By Chuks Okocha
The bid by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to elect its Board of Trustees (BoT) chairman tomorrow has stirred a new controversy with the board’s Secretary, Senator Walid Jibrin, rejecting any attempt to force him to step down from his position to pave the way from a chairmanship aspirant from his North-central zone.
Jibrin, in a statement Sunday, said he would not resign contrary to media reports that he was willing to step down so that former PDP National Chairman, Dr. Ahmadu Ali, who is in the chairmanship race, could emerge.
Both Jibrin and Ali are from the North-central geopolitical zone and going by the zoning arrangement in the PDP, the zone can only produce either of the two BoT officials.
He explained that he was elected for five-year tenure and not to complete the tenure of his predecessor, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, who resigned two years ago.
He also said the PDP constitution stated that the election of the BoT chairman and secretary would reflect the principles of the federal character.
Jibrin spoke just as it has become evident that the emergence of the chairman of the board will be based on election as all stakeholders and aspirants that obtained the Expression of Interest forms are insisting on election.
Jibrin, said: “I want to confirm that the preparations for the process that will lead to the emergence of the PDP BoT chairman are in full gear. I will present the full list of contestants to the board to enable them to decide accordingly. I want to assure that up till today, nobody has been picked and no screening has taken place.
“Meanwhile, I will like to confirm to you that insinuations created in some quarters that I shall step down are blatant lie and is only used by a contestant to garner cheap popularity in a desperate bid to become the BoT chairman by all means.
“I was duly elected in conformity with the provision under BoT in the party constitution, Part Nine, Section 32, Subsection 1, under A, B, C, which specifically says that the Board of Trustees shall elect chairman and secretary from its members and that when elected, they will serve a period of five years and no more. That is to say that the position of the secretary was declared vacant after the resignation of (former) Governor Abdullahi Adamu, that vacancy was duly filled after an authentic and legitimate election was held.
“The insinuation therefore that I was completing a tenure for Abdullahi Adamu is dangerous and reckless and a sign of lack of full knowledge of how the party and BoT operate. I am therefore not concluding anybody’s term. Now that there is a vacancy of BoT chairman which is to be filled on the 8th of January in accordance with the constitution guidelines and anyone that emerges will serve the period of five years.”
The party BoT secretary warned chairmanship aspirants against employing campaign of calumny or any other desperate tactics in a bid for victory.
“We must accept that the BoT is the conscience of the party that needs a man of high integrity, honour and respect. He must be a man without any blemish record of any kind. He must garner respect of all Nigerians. The constitution of the party further clarifies that membership of BoT shall reflect the federal character of Nigeria. Every zone must be adequately represented, especially in the case of chairman and secretary.
Finally, I want to make it abundantly clear that I will never step down or resign my position of secretary because I was duly and unanimously elected by 98 members of the BoT and I have since been endorsed by my North-central zonal committee, including all the governors and legislators in the zone,” Jibrin added.
Other members of the BoT have further debunked reports that the presidency has settled for Ali as the BoT chairman.
A member of the board who spoke in confidence with THISDAY said the presidency had not anointed any aspirant, adding that the party had been directed to fill the position by election following the debacle in filling the post through consensus.
“Any one that told you that there is a consensus candidate is simply trying to gain cheap popularity. As we go for the meeting on Tuesday, we are focusing on an election to decide the next chairman,” he said.
Another member also explained that one of the chairmanship aspirants, Chief Anthony Anenih, was not bribed to step down with the chairmanship of the Nigeria Port Authority (NPA).
“As at July last year, it was clear to all members the PDP inner caucus that Anenih would be returned as the NPA chairman,” he stated.