By MOHAMMED ISMAIL
The election of Alhaji Bamanga Tukur as the national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has distorted the equilibrium and political equation of his home state (Adamawa). Already, tongues have started wagging over the propriety of such an old man manning the touted largest party in Africa with its complexities, lack of cohesion and internal squabbles. How prepared is Bamanga Tukur to lead the most troubled political party in Africa and probably the world, is a question that has been agitating the minds of keen political observers across the nation. However, what is glaring is that, his assumption to the plum party office, has thrown a cog in the ambition of notable politicians in his home state. The election of Alhaji Bamanga Tukur as the national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party has tacitly amplified in unambiguous terms, President Goodluck Jonathan’s intention to contest the general elections come 2015.
The unabashed support which the Bamanga Tukur’s candidacy enjoyed from the Presidency which ensured his victory willy-nilly is not lost to many political pundits across board. The doggedness with which the Presidency pursued the Bamanga Chairmanship agenda gave a lot of impetus to the Bamanga ‘crusade’ which suffered unprecedented defeat at the north-east convention of the party in Bauchi State when the youthful and relatively obscure former national secretary of the party Dr. Musa Babayo, who became the governors’ dark horse in the rat-race to Wadata Plaza and who miraculously managed to steal the show for the favored candidate of the President. The President was said to have been rattled when the news of Babayo’s emergence as the northeast preferred candidate filtered, making him to sprang to action in order to block the seeming loopholes that may mar his candidate’s chances by taming the governors to accept the inglorious consensus arrangement which ensured the emergence of Bamanga Tukur as the new man on the block at the Wadata House.
Political commentators, are of the view that despite the fact that Bamanga Tukur looks hale and hearty, his choice to run the affairs of the complex party at the advanced age of 78 against the backdrop of young, enterprising and capable hands smells fishy. Many northerners saw the emergence of Bamanga Tukur as an attempt to rout the interest of the north in the next political dispensation.
Some northerners are ready to swear that the election of Bamanga Tukur is another booby trap archetypal of the one set against the north by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, when he handpicked the terminally ill Yar’adua and rammed him down the throat of the north with the hope that Yar’adua will not last his tenure of office. That singular action of Obasanjo was ascribed as responsible to the travails currently being suffered by the north, which has considerably pulverized the political clout it used to wield hitherto.
A top northern politician, who preferred anonymity, confided to this medium that the emergence of Bamanga Tukur as the national chairman of the ruling People’s Democratic Party, was another plan hatched and prosecuted by the former President Olusegun Obasanjo at ensuring that the north is again muzzled come 2015, with the active complicity of Bamanga Tukur. The move is further aimed at blocking the chances of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar from contesting the 2015 election because of Obasanjo’s view of Atiku as the only northerner who has the credibility, courage, political structure and the resources to give President Goodluck Jonathan a run for his money come 2015.
The source also revealed to this medium that the reason that made President Goodluck Jonathan to insist on the choice of Bamanga Tukur as the anointed candidate was because in Bamanga Tukur the President has a willing tool whom having satisfied his interest, will go any length at protecting the whims and idiosyncrasies of the President. For Bamanga Tukur, said the source, sacrificing the interest of the north is not a big deal to him provided that the price is right. Having sacrificed the interest of the north before, Bamanga Tukur is still expected to sacrifice the interest of the north provided it is self rewarding, said the source.
According to the source, out of the three candidates that indicated interest in the plum job of the party’s national chairmanship from Adamawa State namely Mallam Adamu Bello, Alh. Hassan Adamu and Alh. Bamanga Tukur; Bamanga Tukur is the most pliant among them which resulted in the support he got from the President who ensured his emergence as the national party chairman against all odds knowing that the chicken will sooner than later come back home to roost.
The source further noted that to substantiate the fact that Bamanga Tukur is the most pliable among the three contestants from Adamawa State, his antecedents as a politician should be looked into with a view to unmasking him. For instance, where was Bamanga Tukur when patriotic northern politicians launched a campaign against the third term ambition of former President Olusegun Obasanjo who was not only looking for a third term but a life presidency? Where was Bamanga Tukur, when patriotic northerners, fought for the retention of power by the north, after the death of late
President Umar Musa Yaradua, so as to allow the north complete its eight years in power, as stipulated by the gentleman’s agreement between the northern and southern peoples, an arrangement which even the President was signatory to? Bamanga Tukur, whom by virtue of his position as a top ranking member of the party, should have ensured that the north got its legitimate mandate, but instead, he toed the line of President Goodluck Jonathan and even serve as the chairman of Goodluck Jonathan’s campaign team, while patriotic northerners, including top PDP apparatchik from the north like Mallam Adamu Ciroma, former president Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Gen. Aliyu Gusau and a host of others stood in defense of the northern cause thereby establishing their names as true champions of the north.
