House of Representatives speaker Aminu Waziri Tambuwal yesterday admitted that it would be a daunting task for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to record any success in the 2015 general elections if it failed to bring back the seven state governors who broke away from the ruling party at its mini-convention in Abuja last month.
In an address entitled “Leadership in Developing Democracies: A Nigerian Perspective”, which he gave at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, DC, Hon. Tambuwal said that some Niger Delta militants who had been threatening to create mayhem in the country if President Goodluck Jonathan failed to win the 2015 presidential election were being used by certain individuals for political reasons.
On the PDP national chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, the speaker declared that he could not be removed as demanded by the G-7 governors and suggested that he (Tukur) could be persuaded to resign so that the party could have a chance in the forthcoming elections. He stated: “Definitely what happened on that convention day is going to influence the turn of events in 2015, especially if the PDP is not able to manage its internal crisis and return those seven governors to the main fold of the party. The challenges that the PDP faces now is how the leadership of Bamanga Tukur will address the points being raised by the aggrieved governors. The agitation is that the leadership of the PDP should allow freedom and aspirations to come out freely so that those that feel strong for some particular positions should be allowed to contest without being hindered.
“So, it is up to the group that is led by Bamanga Tukur to appreciate the implication and the consequence of that action that was taken by the faction that broke away from the party at the mini convention. Tukur must understand what the action of those seven governors will cost the PDP before the 2015 elections, and failure to do that. I am afraid, if we allow that particular group, from what we can see, either to go and form another political party since they are working together or go and join the merger and possibly increase the strength of the newly formed All Progressives Congress (APC), the PDP being led by Bamanga Tukur will have a very strong formidable force coming up against it in 2015.”
Tambuwal continued: “The challenge for the Tukur-led PDP is to go and find every means to pacify and bring the seven governors and their people back into the main PDP fold because if you lose just one state, it can be very costly not to talk of seven states, and of those seven, there is Kano that is having a very strong voting population in Nigeria; there is Rivers, and there is also Niger State. They are not states like Nassarawa, Ebonyi or Bayelsa. These seven states are the ones that have significant voting strength and I believe that PDP needs to be more careful in handling this very delicate situation.”
Tambuwal told the audience that it had been one problem after the other in the PDP since Tukur came into office as the party’s national chairman. “First, he started with Adamawa, his home state, and it is clear that it was because he is having his own son in mind to succeed the present governor of the state. Same is happening in some of the states where some of his allies are having interests in who becomes the next governors.”
Tambuwal explained that apart from governors Rotimi Amaechi, Babangida Aliyu, Sule Lamido, Murtala Nyako, Rabiu Kwakwanso, Abdulfatah Ahmed and Aliyu Wammako who broke away from the ruling party, other governors are uncomfortable with the leadership style of Tukur.
On Boko Haram, he said: “We are doing everything humanly possible to address the insurgence before the next election. We have mapped out strategies on how to combat terrorism. Before 2015, we should be able to have enough degree of peace in the North-East for us to be able to conduct elections in the area. That is why the government had to declare a state of emergency, and from the reports we have been receiving, the problem of terrorism is going down in the area.”
When contacted on the speaker’s fears, PDP’s national publicity secretary, Olisa Metuh, declined comment. Metu said he would only comment when he gets proper information on what Tambuwal said.
“He is the Speaker, so I cannot just respond to what a leader says until I read it. I am yet to read what he has said. I am only hearing it from you, I hope you wouldn’t mine,” he said.
Meanwhile, President Goodluck Jonathan is expected to meet with the aggrieved governors tomorrow. The outcome of the meeting might follow the previous ones as the hawks around him have asked the president not to shift ground.
Last week, President Jonathan met with the elders of the party led by former president Olusegun Obasanjo and former military president, Gen Ibrahim Babangida, where they briefed him on the outcome of the meeting they held with the warring factions of the party. They appealed to him to listen to the governors. He also met with some of the governors who also corroborated the elders’ view.
However, LEADERSHIP WEEKEND learnt that tomorrow’s meeting may not end the impasse. A reliable source said all the conditions given by the “new PDP” would not be accepted.
The governors are demanding the removal of Tukur, that Jonathan should honour the one-term pact he reached with them, that Jonathan should allow the governors to be in charge of the state chapters of the party, and that the president should not harass state governors and their supporters with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Our source said: “As far as we are concerned, none of those conditions is worth giving any attention. The presidency believes that it is a ploy to hijack the party because of their inordinate ambition and that would not hold. Mr President has asked Ahmed Gulak to pre-empt the Sunday meeting.”
Another source disclosed that the presidency is happy that the G.7 governors are singing discordant tunes at their meetings with President Goodluck and this is why Jonathan’s aides are asking him to use the carrot-and-stick approach.
A chieftain of the party, Chief Ebenezer Babatope, has appealed to those who constituted the new PDP to return to the fold or face imminent failure because history is not on their side. He is optimistic that Jonathan would not only win the PDP presidential primaries but return to the State House come 2015.
Speaking exclusively with our correspondent in Abuja, Babatope went down history lane and concluded that there was never a time when a gang-up against any established party had succeeded. “Professor Eyo Ita tried it against the leadership of NCNC; he failed and that was the end of his political career. Dr K. O. Mbadiwe led another rebellion against Dr Nnamdi when he led the ‘Zik Must Go’ campaign but he failed; Chief SLA Akintola led his own gang-up against Chief Obafemi Awolowo in the Action Group; he failed, Alhaji Abubakar Rimi led his own against Mallam Aminu Kano in the PRP; it was a failure; and so on and so forth.”