Finally, Tukur quits as PDP chairman

Bamanga Tukur

After nearly two years as PDP chairman, Bamanga Tukur has stood down

After months of speculation and denial, Bamanga Tukur, the seventh chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, under whose watch the ruling party faced unprecedented turmoil, resigned from his post Thursday.

Mr. Tukur’s exit, long rumoured, was officially announced by President Goodluck Jonathan at a meeting of the party’s National Executive Committee, NEC, held in Abuja.

The president handed over Mr. Tukur’s resignation letter to the National Secretary of the party, Wale Oladipo.

“He (Mr. Tukur) is not guilty of any offence and I am going to give him an assignment that is tougher than PDP chairman,” the president said.

Mr. Jonathan also said the PDP will hold another NEC meeting next week Monday to announce a new chairman.

Governor Liyel Imoke of Cross River moved the motion to accept Mr. Tukur’s resignation. The motion was seconded by the Deputy Senate Leader, Abdul Ningi, and was accepted by the NEC.

Mr. Tukur’s exit ended a dramatic tenure that began in March 2012 after his election as a favourite of Mr. Jonathan.

In nearly two years as chairman of the governing party, Mr. Tukur, a former industry minister and ex-governor of the defunct Gongola state, endured a turbulent term which saw several state governors push for his ouster on allegations he was responsible for the divisions the party faced.

That allegation found fillip in how Mr. Tukur failed to manage the party’s fortune in his own home state of Adamawa, where other party leaders, including Governor Murtala Nyako, challenged his leadership and accused him of being autocratic.

In what turned out the biggest blow of the Tukur tenure, Governor Nyako and four other governors elected on the PDP platform, defected to the All Progressives Congress, APC, in November 2013, after several months of heightened party crises.

One of the governors’ key demands ahead of their defection was Mr. Tukur’s removal, a request President Jonathan consistently rebuffed.

The chairman’s resignation on Thursday came after weeks of intense speculation that he would be leaving his office to stave off further crisis within the party as the PDP seeks to rally support ahead of the 2015 election.

As fresh speculation of his resignation erupted this week, Mr. Tukur remained adamant, speaking on Monday about the procedure for his leaving office, and somehow boastfully making it clear President Goodluck Jonathan, who has remained his main backer, has no power to force him out.

Close family members of Mr. Tukur and his political associates however told PREMIUM TIMES he would cease to be the ruling party’s chairman at a meeting of the PDP’s Board of Trustees, BOT, that held Wednesday night.

That meeting was in continuation of an earlier session held Tuesday by the party’s elders to deliberate on Mr. Tukur’s fate. The first meeting was inconclusive.

One family member who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES said Mr. Tukur, whose political base has waned after months of political intrigues, was quiting because of “much pressure.”

“Baba will likely tender his resignation this night,” a close relative of Mr. Turkur’s had said.

But at the end of the PDP caucus meeting on Wednesday night, Mr. Tukur again insisted he had not resigned.

“I’m not one to resign and you will not know,” he told journalists at the state House. “I have not resigned.”

Party officials however said the resignation would be announced eventually at the party’s NEC meeting Thursday afternoon.

The Thursday meeting, where his ouster was eventually announced, held at the party’s Wadata Plaza national secretariat in the Wuse District of Abuja.

Mr. Tukur’s resignation merely followed the PDP’s well-established routine that has seen almost all its chairmen removed in controversial circumstances.

The chairmen are usually forced out once they fall out with the president in power.

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