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The source, further confided to this medium that while patriotic northerners deemed it fit to invest in the northern economy, especially their states, so as to create job opportunities, Bamanga Tukur as one of the richest men in Nigeria, probably the richest man in Adamawa State, did not deem it fit to invest much in the state and in doing so reducing unemployment and its hideous consequences on the body polity. In sharp contrast with Bamanga, Atiku Abubakar has invested hugely in the state, leading to massive job creation and sundry opportunities in Yola. As a result of that singular gesture, the face value and substance of Turakin Adamawa have crested to unprecedented levels in the state. Atiku Abubakar, without prejudice to religion, party affiliation and other sentiments, is currently the most popular politician in the state due to the job opportunities he brought. Atiku Abubakar is now wielding the image of a messiah of a sort in the state and has established a reputation as the lover of the masses that has brought so much succor and development to the people.
The source further contended that nobody will have been against the candidacy of Bamanga Tukur has he toed the line of the likes of Atiku Abubakar. Our source further revealed that since Bamanga Tukur became the national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, he is sure that come what may his eldest son, Awwal D. Tukur, will emerge the next governor of Adamawa State haven taken a shot at the office and lost before. Now that Bamanga Tukur has become the PDP national chairman, it is the fervent belief of many people that just like the way Jonathan imposed him as the national chairman of the ruling party, he will have no compunction in installing his son as the next governor of Adamawa State if our knowledge of the persona and character of Bamanga Tukur is anything to go by. By installing his son as the governor of the state, Bamanga Tukur will consolidate his total grip and hegemony on the state said the source.
The source equally noted that the reason behind Bamanga Tukur’s woeful defeat in the Bauchi convention was largely due to his inability to transform the lives of the people of the region, ascribed as the poorest region in Nigeria, despite the presence of super rich people in the mould of Bamanga Tukur. “His defeat at Bauchi convention, despite his gargantuan societal standing and the backing of the Presidency, has depicted the picture of man not at ease with his people. That defeat has cast a serious blight to his image, political standing and his acceptability as a high ranking politician in the zone”.
The defeat he suffers at Bauchi said the source, would have replicated itself had the President failed to take proactive measures to contain the raging governors who were out to fight for the injustice mated to the former governor of the President’s state Bayelsa. The consensus arrangement that favours Bamanga Tukur was his only saving grace at the Abuja convention, added the source. “If election has held, I tell you Bamanga Tukur wouldn’t have come close to victory, let alone winning the election”.
The source, further queried the substance of Bamanga’s emergence as the national chairman in juxtaposition to his age. In saner environments, whenever a person approached the terminal age of 65, he is asked to resign whatever post he is holding, due to the inherent depreciation of mental and physical attributes. How do you fathom a situation, in which a 78 year old man who is going senile, able to steer the ship of the stormy and complex PDP to success? For all I know, added the source, Bamanga Tukur will just be used as a pawn by the powers that be to achieve their selfish goals. And in the process, Bamanga Tukur, will aid the relegation of the north’s interest in furtherance to his own interests. Because of his lackluster approach to the north’s interest, it will be difficult even to the most ardent supporter of Bamanga Tukur to mention any tangible contribution the man has made toward the north, said the source. In most instances, Bamanga Tukur only bestrode the northern turf like a colossus to achieve his selfish political interest as he has done recently in grabbing the PDP national chairmanship.
An aide of Bamanga Tukur, who does not want his name in print because he was not officially authorized to respond, said “those politicians that are opposing the chairmanship of Bamanga Tukur are just playing to the gallery. They are just mere neophytes and are jealous and afraid of the Bamanga phenomenon. That is why right from the onset they were opposed to his candidacy because of the fear that with Bamanga Tukur, it is no more business as usual for them. They are afraid of the changes the Bamanga Tukur leadership will bring to bear in the PDP considering his integrity, discipline and wealth of experience. Let me state here that majority of those opposed to him are merely opposing the party from within and they are going to be exposed in due course.
“Questioning the leadership of Alhaji Bamanga Tukur is akin to questioning God himself, because He is the one that gives leadership to whom He so wishes regardless of the antics of traducers and opponents. I laughed when I heard that they were accusing him of not carrying the north along. Who among them is the north’s messiah? I think it is not even appropriate to join words with political liabilities, people whose political future is bleak. I also shriek whenever these gullible minds mention his age as his baggage. For goodness sake, this is not a boxing or a wrestling contest, it is a game of wisdom which is highly possessed by Bamanga Tukur. What I know is that PDP under Bamanga Tukur will be a disciplined party as against what obtains now where people do as they wish.”
With the election of Bamanga Tukur as the national chairman of PDP, the die is cast and the political mudslinging between him and his opponents may continue for sometime in the future. But what is unknown is, will Bamanga Tukur be able to confront the many problems of the PDP thereby shaming his critics or will he allow himself to play the pawn in the hands of the Presidency as charged by his opponents? Only time will tell.