fter months of political horse- trading, Dr. Bamanga Tukur, on Wednesday finally bowed to pressures on him to resign as the National Chairman of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party.
Before an authoritative source in Abuja made this known to The PUNCH at about 11.51pm, there had been confusion on whether he had indeed quit or not.
Tukur himself accentuated the confusion when he told State House correspondents minutes before the PDP Board of Trustees met in the Presidential Villa, that he had not resigned.
“If I resign, you will know. I am not somebody that will resign and you will not know. I have not resigned.”
But a BoT member, who declined to be named, told one of our correspondents that the PDP had already accepted his resignation.
“Yes, it is true that he has resigned and the party has accepted his resignation ,” he said after the meeting.
He explained that the National Executive Committee of the party would announce Tukur’s resignation during its meeting which would commence at noon on Thursday(today).
The source added that the decision by the leadership of the PDP and the Presidency to keep Tukur’s resignation under wraps was to prevent a leadership vacuum in the party.
“We couldn’t make it public now since we have not appointed his successor. We would announce his resignation after our NEC meeting tomorrow(today) . But I can tell you authoritatively that he has resigned.”
Tukur had amid speculations that he had turned in his resignation letter to the President before noon on Wednesday, arrived the Presidential Villa, Abuja for the BOT meeting which started at about 7.55pm.
He wore a flowing brown guinea brocade.
Although he was absent from the reconvened national caucus meeting in the Villa, he attended the Armed Forces Remembrance Day’s laying of wreath at the National Arcade, Abuja.
Before these, his media aide, Mr. Oliver Okpala, said in a text message to one of our correspondents, that his boss had yet to resign.
Okpala said, “Be informed that the national chairman has not resigned. It is all speculation.
“The national chairman will be at the BOT meeting at night today (Wednesday) and will also attend the NEC of the party tomorrow (today).”
Tukur was however absent at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja on Wednesday when the other members of the NWC met.
The Chairman of the BOT, Chief Tony Anenih, had told journalists after the meeting that Tukur attended as the national chairman of the PDP and that he believed he(Tukur) also left in the same capacity.
“He (Tukur) attended the meeting as the national chairman. We all left together. I believe he left as national chairman,” Anenih claimed.
When asked about the major decisions taken at the meeting, he said they were meant for only BOT members and not journalists.
Governor Ibrahim Shema of Katsina State said Tukur’s fate was a decision the party would take at its own time.
• How Jonathan failed to save him
Jonathan had on Tuesday night failed to convince the governors elected on the platform of the PDP to allow Tukur remain in office till March when the party’s mid-term convention would hold.
His suggestion, which was tabled at the national caucus meeting of the party, was aimed at giving the embattled chairman a soft landing.
However, the governors protested, saying that they would rather want him to leave office on Thursday (today) not March.
Tukur was said to have compounded his problems with the governors during the caucus meeting, which was also attended by Vice-President Namadi Sambo and the principal officers of the National Assembly.
The President, who presided, was said to have asked Tukur to explain the cause(s) of the crises in the PDP.
A highly placed source at the meeting said that rather than address issues, Tukur accused the governors of encouraging many of the National Working Committee members to work against him.
The source said, “The chairman started by accusing the governors of being the problems in the party.
“He said they(governors) were encouraging indiscipline with their tactical support for some of the NWC members to undermine him.
“He also said the governors were never happy with his decision to instill discipline in the party and to also make sure that the PDP constitution was used as a yardstick in every decision taken by him.”
The source added that Tukur indirectly inferred that those who wanted him out were actually targeting the President.
It was however gathered that at the meeting, which another source described as unusual, that Jonathan and not Tukur presided.
This action, it was learnt, was to ensure that the national chairman did not dictate the pace of the meeting and determine who was to be recognised to speak.
The actions allowed the Deputy National Chairman of the party, Uche Secondus, to respond to the allegations by Tukur against the NWC members.
