Atiku Abubakar ’s return complicates Adamawa PDP troubles

Sunday, May 2, 2010

From all indications, ripples from the last wave of the crisis rocking the People’s Democratic Party in Adamawa State have not come to a halt. Even though party leaders have insisted on a no- crises claim, the obvious however, indicates otherwise.

Recently, Bamanga Tukur, a member of the acting president’s Presidential Advisory Committee and one-time governor of the old Gongola state, joined several others to voice his anger and frustration on the state of the party under its chairman, Umaru Mijinyawa Kugama.

Mr. Tukur told newsmen in Yola that the PDP in Adamawa State has been hijacked and its activities are now shrouded in mystery.

“Kugama and his people,” Bamanga Tukur said, “have taken the PDP out of the public domain, because we can no longer see the PDP. Maybe they have gone to lock it somewhere in Mayo-Belwa, I don’t know.

“On a serious note, as a chieftain of the party myself, I don’t know where the party is, I can’t see it and I don’t know why. But if you like, this view is shared by many. So, we are waiting to see Kugama’s magic wand that would give the party electoral victory without coming to the public domain,” he said.

Mr. Tukur, who is also the Chairman of African Business Roundtable, accused the party hierarchy in the state of high-handedness and called on the national secretariat of the party to intervene and wrest the party before it collapses.

Expectedly, Mr Kugama was not amused. He described Mr. Tukur’s utterances as unfortunate and wondered why the elder statesman would stoop low to castigate his leadership.

“I am not wont to join issues with elders,” Kugama said. “His Excellency, Bamanga Tukur is a father to me.

But it is quite amusing for highly placed elder statesmen to say that the party has been taken out of the public domain. Our party, the greatest political party in Africa, is about the most conspicuous institution in Adamawa state. How on earth would somebody say the party is inaccessible when opposition parties in the state have all melted into the PDP?” The party chairman said hardly would a day pass when his leadership do not receive decampees in their hundreds.

“As a matter of fact, receiving decampees has of recent been added to our daily chores, that is a fact,” he said.

Boni Haruna stays in AC He is not far from the truth.
Recently, some members of the Action Congress crossed to the PDP in their thousands. Saleh Kingir, a governorship aspirant in 2006, for instance, led thousands of his supporters from the northern senatorial zone to defect to the PDP.

No fewer than seven out of the nine AC members in the state assembly are also said to have dumped their party for the PDP. Leader of the defecting legislators, Gidado Sajo Gella, representing Mubi South, said their decision is linked to the leadership style of the Murtala Nyako-led PDP government in the state.

“Our former party, the AC, has lost focus and that is why our leader, the immediate past governor of the state, Boni Haruna asked us to return to the PDP because that is where we belong,” he said.

However, political pundits say they could not make head or tail out of Mr. Gella’s sudden change of opinion about the Nyako government, seeing as he recently described it as an epidemic.

Mr. Gella confirmed that former governor, Boni Haruna and his political mentor and former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, have parted ways.

“Tell everyone in clear terms; Boni Haruna has left Atiku, having discovered that Atiku is a selfish man,” he said. “Boni, if you like, is the most loyal governor I have come to know. I mean, you have been in this country, you know what happened between Atiku and former President Obasanjo and how Boni stood the chance of gaining presidential favours if only he had betrayed Atiku, but he stood and fought to the end”.

Mr. Gella said Mr. Abubakar’s visit to Mr. Obasanjo dealt the death blow to the relationship between Messrs Haruna and Abubakar.

“Boni Haruna had warned Atiku, pleading with him not to visit Obasanjo in Otta farm, but he would not listen because he was driven by his blind desperation to rule Nigeria by all means.” Mr. Abubakar eventually made good his return to the PDP last week at a public ceremony in Abuja.

Abubakar’s local opposition
A PDP source in Yola said Mr. Abubakar is being drafted into a grand plot to scuttle the presidential ambition of former military president, Ibrahim Babangida. Yet, a return to the PDP might be the easiest of the hurdles to Mr. Abubakar’s own ambition. Mr. Kugama told journalists in Yola that Jibril Aminu, Grace Bent and Mohammed Mana (senators from the state) and other stakeholders have unanimously agreed not to allow the former VP from re-entering into the party.

As the dust of Atiku’s return continues to settle, facts are emerging as to why Mr Haruna, who presently holds the reins of the AC structure in the state, might have decided to revolt against his political godfather. A source said when the former governor was docked by the EFCC on allegation of misappropriating about N80 million, Mr. Abubakar did not care to come to his rescue or even commiserate with him while in detention.

It was popularly held that Mr. Haruna’s meticulous records keeping got him off the EFCC hook when he tendered documents that implicated a lot of people, including some family members of Nuhu Ribadu.

“Boni”, says a source, “took his laptop to the EFCC and showed how prominent citizens, including Ribadu’s family members, benefited from the alleged misappropriation.” In Michika, Mr. Haruna’s local government of birth, the entire AC structure, led by the duo of the immediate past Deputy Speaker of the state assembly, Adamu Kamale and former Commissioner, Rhoda Buggi, decamped to the PDP and were received by Mr. Kugama at a colorful ceremony at Marwa Square.

Eyes on the governor’s seat
However, from within its fold, the PDP has continued to grapple with various contending forces. Mr. Kugama explained that the bedlam within the party is understandable. “You know, politicians have for a long time become used to booty sharing once a government is formed,” he said. “Unfortunately, the present governor does not understand that language. He believes that state resources are for the collective good of all citizens.” The PDP in Adamawa state so far, appears to have been shredded into several camps, each jostling for the Dougirei Government House. With the election year drawing closer, several such camps are strategizing in order to wrest the party structure.

Former governor, Mr. Tukur, was alleged to have insisted that his son, Auwal D. Tukur, has waited for too long to govern the state and therefore must be given a chance to take the reins of power in 2012. For Jibril Aminu, the cap fits only one man - his political godson and minister of state for Foreign Affairs, Aliyu Idi Hong.

These and several others, jostling for the same seat, see Mr Kugama as an impediment owing to his loyalty to the incumbent governor.

One of the key contenders, Abuja-based Umar Ardo, has been in the vanguard of battling the Kugama-led party executive. To this end, it is alleged that virtually all party members who became disgruntled are organizing around Mr. Ardo. These people are insisting that the state executive is illegitimate and called for its dissolution and the immediate reconstitution of another one.

As various aspirants and their cronies strategize to wrest power, it appears smear campaign is the veritable tool for outwitting each other.

The party’s secretary in the state, P.P. Elisha, said the PDP membership cards revalidation exercise carried out recently was not aimed at prosecuting any group. He said the party is only replacing expired cards and not necessarily issuing new membership cards. Mr. Abubakar and his aides were however able to procure new membership cards for Sanusi Alhaji Musa Hong, a party stalwart, “The hullabaloo needs not to be. What is important, at the moment is that the political class should close ranks and support the present government,” said another leader of the party in the state, Sanusi Alhaji Musa Hong.


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