IN a move to retain his job as the National Chairman of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, has reportedly sought the help of ex-Vice President Abubakar Atiku.
Tukur, our correspondent learnt, sent an SOS message to Atiku who consequently rushed down for a one-and-half-hour meeting with the PDP chairman at his Wuse 2 residence in Abuja very late on Saturday. The meeting reportedly started at about 7pm and Atiku was seen leaving the chairman’s residence at about 8.30pm.
Both the PDP chairman and the ex-VP are from the same Adamawa State.
An Atiku’s aide confirmed the meeting of the two on Sunday.
“They (Atiku and Tukur) met last night (Saturday),” the aide who asked not to be named said.
He also declined further comments on the meeting but The PUNCH learnt that the PDP chairman asked for Atiku’s help in pacifying his opponents to allow him retain his office.
Sources told The PUNCH that Tukur, immediately after the meeting with Atiku, rushed to the Presidential Villa for a meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan.
A source close to the President said, “The chairman is truly embattled. When he got the wind of the plan to remove him as the national chairman of the party, he invited Atiku to his house for consultation.
“The meeting was aimed at saving his job. We don’t know what the outcome of the meeting was, but as soon as the chairman came out of the meeting, he moved to the Presidential Villa to confer with the President.”
Tukur was said to have been astonished when he got the directive that he should convey an emergency meeting of the National Working Committee of the party on Monday (today), which in turn would fix the meeting of the National Executive Committee of the party for Thursday.
The NEC meeting, according to investigations, would determine whether to remove the chairman or not.
Jonathan had met with some of his close aides on Thursday to discuss the incessant calls for the sacking of Tukur.
Among those at the meeting were the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Chief Godswill Akpabio; Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Pius Anyim; Chief of Staff to the President, Dr. Mike Oghiadomhe; a minister from the South-South and a woman minister from the South-East and the Chief Security Officer to the President.
The meeting was said to have concluded that the national chairman of the PDP should resign to restore confidence of the governors and warring members of the party to the party.
Three governors from the northern part of the country had met with Tukur at his private residence in Abuja on Thursday and confronted him with the crisis in the party.
The governors were Sule Lamido, Jigawa; Rabiu Kwankanso, Kano; and Aliyu Wamakko, Sokoto.
The meeting, which was held behind closed-door, lasted for several hours.
Sources at the meeting said the governors took their time to explain to Tukur that they were not happy about how the party was being run and that there was the need for those running it to change their ways.
The three governors were among the five from the north who had been meeting with political leaders on the crisis bedevilling the party.
The other two governors are those of Niger State, Dr. Babangida Aliyu; and Tukur’s home state governor, Murtala Nyako.
There has been no love lost between Tukur and Nyako as the two have been engaged in bitter rivalry on the control of their state chapter of the PDP.
Nyako on Sunday told Tukur to respect the constitution of the party, saying the only panacea for peace in the PDP was for Tukur and the leadership of the party to abide by its constitution.
The governor, who spoke through his Special Adviser, Mr. Ahmad Sajo, in a telephone interview with our correspondent, noted that the state government did not have anything personal against the PDP national chairman.
Sajo said that even if Tukur was removed without the expected adherence to the rules guiding the political party, the same issues would still confront the PDP.
He said that the grouse of the Adamawa government was the imposition of the will of an individual on the party.
Sajo complained that it was not in conformity with constitutional provisions for certain people, who according to him contested elections on the platform of the Labour Party, to be imposed as leaders of the party in the state.
He said, “Our stand against Tukur has not been his personality; we are saying that the chairman must learn to respect the constitution of the party and the laws of the land and that there should be fairness, justice and equity in the way things are done.
“The problem is about the process that imposes the will of some people on the PDP. For people to bring some people who contested election under the platform of the Labour Party and impose them on the party has state leaders is unconstitutional.
“Membership of the party is decided at the ward level and not at the state or national level. The will of individuals should not be imposed on the party.”