The constitution of the party only names the deputy chairman, the national secretary, the national legal adviser, the national treasurer, the national woman leader and the national youth leader as other members of the caucus.
Secondus was said to have punctured all the allegations by Tukur, by citing several cases where Tukur took decisions without carrying them along.
He mentioned the dissolution of some state executives of the party by Tukur and the suspension of some members as examples.
Not only that, the chairman was accused of always asking the NWC members to come to his house for meetings, an action some of them believed was not in the interest of the party.
The chairman was also alleged to have employed many aides, who were not recognised by the party.
It was also learnt that Secondus, who sat beside Tukur at the meeting, said it would be difficult for the NWC members to work with the embattled chairman again.
The PDP governors had advised the NWC members to suspend Tukur during their meeting on Wednesday.
It was gathered that when this information leaked to the President, he warned them that doing so could heat up the polity and portray Tukur in bad light.
• Tukur may get ambassadorial position
It was however gathered that Tukur had been penciled in to serve as Nigeria’s ambassador to China. He is to replace Ambassador. Aminu Wali.
It was gathered that the decision was reached at the caucus meeting on Tuesday night.
Wali will return to the country to head President Goodluck Jonathan’s campaign for 2015 election.
• President’s wife plans to install Tukur’s successor
Meanwhile, the wife of the President, Mrs. Patience Jonathan is said to be scheming to install the Minister of Transport, Idris Umar as Tukur’s successor.
Some of the PDP governors are also said to be pushing for a former Governor of Bauchi State, Mr. Adamu Muazu, as the next chairman of the party.
• We’ve left PDP for good, Amaechi, Nyako insist
Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi and his Adamawa State counterpart, Murtala Nyako, have insisted that they would not return to the PDP whether or not Tukur remained its chairman.
Amaechi, who spoke through the Chief of Staff, Government House, Port Harcourt, Chief Tony Okocha, said that it was not possible for an arrow that had already left bow to return.
Amaechi said, “Tukur’s resignation or no resignation will not change our decision to leave the PDP because we have no regret moving to the All Progressives Congress. The arrow has left the bow and will not return to it.”
Nyako, through his Director Press and Public Affairs, Ahmad Sajoh, said the problem he and his colleagues had with the PDP was beyond the person of Tukur.
He said, “We do not have a personal problem with Tukur, it is the impunity that is in the PDP that we said we did not like.
“We are talking generally about the party’s level of impunity not just Tukur, it doesn’t look like the PDP structure is ready to shed this brigandage which has come to symbolise its operations.”
• Jonathan, PDP govs in pre-NEC meeting
How to woo back Amaechi, Nyako and three other PDP governors who defected to the APC formed part of the discussion the PDP governors had with Jonathan on Wednesday.
The meeting also looked at ways of ensuring the party’s victory at the forthcoming governorship elections in Osun and Ekiti sates.
Governor Gabriel Suswam of Benue State disclosed these to State House correspondents at the end of the meeting.
He said, “The concern is that the fortunes of our party are dwindling and so we need to address that. How do we re-position our party to win the forthcoming elections in Ekiti and Osun?
“How do we win back our colleagues that have stepped aside, we don’t believe that they have left the party, they only stepped aside. These are the issues that were raised.”
Suswam said issues bordering on Tukur was not discussed at the parley.
He said, “First, we met with the President as PDP governors to discuss issues of the party and the way forward. And that meeting is continuing,we just touched base with the President to discuss issues that affect the party.
“The issues discussed with the president were basically on how to re-strategise and re-position our party and how to move forward as a party.
“The second meeting is the national caucus and I am not in the position to comment on that. After the BoT meeting, the Vice President will brief you on the outcome.”
President of the Senate, David Mark; the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal; the Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Eweremadu; the Deputy Speaker, Emeka Ihedioha; the Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba; and the House Leader, Mulikat Akande, also attended the meeting.