Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
*As PDP shuns birthday lecture
An elder statesman and former national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, has quit active partisan politics.
At a special birthday lecture organized to mark his attainment of 80 years in Abuja, Tukur urged Nigerians to support the federal government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure that dividends of democracy trickles down to the common man.
In the same vein, the Adamawa-born politicians also had kind words for former President Goodluck Jonathan, crediting him with efforts at fashioning credible electoral system and for his statesman-like concession of victory at the last presidential election.
Ironically the leadership of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which was expected to use the occasion to fate their former boss, failed to show-up as Tukur bowed out of partisan politics on Monday.
Though PDP was not represented at the ceremony, the party later issued a statement describing the former chairman as a quintessential democrat and humble statesman, who has contributed immensely to the development and stability of the nation.
Addressing the large audience that turned out for the lecture, the octogenarian said he was retiring from partisan politics to assume the role of statesman, dedicating the rest of his life to service and offering advice to the younger generation.
“I deem it fit to use this opportunity of my 80th birthday celebration to announce my retirement from partisan politics. It is time to say goodbye to formal politics. I have used several political platforms to serve my country. It is to rest. I leave partisan politics for the younger generation. I want to be a statesman and an adviser. At the age of 80, I feel I can serve our dear nation more in the capacity of a statesman and father figure,” he said.
Speaking on his experiences in politics, particularly his tenure as the PDP chairman, Tukur said he worked hard to entrench internal democracy, party discipline and party supremacy.
He enjoined politicians to see politics and government positions as avenues for rendering service to the country and not a bread and butter affair, adding that elected officers and government officials should regard their positions as sacred trust to be used to serve the nation.
” I wish to enjoin politicians to play the game according to the rules and to take the interest of the country at heart.
“I had the privilege of serving as the national chairman of the party during which I tried to introduce sanity in the party affairs. I introduced the idea of internal democracy, party discipline and party supremacy. These are the great ingredients of strong party systems which utimately drive the democratic process.
“Perhaps, on account of the long period of military reign in Nigeria, Nigerian politicians have not yet internalized and applied the principle of internal party democracy. I hope that with time, party democracy will be entrenched in our political party system as this strengthens our nascent democracy.”
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