Alhaji Bamanga Tukur
Chuks Okocha and Muhammad Bello in Abuja
Signs that the simmering crisis rocking the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) may be giving the leadership of the party sleepless night have emerged as some erstwhile chieftains of the party converged at the Presidential Villa on Wednesday night where they had a meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan.
This came as National Chairman of the party, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, thursday called for the enthronement of party supremacy in the affairs of the party, explaining that at all times, PDP as an institution, is more important than the President, Governors and the members of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party.
The meeting which started at about 9p.m, was held at closed door inside the conference hall of the office of the First Lady.
Photojournalists and cameramen who had trooped to the venue to ‘establish’ the presence of the participants were chased out.
A source said one of the ex-PDP leaders was heard saying: “Can’t we have a private meeting with the President again without you people snooping around?” Our reporter could not get details of those who attended the meeting.
The Wednesday parley was one of many such gatherings between President Jonathan and the leadership of the party as well as governors on its platform in recent time.
The anticipated outcome of both meetings, which were the emergence of a new chairman of the BoT was never realised.
A day after the second BoT meeting the President met with the members of the NWC of the party.
Another meeting was also held between the president and governors of the PDP.
All these meetings and that of last Wednesday were focused on the intractable crisis within the party.
But after the NWC meeting and the parley with the governors, it seemed the matter had been resolved.
Then came a new problem. The National Secretary of the party, Chief Olagunsoye Oyinlola, was removed from his position via a court order. This came hours before the former PDP chiefs met the President.
A source told THISDAY that this new issue and two other major ones prompted the latest secret meeting of the PDP heavy weights with President Jonathan.
The source said: “They met to deliberate on the dwindling fortunes of the party. There are fears that the funds available to the party to prosecute future elections was not re-assuring as many of the governors are not forthcoming with financial support.”
The source also added that another issue that occupied the attention of the Wednesday caucus was how to mitigate the crisis threatening to open the flanks of the party.
Although machineries had been set in motion to tackle some of the problems, for instance the setting up of the governor Sule Lamido-led committee to look into the Adamawa State palaver and the Prof. Jerry Gana-led committee established to settle the contentious issue of the over bloated BoT membership, the party is still battling with problems.
Meanwhile, Tukur who was addressing the governor of Kaduna State, Mukhtar Yero, and his deputy, Nuhu Bajoga, who were visiting members of the party’s NWC for the first time after their emergence as governor and deputy governor respectively, said: “Let us build the institution of government strong, it is not the personality, it is the institution. For us, the party is supreme, it is not the NWC or the President or the governors, it is the institution of the party itself that is supreme because all of us come in and go.’’
Tukur who call for loyalty from Kaduna State indigenes, said: “It is not the person, it is the institution and we have to support that institution of governance, give your governor all the support you can for him to achieve his objectives for the state.
“Once that institution is respected, organised and committed, you can be sure that our country will be great and we will be able to raise our heads high before any nation.”
The PDP chairman who tasked the Kaduna State governor and other governors, said, “As governors, we should all agree to move our people from the position of want to the position of plenty through empowering them by giving them education to defend and empower themselves.
“We as leaders of your party are here. Our job is to ensure we support all actions being done to help the promotion and development of our people.”
He called for peace and dialogue as a way of addressing the insecurity in some parts of the country and the North particularly, sayin: “Peace is important and peace cannot reign unless security is assured.”
According to Tukur, “It is a good thing we should do. For all of us and more especially in Kaduna State, peace must reign in conformity and respect for the late governor.’’
He said that Nigeria is blessed by God like every other blessed nation, stressing that those in authority should be in position to help the poor out of their poverty by educating them.
“If we educate our people, we would get power and every other thing we want as a nation,” he said.
Earlier, Yero lamented the death of his predecessor, Patrick Yakowa, who died in a helicopter crash on December 15, 2012, in Bayelsa State.
According to the governor who was speaking on his priority, “My immediate priority is security, because where there is no security, there would be no development.”
The governor who described the death of Yakowa, said that it was a great shock to the state, saying, “His death left a vacuum too big to fill. He was father to all,” explaining that he rose to the peak of his political carrier having served as a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, a permanent secretary in the state ministry, a former Secretary to the State Government and a Deputy Governor before becoming the state governor.
He spoke on his age as governor. According to him, “Age is not the issue, it’s the experience. I have been in government for a long time now. I have been a commissioner for three years and a Deputy Governor for two and half years, I can say I know a lot about governance so we would try our best to see how we can move forward”.
Governor Yero pledged his loyalty and support to the national chairman of PDP and members of the NWC.
The courtesy visit was attended by the Acting National Secretary, Barrister Onwe Solomon Onwe, the National Organising Secretary, Alhaji Abubakar Mustapha, National Financial Secretary, Bolaji Anani, National Youth Leader, Umar Chizar, National Woman Leader, Dr. Kema Chikwe and the Deputy National Organising Secretary, Okey Nnadozie.