gurin vs PDP & 3 others, without first exploring and exhausting the party’s internal mechanism of redress and for attempting to stop the forthcoming National Convention to nominate the party’s Presidential candidate as well as regularise the position of the national chairman and other members of the National Working Committee is unacceptable.
“The NWC hereby suspends Dr. Bamanga Tukur and Aliyu Abuba Gurin, for one month and refers them to the National Disciplinary Committee for infringing on section 58(1)(a)(b)(h)(l) of the PDP Constitution 2012(as amended).”
By the NWC’s action Tukur will not be able to attend the party’s national convention in Abuja, on December 10 and 11, where the party is expected to ratify the candidature of President Goodluck Jonathan as its presidential candidate for the 2015 election. He will also not be eligible to vote during the PDP governorship primary in his state, where his son is an aspirant.
Earlier, in his defence, Tukur denied being the originator of the case which was aimed at stopping the party’s convention and also to remove Mu’azu from office. He claimed to have been joined in the suit filed by Gurin and that as expected of him, he filed his own counter affidavits, stating his own side of the case in relation to the case.
In a statement signed by Oliver Okpala, his media assistant, Tukur claimed that he was a mere defendant in the case. The statement said in part: “It must be put forward in its proper legal and historical perspective that Alhaji Tukur never initiated nor filed any case against Mu’azu, contrary to reports making headlines in national dailies. The wrongful report and misrepresentation of facts to the effect that Tukur filed a case urging the court to oust Mu’azu out of office is not only untrue but gross distortion of facts relating to the case instituted and filed by Gurin…
“For the avoidance of doubt, this case was instituted by Alhaji Aliyu Buba Gurin a PDP member against PDP, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu and INEC as 1-4 defendants.”
That notwithstanding, many observers are asking why it took Tukur such a long to clarify his status in the case that has dominated the headlines several times recently. Because Tukur is from Adamawa State some people expressed the belief that Gurin had acted at the behest of the former PDP leader. Besides, if Gurin had won the case, Tukur would have been the big winner as he would have reclaimed the national chairmanship from Mu’azu. Gurin had instituted the case in court arguing that Tukur did not resign properly in accordance with the provision of the party constitution, and as such he should be re-instated.