Days after media reports quoted the National Chairman of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, Chief Bamanga Tukur, as calling statements by five northern governors ‘unguarded’, the ruling party chairman has come out to deny ever asking his spokesman to release that statement on his behalf.
Tukur on Wednesday said that his media aide, Oliver Okpala was not acting under instructions from him when he (Okpala) insulted the governors for calling for the PDP chairman’s removal as a precondition for peace in the party.
However, it was learnt in Abuja on Wednesday night that the embattled Tukur had caved in to pressure to withdraw his abuse of the governors.
The governors – Aliyu Babangida (Niger); Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano); Aliyu Wamakko(Sokoto), Sule Lamido (Jigawa); and Murtala Nyako (Adamawa) – were said to have canvassed the removal of Tukur as chairman during their series of meetings with ex-dictators Ibrahim Babangida and Abdulsalami Abubakar; and ex-Presidents Shehu Shagari and Olusegun Obasanjo.
They were said to be planning to meet other leaders like Gen. Yakubu Gowon, Chief Ernest Shonekan and Lt.-Gen. T.Y. Danjuma (retd.)
Okpala, speaking for Tukur in a statement on Tuesday, described the governors’ demand for his removal as unguarded and asked them to desist from acts which he said were capable of truncating the nation’s democracy.
He had advised the governors to pass their grievances through the normal party channel instead of fanning the embers of disunity in the party.
He had said whereas the governors had the fundamental right to meet and discuss with each other and express their views, such views and comments must be in tandem with civilisation, decorum and humility.
He had also asked the governors to show respect to constituted authority and leaders, including the PDP national chairman who he said, had contributed immensely to the peace process and development of the country.
In a twist on Wednesday, however, Tukur denied authorising Okpala’s statement and that he could not possibly abuse the governors over their “consultative efforts” to restore peace to the party.
In another statement in Abuja, Tukur, who spoke through another aide, Ahmed Gara Gombe, said he was currently in Saudi Arabia for the Lesser Hadji and that he did not approve Okpala’s statement.
However, it was learnt that Okpala’s statement was indeed seen and approved by the embattled PDP chairman before he travelled to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday.
Besides, the statement being disowned was said to have been seen by another senior aide of the chairman (name withheld) who reportedly said “it is fine” before it was released.
The Gombe statement on Wednesday read, “The consultative efforts of the five governors happened before the newly established reconciliation committee of the party, therefore it is unthinkable for the media assistant to have condemned the northern governors of not utilising the reconciliation committee as a medium or channel to table their grievances.
“The national chairman, therefore, wishes to re-emphasise his support for any initiative towards reconciliation by any members regardless of who is promoting it.”
Gombe said that there was mutual respect among these governors and that it was not certain that the governors actually asked President Jonathan to remove Tukur from office.
He said the PDP chairman was happy with the intervention of the governors in the Rivers State crisis, adding that their discussion with the President on the matter was already yielding fruitful results.
He also said Tukur would not resign from office as being speculated.
“The national chairman wishes to unequivocally state that he has not resigned as he is not ready to resign as chairman of the party,” the statement said.
Meanwhile, Presidency sources on Wednesday said the governors never made any request for the President to remove any of his ministers as part of the efforts to resolve the Tukur/governors imbroglio.
A source in the Presidency said the five governors did not make any request for Jonathan to remove any of his ministers and that even if they did, the President would never sacrifice any member of his cabinet.
The source stated further that removing ministers because of the governors’ face-off would portray Jonathan as a weak leader who had lost control of his party.
“The outcome of the meeting of the President and the four PDP northern governors has been slanted, curiously to include matters that were not on the agenda and never mentioned in the meeting,” the source said,.