Chuks Okocha and Muhammad Bello
President Goodluck Jonathan Thursday continued with his initiative to restore peace in the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that has been wracked by a crisis of confidence, which has pitted the National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, against governors of the party and members of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC).
Jonathan, as part of efforts to save Tukur from being removed from office by the governors who formed a powerful bloc in the party, met with them at the State House.
His peace bid seemed to have yielded dividends as the governors at the end of the meeting with the president reaffirmed their confidence in Tukur’s leadership of the party.
Members of the PDP NWC, who on Tuesday staged a palace coup against the party chairman over his handling of the crisis in the Adamawa State chapter of the party, also passed a vote of confidence on Tukur’s ability to successfully lead the party.
The governors and Tukur have been locked in a battle over the dissolution of the Adamawa State Executive Committee (SEC) of the party. Tukur is from the state.
The crisis took a turn for the worse on Tuesday when 10 out of the 12 members of the party’s NWC met without Tukur to reinstate Alhaji Umaru Minjiyawa Kugama as the chairman of the party in the state.
A previous NWC meeting presided over by Tukur had dissolved the Adamawa executive and appointed a caretaker committee, headed by Ambassador Umar Damagun, to run the affairs of the party in the state.
Tuesday’s NWC meeting, which sources said was engineered by the PDP governors, who had sponsored the committee members to get the positions, also upturned an earlier approval given for the conduct of congresses in the state.
Worried by the crisis in the PDP over the power play in Adamawa State chapter of the party, the president during a meeting of the party’s Board of Trustees (BoT) on Tuesday constituted a committee, whose membership included himself and Vice-President Namadi Sambo, to find a way of restoring peace in the party.
As a follow up, Jonathan on Wednesday met with the NWC members, including Tukur, with some governors in attendance, during which he sued for peace.
However, in a volte-face, the PDP governors who after a meeting on Wednesday night during which they upheld Tuesday’s decisions by the rebellious NWC members sang a new tune after their meeting with the president.
At the meeting attended by 17 of the governors, the state helmsmen expressed optimism that Tukur’s style of leadership would carry the party far into the future.
Sambo and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator Anyin Pius Anyim, were also in attendance.
Briefing State House reporters after the meeting which lasted for about three hours, Akwa Ibom State Governor, Chief Godswill Akpabio, said although there were disputes threatening to tear the party apart, the party has an in-built mechanism to resolve the crises.
He dismissed insinuations of friction between the party and the governors, adding that they are loyal to the leadership of the PDP under Tukur.
He said: “You know the PDP is a very large party. The party may have its own internal challenges. Of course, we have our own modus operandi, ways of resolving all these issues.
“Various committees have been set up by the Board of Trustees and the National Working Committee. I believe that at the end of the day, in the next one week, all those issues will be a thing of the past.
“There is nothing like the PDP governors not being happy. We identify with the party. We have confidence in the party. And all the internal wrangling you are hearing, those things are normal in any democracy. These are as a result of the PDP being a very large party, the largest in the whole of Africa.
“The governors are happy with the party and we are sure that under the leadership of President Goodluck Jonathan, all the issues pertaining to the party will be resolved amicably and the party will come out stronger.
“All these internal issues will soon be resolved. Mr. President who is the leader of the party has taken the right steps. He has set up the right committees and you are aware that even for the state of Adamawa, we have the Governor Sule Lamido Committee that will soon bring a report which will bring the Adamawa crisis to an end.”
Akpabio explained that the meeting was initiated by the president to enable him discuss issues of governance and party matters with the governors, stressing that the meeting would be institutionalised to be a bi-monthly affair.
He said the meeting and subsequent ones would also focus on looking at the yearnings and aspirations of Nigerians who gave the ruling party its mandate.
“We must look at all areas of governance and look at areas that require improvement. It is a kind of peer review mechanism where the PDP states come together to look at not just governance at the state level, but also of the party itself at the national level. So we look at things that can strengthen the party and also look at what Nigerians want,” he added.
The governors were led to the meeting by the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Mr. Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers State.
The PDP also yesterday reaffirmed its confidence in Tukur’s leadership and commended its BoT for the prompt resolution of the misunderstanding in its NWC.
A statement by the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Chief Olisa Metuh, said notwithstanding the crisis, the “PDP remains the only political party in the country where differences in the leadership of its various organs are resolved within a record time.”
It noted that while crises should be expected in a large party such as the PDP, “the ability of its leaders to resolve and find a common ground on such issues, dwells in the strength and dynamism of such an organisation.”
“The National Working Committee wishes to further assure all members of the PDP of the unwavering unity of purpose in our ranks. We are united under the able and dynamic leadership of our National Chairman, Dr. Bamanga Tukur.
“We are ever determined to ensure that the party fulfills its electoral promises to the people by securing undiluted compliance of all our members in various positions of authority to a credible performance target," it stated.
Meanwhile, a group, PDP National Youth Vanguard, has accused opposition parties of being behind the recent pasting of posters calling on Jonathan to contest in the 2015 presidential election.
The group’s National Secretary, Ambassador Ibrahim Bala Aboki, said in a statement in Abuja, that an amorphous group, PDP Youth Council, was being used by the opposition parties to attribute the posters to the presidency.
“Vanguard believes that the opposition parties are sponsoring this faceless group in order to discredit the PDP-led Federal Government irrespective of the enormous transformation the president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan and the PDP government have so far achieved in less than three years,” it said.