Professor Jerry Gana
By Chuks Okocha
As the six-member committee, headed by Professor Jerry Gana, which was set up to restructure the membership of the Peoples Democratic Party Board of Trustees submits its report on Monday, there are indications that attempts to trim down the size of the board may have failed.
The committee’s report is expected to be submitted to President Goodluck Jonathan, as the national leader of the party, and the national chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur.
The implication of a failure to downsize the BoT would be that members considered loyal to former President Olusegun Obasanjo would remain in the majority. Most of the members described as Obasanjo's men will be coming back as non-statutory members.
Among recommendations said to be contained in the report of the Gana committee is that election should not be the means of choosing the next BoT chairman and that Jonathan should put his foot down on who becomes the chairman of the board.
It was also gathered that the fear of what the governors elected on the platform of PDP could do at the National Executive Committee against the Tukur-led National Working Committee was behind the president and PDP national chairman’s unfavourable disposition to the holding of the NEC meeting.
The Gana committee has as members Stella Omu, representing the South-south; Senator Hope Uzodimma from the South-east; Chief Bode George from the South-west; Dr. Shettima Mustapha from the North-east; and Governor Ibrahim Shema from the North-west. It met severally at the PDP Presidential Campaign Office in Maitama for five days to prepare its report that would be submitted on Monday.
THISDAY gathered that during the meetings, the Gana committee received presentations from prominent members of the party, including Senate President David Mark and the national zonal vice chairmen of the party, on the procedure for membership of the BoT, especially, as it relates to non-statutory members.
The committee, apparently, had no problems with the statutory members of the BoT, such as the former president, former vice presidents, serving and former national chairmen, national secretaries, deputy national chairmen, serving and former senate presidents and speakers of the House of Representatives, due to the constitutional provisions that guarantee their membership.
But the committee approved one member per state for the members considered as founding members, while the six geopolitical zones were expected to nominate three members each, one of which must be a woman.
The new composition of the BoT may be as follows: statutory members 31, founding members 30, non-statutory members 30, and six women, each from every one of the six geopolitical zones.
The Gana committee encountered problems with the non-statutory membership of the BoT because it was difficult for the various zones to meet and agree on those to be dropped and those to the included. For instance, the North-central zone, where the senate president comes from, was said to have insisted on retaining the three members from the zone, including the secretary of the board, Senator Walid Jubrin.
Supporters of Obasanjo and those of the former national chairman of the party, Ahmadu Ali, were said to have hatched a plot to ensure a review of the North-central zone’s membership of the board. This was meant to edge out the BoT secretary and boost Ali’s chances of emerging chairman. But the leader of the North-central zone, Mark, stood his ground and thwarted the plot to remove Jubrin as a member.
A member of the Gana committee told THISDAY, “if there was a review of the membership from the zone and in the process, the secretary was not re nominated, then he would be out as the secretary, because you have to be a member first before being the secretary of the board.”
The story was similar for the other zones, as there was no meeting to nominate new members.
“To avoid the controversy of accusation of blocking members, we made just what could be considered slight adjustment. By and large, the a few changes were made in the 98-member board,” the member who asked not to be named said.
The report, which the Gana committee is expected to submit on Monday, THISDAY learnt, would recommend geopolitical balancing and retention of the principle of federal character as well as a non-elective emergence of the new BoT chairman.
“Our belief is that it is not fair to expose the board to election. This is against the spirit of the founding members. The BoT is the conscience of the party and, therefore, should not be exposed to the dangers and implications of elections,” the source told THISDAY.
The source said after the submission of the Gana committee’s report, a meeting of the board would be called and thereafter, a chairman would be expected to emerge by consensus.
Meanwhile, THISDAY gathered that it was because of the fear that PDP governors could use their control of the voting members of NEC against Tukur that the NWC meeting is being stalled.
An NWC member, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, “With what is on ground, it would be dangerous to call a NEC meeting now. The situation is too dicey. This is why the president and the national chairman are not in support of a NEC meeting now. The governors nominated the NEC members and their loyalty is still with the governors that nominated them.”