Governor Danbaba Suntai
Peoples Democratic Party National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, and some leading members of the party’s National Working Committee have left for Germany to visit ailing Taraba State Governor Danbaba Suntai.
Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum and Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi, along with two other governors have also visited Suntai. The three governors were chosen by the Governors' Forum for the get-well visit.
The Taraba State governor is being treated at a German hospital for serious injuries he sustained when his plane crashed at a Yola suburb on October 25. Others injured in the crash of the aircraft piloted by Suntai himself, were his Chief Security Officer (CSO) Dangana Tino; Chief Detail, Joel Danladi; and his Aide-de-camp (ADC), DSP Iliya Dasat.
Suntai is believed to be hospitalised in the northwestern German city of Hanover.
Though,Tukur, PDP National Publicity Secretary Olisa Metu and another NWC member as well as the governors left for Germany on Thursday, they travelled separately.
It was gathered that the governors on the trip included Anambra State governor, Peter Obi and his Ekiti State counterpart, Dr. Kayode Fayemi. They travelled in Amaechi's jet and they are already back in the country.
Meanwhile, ahead of the PDP National Executive Committee meeting expected to take place November ending or early December, the Tukur- led NWC has been trying to persuade the ex-officio members of NEC, the 36 states chairmen of the party, and chairman of the Federal Capital Territory chapter to support him against any untoward developments at the forthcoming meeting. The visit to the Taraba State governor, sources say, is part of the rapprochement being initiated by Tukur.
THISDAY was informed that as part of the strategy to solicit support for the NWC and Tukur, his political adviser, Alhaji Ahmed Gusau, had met with the ex-officio members of NEC, otherwise called the G.84, two weeks ago.
The G.84 comprises majority of the 140 voting members of the PDP NEC.
They are influential because they are known to traditionally cast their votes en bloc. At the meeting, it was gathered that Gusau pleaded for the ex-officio members’ support for his boss at the forthcoming NEC meeting, promising that whatever shortcomings the NWC is perceived to have would be rectified soon.
The NWC has also summoned an emergency meeting of the 36 states chairmen and FCT chairman of the party in an apparent move to cement ties before the crucial NEC meeting. The emergency meeting is expected to hold Tuesday this week.
The forum of PDP state chairmen is under the chairmanship of the Benue State chairman of the party, Dr. Emmanuel Agbo. Delta State PDP chairman, Chief Nwaobosi, is the secretary.
Some NEC members, it is gathered, are not happy with the reconciliatory agenda of the NWC, which is aimed at bringing back some members that had left the party. In Plateau and Abia states, for instance, the party has voiced its objection to the planned return of some members.
NEC members also feel aggrieved at the dissolution of the Adamawa State PDP executive and suspension of the North-east chairman of the party.
All these have caused an uneasy calm in the party, which has motivated some northern states governors, led by Governor Isa Yuguda of Bauchi State, to try with every available means to rally support for the NWC under Tukur
According to a source, “The northern governors were being reminded of what happened when the former national chairman Okwesilieze Nwodo from South-east was removed from office and then Deputy National Chairman Haliru Mohammed Bello from North-west was made to act, pending the national convention.
“The deputy national chairman, Dr. Sam Sam Jaja, would assume office as chairman should the NEC take any negative decision against Tukur.
“If this happens, with Sam Sam Jaja as acting national chairman, then the office of the national chairman and president of the country would be in the South-south. The chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Governor Chibuike Amaechi, is also from the South-south and the national secretary of the party, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, is from the South-west, therefore, the north would have no stronghold in the party.”
The source explained that this calculation would affect the chances of the north at the presidency by 2015, hence the need to support Tukur to enable him continue as chairman.
THISDAY gathered that the move to unite behind the national chairman was the brainchild of the governors of Gombe, Sokoto and Bauchi states.
The source said it was Yuguda and Governor Aliyu Wamako of Sokoto State who spearheaded efforts to resolve the lingering disagreement between Tukur and Nyako over control of the Adamawa State chapter of PDP in an attempt to obviate the negative implications of Tukur’s possible removal on the PDP family in the North.
A senior presidency official had used the opportunity of the public hearings on the constitution amendment to meet with members of the National Assembly last week in Kaduna, where the issue of shoring up support for Tukur was the main agenda for discussion.
Relations between the PDP national chairman and governors elected on the party’s platform had become strained following the recent dissolution of the Adamawa State PDP state executive committee by the NWC. Citing Article 31(2) of the PDP constitution, NWC had dissolved the Adamawa State executive, which was loyal to Nyako, and set up a caretaker committee, headed by Ambassador Umar Damagun, from Yobe State, to manage the affairs of the party in the state till a new executive is elected.
The move, thought to be sponsored by Tukur, followed the state PDP’s organisation of a primary election ahead of local council election, allegedly, against the advice of the NWC.
Currently, there is an interim court injunction reversing the dissolution and restraining the NWC from taking further action on the matter pending the determination of the substantive suit filed by members of the state executive of PDP.
The PDP governors, led by chairman of NGF, Amaechi, have so far failed in their attempts to broker peace between the PDP national chairman and his home state governor.
THISDAY learnt that Tukur is insisting on the withdrawal of the court case instituted by the Adamawa PDP against the party’s national leadership as a basis for any peace negotiation.
Ahead of the PDP NEC meeting, Tukur, obviously, perceives the Adamawa problem as a potential two-edged sword that may consume him.
He is holding out an olive branch to the governors, though, it is not clear whether that includes backing down on the dissolution of the Adamawa State executive of PDP, which is a key demand of the governors.