by Ismaila Lere, Muideen Olaniyi, Ismail Adebayo & Ben Atonko
President Goodluck Jonathan
. There’s a gang-up against Tukur – Aide
. ‘PDP Chairman has hidden agenda’
Though President Goodluck Jonathan’s apologists have shut out internal opponents from the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the war over control of the party, far from over, gets dirtier.
Chief Cyna Nwanyanwu is upbeat about his dream of becoming the National Publicity Secretary of the ruling party. Already, he has purchased a nomination form for N300,000, and has begun to lobby the lords of the party to solicit their support for his ambition. It would be his second shot at the coveted position in the PDP. In 2012, when he first contested for the position, the controversial consensus of the party gave the job to Chief Olise Metuh. Chief Nwanyanwu is not the only one who has purchased the form. From across the country, many have. Candidates for the zonal National Vice Chairmen are paying N100,000 each. Those for zonal Secretary are paying N30,000 each, while those vying for other zonal positions are paying N15,000. For the national offices, the stake are higher and so are the fees. Those vying for the position of National Secretary are paying N500,000 each, while those who are seeking other offices in the National Working Committee are to pay N300,000 each. The position of National Chairman is not in contest, except a new zoning formula emerges. Chief Nwanyanwu’s dream, with those of other hopeful PDP executive members, is still tentative. It cannot be realised until the misunderstanding and mutual suspicion between the PDP’s National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur and Professor Jerry Gana, the Chairman of the Special Convention Committee are sorted out. Almost two months after the special convention committee to elect a new National Working Committee (NWC) was set up at the National Executive Committee (NEC) held on June 20, the quarrel between the NWC and Professor Gana came in the open. First, the special convention’s delegates claimed to have gone to Tukur’s house in Abuja to confer with him on the progress being made, but that they were prevented from entering the chairman’s premises. Second, at the Legacy House outpost-secretariat of the party, the conference room allocated to the committee for its work was locked and members were prevented from using it. Third, the chairman came hard on Gana’s committee by openly annulling its programmes and plans, saying the party would take over the assignment and do the right thing.
GENESIS OF THE COLD WAR A personal aide of Alhaji Tukur, Alhaji Ahmed Shuaibu Gara Gombe, told Sunday Trust in an interview that several things were wrong with the way the committee was set up and how it had been carrying out its activities. For one, Alhaji Gombe said, the Special Convention Committee was not inaugurated before it started its activities. The National Chairman, he said, is supposed to have inaugurated the body. Second, he claimed that the National Chairman was not involved in the nomination of the committee membership, hence there is no member of the NWC on the special convention committee. Thirdly, the committee had carried out its activities in a suspicious manner as it hardly made recourse to Alhaji Tukur. And the fourth reason is that it is suspected that each member of the committee has a personal ambition to prosecute. Alhaji Gombe said, “They were not sensitive enough. When the chairman is Christian, the deputy must be Muslim or vice versa. This is because of the country we live in. Under normal circumstances, where they are all Christians or all Muslims, there’s no problem. They brought Ambassador Aminu Wali and made him the vice chairman of that Convention committee. “They brought Alhaji Musa Babayo and made him deputy to Senator Ike Ikwerenmadu. Some of them have lost relevance in their constituencies; they come to the centre and are looking for relevance. “And Professor Gana’s role is an insult to Bamanga Tukur and that’s not acceptable to Bamanga Tukur. And Bamanga Tukur has tolerated Prof. Gana so much. Governor Godswill Akpabio who does not even have the much-needed experience even among the PDP governors was there when he was supposed to have advised them to respect the chairman. He did not do that. All of them have their own agenda. “Professor Gana wanted to use the convention to hit at Governor Babangida Aliyu in Niger State. Sen. Ikwerenmadu wants to be governor; Ambassador Aminu Wali is fighting Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso; Akpabio has seen a better platform to assume leadership of PDP governors. “We believe President Jonathan has not been fully briefed about the implications of what the committee members are doing, and the only thing some of them know is that they tell the president that they are doing it because such persons are his enemies.” At a press conference last week, Professor Gana explained that the committee of the special convention was set up by NEC, hence it cannot be subjected to the whims and caprices of the NWC, which Alhaji Tukur heads. He had said, “It was several years back that the party resolved that for each convention, we have a special convention planning committee. This is just like what is happening in the country. You cannot have a situation where the Federal Executive Council is organising a national election. That is why we have an INEC. “It is part of fairness, it is part of democracy; it is part of making sure that democracy is not truncated by selfishness. So, we are not in any conflict. The assignment given to us was communicated to us again by the NWC. I assure you that we will never go beyond what we have been assigned.” Another member of the special convention committee, who told Sunday Trust that he was not authorized to speak, hence he should not be quoted directly claimed that the committee was not inaugurated by the National Chairman because of the time-frame between the period it was set up and when the election was to take place in July. He claimed, however, that no step had been taken without the knowledge of the National Chairman, adding that on the day Professor Gana and Senator Ekweremadu were locked out, they had gone to Alhaji Tukur’s house to confer with him on the need to change the date of the special convention because of the Ramadan.
