Barely 24 hours after the announcement of a 30-man reconciliation committee, the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP), Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, is facing bitter criticisms over its membership.
Party leaders are angry that Tukur and the Interim National Working Committee members did not consult with key organs of the party on the reconciliation.
It was also learnt that PDP governors and leaders are more at home with a recent reconciliation mission undertaken by the Chairman of the Board of Trustees (BOT), Chief Tony Anenih, than a fresh panel.
To the former PDP governorship aspirant in Adamawa State, Dr. Umar Ardo, the reconciliation committee is capable of destroying PDP’s electoral fortunes in 2015.
Ardo said the committee was dead on arrival, unless Tukur reconsiders its membership.
Members of the committee are Governor Seriake Dickson (Chairman); ex-Governor Asheikh Jarma(Deputy Chairman); Amb. Umar Damagun (Secretary); a former Deputy Senate President Alhaji Ibrahim Mantu; Senator Umar Gada; Dr. I. A. Obuzor; Salisu Suleiman; Senator Walid Jibrin; Senator Hope Uzodinma; Hon. Bello Mohammed Matawalle; Mr. Niyi Fadimula; Chief Jerome Eke; AVM Chris O. Marizu(rtd); and Hon. Tijani Ibrahim Kiyawa.
Others are: Dr. Christy Silas; Mr. Jangwe Yusuf; Mrs. Ngozi Olejeme; Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi; Chief Onyema Ugochukwu; Yakubu Shehu; Mohammed Kuchazi; Mrs. Adedeji Otiti Olanrewaju; Chief Dapo Sarumi; Prince Arthur Eze; Chief Emma Iwuagwu; Chief Dosu Fatokun; Mr. Harold Eze; Hajiya Fati Sabo; Hon. Wakili Mohammed; and Shittu Mohammed.
PDP governors and leaders are said to be aggrieved that such organs, like the National Executive Committee(NEC), the National Caucus and the Board of Trustees, were not consulted before the constitution of the committee.
Tukur did not table any reconciliation plan at the last NEC meeting of the party, it was learnt.
A PDP governor, who pleaded not to be named because of what he described as the sensitivity of the matter, said: “With the magnitude of the crisis in the party, do you think Governor Seriake Dickson can address it? Is there any difference between Dickson and President Goodluck Jonathan? Is Dickson not a party to the PDP crisis, going by the face-off between Bayelsa and Rivers on oil wells.
“Some of us are suspecting that the 30-man panel has a hidden mandate because some apostles of third term tenure are members of the committee.
“Governors have been going to statesmen and elders to intervene and save our democracy from collapse but the PDP leadership is playing to the gallery.”
Another governor said: “I think you should count some of us out of working with the reconciliation committee. Those of us who are members of G-19 are uncomfortable with the membership. They cannot broker peace at all in PDP.
“There is no record to show that any of the organs of the party was consulted by Tukur, not even the PDP Governors Forum or the 50-member Advisory Committee (headed by ex-Vice-President Alex Ekwueme) but established by Tukur).
“Those in charge of PDP now are managing the party as if there are no elders again.
“We should ask Tukur: what is wrong with the reconciliation mission of the Chairman of the BOT, Chief Tony Anenih, which was accepted by PDP governors? What of Governor Ibrahim Shema’s reconciliation panel?
“Outside Anenih’s committee, we will not work with Dickson’s committee at all. Some of us told Anenih that were he not involved, we would not have granted him audience.”
A source in the PDP secretariat, however, defended the choice of Dickson as chair of the committee and the membership.
He said: “The Dickson committee is to painstakingly harmonise all the previous peace committees. The PDP leadership believes in Governor Dickson’s persuasive and consensus building skills which could help unite the PDP family.
“The warring parties should give the Dickson Committee a chance to do justice to all the previous peace committee reports.
To a former member of the NWC, who also preferred anonymity, the list is “laughable” because the crisis is deeper than “the cosmetic approach” adopted by Tukur.
“I am aware that the NWC can take decision on behalf of NEC but the party is in a mess and it cannot reconcile its members without the input of the BOT, the National Caucus and NEC,” he said, adding:
“Maybe Tukur should stay action and have a broader consultations or else he will end up being reconciled himself.”
But a party source said: Tukur consulted the President and some leaders of the party on his plan to reconcile those aggrieved to put the party in a better shape for the 2015 poll.
“Most of those appointed are non-partisan, the source said, adding that they have not been linked to any form of crisis in the party.
A former PDP governorship aspirant in Adamawa State, Dr. Umar Ardo, said the reconciliation committee could destroy PDP’s electoral fortunes in 2015.
Ardo made his position known in a statement issued in Abuja.
He urged Tukur: “to kindly reconsider the appointment of Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State as Chairman of the Reconciliation Committee.”
“Other than the fact that as a governor, Dickson would have little time to devote to such an onerous and time-consuming task. I also think that he is eminently unqualified to handle such an assignment,” Ardo said, adding: “In the first place, Dickson lacks the national exposure and experience that such a task requires. Secondly, Dickson himself is a subject of conflict within the party apparatus and membership. The way and manner in which he was brought in as governor, and the furore and controversy that it generated across the country, drain him of all moral standing to undertake a reconciliatory mission.”
Dickson is of the same state as the President, which to Ardo, will make him not to be objective and fair in his judgment.
“Given that one of the most central causes of the present disputes within the party is the inordinate ambition of the President for 2015, I cannot see how Governor Dickson can depart from this goal, should it be imperative for the Committee to do so in the course of its assignment.
“In fact, Dickson’s appointment will only be seen as an act of nepotism aimed at satisfying the impulsive determination of the President to achieve his aspiration. This perception will automatically estrange most aggrieved members and stakeholders of the party. The committee will thus be dead on arrival.
“I should have thought that such an important committee would be better handled by more experienced hands, such as members of the Board of Trustees of the party or by the eminent 50-member Advisory Committee constituted by Bamanga himself last year when he came into office.
“If one may respectfully ask, of what significance is this Advisory Committee headed by no less a personality than Chief Alex Ekwueme, if it cannot handle issues of this nature?
“For the party to bypass such eminent personalities within its fold and go and pick Dickson who is hardly known outside his governorship office is, to me, a clear indication of how far alienated the PDP is in the national support reckoning.”