Moments after he formally survived the hurricane that threatened to sweep him away earlier in the week, the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) today burst into tears, metaphorically, saying he was being starved of funds to run the party.
Following a similar personal appeal to President Goodluck Jonathan last year, the President urged PDP governors to attend the launch of Tukur’s biography in Abuja. They dipped their hands into the coffers of their poor states and instantly enriched the party chairman personally by billions of Naira.
Today, Tukur, who was described as having run the PDP into the ground by a panel set up by Jonathan to investigate its ongoing crisis, suggested at the National Executive Committee (NEC) that a dearth of funds was responsible for the chaos, therefore hitting the ping pong ball back to Mr. Jonathan.
He appealed to the leaders of the party, including Mr. Jonathan, Vice-President Namadi Sambo, Senate President David Mark, Speaker of the House Aminu Tambuwal and the party’s 18 state governors, to come to the aide of the beleaguered party.
“We cannot afford running this party with severe under-funding dilemma. Democracy is a serious business but easily broken; it is a small commodity of exceptional value reserve,” he begged. “Some philosophers describe it as a Parachute where the operator, practitioner and beneficiary need a safe landing place because nobody had ever lived to tell a story of parachute failure.”
Admitting the lack of respect being openly shown to President Jonathan by disaffected members of the party, Tukur expressed sadness, saying it was not the case in other countries, pleading the case of the man who spared his neck just 48 hours before.
“Ample evidence within the territory of democracy have shown that democratically elected Presidents are symbol of every nation. Here in Nigeria, President Goodluck Jonathan is our symbol.”
While calling for the national leader to be treated with dignity, observers said he did not do Jonathan any favour by annoying his critics by saying he was being undermined “for no just reasons.”
He praised the almost-forgotten “Transformation Agenda” as a building block for national unity and development.
“To complement this programme successfully, PDP should be in the forefront - ensuring that we are all accountable to this nation,” he said.
“When he said that, I thought he was going to be brave and ask the President to declare his assets, about which he said last year he did not give a damn,” an analyst told SaharaReporters. “But Tukur was obviously only trying to ensure that Jonathan puts billions of Naira in his hands to spend. You cannot talk of accountability when Jonathan will not declare his assets or permit a true assault on corruption in this country.”
While preaching reconciliation among the disgruntled members of the party, Tukur said that mechanisms had been put in place to achieve unity at all levels of the party.
One of the decisions implemented at today’s NEC meeting was the acceptance of the resignation of 20 officials of the party, eight of whom were powerful members of the National Working Committee. Last April, the Independent National Electoral Commission said that their election had violated established guidelines. It was the first time the electoral body had challenged the PDP about its serial violation of the law.
The party also set up a Special Convention Planning Committee, headed by Prof. Jerry Gana, and announced the composition of an interim National Executive Committee pending next month’s convention.
Alhaji Tukur’s plea for funds brings up the question of public finances in Nigeria. Efforts by SaharaReporters today to find a statement concerning the PDP’s accounts proved abortive. Section54. (1) of the party’s constitution says, “For the purpose of ensuring transparency and accountability and transparency in the management of finances of the party, The National Executive Committee shall design Standard Financial regulations to govern the management of party’s finances at all levels.”