BY AHMAD SAJOH
Let me start by saying that I have tremendous respect for Alhaji Bamanga Tukur. I served him as his Press Secretary during his Presidential Campaign and in the process we had some good relationship. However, as a staff on the campaign team I related more with the field commanders such as Chief David Barau and Senator Saidu Umar Kumo. I have also come to be very close to his Eldest Son Awwal Tukur who I equally respect tremendously. But even at the time I served Bamanga Tukur, I observed that he was a very good politician but a man not given to depth or tact. He was blunt and often times put his campaign team into hot waters by his utterances. I had a hell of a time managing his media image uptil the time we parted ways. My hope over the years was that my father as I used to call him will at least change tactics. Age and the vagaries of Nigerian political terrain ought to have taught him a lesson or two.
But apparently that did not happen. So when Alhaji Bamanga Tukur as National Chairman of PDP likened his Party to Lionel Messi the footballer; I said oh my God! There goes Alhaji again. Why? Simple, at Bamanga’s age and stature, football is his last refuge no matter the passion. From him we expect philosophical statement not triviality. Football could be a big unifier in Nigeria, but its effect is just momentary. The greater percentage of Nigerians who Bamanga’s PDP have a responsibility to better their lot know very little and in fact care very little for football. They are too disconnected, too detached and too poor to afford the luxury of knowing who Messi is. From their leaders, Bamanga inclusive, they expect philosophical statements and commitments to their welfare. But what are we getting? A statement, alluding to the sporting prowess of some footballer not even a Nigerian for that matter was all we got. He followed it up with a prediction on the imminent collapse of the new Mega-Party. But that is simplistic. What we need from our rulers is statements of confidence based on the glaring developments put in place and the assurances of a better performance in the future.
But these are not the main focus of the PDP helmsman. The first problem I had with Tukur’s leadership of the PDP was his pledge that there will no longer be imposition of candidates in the party. If that pledge had come from another person it will have represented hope. But coming from a man who was a product of imposition, it sounded hollow. I had an argument with someone on that statement. He said well, Yaradu’a of blessed memory came to the Presidency via a flawed election but set out to reform the system. My response was that Yar’adua could afford to do that because of his past record. Bamanga Tukur did not have that record, no offence meant. I did not see him as being able to pull the very ladder he used in climbing up to deny others its use. How could he even think of doing that? What if the same people who imposed him as the Chairman of the party want to impose someone else in another position? What ability or credibility does he posses to go against the wishes of his Godfathers?
So within a short while the fallacy in that statement came to manifest. In trying to take control of the Party Leadership in his native state of Adamawa, the National Chairman imposed a caretaker Committee on the members without recourse to the interest of the members in the State. But that was not all, he went the whole hog to empower the CTC to institute a new leadership composed of some card carrying members of another party who contested the last elections under their parties. That was the height of imposition. But that was not all. The Caretaker Committee members conducted the process with extreme selfishness. They made sure that a number of them were ‘elected’ into the new leadership. In effect they were both the Referees and contestant in the act of imposing a new leadership for the PDP in the State. If that was not imposition then nothing else is.
What I would want the PDP leadership at the National level to know is that given the current political scenario, it behooves the party to anchor it’s argument on reason rather than ‘football prowess’ because they need more than the dribbling tactics of Messi or even Pele to put their house in the order. With nearly 2/3 of the PDP Governors in their second term a new mega-Party will be a very good alternative to an overbearing PDP that works to rubbish their gains. Otherwise how could the party explain its hostility to some Governors such as Nyako of Bamanga’s home State? With their continued use of every opportunity to rubbish the achievements of their Governors how will they be able to fight a new Mega-Party on the political scene. I am aware that the National Chairman had gone to Port-Harcourt to mend fences with the Chairman of the Governors Forum, but that is not enough. Bamanga Tukur must reach out to other Governors especially in the North. Rather than fight an imaginary battle with these Governors, BMT should work towards galvanizing them to provide quality service to the most impoverished segment of the Nigerian Society.
Talking about the North, I was worried by the National Chairman’s gesture extended to the University of Port-Harcourt. Why will our Northern leaders show extreme magnanimity and philanthropy in the South but show very little of it in the North where such gestures are needed most. I have visited number of Universities in the South and I saw the number of projects endowed there by our Northern leaders. But up North, you hardly see such. What has Bamanga Tukur done for Modibbo Adama University of Technology, Yola, Adamawa State University, Mubi or the State Polytechnic, Yola? We need his imprint in these places. Taking over the leadership of the PDP in Adamawa State should not be the ultimate. What we need are developments in the State. Such developments could come both from the Government and God endowed individuals from the State.
DO YOU HAVE A HEADACHE? TAKE APC
When I was growing up the most potent medicine available for nagging headaches was a brand of Aspirin that goes by the name APC. It came in a white bottle of about 100 tablets. And the bottle too provided a good measure for groundnuts oil. We were always sent to buy APC worth of oil. So when the opposition parties teamed up together to produce the All Progressives Congress, APC, it reminded of my childhood and I began to wonder if PDP has become Nigeria’s headache and we needed to take APC to clear it. Well, we are waiting for those that will form parties like Cafenol, Panadol or even Quinine. Or do we just stop at APC? I am waiting for your answer.