The crisis that has rocked the structure of the ruling People’s Democratic Party is far from being over. The party’s failure to elect a Chairman for its Board of Trustees as the election slated for January 8 ended in a stalemate has been read as a pointer to the fact that the party needs to put some things right. With the dust generated by that yet to settle, the Governor’s refused to be placated as they called for the removal of the party’s National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur.
The National Working Committee of the party too has stated that it was “embarrassed” that Alhaji Bamanga Tukur could go ahead and support illegal congresses in Adamawa, his home state. The Chairman’s action was believed to have stemmed from his differences with the Governor of the state, Murtala Nyako. Of course Tukur is not unaware that most of the Governors were not in support of his emergence as Chairman as majority of them favoured Babayo Shehu. The Governors called for a NEC meeting, an outcome of which if convened may not augur well for the Chairman.
Street Journal’s findings have also revealed that most of the things are going the way they are as a result of the build up to the 2015 general elections. A committee has been put in place to usher in a process that will produce the next Chairman of the Board of Trustees.
A battle for the soul of the party has already began and members already know that the race for the BoT Chairmanship will be a test of power between President Goodluck Jonathan and Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, the immediate past Chairman of the BoT.
Some factors may however be at play in the election of the new Chairman, such include:
Though he resigned his appointment voluntarily in April 2012, thus making the position vacant, findings have revealed that former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo may not be ready to allow power to slip away from his hands. There are strong indications Obasanjo still wants to be in control of the party in order to dictate what goes on.
One of his loyalists, Ahmadu Ali is a main contender for the position and one of the things he has going for him is experience, having once served as the party’s National Chairman. He is also believed to wield a considerable amount of influence; his wife is a Special Assistant to the President.
Mr. President’s Agenda
President Goodluck Jonathan too has his own plans. The occupant of the office of the Chairman of the Board of Trustees matters a lot to the President’s camp. It is a known fact that the National Chairman of the party was Dr. Jonathan’s candidate, having the BoT Chairman will be a step further in consolidating his hold on the party’s structure.
Analysts have observed that the President needs a formidable bloc in the party and one of the men who can help do the job is “Mr. Fix It”, Tony Anenih. A member of the party disclosed that “since the President already had his way in installing Alhaji Bamaga Tukur as National Chairman, Tony Anenih as BoT Chair would be like icing on the cake. Presently, the President has no one serving as a point man for his structure as he is running a decentralized system.
Observers have however put up a calculation that a combination of Tony Anenih and Chief Oghiadohme, the Chief of Staff (who has been the President’s friend since they were both Deputy Governors) would be able to fix anything that may come up as both are known to be capable of pulling any strings back in Edo State where they both hail from. Anenih was national campaign coordinator for General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua back in the 1990s and he is believed to have become better with experience. Moreover, the President seems keen on building his own stronghold in the party, since he came to power without one and has now realized how necessary it would be to have. And the President cannot be comfortable if he is not at peace with the BoT Chairman, as such whoever will occupy the position has to be an ally.
David Mark’s Plot
The Senate President is one of those believed to have reasons to work against the emergence of Chief Obasanjo’s candidate, Ahmadu Ali. Though he would seem to be doing it in a show of loyalty to the President, some elements in the party believe Senator Mark is simply trying to work out his own strategies. The retired army Signal Corps General has plans for 2015 and one of the ways to actualize the plan is to keep his position as the leader of the party in the North Central Zone. It has been observed that Ali’s emergence would alter some calculations because if he does, as BoT Chair, he automatically becomes the leader of the party in the region where he comes from. His region incidentally falls within the North Central Zone, as such; the Senate President has to be on guard.
The Aspirants At A Glance
The contenders for the BoT seat include Alhaji Shuaibu Oyedokun who was once the Deputy National Chairman of the party in the South West, Chief Olabode George who occupied the same position, Dr. Ahmadu Ali, a former National Chairman, former Senate President, Ken Nnamani as well as Chief Tony Anenih.
Comments have been generated by the aspiration of the likes of Chief Olabode George who had done time for contract splitting while he served as the Chairman of the Nigerian Ports Authority.
Chief Anthony Anenih too has been named in a scandal bordering on a number of failed road contracts while he served as Minister for Works.
With Obasanjo’s unceremonious exit as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, many were tempted to think he would adopt the popular “siddon look” approach. Those who know the former President have closely have however attested to his unforgiving nature and propensity to take back his pound of flesh whenever he feels wronged.
Already, meetings including nocturnal meetings, text messages and consultations are still going on as aspirants continue to press on in the race. Since none of them has agreed to step down, all the aspirants are still reaching out to gain as much support as possible.
Roles of The NEC and CWC
The National Working Committee has the function of overseeing the day to day running of the party, true to its name; it is the working body of the People’s Democratic Party.
The National Executive Council which is an enlarged body is the policy making organ of the party. It comprises of the President, Governors, and members of the BoT, members of the NWC as well as principal officers of the National Assembly who are PDP members. It meets once in three months and it is the only body that can ratify the decision of the National Working Committee.
The Board of Trustees on the other hand is the organ of the PDP that commands the highest respect. It is more or less like the “elders’ committee”. Though its role is advisory, the advices put forward are believed to be of the purest value and are usually adopted by the Working Committee and the National Executive Council.
A Battle For Survival
The former President’s camp is known to still be very active within the PDP and it is already being said amongst members that their continued relevance in the party is hinged on the victory of Dr Ali at the BoT Chairmanship election. If he loses, Obasanjo and his loyalists may be down and out.
The camp of the incumbent President too is not unaware of how things run, most of those in the camp now were aware that in Obasanjo’s days as President, all arms of the party were controlled from the Presidential Villa.
For Chief Tony Anenih, it would also be a battle royale, he was politically ambushed for Obsanjo to emerge as the Chairman of the BoT years ago, back then, Anenih was preferred by President Yar’Adua . He sure wouldn’t want Obasanjo to have another victory over him in the same contest.
Why many feel Anenih may also have an edge is that he seems to be the preferred candidate of the Presidency, in spite of all the controversy that trailed his term as Minister, he was appointed by President Jonathan to chair the newly constituted board of the Nigerian Ports Authority.
Presently, a frosty relationship exists between President Goodluck Jonathan and Chief Obasanjo. Unlike the days of Umar Yar’Adua, the President’s aides can now look Obasanjo in the face and damn all consequences, especially in view of his recent criticism of the Jonathan administration. It is thus clearly obvious for all to see that Obasanjo’s influence has gone on a downward slope.
Many people have opined that the cold war between Obasanjo and President Jonathan started after the 2011 elections, Obasanjo had candidates for the leadership positions in the House of Reps, things were however not allowed to swing his way. Findings revealed that he was particularly saddened by that move.