IT was a grim verdict yesterday on the fate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) by one of its governors.
The ruling party is dead, waiting to be buried”, declared Jigawa State Governor Sule Lamido.
Lamido, one of the founding fathers of the PDP in 1998, was one of the Group of Seven (G7) aggrieved governors who challenged the leadership of Alhaji Bamanga Tukur and joined the Kawu Baraje-led New PDP.
Five of the governors – Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers), Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto), Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano) and Abdultfatah Ahmed (Kwara) – have defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Lamido and Niger State Governor Babangida Aliyu stayed back in the PDP.
Lamido said he would not leave PDP because doing so is like leaving a house he built.
But yesterday, Lamido reviewed the latest development in the troubled party especially the defection on Wednesday of 37 House of Representatives members to the APC and declared the PDP dead.
“We are today witnessing the de-construction of what appears to be the final collapse of our dear party, the PDP, under the inept and imbecile National Working Committee (NWC) led by Bamanga Tukur,” he said, adding: “I am short of words to express my pain. It is agonising to see the party built in every home, in every village, town and cities all over Nigeria with lots of sacrifice being destroyed.”
Urging President Goodluck to take action, Lamido said: “Is it too late for the ‘leader’ of the party to intervene and save our party?”
He, however, warned that “Nigeria’s democracy must not be truncated”.
But Tukur insisted yesterday that he would not step down as demanded by the governors elected on the platform of the party because the process being adopted is illegal.
Tukur, who spoke at a breakfast session with reporters in Abuja, said those after his sack were trying to ambush the process.
He said: “I was lawfully elected into the position by the party; so why should I be removed through an illegal process. That is why I challenge them to allow the rules prevail.
“Yes, I have also heard that the party’s National Executive Council (NEC) meeting has not held for a long time, but I will also remind the public and the party that even at the state levels, there are executive councils and they have not also held meetings in the past years, even in the states of those that hold against me the NEC meeting issue.
“The NEC does not exist on its own; it derives from the states and the states should be in order before we put the national body and level in working order.”
Tukur said the party, after the defection in the National Assembly, would begin another round of reconciliation.
He added: “There is never a time any party would rule out the importance of reconciliation, and that is what I have been doing and many of the people you hear kick against the leadership of the party still visit me here and hold meetings with me.
“But when one is bent on something, I have seen that some of them who engineer this problem don’t relent in inciting others against the party.
“But I promise you and I am sure the final move we have commenced will bring an end to the problems and most, if not all, the members that left would be back.
“What the public doesn’t also know is that new members and blocs have not ceased to join the PDP.
“However, I promise the aggrieved members that I am not the problem of the party and they should feel free to tell me what I have done wrong and, as a family, we would sit down and find a way out of it.”
He went on: “In a situation where people have a mindset on an issue, it is difficult to reconcile with such persons and that is what is playing out. I cannot tell you I am not disturbed by the development in the party. It hasn’t been a healthy one because much as we believe that the party still enjoys good standing among the electorate, we know the strength of a party is in the membership it commands.
“I have viewed the issues in the party and I know for sure that it is not getting better but I can assure you that I can take any lawful condition the aggrieved members come up with to make sure peace reigns in the party. I have heard it many times from outside and the media that I am the problem of the party, but I challenge you to have audience with the aggrieved members of the party and ask them if I have not had private audiences with them.
“Whenever they are with me, I ask them from a sincere mind what exactly I have done to be the problem of the party, and I can swear to you that none of them ever told me what the problem I constitute is.”
In Tukur’s view, the problem may be that he disagrees with situations where governors impose candidates on the electorate. “Some governors do not like that. My agenda is to reform the party and stop the attitude of handpicking candidates and imposing them on the people,” he said.
Explaining that the crisis was being misunderstood by the public, Tukur said his prolonged battle with governors started with his insistence that a governor and state party chairman must not come from the same area in accordance with the stipulations of the party’s constitution.
“Why should a sitting governor decide who should succeed him at the end of his tenure without any form of consultation with the people whose votes must count at the elections?
“It was the effort to change the negative status quo ante that created the protest, which led to the existing crisis,” Tukur said.