THE power play over who becomes the next chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party’s Board of Trustees is definitely not over. And it is definitely still between President Goodluck Jonathan and ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo’s groups. Following the sudden postponement of the election of the party’s next BoT chairman on Tuesday night, The PUNCH learnt that members of the two groups had regrouped
for a future battle over whose side would produce the BoT chairman.
But for the postponement of the election on Tuesday night, Obasanjo’s group would have beaten Jonathan’s men hands down in the power play that attended the botched election.
Though the ex-President was absent from the gathering of the chieftains of the PDP in the Federal Capital, his men were said to have been on the verge of enthroning Ahmadu Alli, Obasanjo’s choice for the job, before the postponement.
While Ali, a former National Chairman of the PDP, had the support of Obasanjo, Jonathan was said to have favoured ‘Mr. Fix it,’ and the Chairman of the Board of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Tony Anenih.
Before the sudden postponement of the election of a new BoT chairman on Tuesday night, many of the board members had made up their minds that Alli would get the job.
During the horse-trading that preceded the meeting at the Presidential Villa on Tuesday night, it was learnt that most of the BoT members had agreed to adopt Alli as the consensus candidate.
The situation, our correspondents learnt, had sent jitters into Jonathan’s camp with many of his loyalists and aides warned over the “too gentle” posture of the President.
It was also learnt that Obasanjo controlled a majority of members in the National Working Committee.
The pro-Obasanjo members were said to have gone round to convince the BoT members that Anenih must not be allowed to emerge.
They were said to have based their argument on the fact that Jonathan had already appointed Anehih as Chairman of the NPA, arguing that giving the ex-policeman the BoT chairmanship would not be fair to other members of the party.
It was learnt that the pro-Jonathan group was surprised that the Obasanjo loyalists almost had their way, but for the intervention of some top Presidency officials and some chieftains of the party.
They were said to have explained the danger of handing over any arm of the party to those who were against his 2015 ambition.
A top official of the party, who pleaded anonymity, said, “Some people are taking advantage of democratic credentials of Jonathan to take over the party.
“Members of the BoT who initially planned to step down for Alli later insisted on contesting when they were made to see reason why Jonathan’s candidate should not be defeated.”
A source said that a former governor in the South-West and an incumbent North-West governor led the Obasanjo faction, which countered the faction led by the PDP National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, for Jonathan.
“The Obasanjo faction wants someone it could control as BoT chairman. President Goodluck Jonathan is liberal over the matter. If not, he has the power to use his influence to ensure a particular candidate emerges,” the source added.
Investigation showed that the battle for the BoT chairmanship is linked with the tussle for the presidency in 2015.
Talking to one of our correspondents on Wednesday, a chieftain of the PDP who craved anonymity told one of our correspondents, “The tussle for 2015 presidency is reason for the fierce battle for the BoT chairmanship.
“The power-play characterising the BoT chairmanship cannot be divorced from the tussle for PDP presidential ticket in 2015.”
The source also disclosed that selfish ambitions of some leaders of the party gave rise to the tussle.
The source said, “A national chieftain of the PDP told the Secretary of the BoT to resign because the secretary came from his region which is the North-Central.
“This is to make way for his candidacy. But the secretary refused.”
The source also said, “Some people do not want the post to come to the South-West because they feel the post will overshadow them. They feel the BoT chairman will overshadow them.”
He said, “They want to use the new PDP constitution to bar some people from contesting. They are relying on the provision which says that members who are elected into the BoT are not supposed to be returned after five years. This is to bar some candidates from contesting.”
Investigations on Wednesday, however, showed that there were fears among some chairmanship aspirants for the office of the PDP BoT.
Some of the aspirants feared that the Jerry Gana-led committee might be used to edge some of them out of the race.
Three different aspirants, who spoke with our correspondents on the condition of anonymity, said the committee would be monitored in order to make sure that new rules were not set for aspirants.
One of them said that it was possible that the committee would be waiting for the tenure of some of the members to end before coming up with its recommendation.