Alhaji Bamanga Tukur
By Chuks Okocha
Facts emerging from the Peoples Democratic Party indicate that its embattled national chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, might have incurred the anger of governors elected on the party’s platform when he championed a cause for the National Working Committee to grant automatic tickets to members of the National Assembly seeking to return.
Granting automatic tickets to National Assembly members wishing to return simply means that PDP governors who would be completing their last statutory terms in 2015 and who may desire to go to the Senate would have had their hopes dashed.
Besides, THISDAY gathered that the PDP governors might be up in arms against the national chairman because the NWC under his leadership refused to ensure that governors who would be completing their second terms in 2015 were given the express opportunity to determine their successors.
Following the defections of five PDP governors to the All Progressives Congress last November, the number of governors serving on the party’s platform dropped from 23 to 18. Of the 18, 14 will be completing their second and final tenures in 2015, while four – Capt. Idris Wada (Kogi), Sierake Dickson (Bayelsa), Ibrahim Dankwambo (Gombe), and Ramallan Yero (Kaduna) – would be seeking second terms in 2015.
THISDAY gathered that virtually all the 14 PDP governors doing their final terms were itching to go to the Senate in 2015.
At a meeting between the NWC and National Assembly members of PDP last month, Tukur had, allegedly, promised to ensure that any of the legislators interested in coming back was granted an automatic ticket to run as the party’s candidate.
According to a source, who spoke with THISDAY on the meeting alleged to have taken place at Transcorp Hilton, Abuja, “This innocuous pledge of automatic ticket was part of Tukur’s greatest undoing, because some governors that have senatorial ambitions saw it as a threat to their ambitions of going to the Senate after their eight years in office as governors.”
The source further said that even at the meeting with the members of the National Assembly, some governors who were present objected when Tukur promised automatic tickets to the PDP legislators, saying it contradicts the local zoning arrangements on ground in their respective states.
Specifically at the meeting, THISDAY was told that Akwa Ibom State Governor Godswill Akpabio said in his senatorial district the existing arrangement was that no senator was allowed to take two conservative slots. He explained that the promise of automatic tickets to members of the National Assembly should be in line with the political situation in the states.
Akpabio is widely rumoured to be interested in representing his people at the Senate in 2015 and the seat is currently occupied by Senator Aloysius Etuk.
In a similar vein, the pledge of automatic ticket is believed to be the main issue behind the disagreements between the National Assembly members from Enugu State and Governor Sullivan Chime. Chime is alleged to be itching to contest the senatorial election in 2015.
The governor hails from the same senatorial district as Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu.
In Abia State, Governor Theodore Orji is eyeing the senatorial seat currently occupied by Senator Nkechi Nwogu.
The most controversial seems to be the case of Benue State, where the former national chairman of PDP, Senator Barnabas Gemade, is occupying the senatorial seat that Governor Gabriel Suswam is alleged to be planning to contest in 2015. The other senatorial zones of Benue State would also not be vacant, as Senate President David Mark may be seeking a fourth term, while the former governor of the state, Senator George Akume, would seek to return on the platform of APC.
THISDAY learnt that it was to ensure that interested PDP members of the National Assembly were represented at the National Executive Committee meeting earlier slated for January 8 that the meeting was shifted to January 16. A source said that the shift became necessary because the National Assembly members were important stakeholders and, therefore, “Their heads must not be shaved in their absence.”