Former President Olusegun Obasanjo
By Chuks Okocha
As part of the ongoing reconciliation drive by the Peoples Democratic Party, Chairman of the party’s Board of Trustees, Chief Tony Anenih, and other members of the board are scheduled to meet former President Olusegun Obasanjo Monday at his Ota, Ogun State residence.
Obasanjo would also host the governor of Jigawa State, Alhaji Sule Lamido, and the chairman of the PDP governors’ committee on reconciliation in the South-west, Governor Ibrahim Shema of Katsina State.
Issues expected to dominate the meeting include the perceived exclusion of the South-west from the mainstream of national politics, the recent removals of Chief Olagunsoye Oyinlola as national secretary of PDP and Chief Olabode Mustapha as national auditor, the dissolution of the South-west zonal executive of the party headed by former governor of Ekiti State, Mr. Segun Oni, and the dissolution of the Ogun State executive committee of the party.
Oyinlola, Oni, who was removed as PDP National Vice Chairman for South-west, and Mustapha are allies of the former president, who was also alleged to have a tight rein on the dissolved South-west and Ogun State executives.
A statement issued by the PDP national publicity secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, on February 15 had said the dismissals were in obedience to court orders that nullified the South-west zonal PDP congress held on March 21 last year, where the ousted officers were nominated. A Federal High Court in Abuja on January 11 held that the PDP zonal congress had been nullified by an order of the Federal High Court in Lagos on April 27, which was reaffirmed by another judgement on May 2.
The PDP national leadership replaced Mustapha with Alhaji Fatai Adeyanju, who is believed to be loyal to businessman Buruji Kashamu, and constituted a 17-member caretaker committee, headed by Ishola Filani, to steer the affairs of the party in the zone pending the conduct of a fresh zonal congress. Most of the replacements were believed to be persons opposed to Obasanjo.
A source told THISDAY that Monday’s meeting at the Ota residence of the former president was in continuation of the “nationwide reconciliatory tour embarked upon by the Tony Anenih-led BoT.”
The committee had visited several aggrieved PDP governors, including Lamido, Musa Kwankwaso of Kano State, Babangida Aliyu of Niger State, Aliyu Wamako of Sokoto State, and Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers State.
Monday’s meeting between Obasanjo and the Anineh BoT would be significant, as the former president is said not to have met his former works minister since 2007, when he was removed as BoT chairman and replaced by Obasanjo in a seeming palace coup he had orchestrated.
Anenih’s unfriendly replacement by Obasanjo in the 2007 incident followed an amendment of the PDP constitution, which said that only former presidents who were members of the party were qualified to head the board. Though, the party has since, again, reviewed its constitution to throw the BoT chairmanship open after the tension that the former amendment had generated.
In the latest contest for the BoT chairmanship in February, Anenih emerged against Dr. Ahmadu Ali, who was believed to be sponsored by Obasanjo.
THISDAY reports that the presence of Shema and the governors of Ebonyi, Benue, and Delta states – Martin Elechi, Gabriel Suswam, and Emmanuel Udughan, repectively – who are also expected at the meeting with Obasanjo, would highlight the stalemate in the initial effort by the PDP governors to resolve the disagreements in the South-west zone of the party.
The last meeting held by the PDP governors to try to reconcile its key South-west members ended in a deadlock.
Following impasse, Shema had urged the stakeholders in the zone to go and reconcile themselves and report back to the governors. But the matter has remained in abeyance since then.
Already, Oyinlola, a former governor of Osun State, has accused the PDP national chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, and the National Working Committee, which he leads, of hurriedly sealing the fate of the South-west in the party. Oyinlola warned that this was a terrible mistake by PDP.
Meanwhile, in a seeming sign of deterioration in the crisis rocking the South-west PDP, Mustapha has asked the PDP lawyer, who served as his counsel, Joe Gadzama (SAN), to withdraw his representation in his case at the Court of Appeal.
Mustapha in a letter to Gadzama, made available to THISDAY, threatened to drag Gadzama before the Chief Justice of Nigeria and the Nigeria Bar Association if he failed to withdraw his services.
The letter dated April 5, 2013 read, “I feel that it is not just unfair and immoral but a highly condemnable conduct which I know will have no place in the rules of professional ethics of your respectable profession for you to not only file a ‘Notice of Withdrawal’ of my appeal without my consent but proceed to rub it in my face by stating that regardless of my protests, the appeal is deemed withdrawn upon the filing of the ‘Notice of Withdrawal’ with or without my consent. I am confident that our laws in Nigeria are not that unjust and oppressive.
“At the risk of being perceived to be making unnecessary repetition, I wish to reiterate that there are reliefs against me personally in the Originating Summons and I was not sued in a representation capacity. I am therefore miffed at your desperation to recklessly frustrate the exercise of my constitutional right to appeal at all cost.
“It is my reasonable expectation and I dare say that of any reasonable person who is abreast of these developments, that having agreed to cease your unauthorised representation of my humble self, you will be honourable enough to withdraw the unauthorised notice of withdrawal filed on my behalf in the appeal. I am however not disappointed that you have chosen to act otherwise.”