Despite all efforts by host governor Isa Yuguda and some other governors of the North-East geo-political zone, delegates in Bauchi yesterday voted for Dr. Musa Babayo, the immediate past national secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as their choice for the post of national chairman of the party. In doing this, they voted against Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, the aspirant widely-speculated to be preferred for the post by the presidency and the governors.
This is contrary to the general belief that state governors have overbearing influence over political party officials.
Babayo was declared the north-east candidate for the office of national chairman of the PDP having polled 14 votes against Bamanga's 2 votes; the former Bauchi State governor, Ahmadu Adamu Mu'azu came third with 1 vote.
The election took place in the presence of the party's leading stakeholders including the governors of Bauchi (Isah Yuguda), Adamawa (Murtala Nyako), Gombe (Ibrahim Dankwambo) and the deputy governors of the PDP-controlled states in the zone, senators, members of the House of Representatives and those of the state House of Assembly, among others.
Only last week (Tuesday) Alhaji Bamanga Tukur led PDP governors from the north-east, to which the party’s chairmanship is zoned, to the presidential villa in company of the governors of Bauchi, Taraba, Gombe and Adamawa states as well as the political adviser to the president, Mr. Ahmed Gulak.
Speaking to State House correspondents after the meeting with President Jonathan, Adamawa State governor Admiral Muritala Nyako noted that, as the leader of the party, President Jonathan holds the ace in deciding who becomes the party's national chairman, adding that the governors were ready to support whoever the president decided to support.
However, despite this assurance by the north-east governors, delegates yesterday in Bauchi defied them and roundly rejected the president's preferred candidate.
LEADERSHIP gathered that Alhaji Bamanga Tukur could not attend the congress in Bauchi as his aircraft could not land on time, owing to bad weather. By the time it landed in Jos, the congress was virtually over.
Contacted on his reaction, eldest son to Bamanga Tukur, who is also one of the managers of his father’s campaign, Alhaji Auwal Tukur, told LEADERSHIP that what took place yesterday was not an election “but manifestation of some peoples desperation to humiliate the Tafida (Alhaji Bamanga).”
Auwal said that from what they gathered, 21 persons, calling themselves PDP stakeholders in the zone, met in a secret location, in company of two governors, two senators as well as several federal and state legislators and voted purportedly on behalf of the delegates, “as if they were allowed by law to do so,” in his words.
He said that as far as they were concerned, no election took place in Bauchi; and that they were waiting for the convention proper, billed to take place at Eagle Square in Abuja on Saturday. Auwal also assured that majority of the governors of the North-east are solidly behind the candidature of Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, “and that will be proven on election day.”
Similarly, reports from across the six geo-political zones indicated that the congresses were greeted with protests primarily in opposition to the party's adopted consensus arrangements.
In Benue, where the north-central zone had its congress, the exercise was marred by protests at the IBB Square, venue of the meeting, where hundreds of delegates staged a peaceful demonstration in protest of what they called imposition of unwanted candidates on them in the name of consensus.
According to the protesters, they had unanimously endorsed one Alhaji Abubakar Shamsuddeen Maikasuwa for the position of national auditor, only for one Captain Ibrahim Abdullahi to be announced as the consensus candidate.
According to them, the imposition was masterminded by former governor of Nasarawa State and presently senator Alhaji Abdullahi Adamu.
The demonstration, which lasted for about 35 minutes, disrupted proceedings at the venue. It took the intervention of Governor Gabriel Suswam to calm the protesters.
In Enugu, venue of the south-east zonal congress, some aggrieved party members and aspirants disrupted the exercise in protest of what they called "imposition of candidates against the wishes of the people." They vowed to present their case on Saturday at the national convention in Abuja.
Those who led the opposition include an aspirant for national secretary, Chief Obinna Ogba, and the former PDP chairman in Ebonyi State who alleged that the preferred candidate from his state for the position, Solomon Onwe, submitted his form after the expiration of time for its submission.
Another protest was recorded when an aspirant to the office of national women leader refused to step down for the preferred candidate. The aspirant (name withheld) engaged a commissioner from Enugu State in a near fisticuff, a situation which forced the commissioner to leave the venue in order to avert further disruption of the congress.
The aspirants and some of the party members who were against the consensus option were denied access into the venue of the congress even as some of them were denied accreditation that would facilitate their participation in the congress.
Report from Port Harcourt indicates that the congress suffered a setback when a contestant to the office of the national youth leader, Daniel Asuqou from Akwa Ibom refused to step down for the preferred candidate, Francis Izuage from Edo State.
Trouble started when Asuqou presented himself for election against Izuage at the venue of the congress. It took the intervention of the Akwa Ibom State governor to calm frayed nerves and averted what would have been a catastrophe as the two candidates were ready for showdown.
In Kaduna state, our correspondent reports that though the congress equally adopted the consensus method in electing the North-West zonal executive of the PDP, a governor from the zone protested the allocation of the position of party's national organising secretary to Kaduna State which produces vice president Namadi Sambo. According to the governor, it was unfair for Kaduna state to produce the national organising secretary since the number two citizen also hails from the state.
An impeccable source told our correspondent that it took the intervention of some governors before their aggrieved colleague could back down on his protest.
In South-West, report indicates that former President Olusegun Obasanjo superintended over the zonal congress which saw the emergence of former Governor of Ekiti State, Engineer Olusegun Oni as the National Vice Chairman (South-West) of the PDP through a consensus, at the party zonal congress held at the WOCDIF centre, Osogbo, the Osun State capital.
Our correspondents report that the much talked about consensus method of selecting PDP executives have suffered a setback considering the stiff opposition that trailed the zonal congresses that were held yesterday in the six geo political zones of the country.
Speaking on NTA last night, the special adviser to the president on political matters, Barr. Ahmed Gulak, dispelled insinuations that the president has a preferred candidate among the aspirants.