By Chuks Okocha
With his tactical ouster from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Board of Trustees (BoT) chairmanship race, a former National Chairman of the party, Dr. Ahmadu Ali, and his supporters have started restrategising to remain in reckoning.
Ali’s bid to emerge as the next BoT chairman suffered a major setback last week when Senate President David Mark engineered the ratification of the election of the board’s secretary, Senator Walid Jibrin, from Nasarawa State for a term of five years.
The ratification of Jibrin’s election meant that the North-central zone, where he and Ali, who is from Kogi State hail from, cannot produce the board chairman and secretary as provided by the PDP constitution.
However, it was learnt at the weekend that Ali’s group is plotting to stop Jibrin from claiming his mandate by frustrating his return to the board, which is to be reconstituted soon.
The party at last Tuesday’s BoT meeting, had set up a committee headed by a former Minister of Information, Prof. Jerry Gana, to streamline and restructure the membership of the BoT, other than the statutory members of the board.
However, as the Gana committee begins its work, a founding member of the party, Chief Dan Kunle, has described as unwieldy, the composition of the board, which has 97 members.
The election of a BoT chairman is not the only crisis rocking the PDP, as the party is enmeshed in another crisis in Adamawa State, where party elders yesterday decried the roles being played PDP governors in the debacle over the control of the state chapter of the party.
The party is also billed to hold an emergency session today to deliberate on the judgment of the Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja, that nullified the election of the party’s National Secretary, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola.
THISDAY gathered at the weekend that the race for the BoT chairmanship was far from being over for Ali, notwithstanding the ratification of Jibrin’s election, as a subterranean campaign has been launched to stop Jibrin.
The goal is to ensure that he is not nominated by the North-central zone to represent Nasarawa State on the board.
According to a source, “If this plot sees the light of the day, then he shall not be the secretary of the BoT.”
The source said apart from statutory members, of which Jibrin is not, he must be presented by his zone to enable him remain secretary of the BoT.
“But where he is not re-nominated, then he cannot assume the secretary’s position. You must first be a member to become the secretary.
“For the record, Senator Jibrin from Nasarawa State has completed his five-year tenure of office and therefore, must seek fresh nomination. It is on this premise that he can become the secretary of the board and the Jerry Gana-led committee is aware of this,” the source stated.
A party chief, however, believes that the membership of the PDP BoT should be pruned to make it more manageable as a way of reducing tension on the board.
Kunle, who worked with the late Sunday Awoniyi and Gen. David Jemibewon, in the formation of the PDP, especially in Kogi State, said that the idea of the BoT was to have a pyramidal apex of elders with a conscience that cannot be compromised.
“We did not envisage an election in choosing the chairman. It is our idea that the chairman should emerge from the board members based on consensus and other members conceding leadership to the chairman.
“In a situation, where the chairman emerges through an election, there would be factions and this to us is not in the overall interest of having a board that would speak as a conscience and advisory board of the PDP,” he explained.
He advised that the membership of the BoT should not exceed 36.
Meanwhile, the PDP National Working Committee (NWC) will today hold an emergency meeting over the implication of the court’s declarative order that Oyinlola should vacate his office as the national secretary of the party.
But two NWC members have said the PDP should not dabble into Oyinlola’s removal, explaining that there was no way his removal by Justice Abdu Kafarati could be linked to the Adamawa State PDP crisis.
At the NWC meeting, the party’s National Legal Adviser, Mr. Victor Kwon, would be expected to advise the executive organ on the legal implications of the court order.
The NWC, it was further gathered, is also seeking legal advice from some Senior Advocates of Nigeria to ensure that there is no legal impediment stopping Oyinlola from continuing in office, pending the determination of the appeal against his ouster.
In a related development, PDP elders have described the continuous intervention of the party’s governors in the Adamawa PDP crisis as a ploy by them to hijack the party and impose one of them as a presidential candidate in 2015.
The elders, at a press briefing in Abuja, said it was unfortunate if the president does not realise the governors’ game plan and move quickly to arrest the situation.
Dr. Umar Ardo, who spoke on behalf of the PDP elders, said the governors were using the Adamawa crisis to test their might and see how far they can get in using it to destabilise the national secretariat of the PDP to project their own interest in 2015.
“It is all about 2015. Anybody that tells you anything to the contrary is not sincere; they want to impose one of them as the presidential candidate of the party in 2015 and that is why they are ignoring what the people and the president want,” he stated.