It is a generally agreed fact that the Peoples Democratic Party did not know peace for a large percentage of the 22-month tenure of its former Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur. While Tukur’s fate has become more of a political lesson and a chance to rebuild or renovate the party’s structure which suffered a near-collapse during his turbulent tenure, opinions are divided over whether the office itself is a jinxed one or not.
The argument has been based on the fact that Bamanga Tukur is not the first PDP Chairman to leave office in regret, he left in a similar circumstance like many of his predecessors . Not a few of them have trodden on one banana peel or the other on their way to infamy.
Like Tukur, almost all the PDP Chairmen that fell tried to put up a form of resistance or the other. It usually worked for a little while. In the case of the Tukur, who governed the old Gongola State in the Second Republic, it was a unanimous decision of the Governors elected on the party’s platform that he should go.
Perhaps what made Tukur’s case unique was that he stood alone against almost every organ of the party including the National Working Committee and the National Executive Committee.
Bamanga Tukur’s problems started as a result of his power tussle with the Governor of his home state, Murtala Nyako. The Governor had installed a “loyal” party exco in the state only for it to be dissolved by the National Chairman. Not even the report of a presidential committee which favoured Nyako would make Tukur show any remorse for approving a fresh congress in the state.
Findings revealed that the cause of the face-off was actually that Nyako was keen on installing a successor while Tukur’s son was also interested in the governorship.
With the two prominent Adamawa indigenes at daggers drawn and Nyako facing what seemed to be a greater force, his brother- Governors rallied round him to save him from embarrassment, especially as they felt it could happen to any of them. Moreover, none of them was sure of who Tukur would move against next. Their approach was to call for Tukur’s head on a silver platter.
Many still recall that as Chairman of the PDP, Chief Barnabas Gemade had what seemed to be a good time. That was however not enough to win him a second term as Chairman. By 2001, Gemade was already facing opposition from the powers that be in the party. He served out his tenure but in 2003, he was expelled from the PDP! His sin was that he supported the candidate of the United Nigeria Peoples Congress (UNPP) against George Akume who was the candidate of his party in Benue State in the 2003 guber poll.
Chief Audu Ogbeh who succeeded Gemade too stepped on the infamous banana peel. Ogbeh, known by his fellow Idomas to be a highly principled man occupied the Chairman’s seat from 2001 to 2005. Note must be taken that Ogbeh did not leave office in peace. Though he claimed he left to embrace farming, Street Journal’s checks revealed that the Second Republic Minister was forced to resign after he openly criticised the way the former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo handled the crisis that rocked Anambra State then.
The other person that seemed to have a smooth period was Dr Ahmadu Ali, tthough he had lots of fights and intra party squabbles to settle. After him came Vincent Eze Ogbulafor, an Olokoro prince from Umuahia South. Ogbulafor had to resign his chairmanship after he was charged with misappropriation of funds when he served as Minister prior to his appointment as Chairman.
Dr Okwesilieze Nwodo did not need to run into trouble before he was shown the red card. His appointment as Chairman was declared illegal by a court of law which ordered his removal shortly before the party’s presidential primaries in 2011. In order to prevent litigation, the party chose to sacrifice him.
Though Dr Haliru Bello Mohammed was not disgraced out of the chairman’s office, having been nominated for a ministerial job while he was PDP Chairman, He however ranks among the scandal-scarred Chairmen that the PDP has had. With the € 70,000 he allegedly collected in two instalments in the Siemens’ multi-million dollar bribe while he served as Minister for Communications, he joins the likes of Ogbulafor whose names have been mentioned in corrupt allegations.
Incidentally, Alhaji Ahmad Adamu Mu’azu, the new Chairman too might have something in common with some of his predecessors as he too was on the watch list of anti-graft agencies over the alleged misappropriation of N 19.8 billion that trailed his administration as Governor of Bauchi State. It is already being spoken in hushed tones whether the banana peel syndrome will not affect him too.