It has been revealed that the decision by 16 governors of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) to stay away from the grand finale of the party’s peace tour on Sunday in Abuja was due to the refusal of the National Chairman of the party, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, to convene a meeting of the party’s National Executive Committee; and also what they feel is the lukewarm attitude of the party to their problems, particularly the insecurity in Kano State.
Only two of the 23 governors elected on the platform of the PDP – Akwa Ibom’s Godswill Akpabio and Kogi’s Idris Wada – were in attendance. 5 other governors sent in their deputies to represent them.
The mass boycott also comes on the heels of speculations that some PDP governors are finalizing moves to defect to the newly-formed All Progressives’ Congress (APC)
A governor, who declined being named, said that he and his colleagues were opposed to the breaching of the party’s constitution by Tukur.
The source said: “Part of our grouse is that the National Chairman has refused to call a NEC meeting since July 2012. Instead, he is trying to bully or whip everyone into line, as if we are school boys.
“We do not know why the party leadership has refused to comply with the provision of PDP Constitution on NEC. We learnt that Tukur is afraid that we might use the NEC to pass a vote of no confidence in him.
“We will not honour him, until he abides by Section 12.74 of the PDP Constitution.”
The section reads: “The NEC shall meet at least once in every quarter at the instance of the chairman or at the request of two-third of its membership, who shall notify the chairman at least seven days prior to the meeting and an emergency meeting be summoned by the National Chairman having regard to all the circumstances of the agenda.”
The governor also alleged that PDP under Tukur had “lukewarm attitude to the problems in some PDP controlled states, especially the security challenges in Kano State.
“We are all unhappy with Tukur’s leadership but our national leader, President Goodluck Jonathan, appears to be more at home with him because of the 2015 presidential election.”
The actions of the governors on Sunday is said to have made the party leaders to begin desperate moves to put its peace moves back on track as it has realized that Tukur’s peace tour only ended up polarizing the party the more.
The party’s Board of Trustees chairman, Chief Tony Anenih yesterday met with the Kano State Governor, Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso in Kano, in the company of a former President of the Senate, Chief Ken Nnamani; three former national chairmen of PDP-Chief Barnabas Gemade, Senator Ahmadu Ali, and Dr. Haliru Bello Mohammed – Chief Ebenezer Babatope and Air Vice Marshal Larry Koinyan(rtd).
Also, the Secretary of the Board of Trustees of the party, Sen. Walid Jibrin, said, “Our chairman of BoT is already visiting the states to discuss with the governors and I know that his discussion is yielding fruitful results. He will visit all the governors and have one-on-one discussion with them. The governors are with us.”
A party source said: “With the failure of the reconciliatory tour of the National Chairman of PDP, Chief Tony Anenih has now been saddled with the responsibility of salvaging the party from collapse.
“As a matter of fact, Anenih conceived the reconciliation programme but while he was trying to implement his vision, Tukur emerged from nowhere with the failed reconciliatory tours.Most PDP governors, stalwarts and members boycotted Tukur’s tour because it was not well-intended.I think we may have good reasons to listen to Anenih, who does not mind to call a spade a spade.”
He added that the governors were becoming more emboldened and that their actions could lead to the disintegration of the PDP.
The source, who is a member of the party’s NWC, said that it was amazing that most of the governors refused to be part of the reconciliatory meeting in their zones.
He said, “Imagine, in the whole of North-Central Zone, no single governor was on ground to receive us, even when they knew that the tour was being led by our national chairman.
“While some of them were benevolent to send their deputies to represent them, there were those who even sent deputy speakers of their Houses of Assembly.
“That is very bad. Even in North-East, only two governors attended the meeting. Yet, the governors know that this is the zone of the chairman.
“While we were holding the meeting, we have it on good authority that one of the governors from the zone was busy inaugurating some projects in his state.
“In South-South Zone, some governors even left us in the hall and walked away. The party is in crisis; we don’t need to pretend any longer.”
It was learnt that the Presidency and the party had thought that the plan to dislodge the governors of their powers by threatening to start e-registration of members would make the governors shift their opposition to the leadership of the party.
However, despite setting up the PDP Governors’ Forum with the intention of destabilizing the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, the Presidency has been unable to break the ranks of the governors.
The failed reconciliation marked the second challenge Tukur would face in one year, after the G-84 members in the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) had on January 9, 2013 written President Goodluck Jonathan, claiming that the party was stinking.
The G-84 comprises eight deputy members of the National Working Committee (NWC), 24 ex-officio, 37 state chairmen of PDP and some former leaders of the party.
They alleged that the National Working Committee (NWC) was becoming cultish, with the total exclusion of elected officers of the party and thus, urged President Jonathan, as the national leader, to save the party from brinkmanship.
The issues tabled before the President by the G-84 are:
•breach of PDP constitution by not holding National Executive Committee(NEC) meeting;
•wrongful and consistent misinterpretation of PDP constitution;
•management of the party in a cultish nature;
•exclusion of elected party officers by NWC;
•Wasting of party resources on personal events, functions, and chartering of aircraft;
•Fixing of wages and allowances by NWC members to the detriment of other elected officers; and
•arbitrary sharing of honourarium both in cash and kind.
