News analysis: Pressure mounts on Bamanga Tukur as PDP Chairman hangs in the balance

By Danlami Nmodu

The top hierarchy of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP had thought  the issue  could  be dismissed with a wave of the hand.And  they even on several occasions tried to pull the wool over the eyes of Nigerians. According to  PDP topguns,  the trial of the sons of the incumbent chairman  and former chairman has nothing to do with the party. Really? Mahmud Tukur, son of PDP National Chairman Bamanga as well as Mamman Alli ,son of ex PDP chairman are among those on trial by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission,EFCC over  the fuel subsidy scam.

Even PDP chairman himself tried to either dismiss or make light of it at the weekend . When reporters asked him  ,he  reportedly said “people are only looking for the bad side of a person. If it’s positive story you don’t care, but if it’s negative it can be flashed out:  Bamanga’s son in trouble, or Bamanga’s son blabla with screaming headlines. Because you want to sell your newspapers, it has become a story.’’He had wished he would not be crucified for the misdeeds of his son.Other party chief said, the trial  should not be seen as  a party affair.

But every Nigerian knows that some  children of the big guns ride on the crest of their parents.Many Nigerians also register companies and include their children as shareholders.And that is why everyone will not be deceived.Of course, there are equally children of several big guns who do legitimate businesses and it will be unfair to make sweeping generalizations.But when situations like Tukur’s arise, it amounts to some uncanny sort of subterfuge for the father to distance himself from the son,especially if the father is the chairman of Nigeria’s most influential political party.Let it be noted that Tukur had not become chairman of the party when the alleged offence was committed.But he was an influential member of the ruling PDP with close ties to the Presidential villa.We all can see the picture.

It is therefore  not surprising that pressure is indeed mounting on Bamanga Tukur , the PDP chairman with calls being made that he should resign.Lai Mohammed, spokesman of opposition Action Congress of Nigeria,  ACN today called on Tukur to resign.Mohammed said ”It is important to say here that the fuel subsidy scam trial will be held in two courts: the court of law and the court of public opinion. And added that  “While  Alhaji  Bamanga  Tukur is not facing any charges in the court of law over the scam, he is definitely a star suspect in the court of public opinion. That is why many Nigerians are already insinuating that nothing will come out of the trial, especially as far as his son is concerned.”

The AC N spokesman said “This is an allusion to the influence bestowed upon him by his high office.  (And that )”While we have nothing but absolute confidence in the ability of the judicial process to ensure justice, we believe that anything than can reinforce the impression of thwarted justice in the fuel subsidy scam trial should be removed. Alhaji Bamagar Tukur’s continued stay in office is one of such.”

But reports  which has been investigating  even before the Tukur subsidygate came to light showed that the PDP chairman  has been indeed  hanging in the balance. He is a chairman who has not been able consolidate his hold on the party yet. Worse still, he appears to be untrusted  by the  presidential villa which foisted him against all odds.The PDP governors too remain very suspicious of Tukur and President Goodluck Jonathan’s continued delay in reconstituting his cabinet has robbed Tukur of any cabinet surrogate that could come to his aid in terms of  the required financial muscle to push some party ideas through.

Newsdiaryonline .com learnt that PDP is broke and has been struggling to make ends meet.Yet the chairman approved a bogus salary for himself when no one is sure where the funds will come from.A source of friction in the party  is that this jumbo approval  for the chairman on paper was not extended to everyone. And there is fury within the party already over this question of creeping lack of funds.One source said there could be some sort of rebellion against Tukur within PDP very soon.

The PDP through its control of ministries, agencies and parastatals had raised money in the past with learnt that the current wave of probes by the national assembly is having a negative impact on PDP as agencies of government are becoming increasing wary of how funds are handled .Slush funds are thinning out.But the situation is said to be worse for Tukur because he became  chairman at time the Jonathan  cabinet had been in place,so he really has no one there.His pressure on the president to shake up the cabinet has not yielded fruits  yet.Even more, Jonathan has refused to support the party with the kinds of funds they have been  expecting: some ‘paltry millions’ went round much earlier but it didn’t solve much problems. Worse still, the governors of PDP controlled states are believed to be holding on to their fund and refusing to bankroll Tukur’s  executive because, they don’t know what the chairmain’s agenda is.

There is therefore the feeling that rather than Tukur having his way with cabinet shake up, it is the probability of the chairman being shown the exit door that looms larger.Whether the party will resolve its internal contradictions and crisis like its usual family affair remains to be seen.For now, these are unusual times for the incumbent chairman who ironically was not the people’s choice in the first place.