Political intrigues played a major role in the inability of the People’s Democratic Party to get a new chairman for its Board of Trustees
| By Augustine Adah | Jan. 21, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT
INTRIGUES and horse-trading played their roles at the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Board of Trustees, BoT, meeting that lasted for about three hours in Abuja, January 8. The meeting which was expected to elect a new chairman to fill the vacuum created after former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s resignation last year, ended without election of a new chairman.
But a six-member committee headed by Jerry Gana, former minister of information, was constituted to streamline the membership of the BoT before the election of the chairman. Other members of the committee included Olabode George, former vice-chairman of PDP, South-West, and Stella Omu, a former senator. The committee was given three weeks to complete its assignment.
Before the postponement of the election, Ahmadu Ali, former chairman of the PDP and one of the contestants who enjoys tremendous support from Obasanjo, was favoured to become the new chairman. To pave way for Ali’s emergence, pressure was mounted on Wali Jibrin, secretary of the BoT, from the North Central zone, the same geo-political zone with Ali, to resign his position. But Jibrin refused all entreaties sent to him by the supporters of Ali.
It was also gathered that Ali’s candidature did not enjoy the support of David Mark, the Senate president. Mark was said to be uncomfortable with Ali becoming the next chairman of the BoT, because it would deny him the position of the leader of the party from the zone. As the Senate president, Mark become the leader of the party from the zone. He therefore supported the postponement of the election and the ratification of the position of Jibrin to continue as the secretary of the BoT. The development has jeopardised the chances of Ali becoming the chairman, because the constitution of the party does not allow both the chairman and secretary of BoT to come from the same geo-political zone.
Apart from Ali, other notable PDP chieftains, who want to be chairman of the party’s plum position are Tony Anenih, who occupied the same position until 2007, Alex Ekwueme, former vice president, Ken Nnamani, former Senate president, Onyeabor Obi, Shuaib Oyedokun, Richard Akinjide, and Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu.
Tunji Shelle, chairman, PDP, Lagos State, has attributed the inability of the party to elect a new chairman at the Tuesday meeting to a clash of interests which may further polarise the party into factions as the 2015 general election is drawing closer. Shelle was optimistic that by the next meeting of the BoT, a new chairman would emerge without acrimony.
Nanzing Pyennap, a member of the party in Lagos State, also explained that the desire of former president Obasanjo to control the machinery of the party even after leaving office was threatening the election of the new BoT chairman. The development, according to Pyennap, may create more cracks in the party. He believes that with the power conferred on the president as the leader of the party, Obasanjo may not withstand him on issues bordering on party affairs.
“Obasanjo may be influential as a two- time president of the country, but I don’t see him succeeding in installing his stooge as the next chairman of the BoT,” he said. The current development, according to Pyennap make it difficult to predict who would emerge the next chairman because, between now and the next meeting, a lot of politicking can change all the political permutations in the party.
But Ojo Maduekwe, former national secretary of the party and Nigeria’s high commissioner to Canada, disagrees. “The meeting did not come close to election, nomination or endorsement of any aspirant. There was no deadlock,” Maduekwe said.
Maduekwe, however, admitted that as a big party, minor disagreements based on interests could not be overruled. The former minister of transport explained that the party hierarchy would do all things necessary to resolve all lingering crises including that of Adamawa State as soon as possible. The Tuesday meeting which was presided over by President Jonathan, was well attended by the members. But Obasanjo, who has become critical of President Jonathan over his policies on some national issues, was absent. Obasanjo, who emerged the chairman of the BoT after Tony Anenih was edged out, suddenly resigned his position in April 2012.