THE ANENIH CONNECTION The name of the Board of Trustees Chairman of the PDP, Chief Tony Anenih, rings a bell in the controversy. The no love lost relationship between him and Alhaji Tukur is not hidden, considering the speculation that he had previously written a damning report about the role of the National Chairman in the festering PDP crisis. On the basis of that report, Alhaji Tukur would have been sent packing, if it were not for the intervention of President Goodluck Jonathan. Again, in the quarrel between Tukur and Gana, Alhaji Gombe claimed that there is an unseen hand of Chief Anenih in the saga. Alhaji Gombe alleged that: “Tony Anenih is trying to undermine Bamanga Tukur’s authority. Yes, he’s trying to undermine Bamanga Tukur’s authority as party chairman. He’s not the first and only chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees. They are supposed to be partners in progress but what these people are trying to do is creating a parallel PDP. We now have two PDPs; one led by Professor Gana and the other by Bamanga Tukur.” Last week, Professor Gana denied running a parallel executive and a member of his committee told our reporter that the relationship between the committee and Chief Anenih was not special. “When he decides on any issue, we seek the blessing of the party’s elders, among them Chief Anenih. We have to consult him because he’s the BoT Chairman. It’s the same way we consulted the president and other elders of the party. There’s no way we can say he’s using us.” However, our checks revealed that most chairmen of the sub-committees of the special convention were drawn from the BoT, which Chief Anenih controls, while there is no chairman from Alhaji Tukur’s NWC. Members of BoT heading committees include Dr Bello Haliru Mohammed (Chairman, Contact and Mobilisation); Senator Walid Jibrin (Chairman, Accreditation); Senator Ken Nnamani (Chairman, Electoral Committee); Dr Musa Babayo (Chairman, Protocol Committee); Senator Ike Ekweremadu (Chairman, Secretariat Sub-Committee), and Professor Jerry Gana (Chairman of the Committee). The only office allocated to the NWC is Publicity, which has been allocated to the National Chairman’s office.