However, Tukur has come out in defence of the governors, saying their absence at the Sunday peace meeting was unavoidable as some of the governors were not in the country, and they did not have to attend as the meeting was not meant for them.
This comes even as the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, denied boycotting the meeting, and said he could not attend as he was in the United Kingdom on that day.
“The Speaker was in the UK on a visit when the meeting was held. He has not returned to the country,” said his media adviser, Imam Imam.
A statement from the office of the PDP National Chairman read, “Many of the governors were absent from the rally mainly because they were part of the reconciliation meetings in their respective zones, and had made useful contributions during the visit by the National Working Committee members, a reason it was never compelling for them to be in Abuja.
“Some of the governors were not in Nigeria during the weekend event while others contacted the national headquarters about their inability to be in Abuja for the rally with stated reasons.
“The reconciliation meetings across the zones and Abuja were meant for members, most especially those who were estranged, and not necessarily for state governors who had played their parts meaningfully in the party’s reconciliation agenda at the zonal level.”
Tukur also gave himself a passmark as he called the reconciliation process a huge success.
“We were in the southeast zone and the governors turned out. When we visited the South-South, Governors Uduaghan, Akpabio and Amaechi came to welcome us and made useful suggestions.
“Indeed, the Rivers State governor spoke to us on behalf of all the PDP governors. Bayelsa State governor, I reckoned was busy with a special task, while the same story of success trailed our visit to the north”, the chairman added.
Tukur appealed to the media to show a deeper understanding in the party’s efforts to promote democracy, inclusiveness and a sense of harmony among members as he said that the party remains the best political instrument for deepening democracy in the country.
He said the PDP would always be ready to partner with the media in the task of nation building, appealing to the media not to give a chance to those he described as pseudo-democrats whose sole agenda is to pull down the PDP while having nothing tangible to offer Nigeria.
“This is the first time in the history of democracy in Nigeria that the NWC of a party would embark on a nationwide tour on reconciliation drive.
“This is the first time that the leadership of the party went out of comfort to have a feel of what has been happening to our members at the grassroots. This is the first time that we are making conscious efforts to return the party to the owners; the ordinary members.
“Who should appreciate these kind of efforts, if not you people in the media? If we are making efforts to promote peace in national interest, no right thinking person or group of persons should make attempts to promote hate and cause disharmony.
“I think the media should not join the pseudo-democrats, the demagogues and treacherous fellows who always love to reap from chaos and crises. This is why we require media support in our desire to re-invent politics and recreate Nigeria,” he continued.
The party chair said the PDP would never succumb to blackmail, coming from those he described as virulent opponents of the party whose desire is to paint a picture of a PDP being at war with itself.
He stressed that the PDP has always been in a healthy accord with its members and all its governors, as evident by the encouraging outcome of the reconciliation tours across the federation.
Tukur was quoted to also have said that the PDP had realised that imposition of candidates during elections had been the root cause of the misunderstanding within the party.
The party, he said, has been fashioning out agenda to promote internal democracy and transparency in future elections, as a means of earning the confidence of its members.
Akwa Ibom State Governor, Godswill Akpabio also offered explanations for the absence of his colleagues as ‘they were not aware’.
“There is really no crisis in the PDP. The one year anniversary that was celebrated by the NWC at the International Conference Centre yesterday (Sunday) was not well publicised. Many governors were not aware of that ceremony.
“I got to know about the ceremony just a night before the event. I had a visit of the National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh, and he asked me if I will be at the conference centre on Sunday and I asked him for what and he said grand finale of the zonal meeting of the national chairman and I said I wasn’t aware of it,” said Akpbio, who also heads the PDP Governors’ Forum, as he came out of a closed-door meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan at the State House on Monday.
“I hosted the Super Eagles in my state on Saturday and I felt let me struggle to represent the governors of the PDP who definitely were not aware. I know that if there was no single governor there, the next thing Nigerians will say is that the governors boycotted.
“I think it was a slightly rushed affair, it was not well publicised. I don’t blame any state governor that was not there. I was even surprised that the governor of Kogi State managed to be there. Clearly speaking, we cannot blame any state governors, it wasn’t a boycott.”
Akpabio also disclosed that contrary to the belief that some PDP governors would abandon the party, they were the ones currently wooing their colleagues in opposition parties to join them.
He said the PDP governors had already set up what he called a tactical committee saddled with the responsibility of luring opposition parties’ governors into their fold.
He said, “The thing is that even now, the opposition is rattled. You can see the barrage of attacks against the chairman of the PDP Governors Forum. That is a sign that the opposition is rattled.
“For instance, we made a paltry donation of a million naira to a state to help delegates and you made it an issue. They set up panels on television and radio stations to discuss the issue.
“If you translate the money, it will come to less than N2,000 per person. If a delegate appears at a function that the party leader does not buy lunch, or give money for transport. So it is something that we are leaving the main issue and going into trivial issues.”