By Chuks Okocha
National Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, is set to intervene to try to douse growing tensions between the Presidency and the Rivers State government. Tukur said he would use his position and the influence of other stakeholders of the party to restore good relations between President Goodluck Jonathan and Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi.
Disagreements bordering on suspected 2015 presidential ambitions have brought a lot of strain on relations between the president and the governor lately. The largely hushed faceoff blew open in February as the state governors met to elect a new chairman for the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, currently headed by Amaechi. While the governor desired to seek a second term with the apparent support of most of his colleagues, the president felt visibly indisposed to accept his return. This led to the formation of the PDP Governors’ Forum under the alleged supervision of the president.
Jonathan is also alleged to be behind the intrigues surrounding the recent grounding of the Rivers State government-owned aircraft. And the president is widely believed to be sponsoring the Minister of State for Education, Mr. Nyesom Wike, who is from Rivers State, against Amaechi. Wike had orchestrated a recent controversial order by an Abuja High Court that removed the state leadership of PDP that was loyal to Amaechi.
The new PDP state executive sponsored by Wike recently suspended the 27 members of the Rivers State House of Assembly for alleged anti-party activities. But THISDAY gathered that the national secretariat of the party had not yet received the report of the suspension. And the state government has described as illegal the seal-off of the Obio-Akpo local government secretariat by police, who had on Friday taken over the compound to eject the chairman of the council and his councillors on the orders of the Commissioner of Police.
But Tukur told THISDAY in Toronto, Canada, where he was attending a conference, that the party will intervene in the feud between Jonathan and Amaechi, which is believed to be the fundamental source of the aircraft controversy and the brewing crisis in Rivers State.
“PDP is the party that produced the president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, and also the governor. The party is their father. As their father, the party will intervene in the crisis and ensure that there is peace between the president, who is the leader of the party, and the governor,” Tukur said.
He stressed, “Apart from the party, I am like a father to both of them and I will intervene for the overall interest of the party and the well being of both of them. Immediately after this investment conference, the party will put machinery in action to bring the desired peace.
“PDP as a political party is not out for only election winning, but the party shall ensure peace and harmonious relationship between members, when also both members are senior members of the party. We need peace within the party and this is part of the reconciliation that forms the ‘Three R’ agenda of the National Working Committee of the PDP.”
THISDAY gathered that the NWC was yet to receive any official report of the suspension of the 27 members of the Rivers State House of Assembly. Though, a source said the factional state PDP chairman, Felix Obuah, spoke to Tukur by phone on the development when he was already at the departure lounge of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, on his way to Canada.