Former governor of Gongola State which comprises present day Adamawa and Taraba states and former national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) means many things to different people.
One thing you cannot take away from him is his passion and love for his country. Born September 15, 1935, at Gambaro Village in present day Gombi local government area of Adamawa State, to late Malam Hamman Tukur, Bamanga Tukur has served his country in various capacities.
From 1975 to 1982, Tukur served as Chief Executive of the Nigerian Ports Authority and was for three months the governor of defunct Gongola State. His regime was truncated by the military intervention of December 31st, 1983, which produced the administration of General Muhammadu Buhari, the government that eventually detained Tukur and other leading politicians for 21 months without trial.
Tukur has been one of the country’s flag-bearers in the various development organs of the African Union (AU). He presided over the African Business Roundtable (ABR) and was a major stakeholder in the New Economic Partnership for African Development (NEPAD). He was a member of the UNIDO International Business Advisory Council, the Ghana Investors Advisory Council and the OECD Africa Investment Advisory
Board. He was elected Chairman of the NEPAD Business Group in March 2002. Tukur serves as chairman of Advisory Board at Africa investor Ltd., and also serves as chairman of the Board at African Investment Advisory. Between March 2012 and January 2014, he served as national chairman of the PDP.
As the quintessential democrat and humble statesman, who had contributed immensely to the development and stability of the nation, turns 86 years old tomorrow, September 15, 2021, here is wishing the Tafidan Adamawa, a happy birthday and good health in continuous service to the nation through his interventions on burning national issues. It was that love for country that he exhibited when he served as the national chairman of the then ruling party, the PDP. He ran the party to the best of his ability to the admiration of the PDP faithful!
His efforts and that of other elders of the party to save the PDP from self-destruction and imminent defeat in 2015 was unsuccessfully, but he gave it his best shot as always. It was no surprise to many that the elder statesman decided to quit politics in September 2015, few months after the PDP’s presidential candidate and the then incumbent president, Dr Goodluck Jonathan was defeated in a historic election by the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, President Muhammadu Buhari.
Announcing his retirement from active politics on Tuesday, September 15, 2015 at a gathering to mark his 80th birthday, he had advised political parties to maintain internal democracy in running their affairs. The former PDP chairman also called on political parties to check the frequent defections of their members from one political party to the other. He decried the lack of internal democracy within political parties, including the main opposition party, the PDP.
Bamanga Tukur’s quitting of active politics did not diminish his interest on how the parties and the country is run by politicians and leaders. Six years after the elder statesman cautioned against impunity in political parties, he had reasons to reiterate that again, recently.
In a statement he issued on August 29, 2021, Bamanga Tukur cautioned the leadership and members of the major political parties in the country to eschew bitterness and rancour as they engage in internal maneuvering for power, to ensure the protection of the nation’s democracy. Tukur said he decided to make this intervention because of the current bad blood, rancorous disunity and widening cracks in the major parties, including the APC and the main opposition party, PDP.
In a statement by his special adviser on media, Chief Oliver Okpala, Tukur expressed worry that if this current spate of disunity and acrimony in parties continue, the nation’s democracy would be greatly endangered. “Without unity and cohesion amongst the leadership of political parties, democracy cannot thrive,” he said. He noted that democracy only thrives when there is peace, stability and proper functioning of internal conflict resolution mechanisms of political parties. He emphasised that the current humongous crisis in the two major political parties in the country is indeed a cause to worry.
“The current situation where leaders of political parties are only interested in enriching themselves to the detriment of the party that they should be serving is a dangerous trend that must be stopped.
“This love for money, filthy lucre and lack of genuine interest in party sustenance spells danger for the system,” he maintained. “It is a fearful thing that some political leaders have constituted themselves as blocks of charlatans in the major parties for selfish and mercantile interests.
“For us who fought for the entrenchment of democratic governance in the country, we remain convinced that only the development of political parties as dynamic institutions can ultimately guarantee good governance. ‘’What is happening in the country at all levels is therefore giving we elder statesmen serious cause for concern. Anybody who sees political parties as a vehicle for personal wealth, should excuse themselves from the scene or be shown the way out,” he said.
He said that it was disheartening to see party leaders deliberately creating disunity amongst members to gain undue personal advantage to the detriment of the organisation, adding that just because their bid to occupy some political positions are threatened, they keep inciting all kinds of thuggery, invectives and instability as well as
brigandage. That was vintage Bamanga Tukur, intervening at the appropriate time to warn against the danger posed to our democracy by intra-party wrangling and desperate grab for power by party leaders and aspiring candidates for various elective positions.
It is important that the current political parties’ leaders, especially those leading the two main parties in the country, the APC and the PDP listen to the wise counsel of the elder statesman who had seen from the inside the rise and fall of the once ‘biggest party in Africa’ that is yet to recover from the shock of its defeat in 2015.
Tukur was elected as the national chairman of the PDP in March 2012, but resigned under pressure in January 2014 and that had to do with lack of internal democracy in the party. His advice to political parties’ leaders is borne out of experience and should not be taken lightly. As a matter of fact many agreed that the exit of Tukur as chairman from the PDP contributed to the party’s poor performance in the 2015 general elections.
Make no mistake about it, if Tukur’s advice is not heeded the internal crisis in these two big parties could pose serious threat to our democracy.