President Goodluck Jonathan has scheduled a meeting with all Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governors for Saturday December 14th 2013 to discuss the clamour for the ouster of the party’s National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur.
Saturday’s meeting, it was learnt, was part of efforts by the president to finally resolve the crisis rocking the party, whose one of the root causes is Tukur’s leadership style that has alienated many top party members.
THISDAY gathered yesterday that the president, who is on a two-nation visit to South Africa and Kenya, fixed the meeting after his talks with members of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Monday night. He is billed to return tomorrow.
PDP governors, in recent weeks, have renewed the clamour for the removal of Tukur who is being accused of running the party like a personal fiefdom.
They have held three successive meetings on how to remove Tukur as the national chairman of the PDP and at their last meeting, attended by no less than 13 governors, they reiterated their position that the national chairman must go to enable the party manage its preparations for the 2015 general election.
In all the meetings of the PDP governors, they have consistently accused the party’s national chairman of being the cause of the crisis rocking the PDP.
One of the PDP governors, Dr. Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu from Niger State, had accused Tukur of administering PDP as a personal estate, while other governors are blaming the national chairman for pushing five PDP governors to join the All Progressives Congress (APC).
It was gathered that Jonathan who was in South Africa yesterday for the national memorial service for the country’s former President Nelson Mandela, would be in Nairobi tomorrow to attend the independence day anniversary of Kenya.
On his return, he will go to Jos on Friday for the burial of the former National Chairman of the party, Chief Solomon Lar.
According to a source, the president, after his engagement for the week, will thereafter meet with all the PDP governors on Saturday to discuss their grievances against Tukur and take a decision of how to finally tackle the crisis in the party.
However, multiple sources have told THISDAY why despite the recurring demand for Tukur’s removal from office, the president is unwilling to bow to pressure to sacrifice him for peace in the party.
It was learnt that the Saturday meeting between the president and the PDP governors would decide the fate of the national chairman and the way forward in resolving the crisis in the party.
But ahead of the Saturday meeting, party and presidency sources told THISDAY that the president may not endorsed the sack of Tukur.
They said the president was in a dilemma on how to handle the matter, hence his pussyfooting.
“The inner caucus around the president is often bothered about the unpopularity of Tukur. In fact, he has become an albatross around the neck of the president. But the president cannot see a situation where Tukur would be disgraced out of office. Tukur has been very loyal to the president and he (Jonathan) believes giving the man the boot is totally unfair to the old man.
Of course, the president is concerned but he is doing everything to save Tukur. He believes Tukur is the best person for that post. Don’t forget that Tukur is even married to a South-south lady and he is not a radical even in his faith. Tukur, though a thoroughbred northern leader, is committed to the prospect of retaining power in the south,” one of the sources said.
He added that Jonathan has explicit faith in Tukur to deliver on his succession bid in 2015 and he doubted the fact that any “other northerner in the shoes of Tukur would be able to actualise his hope of becoming president in 2015.”
“The president always counter his kitchen cabinet, when the matter comes up, that Tukur is the only one he can trust especially as a buffer against top northern politicians like Atiku Abubakar. “Besides, Tukur appears materially comfortable enough to be bought over by the president’s opponents. Tukur is a fierce fighter and can take on all of the president traducers, especially those from the north. Tukur himself has told the president that only those oppose to his succession bid want him out of the way,” he said.
But another source explained that although he is bent on saving Tukur’s job, the president might eventually cave in to pressure if it becomes too much for him to bear.
“The president is being reassured on a daily basis that sacking Tukur may not affect his ambition. He also being told that there are other northerners who can commit to the cause even more than Tukur. They are telling the president that Tukur’s sack may actually strengthen the party and restore goodwill rather than weaken it,” the source added.
In a related development, the party’s National Disciplinary Committee yesterday waited in vain for the suspended National Vice Chairman (North-west) of the PDP, Ambassador Ibrahim Kazaure, to appear before it.
The committee had adjourned until yesterday to enable him to appear before it, explaining that Kazaure’s case was different from that of the suspended National Secretary of the party, Oyinlola Olagunsoye and Dr. Sam Sam Jaja and Alhaji Abubakar Baraje.
But members of the disciplinary committee waited in vain for Kazaure to honour their invitation. No reason was given for his absence.
The disciplinary committee had two weeks ago recommended the expulsion of Oyinlola, Baraje and Jaja for anti-party activities.
The trio of Oyinlola, Baraje and Jaja had written to the committee that they would not appear because of a subsisting case before the Federal High Court, where they are asking the court to allow them enforce their rights to fair hearing.