PDP National Chairman, Bamanga Tukur
• Jonathan’s aides search for successor
By Chuks Okocha
The Presidency may have concluded plans to dump the Peoples Democratic Party national chairman Bamanga Tukur as some aides of President Goodluck Jonathan have commenced a search for a possible replacement.
The president has been under intense pressure in recent weeks to remove Tukur, who has had a running battle with governors elected on the PDP platform.
Sources said Jonathan may have caved in to the demand of some powerful party stakeholders, including the governors, to remove Tukur following reports that during the recent reconciliatory tour of the chairman of the party’s Board of Trustees, Chief Tony Anenih, virtually all the governors he met blamed the national chairman for the crisis in the party, drawing attention to the factional crisis in his home state of Adamawa.
According to a source, there is fear among the PDP governors that the factional crisis in Adamawa State is a plot by the Presidency to gradually take over the structures of the party in the states. The thinking among the PDP governors is that the Adamawa PDP crisis is being used as a test ground to launch attacks on other PDP state governors.
THISDAY gathered that this was the position of most PDP governors that the Anenih’s committee encountered and the panel had made this known to Jonathan.
The president was said to be unhappy with the way the reconciliatory tour embarked upon by the Tukur-led National Working Committee was handled, a situation that resulted in the boycott of the exercise by most of PDP governors.
Besides, despite the controversy generated by the Adamawa State PDP crisis, Tukur recently wrote a letter to the Independent National Electoral Commission to recognise the Joel Madaki faction of the party in the state as the authentic PDP state executive. Tukur and the acting national secretary, Onwe Solomon Onwe, were said to have written INEC without the consent of the NWC.
Tukur’s letter to INEC was irrespective of efforts by the president to resolve the Adamawa State PDP crisis through the setting up of a presidential committee led by Governor Sule Lamido of Jigawa State.
At the moment in the state, the situation looks dicey, as both the Madaki faction, backed by Tukur, and the Mijijnwa Kaugama faction, backed by Governor Murtala Nyako, have commenced sales of forms for the House of Assembly by-election slated for April 19.
It was for these acts, which were interpreted as insubordination, that the president was advised by his close aides to shop for a possible replacement, THISDAY learnt.
The decision to dump Tukur was, apparently, to pacify the PDP governors who are putting the blame for the crisis on the door of the national chairman, whom they accused of running the party as a “personal estate”.
According to the source, “The problem now is where the replacement for Tukur will come from.” Tukur is from Adamawa State – Adamawa and Taraba states were carved from the old Gongola State.
Two ministers and members of the inner cabinet of the president are said to be spearheading the search for Tukur’s successor. One of the ministers is from the South-south while the other is from South-east. They are known to be nursing governorship ambitions and not in good terms with Tukur.
It was also gathered that the chairman of the PDP BoT, Anenih, was not in good terms with Tukur, even though they appear to be on the same page on many issues in the party.
A source told THISDAY that Tukur preferred former Senate President Ken Nnamani as BoT chairman to Anenih, and the former works minister, who was sponsored by the president, was said to be aware of Tukur’s indisposition to his emergence.
A PDP member who knows about its inner workings said, “There is no-love-lost between Tukur and Anenih.”
In the sharing of the offices in the North-east, old Borno State, comprising the present Borno and Yobe states, has the National Vice-chairman, Senator Lawan Girigiri (who was recently suspended by the NWC for anti-party activities, but has been recalled) and old Bauchi State, comprising the present Bauchi and Gombe states, holds the office of Deputy Senate Leader, at present occupied by Senator Abdul Ningi from Bauchi State, and the minister from the zone is also from the state, in person of Senator Bala Muhammed, the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory.
THISDAY understands that since Tukur is from Adamawa State, the replacement could be either from Taraba State or the zone will likely meet to agree on someone. That is in the event of Tukur’s removal.
The caretaker committee appointed by the NWC last year to oversee the activities of the Adamawa State PDP at the height of its factional crisis had on January 8 conducted a state congress to elect a new state executive headed by Madaki, a former state chairman of the party. But the NWC soon reversed itself and reinstated the Kaugama executive, to the apparent dismay of Tukur.