PDP govs’ forum headship and Tambuwal’s headache

The emergence of a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential aspirant in the last general election and the governor of Sokoto state, Aminu Tambuwal, as the chairman of the party’s governors forum and how he handles all the contending issues within the party is no doubt a daunting task. ABDULRAHMAN ZAKARIYAU writes.

The invisible Dickson era

The era of the out-going governor of Bayelsa state, Seriake Dickson, who took over the chairmanship of the PDP Governors Forum from former Governor of Gombe state, Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo, sometime in May 2019 was more or less like that of his predecessor, whose reign as the leader of the forum was according to analyst not felt.

Though, before he was elected as the chairman of the PDP Governors Forum. Dickson was saddled with an important assignment – that is chairman, PDP National Reconciliation Committee. The role he played during the PDP leadership tussle between former governor of Kaduna state, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, and former governor of Borno state, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, no doubt put him in critical position amongst his fellow governors who doubted his loyalty to the party. This in a way affected his ability to lead one of the most critical organs of the opposition party.

Notably, the PDP Governors’ Forum is a critical organ of the party that is expected to complement the efforts of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) for the unity and success of the party in any election. However, according to some observers, Governor Dickson was unable to mobilise the governor to protect the party’s interest at critical times and the few time he tried most of the governors usually stayed away.

Dickson was unable to mobilise the governors to work for the party’s presidential candidate during the 2019 election as expected, most of the governors don’t attend party’s meetings, also under him the Forum was without a focus and most of the governors seems to be on their own. Dickson’s era as the chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum was according to many political analyst an invisible era. Thus the emergence of Governor Tambuwal who many of the governors believe have what it takes to pilot the affairs of the forum.

PDP issues not beyond us – Tambuwal

The chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governors Forum, who is also the governor of Sokoto state, Aminu Tambuwal, confirmed that there were issues in the party, but that they were not beyond its members.

Tambuwal, who confirmed this recently in Abuja, said he would do all within his power to bring about peace among governors.

He said, “And of course in foisting of peace among governors and indeed the entire party, I assure you that we are going to use this platform to bring everybody onboard. There are issues here and there but they are not beyond us and we shall reconcile those who are having some issues with one another and also ensure that our party is firmly positioned to the challenges ahead.

“We will bring former governors, former Ministers that served in the party. They are very resourceful, they are our leaders and they have a lot to contribute for the development of the party and our country.  So, we shall relate more closely with them towards rebuilding the party and of course deepening our democracy in Nigeria.”

CID Maduabum’s appointment as right step

Upon announcement, the chairman of PDP governors’ forum sacked Earl Osaro Onaiwu and appoints CID Maduabum as the director-general of the Forum.

According to a statement issued by the special adviser media and publicity to the governor of Sokoto state, Muhammad Bello, “This is sequel to a resolution of the Forum in June 2019 which was reconfirmed on 26th January 2020.

“Honourable Maduabum is a master’s degree holder in law, a legal practitioner of 35 years, a former two term member of the House of Representatives, a former Deputy Chief of Staff and Chief of Staff to former presiding officers in the National Assembly. He is an experienced administrator.

“He is expected to assist in repositioning and reorganising the PDP-GF to play its role in nation building under the leadership of the new Chairman, Gov. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal.”

Uniting the governors

This is obviously one of the first tasks ahead of Tambuwal, as noted by many political pundits. The PDP governors have been disarray and disunited. For reasons best known to themselves they are working at cross purposes. The Ebonyi state governor, Engr. Dave Umahi seems to be tilting towards the ruling party, All Progressives Congress (APC), his counterpart in Cross Rivers State, Prof. Ben Ayade obviously not concern about the party and its progress, the governor of Enugu, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi most times don’t participate in party national activities. While the governor of Taraba state, Dirius Ishiaku seems overwhelmed with the insecurity in the state, that of Benue state Samuel Ortom has since his reelection not be frequent at party functions, Governor of Rivers state, Nyesom Wike find to comfortable to engage in verbal attack with governors or party stalwarts. Interestingly, the governors seem not to be on the same page on most issues that affect the party.

It is now the headache of the new chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum to bring all the governors on board. This is important for the forum to continue to perform its duty for the party and for the forum’s voice to be audible on national issues. Analysts are of the view that if Tambuwal can bring about unity of purpose among his counterparts then the challenges within the forum and the party will be half way solved.

Meetings and programmes

It is also important to note that one of the best ways the new chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governors Forum can bring about unity of purpose among its members is by constant meeting and program that will help to foster good cordial relationship among them. During the rule of Dankwambo and Dickson the forum rarely meet, this give room for speculations in the party and even among the governors.

Political analysts are of the view that constant engagements among the governors will bring about cordial relationships and enable them to work towards achieving a common goal for the party across the country.

House leadership: Grudges between BoT, NWC

For months the National Working Committee of the PDP under the leadership of Prince Uche Secondus and the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT) have been in cold war over the House of Representative Minority Leadership position. It could be recalled that PDP had suspended Ndudi Elumelu, the factional minority leader of the House of Representatives sometimes in July, 2019.

The party also suspended Wole Oke, Lynda Ikpeazu, Anayo Edwin, Gideon Gwadi, Toby Okechukwu and Adekoya Abdul-Majid. The suspended members were nominated by the speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, as minority leaders, against the choices sent in by the party.

The PDP had nominated Chukwuka Onyema as deputy minority leader, Yakubu Barde as minority whip and Muraina Ajibola as deputy minority whip.

Their suspension has continued to generate arguments and grudges among not only the governors, but many supporters of the party. Interestingly, like the NWC, the BoT also set up its own committee. The BoT seems to be in support of the Elumelu Group, while the NWC seems to be back the Chinda Group. This remains a big challenge before the new chairman of Forum.

Analysts are of the view that this no doubt is one of the reasons the governors are engaging in verbal war with one another and if not properly handle it could affect the party’s at national level.

 ‘Tambuwal needs to reposition party for 2023’

A political analyst, Aminu Mohammed, told Blueprint Weekend that one of the tasks before the new chairman of the PDP Governors Forum was to help reposition the party for the 2023 general elections.

Mohammed said, “Though Tambuwal is not the chairman of the party, but the chairman of the Governors Forum of the party is critical position that could make or mar the chances of the party in subsequent elections.

“The governor are influential people, they can influence things with the resources in their care and their proximity to their people. So, they are considered powerful. So, it is now the responsibility of Tambuwal to use his position as their chairman to come up with ideas, suggestions and strategies that will help reposition the party for future elections.

“If you notice some members of the party are already talking about 2023 and zoning, so he and other members of the forum must work hard and ensure the party remains a single entity to enable it to reposition itself for the 2023 general elections.”

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