By Peter Jones Ailuorio
Eighty years in the existence of a man is no mean life journey, especially as a politician and businessman, more so in a topsy-turvy inclement clime in a country like Nigeria.
Today marks yet another colourful day in the life of Dr. (Alhaji) Bamanga Mohammed Tukur, CON, (fondly called BMT) as friends, associates and well-wishers in Nigeria and the Diaspora gather together to celebrate an iconic living legend that has bestrode the narrow political and business nation of Nigeria, nay the world like a colossus.
Dr. (Alhaji) Tukur, CON, former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP was born 15 September 1935. He won the position in March 2012 but however resigned in January 2014 for reasons which this piece is not meant to discuss.
He was later made Chairman, Nigerian Railway Corporation, NRC; as well as appointed Ambassador-At-Large on 17 June 2014 – all during the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan. An Ambassador-at-Large is an Envoy who is assigned Special Duties by the President.
Today, BMT is Eighty (80) years old; strong, hale and hearty and still counting.
Tukur was also Minister for Industries in the administration of General Sani Abacha between 1994 and 1995, Executive President of the African Business Roundtable, ABR and Chairman of the NEPAD Business Group (1975-1982), Governor of former Gongola state, which encompass Adamawa and Taraba States, (October 1983-December 1983).
In the course of his career in Nigeria’s public service, Tukur served as the General Manager and Chief Executive of the Nigerian Ports’ Authority (NPA) from 1975 to 1982.
It was a time the agency was having problems with congestion as a result of massive cement importation scheme that was started at the twilight of Yakubu Gowon’s administration.
During his tenure, the government built a few more seaports to ease the transaction cost associated with shipping and to ensure adequate facilities for Nigeria’s import and export needs.
In 1982, he left his position as general manager and soon contested the Gongola gubernatorial race, which he won. Tukur served as governor for three months before the democratic administration was curtailed by a military coup. After leaving the Gongola State House, he entered full scale entrepreneurship, and was the founder and chairman of BHI holdings (DADDO group of companies).
1992, he was a presidential aspirant on the platform of the National Republican Convention, during which he and a few co-contestants in the likes of Adamu Ciroma canvassed for the cancellation of the first primary due to allegations of favouritism levelled against the leadership of the party.
Other appointments held by Alhaji Bamanga Tukur include the following; Vice Chairman of the International Ports and Harbours Association; Chairman of the International Cargo Handling Association; President/Chairman of the Governing Council of Institute of Business Development; Member, Ghana Investors Advisory Council; Member, Presidential Council on Investment of the Republic of Benin in February, 2007; and Member of the Presidential Advisory Council in 2010.
In recognition of his achievements in various fields of human endeavour, he was conferred with the following National honours:
Commander of the Order of the Niger – CON; Commander of the Order of the Niger of Cote d’ Ivoire; and Commander of the Order of the Mono of Togo. Among other academic achievements, Alhaji Tukur holds a Master’s Degree in Public and International Affairs from the University of Pittsburgh – 1965; Doctorate Degree of Business Administration (DBA) conferred on him in 2007 by Ladoke Akintola University, Ogbomosho (Honoris Causa); Doctor of Law conferred on him in 2004 by Benue State University, Makurdi (Honoris Causa).
He holds the traditional title of Tafidan Adamawa, amongst many other traditional titles within and outside Nigeria.
While reflecting on the bitter loss suffered by his party(PDP) in the March 28 presidential election, Tukur alleged that his forceful exit from the party and subsequent jettisoning of the ideals of internal democracy caused the former ruling party to lose in that election.
Indeed, the erstwhile PDP National Chairman has never been known to be a pretender. In a statement in Abuja on 15th June 2014 warning the party against causing its own downfall, Tukur said: “I warned the party in 2013 that it would suffer defeat in the 2015 general elections if the leaders refused to change their ways and allow for internal democracy.” Today, the rest is now history.
Commenting on the strides so far made by President Muhammadu Buhari in the last 100 days, Tukur declared that the activities and actions of the President is indicative of the fact that he is keeping faith with what he promised Nigerians during the electioneering period.
The elder statesman, made this known at his Abuja residence last week while interacting with news hounds as part of the programme to mark his 80th birthday.
He however pleaded with the President not to succumb to the antics of lobbyists but to give ministerial appointments to those who merit it and will be ready to deliver on the job.
As the saying goes, one good turn deserves another and so President Muhammadu Buhari has therefore congratulated the former Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, chairman, Bamanga Tukur, on his 80th birthday today.
This is contained in a statement issued in Abuja on Monday by Femi Adesina, the president’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity.
According to the statement, Mr. Buhari joins Tukur’s family, friends, associates and well-wishers in rejoicing with him as he marks another notable milestone in a very worthy and fulfilled life.
“The president seizes the opportunity of the Tafidan Adamawa’s 80th birthday to reaffirm the nation’s enduring gratitude for his significant contributions to Nigeria’s political and socio-economic development over many years,’’ the statement said.
Mr. Buhari commended Tukur’s diligent and patriotic service to his community, state and country as a public servant, political leader and accomplished businessman of international repute.
He also extolled the exemplary political maturity and commitment to national peace and development displayed by the former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party.
He noted that Mr. Tukur was one of the first to congratulate him after his victory in the March 28 presidential election.
The president prayed that “Almighty Allah will bless Tukur with many more years of good health and the company of his loving family and numerous friends within and outside Nigeria.’’
At the last count, Tukur family home has been receiving visitors in hundreds and thousands from all walks of life both from Nigeria and the international community.
Bamanga Tukur is indeed a golden fish that has no hiding place and so the turn out today of human heads that will celebrate his birthday with him will definitely be amazing and awesome. So congratulations as you use today’s celebration to re-affirm your faith in Nigeria’s democracy. Happy birthday to you at 80, Baba!
Ailuorio was a Media Aide to Tukur for over 20 years and now Managing Editor of NewSentinel online News Media (08023593633 or firstname.lastname@example.org)