The lingering crisis in the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) intensified on Thursday as President Goodluck Jonathan refused to yield to pressure from governors elected on the party’s platform to sack the National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur.
The governors listed among his constitutional breaches his failure to convene a National Executive Council meeting in the past nine months, and his handling of the removal of the former National Secretary of the party, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola and other officers from the South-West, which they believe plunged the party into an avoidable crisis in the zone.
Investigations showed that the President had flatly rejected the option of dumping Tukur based on the advice of his political strategists who were of the opinion that he would play right into the hands of the governors if he buckles under pressure by sacrificing the party chairman to appease them.
They said that the President would be seen as lacking effective control of the party affairs if he removed Tukur simply because the governors were uncomfortable with him. This was in addition to the fact that the President and the party leadership are uncomfortable with what they felt was the overbearing attitude of the governors who have little or no regard for democracy in the party in their respective state chapters.
The strategists are also insisting that agreeing to the demands of the governors that Tukur be removed in relation with the crisis involving the state executive committee of the Adamawa State chapter of the party would portray the President as being “really weak”.
A top source in the Presidency, who declined being named, said reports that Tukur was in trouble and on the verge of being removed from office were not true.
The source said that the President and his close aides are bitter that the same governors who run the party like emperors in their respective states were fomenting trouble over the issue of the national chairman of the party.
He said, “It is not true that the President is under pressure to remove Tukur as chairman of the PDP. Remove him for doing what?
“Being a governor of a state should not be reduced to student unionism, which is what some of the governors are doing.
“Another saddening aspect of this crisis is that the same governors want to dictate to Mr President on party leadership at the national level are like emperors, unable to tolerate second opinion in their domain.
“The President has nothing against Tukur; he has done nothing to warrant being removed as chairman. If you want to remove somebody, there must be a reason. In this particular case, there are no reasons. Or have they stated their reasons?”
Last week, media reports emerged that Tukur had stirred up fresh trouble with the governors with a declaration that the party was planning fresh primaries for the South-West intended at selecting a replacement for Oyinlola.
Investigations showed that the governors viewed the proposed congress as illegal since the national secretary, like other national officers of the PDP, was not a product of a zonal congress.
An NWC member said, “You will recall that Oyinlola was elected at the national convention held in March last year, just like Tukur . You will recall also that it was Sheu Babayo that emerged as the choice of the North-East but at the national convention, Tukur was elected.
“You will remember that although other candidates stepped down for Oyinlola, votes were cast. In the same way votes were cast for Tukur. If the national chairman wants a replacement for Oyinlola and even for the sacked national auditor, Bode Mustapha, he should be bold enough to convene a national convention.”
It was also gathered that the governors are miffed that Tukur had not made any reference to the stay of execution order granted on June 25, 2012 by the Court of Appeal in Lagos on the post of national secretary of the PDP.
It was also learnt that the governors were angry that the national chairman ignored the stay of execution order and hurriedly sacked Oyinlola and Mustapha.
A source close to one of the governors said, “He (Tukur) is portraying the PDP as a party that has no regard for the rule of law because we don’t understand why he should obey a Federal High Court and tactically avoid the order of the Court of Appeal. ”
It was gathered that because of its impact on the party, the South-West crisis would top the agenda of the next meeting of the PDP Governors’ Forum.
Since his assumption of office, Tukur has not received the full cooperation of the governors. His interference in the running of the party in his home state of Adamawa, is one of the issues being raised against him by the governors.
The governors also believe that he is running a one-man show.
Responding to enquiries from one of our correspondents, PDP National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, on Friday accused the party’s detractors of peddling rumours about a non-existent plan to replace the chairman.
He explained that the chairman had given a good account of himself at the helm of affairs and as such insinuations that the party was planing to replace him were unfounded.
Metuh said, “There is no such plan (to replace Tukur) These are machinations and rumours by the enemy.
“The national chairman of is in charge of the party, he is working well and he has mapped out programmes that will enable PDP to stabilise and win elections. He has no problem, we do not want to start replying such rumours because we know they are a creation of enemies of progress. The party is intact and Bamanga Tukur is working well.”
Also speaking, Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Dr. Ahmed Gulak, on Friday said there was no truth in the report that Jonathan had dumped Tukur.
Gulak, in an interview with one of our correspondents, said the President was solidly behind the party chairman.
He said, “The report that the President is planning to dump Tukur is not true. It is a lie.
“The President is the leader of the party while Tukur is the national chairman of the party. The President is solidly behind Tukur. Anybody who does not like Tukur, does not like the President.”