President Goodluck Jonathan has intensified his bid to save the National Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, from being removed by governors elected on the platform.
PDP governors are demanding the convening of a NEC meeting, and have accused Tukur of deliberately refusing to convene a NEC meeting since July 2012.
A top PDP chieftain told one of our correspondents that Jonathan met with members of the party’s National Working Committee at the State House last week, where he urged them to work with Tukur to “foster unity in the party.”
The source said, “The President harped on the need for NWC members to cooperate with Tukur. The key word is cooperation. The President call on all NWC members to foster unity in the party.”
Saturday Punch learnt that Jonathan’s moves were behind Wednesday’s statement by the party that a National Executive Committee meeting would not hold for now.
The source said Jonathan held a similar meeting with PDP governors three weeks ago, “where he asked them to cooperate with the national chairman.”
It was learnt that Jonathan was desirous of ending the rifts in the party and retaining Tukur as the national chairman.
However, there were indications on Thursday that the governors were unrelenting and were bent on kicking Tukur out whenever a NEC meeting is convened.
It was gathered that the governors intend to move for a vote of no confidence in Tukur and his subsequent impeachment.
However, Jonathan is said not to be taking chances and is continuing with his consultations with leaders of the party to stop the governors.
The governors’ stance is said to be fuelled by the rift between Tukur and the ousted PDP National Secretary, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola.
“The is a problem between Tukur and Oyinlola. Tukur runs everything alone. He believes that Oyinlola supports the governors, since he is a former governor,” a chieftain said.
Tukur was a governor in the Second Republic, although the PDP governors don’t regard him a former colleague.
This has also made them starve the party of funds, leading to a plan by Tukur to shore up the PDP’s finances through membership dues, as reported by Saturday Punch in its January 26, 2013 edition.
He is planning an online membership registration, to wrest the party from the governors.
The disagreement has set a wedge between Jonathan and the governors and polarisd the NWC, with many of them on the side of the state chief executives.
The PDP governors have also mobilised their colleagues in the Action Congress of Nigeria, All Nigeria Peoples Party and Congress for Progressive Change to support the foreclosure of furher talks with the Federal Government on the Excess Crude Account.
Rather, they said on Tuesday that they would proceed with an ongoing suit at the Supreme Court.
When contacted for comments on Thursday, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, said rifts were “normal” in a democracy.
Okupe told one of our correspondents on Thursday in Abuja that the President and governors were still on the best of terms.
Okupe said, “There is no friction but there are disagreements on issues like Excess Crude oil and on this and that. These are normal things.
“President Olusegun Obasanjo also had that problem as president and he was still on the best of terms with the governors. These are democratic things that happen. There is nothing new about that (the disagreements).”
Okupe also denied the existence of any hostility between the President and members of the National Assembly, especially the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mallam Aminu Tambuwal.
He also said he was not aware that Tambuwal was always absent from meetings with the President even though the leadership of the Senate was usually present.
Okupe said, “I’m aware that very recently, the President had a meeting with the leadership of the National Assembly and the Speaker was there.
“I’m also aware that the President had a meeting with the National Assembly very recently on the disturbances in the North, and both the Speaker and the Senate President, David Mark, were there.”
Okupe said the President considered the members of the National Assembly as good allies in his desire to move the country forward.