WHY COMMITTEE CHAIRMANSHIP MATTERS IN PDP In the PDP, conventions are lucrative seasons for party leaders, as it is usually a period when NWC members benefit from the spoil that drop from the table of governors and the Presidency. Chairmen of committees have votes which they spend as they wish. Hence, the NWC would not take it kindly when such opportunity is taken away from them and given to BoT members. But this is just a simple explanation. The deeper implication of removing the committees from the control of the party, and especially the National Chairman is that he would not be able to influence the turn of events at the convention. For one, the Electoral Committee, now headed by Senator Ken Nnamani will be involved in planning how the elections would take place. An independent-minded politician, Senator Nnamani may not be amenable to the position of Alhaji Tukur under any circumstances. Secondly, one of the opponents of Alhaji Tukur at the last election, Dr Musa Babayo has been put in charge of Protocol Committee. Dr Babayo defeated Tukur at the North-East zonal primary election in 2012, and felt cheated when Jonathan insisted on making Tukur National Chairman. If he is put in charge of Protocol Committee, which is to determine delegates from the various states, Alhaji Tukur would not be at peace with it. Then, the juicy one, the Welfare Committee, is to be headed by Senator Florence Ita-Giwa. This would take away the chunk of the resources from Wadata Plaza to an outsider. The Welfare Committee determines what and how ‘allowances’ are paid to delegates. A member of the special convention committee told our reporter that the above is the crux of the matter. According to him, “Tukur wants to determine who comes to the convention as delegates because he doesn’t want any of the old NWC members who have purchased forms to return. “Therefore, he’s not comfortable with Dr Musa Babayo being in charge. He’s not happy that Senator Nnamani will be in charge of the election, and Dr Uduaghan as Chairman of the Essential Election Material Committee. “He wants to be in control of the election. Part of the demands being made by the NWC is that they should be given the slots to appoint chairmen of six committees, including Electoral, Screening, Essential Materials, Protocol, Publicity and Welfare. “If Tukur is in charge of these committees, then he would determine those who would come in as delegates and eventually those who would become NWC members. He has not forgiven all of them because they upturned his decision on Adamawa State Executive Committee. “But, if you want a transparent electoral process, then you have to bring those who are above board to conduct the election, and that’s what Professor Gana has done.” However, Tukur’s aide explained why his boss disbanded the committee thus: “There is a procedure for the appointment of convention sub-committees. It is the prerogative of the National Working Committee (NWC). They will ask the Presidency to submit list. They will consult Governors. They will consult zonal chairmen and state chairmen. They will consult everybody. “They will also appoint Secretary for the committee. They will provide logistics and some of the secretariat job. They just came from nowhere and said the Secretary of the convention committee is Ike Ekweremadu, Deputy Chairman is Godswill Akpabio and Chairman is Jerry Gana. “Is that how things are done? And they went ahead and put 100 names for convention. There was never a time PDP put 100 names. So, they should go and retrace their footsteps, respect the Chairman and his office so that the right thing will be done for the betterment of the party. Otherwise, they will keep on ridiculing themselves. “As for the BoT Chairman, between him and the Chairman, there should be mutual respect. He should respect the Chairman as an elder statesman and citizen of Nigeria and respect his office. If he respects the Chairman, then the Chairman will respect him.”
THEY ALL WANT TO WIN JONATHAN’S HEART A former member of the NWC, who is contesting for a position at the special convention, told Sunday Trust that the face-off between the committee and Tukur is a mere competition for Jonathan’s attention. He said, “I will tell you that the in-fighting is over the suspicion by the two principal officers of the party that they are trying to usurp each other’s powers. In anyway, this will not stop the convention that the party is planning to hold in August this year. We know it’s a fight between two elephants but do they know if they will remain there before that time? Anything can happen. “Each of them wants to be seen as the person doing the job or doing the right thing. They want to be relevant in the scheme of things and as well get the ears of the president. Whatever it is, the convention will take place, people will vote whoever they want and we will move forward,” he said. He continued thus: “People are already picking forms to contest the positions that are vacant in the party and the process to the convention is in place. But like every human formation there is bound to be crisis where you have three or more people holding meetings and there is the feeling of people trying to outdo one another. “So, what is going on in PDP is not unusual. Don’t forget it’s common of us in Nigeria to be seen as usurping other people’s powers. It’s true that we are witnessing crisis in the party and people are divided into camps but it’s not unusual, the party will overcome it soon.” It was not clear last night how the convention would hold. A member of the committee told Sunday Trust last night that President Jonathan has asked the PDP to work with Professor Gana, and with that, Tukur’s announcement cancelling the activities of the special committee had been overruled. However, Alhaji Gombe insisted otherwise. “It’s not true. It’s a lie. That was not what the President says. They just turn it upside down because they want to say they have started meetings. The President said he would like them to go and respect the position of the National Chairman. The President did not say he should go and open office for them. And due process is going to be followed. “Already, the Chairman has written a letter to INEC suspending the convention completely. And there is no other letter superseding that one. So, it is until such a time when the Chairman writes to INEC that it will allow them to continue. But he has not done that. No other person is allowed to write to INEC. It’s only the Chairman. So, it’s not true. It is misleading. It is just desperation that is pushing them to go and concoct those stories that the President gave Bamanga a directive. The President did not give Bamanga any directive on that.”
