DAVID Mark, Haliru and Ahmadu-Ali
Chuks Okocha examines how the former national chairman of PDP, Ahmadu Ali, was stopped in the race for the party’s Board of Trustees chairman and the work of the Gana committee on restructuring
The adage, “When you see a young man breaking into a house in broad daylight, know that he has the backing of a strong man,” seemed to play out during the last meeting of the Peoples Democratic Party Board of Trustees in Abuja. The BoT secretary, Senator Walid Jibrin, appeared to demonstrate this saying in his posturing at the meeting, as he resisted all entreaties to step down for anyone. But little did anyone know that there were some strongmen solidly behind him.
Last Sunday, in a prelude to the PDP NEC meeting, the BoT secretary had released statement refuting suggestions that he had agreed to step down.
“I want to confirm that the insinuation created in some quarters that I shall step down is 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 provisions under BoT in the party constitution, Part Nine A, B, C, which specifically says that the board shall elect its members and when elected shall serve a period of five years. And that is to say that the position of the secretary was declared vacant after the resignation of Abduallahi Adamu and the position was duly filled by the authentic and legitimate election held,” he said.
The BoT secretary said it was wrong for anyone to say that he was completing the remaining tenure of Abduallahi, while advising contestants not to make the election of the BoT chairman a do-or-die affair.
Jibrin’s refusal to step down was what changed the entire permutation Tuesday and prevented the holding of the BoT chairmanship election.
Little did anyone know that he had the backing of the leaders of his zone, the North-west, and even the support of influential members of the party and the BoT from the zone. As things eventually turned out, THISDAY gathered, Jibrin had the support of the leader of his zone, Senate President David Mark, and the former acting national chairman of the party, Dr. Mohammed Haliru Bello, who is the immediate past Minister of Defence.
The way Mark moved a motion for the election of Jibrin as the substantive secretary of the BoT and the motion was easily seconded by the former Minister of Defence seemed to raise the initial suspicion. Apart from that, the chorus of “no” that rent the air when the former national chairman, Ahmadu Ali, objected to the nomination of Jibrin spoke volumes about the entire plot.
Without the nomination of Jibrin by Mark and Bello, the BoT meeting, THISDAY understood, would have easily elected Ali as the next chairman. But before the meeting, the plot to stop him had been perfected. A the meeting, some of his foot soldiers, sensing what would happen, commenced the campaign that some members of the board had overstayed their mandatory five years tenure as stipulated in the PDP constitution. They almost had their way, until a position was taken that it would be reasonable to allow all members to attend the meeting.
By the constitution of the PDP, as regards the BoT, the principle of Federal Character is respected. Ali is from Kogi State, while Jibrin is from Nasarawa State, both states in the North-central zone. The Senate president is the leader of PDP in the zone, but had Ali been elected the BoT chairman, he would automatically have become the leader of the party in the North-central.
Row over BoT Membership
Once inside the meeting, arguments and counter arguments were presented on the need to verify the actual members of the board, as some of the members present were said to have overstayed their statutory tenure.
In response to this, those concerned, persons who were not statutory members of BoT, countered that the last national convention in March last year amended the constitution to extend the tenure of non-statutory members to a double term of five years – from the five years single membership term.
With a heated argument over the tenure of non-statutory members, a six-member committee headed by former Minister of Information, Professor Jerry Gana, was constituted to resolve the matter. Other members of the committee were Stella Omu (South-south), Hope Uzodinma (South-east), Shettima Mustapha (North-east), Bode George (South-west), and Governor Ibrahim Shema (North-west).
The committee was mandated to go through the minutes of the party from the last constitution amendment to verify the actual amendments that were made as regards the status of non-statutory members.
According to information made available to THISDAY, if there were actually recommendations that the non-statutory members had their tenures extended, “then those concerned may be given the chance to stay the two terms of five years as members of the board. If not, those concerned would seek a re-nomination to be allowed to be members in the forthcoming BoT meeting in the next three weeks, when the Gana committee would have submitted its report. This is what the restructuring of the board is all about.”
Pressure for Independence
It was also gathered that members of the board were of the mindset that they needed to assert their independence as the conscience of the party. This, analysts believe, is for two reasons. One is what a member described as the “inept leadership within the structures of the party.” The second is the precedent already laid down by the House of Representatives, when it disobeyed the party by electing Aminu Waziri Tambuwal and Emeka Ihedioha as Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the House, respectively.
With this, as the BoT member said, the next chairman of the BoT may emerge from an independent-minded election. Asked what he meant by being independent, the member said, “We want to ensure that we elect our chairman based on our conscience, so as to bring back what we describe as the lost glory of the party.”
The source explained that the plot to stop Ali was hatched as a way of asserting the members’ independence. “We knew where he is coming from and those pushing his aspiration,” he said.
According to the BoT member, “We noticed desperation on the side of some of the aspirants, but a decision has been made,” citing the short messages that were being sent out to members. One of the text messages read, “ Good morning, as Africa’s largest political party, board chairman should be a man with known passion for total nationalism, a strategist whose legacies transcend mere politics, a craftsman, committed Nigerian whose services for a long time has been genuinely consistent in line with the desires of our national aspiration. Ahmadu Ali is tested, through the crucibles of our nation.”
Mrs. Josephine Anenih, Governor Ibrahim Shema, Ambassador Hassan Adamu and the national secretary of the PDP, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, told newsmen before the meeting started that the expectation of the party’s BoT members was to have a chairman that would carry all members of the party along and assist in repositioning the party.
Those who attended the meeting were President Goodluck Jonathan, Vice President Namadi Sambo, Senator leader, David Mark, Speaker of the House of Representatives Aminu Tambuwal, former Vice President Alex Ekwueme, and chairman of the party, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur.
Others were Governor Ibrahim Shema, Governor Sule Lamido, Chief Olagunsoye Oyinlola, Senator Danjuma Goje, Alhaji Abdulkadir Kure, General Muhammadu Magoro (rtd), Gana, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, Chief Francis Arthur Nzeribe, Hajiya Inna Ciroma, Senator Adolphus Wabara, Mrs. Joy Emordi, Chief Chris Uba and Chief Ojo Maduekwe.
Also at the meeting were Alhaji Bello Haliru Mohammed, Senator Adolphus Wabara, Senator Barnabas Gemade, Senator Ken Nnamani, Ali, Senator Ibrahim Mantu, Mr. Vincent Ogbulafor, Mr. Tony Anenih, Mrs. Patricia Etteh, Chief Josephine Anenih, Ambassador Hassan Adamu (Wakilin Adamawa).
Others included Chief Jim Nwobodo, Mr. Obong Victor Attah, Richard Akinjide, Chief Olabode George, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, Senator Walid Jibrin, Alhaji Musa Babayo, Dr Dalhatu Sarki Tafida, Mrs Kema Chikwe, Chief Bode Olajumoke, General David Jemibewon (rtd), Chief Don Etiebet, and Chief Ebenezer Babatope.
The BoT is the highest advisory body of PDP and custodian of the party, charged with the responsibility of ensuring the highest standard of morality and discipline among members. Though, with its guardian position it is expected to be above partisanship, the BoT had seemed to be simply available and always ready to carry out the president’s wishes. Many believe change is imminent, no matter the report of the Gana committee.