Former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo
By Chuks Okocha
Ahead of the January 8, 2013 election of the chairman, Board of Trustees (BoT) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), former chairman of the board and former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, has made a U-turn on his support for the South-east zone to produce the next chairman and is now vigorously campaigning for the South-west zone to produce his successor.
In this regard, he has thrown his weight behind the former deputy national chairman of the party, Alhaji Shuaibu Oyedokun, who hails from Osun State.
On the other hand, President Goodluck Jonathan is said to be still undecided on who should emerge the chairman of the party’s BoT, but his aides say his sympathy lies with the South-east zone.
The scramble to chair the party’s BoT coincided with PDP’s response to the opposition Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), which upbraided the President’s Christmas message and called on Nigerians not to trust him.
THISDAY gathered that the former National Chairman of the party, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, has also joined other contestants who have picked the expression of interest (EOI) form to become the next chairman of the board.
A competent party source told THISDAY that Obasanjo had made a U-turn in his support for the South-east to produce the next chairman.
This time around, it was gathered that he is seriously rooting for Oyedokun to succeed him. Obasanjo stepped aside as the BoT chairman in April.
The source said: “The former president made a U-turn from supporting the zone (South-east) to produce his successor when a team of PDP Yoruba elders met him on Christmas eve to convince him that it would be a great disservice to the South-west if he continues to campaign for the South-east.
“It was after the meeting that he met with Oyedokun and commenced campaigning for him,” and that it would be suicidal for him to campaign against a position that he voluntarily relinquished.
“We told him at the meeting that the best he could do was to remain neutral, instead of working against his zone because this has a way of affecting the fortunes of the Yoruba’s within the PDP,” the source said.
Obasanjo’s change of heart notwithstanding, Nwodo who was forced to resign as the party’s national chairman in January 2011 has joined other contestants seeking to become the next chairman of PDP’s BoT.
By virtue of being the former national chairman of the party, he is already a member of the BoT but obtained his EOI form before the December 7 deadline.
THISDAY gathered that with Nwodo joining the race, the jostling for who would become the next BoT chairman has become a keen contest between the former senate president, Ken Nnamani; a newspaper publisher, Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu; former Minister of Works, Chief Tony Anenih; former Minister of Petroleum, Chief Don Etiebet; and the former national chairman of the party, Dr. Ahmadu Ali, among others.
But the odds seem to favour the South-east, as the president, though undecided, appears to be sympathetic towards the zone because of the need to ensure equity and balancing.
However, the party source, who spoke to THISDAY, explained that there might be no election on January 8, because to go ahead with the election would be tantamount to polarising the BoT.
He explained that the president is at the forefront of ensuring that there is a consensus arrangement to pick the next chairman of the party’s BoT.
Meanwhile, the PDP has described the reaction of the CPC to the president’s Christmas message as clear evidence that the CPC is not ready to step down from its philosophy of violence and vile communication module.
A statement by the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Olisa Metuh, said the intentions of the CPC, which is to stir public distrust and trigger a flood of mutiny against the PDP led Federal Government, will continue to suffer a still birth as Nigerians are capable of sifting the truth from the tissue of lies.
PDP insisted that President Jonathan was correct when he declared in his Christmas message that he has the political will and determination to deliver on the party’s promise of positive change in the living conditions of the people in the shortest possible time, insisting that the gains of the party’s transformation programme will bear more fruits in the coming years.
According to Metu, “President Jonathan has invested heavily in critical infrastructure such as power, road and rail transport, security, agriculture and education, among others.
“While the maturity span of some of this infrastructure is long term and expected to yield benefits in the coming years, there is abundant evidence that steady gains are already crystallizing in sectors such as power, education and in the rail transport sector.
“The CPC will definitely be blind to this steady progress because constructive engagement is not the ultimate motivation of its criticism.”