TUKUR vs THE GLADIATORS
1. BAMANGA TUKUR Embattled Chairman of the PDP. Has lost favour with PDP state governors and other top members like chairman of the party’s board of trustees, Chief Anthony Anenih, all of who are complaining about Tukur’s style of management. He was nearly removed from the position on June 20, 2013 at a crucial meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC) where all other members of the National Working Committee (NWC) were judicially compelled to resign. President Goodluck Jonathan saved him on the eve of the crucial meeting. Tukur feels he is being marginalised in arrangements for the August 31 special convention where substantive officers of the NWC will be elected.
2. CHIEF ANTHONY ANENIH Within the PDP, they call him Leader. And indeed, he seems to be leading the troops, as intrigues for the re-election of President Jonathan build up. He is chairman of the party’s board of trustees, an unconstitutional but powerful organ in the party, as well as chairman of the Nigerian Ports Authority, a huge revenue-generating agency of the federal government. In April 2013, a reconciliation committee Anenih headed indicted Tukur as the major problem of the festering crisis in the PDP. That report has since worsened relations between Anenih and Tukur. Anenih is believed to be fully involved in the intrigues that would influence the constitution of the new NWC.
3. PROFESSOR JERRY GANA Chairman of the convention committee. He endorsed Tukur’s chairmanship of the party in March 2012 but things have gone awry between the two. Tukur fumes that Gana is being used to upstage him in the control of affairs in the PDP, while Gana believes in the independence of the convention committee that he heads. The committee picked chairmen and members of the sub-committees without resort to Tukur and the interim NWC.
4. GOVERNOR GODSWILL AKPABIO The Akwa Ibom State governor is chairman of PDP Governors Forum. Akpabio played a prominent role in the May 24, 2013 controversial election of chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), where Amaechi defeated Governor Jonas Jang of Plateau State by 19-16 votes. Akpabio spearheaded rejection of the result and belongs to the faction that has Jang as chairman of the NGF, which President Jonathan backs. He heads the Finance sub-committee of the convention committee.
5. SENATOR IKE EKWEREMADU The deputy senate president is chairman of the Secretariat of the convention committee. The Secretariat is a key organ of the convention event as it will be responsible for vetting all the documentation submitted by the contestants. Ekweremadu was in the Anenih team that Tukur shut out of his home when they visited him. He is believed to be a major mobiliser in the Southeast for President Jonathan’s 2015 re-election campaign.
6. SENATOR KEN NNAMANI The former senate president is chairman of the Electoral sub-committee. Like Ekweremadu, he is one of the president’s mobilisation anchormen in the Southeast for the 2015 reelection campaign.
7. GOVERNOR EMMANUEL UDUAGHAN The Delta State governor heads the vital Election Materials sub-committee, which will be in charge of documents like the ballot papers. He is a strong Jonathan man. 9. MUSA BABAYO Head of the Protocol sub-committee. Last year, Babayo defeated Tukur in a Northeast caucus election for the national chairmanship of the PDP. President Jonathan, however, overruled the election and persuaded Babayo and 10 other contestants for the position to step down for Tukur. There is no political love lost between Tukur and Babayo, who is now one of Jonathan’s strong supporters.
10. SENATOR FLORENCE ITA-GIWA She is in charge of the Welfare committee, which will be responsible for payment of remunerations of the Secretariat staff, and disbursement of the allowances of delegates, as well as other logistics pertaining to the welfare of every personnel involved in, and engaged for the convention. A strong supporter of President Jonathan, she is also from the Southsouth.