From all indications, the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, is more of a liability now than an asset, writes Olawale Olaleye
It is not enough that the much talked about August 31, special national convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has been held and done with. That it turned out one solution far from the problems it sought to resolve is curious. Whilst on the surface, the problems of the PDP are a hand full; further down, they threaten the stability of the country and constitute a huge distraction to governance at different levels.
However, at the centre of it all is the National Chairman of the party, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur. Otherwise an asset of the party as at March 2012, when he newly assumed office, Tukur seems to have acquired such baggage now that would sink with him even a ‘life guard’. He is everything but a quintessential chairman of a political party as large as the PDP.
His case is both shocking and disconcerting at the same time. From his conducts as PDP chairman to his carriage in office, utterances in both personal and official capacities and his attitudinal disposition, Tukur is to say the least, one of the biggest disappointments of the President Goodluck Jonathan administration, having come into office with loads of goodwill, though through a guided national convention over a year ago.
With a record that is stellar somewhat, Tukur boasted such pedigree that even his opponents needed not much persuasion to give way in the March 2012 convention. A prominent businessman and politician, who had served as Minister of Industries in the administration of the late General Sani Abacha in the 1990s, he was as at 2012, the president of the Africa Business Roundtable before his election as PDP National Chairman.
What more, his life and career offer such an interesting reading because of the successes they celebrate! An indigene of Adamawa State, Tukur was once the governor of the old Gongola State, which encompassed today’s Adamawa and Taraba States. He yet recorded such feats without a university education, a situation that ordinarily should underscore competence and experience as against emphasis on academic degrees as it is now obtainable.
Today, however, many would reckon that PDP is now a shadow of itself as some of the reasons for the party’s misfortune are being traced to Tukur, back-to-back. Starting with his obvious interest in the politics of his state of Adamawa, where he is alleged to be aiming to install his son as successor to Governor Murtala Nyako, Tukur has consciously led other zones to crises which except for miracle, may never be remedied, put differently the boasting that it always comes out of its challenges stronger.
Supposedly blinded by the determination to make his son governor of the state, Tukur began the struggle for control of the political structure in the state, without which he could have a hold on the state’s party executive. The opportunity, however, came when the PDP conducted primary elections for councillorship positions for the local council elections without allegedly securing approval from the PDP national secretariat.
The national PDP, obviously airing the views of Tukur voided the elections and stopped the primaries for the chairmanship positions. But Nyako too, poised to maintain his hold on the party structure, went on with the chairmanship primaries and since then, Adamawa PDP has not known peace.
Apart from being accused of avoiding a National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting, because he feared that the gathering could pass a no-confidence-vote in him, Tukur is also accused of several breaches of the party’s constitution. It is for same reason that PDP stakeholders had pondered invoking the relevant sections of the party’s constitution in an attempt to make him address issues affecting the party.
The move, insiders said, became necessary in view of Tukur’s leadership style in the last one year, which has fragmented the PDP. Those advancing the management audit of Tukur’s style also asserted that the chairman sees himself as greater than any individual and as such, party members should subject themselves to his command. His administration, more than any other, has imbibed and encouraged the culture of arbitrary suspension and expulsion of members even without sufficient investigations, sometimes with disregard to fair-hearing.
Other alleged breaches of Tukur included the fact that he failed to remove some members of the National Working Committee (NWC) when he should have and operated a parallel NWC. He was also accused of shifting party’s official functions to personal residence through which he successfully polarised the NWC. The decision to move his PDP office to his Wuse 11, Abuja home, was reportedly taken as a result of his allegation that deliberations of NWC were filtering out of PDP national headquarters.
Worse still, Tukur was said to have refused to be accountable and allow stakeholders in the party to be carried along in the running of the affairs of the party. This he did even as he was said to have the penchant for disobeying court orders and refusing to honour constitutional provisions on freedom, equality and justice, as well as promoting divisions among various interests in the PDP.
Particularly niggling is the swirling allegation of corruption against him. Across the zones is the alleged meddlesomeness of Tukur and the festering of the cracks in the party by throwing overt support behind some individuals and groups in the party against the others.
One of such examples is the South-west PDP in which the chairman is said to have been the crux of its undoing, with particular reference to his unholy affair with one of the financiers of the party from Ogun State, Buruju Kashamu. His recent visit to Lagos State to attend the 50th birthday ceremony of Kashamu’s wife was believed to have lent credence to the allegation of corruption and a curious affair between the two characters.
Not only was he received by Kashamu, allegedly without the knowledge of other prominent PDP executive members in the zone, Tukur was said to have also ignored protocol despite giving the impression that he was on a peace mission to the zone.
As a result, stakeholders in the zone frowned on such a situation because Kashamu, despite allegation of corruption and criminal accusations levelled against him is said to still command a huge police protection, allegedly made possible by Tukur, who was believed to have tapped into his contacts in the police force to protect “his friend”. In fact, the news doing the rounds, even though it may sound absurd, is that the national chairman is on the payroll of Kashamu as do some PDP leaders.
Therefore, those angling for disciplinary action against Tukur have argued that there must be efficiency in a serious and credible political movement like the PDP for the party to continue to occupy its place in the national equation.
They insisted that PDP is being run as a fiefdom, in spite of the fact that its NWC, which is responsible for its day-to-day management is accountable to its supporters and sympathisers through the NEC of the party, adding that Tukur has continued to take many unilateral decisions that are negatively rubbing off on the image and fortune of the party.
Nonetheless, the inability of the authorities to see Tukur’s alleged mismanagement of the party and its various tendencies, in addition to the fact that he may have become a political liability resulted in the split of the party’s rank at Saturday’s special convention in Abuja. Also, with the swelling of support that is daily being extended to the new PDP led by Alhaji Kawu Baraje, the more difficult the options that are available to Tukur’s PDP.
Ironically, as the PDP continues to boil, Tukur still does not see himself as part of the problem, let alone chief amongst them hence he has continued to threaten to deal with the aggrieved members even when chairman of the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the party, Chief Tony Anenih, recognised their grouse as genuine and sought a peaceful resolution of the crisis that now threatens the re-election of President Jonathan.
It is therefore clear, that the crisis in the PDP has its roots in corruption, poor administration, cabal regime, winner-takes-all syndrome and above all, inept leadership, all of which are linked to Tukur. It is for same reason that the president is advised by analysts to re-examine the Tukur matter and take such actions that would dispel the growing beliefs that he cannot effectively take decisions that will put both the party and country back on the track because he lacks the political will and foresight to do so.