PDP BoT: Jonathan, Obasanjo to clash over Anenih

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There are indications that President Goodluck Jonathan and former President Olusegun Obasanjo  are set to  clash again over the chairmanship of the Peoples Democratic Party’s Board of Trustees.

Though the presidency had denied it,  there have been reported instances of alleged disagreements between Jonathan and Obasanjo in recent times.

The PUNCH’s investigations on Sunday showed that while Jonathan was pushing the candidacy of a former Minister of Works, Chief Tony Anenih, chieftains of the party, including Obasanjo, were said not to be comfortable with Anenih.

It was learnt that while Jonathan had not openly pressured BoT members to vote for Anenih, he was said to have shown that he had confidence in him.

A member of the National Working Committee of the party, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Anenih “should be contented with the headship of the Nigerian Ports Authority for now and allow a younger and energetic person to head the board of our party at this crucial time.”

Anenih, once known as “Mr. Fix It” in the nation’s politics was recently appointed by Jonathan to chair the board of the NPA, the same position occupied by a chieftain of the party, Chief Bode George.

George was found guilty of corruption as chairman of the NPA and sentenced to prison by Justice Joseph Oyewole. He completed his jail term in February 2011.

The PDP NWC member, who spoke to one of our correspondents in Abuja  also said that if Anenih should become the BoT chairman, he (Anenih) would work against settling the alleged rift between Obasanjo and Jonathan, thus leading to further polarisation of the party.

He said, “You know we are trying to settle the rift between the President and Obasanjo. You know Obasanjo would not want Anenih as his successor and I think the President should just allow Anenih to go and manage the NPA, after all he is  a former chairman of the board.”

Obasanjo succeeded Anenih  when the PDP  constitution was amended to allow only a former President to head  the PDP BoT.

But Jonathan,  through his spokesman, Reuben Abati, denied that he had a preferred candidate for the  BoT chairmanship.

In a telephone interview on Sunday,  Abati  said  determining  who becomes the BoT chairman was that of all members of the board and not a one-man affair.

He said, “People should stop speculating. The President is not working for or sponsoring any candidate. The President is a democrat, it is most unfair to say that he is backing a candidate.

The BoT secretary, Senator Wali Jubrin, had spelt out the modalities for the election and promised that it would be conducted according to the party’s constitution.”

Nonetheless,  the NWC source said an impending clash between Obasanjo and Jonathan could be averted if the former could persuade a former chairman of the PDP, Ahmadu Ali, who is believed  to be  Obasanjo’s choice, to step down.

“There is so much tension on who will emerge as the chairman of the board on Tuesday night,” the NWC member said.

It is not surprising therefore that the rank of the leadership of the PDP is divided over who should be supported to assume the position of the chairman of the board of trustees.

Investigations by our correspondents on Sunday indicated that as at Sunday, other zones had refused the overtures of the South -West that it should be allowed to produce the BoT chairman.

Jubrin told one of our correspondents on the telephone  that contestants for the position had been engaged in campaign of calumny.

The position of the chairman of the board became vacant in April when Obasanjo, who was its former occupant, voluntarily resigned.

Some top shots of the party were said to be against Anenih occupying the office because they believe that he should be satisfied with  being  the chairman  of a juicy Federal Government organisation as the NPA.

Apart from Anenih and Ali, some of those contesting for the BoT chairmanship are  another former National Chairman of the PDP, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo;  business mogul,  Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu;  Chief Shuaib Oyedokun, Chief Don Etiebet and Chief Harry Akande.

Our correspondent also gathered that both the South-West and the South-East caucuses of the party had been  insisting that the position be zoned to them.

For example, the Zonal Publicity Secretary of the party in the South-West, Mr. Kayode Babade, said, “our appeal is that the national leadership of the party should honour our zone with true position”.

It was gathered that the  South-West hinged its claim to the position on  the alleged marginalisation of the zone by  the Jonathan administration.

It said nobody from the area was  among the top four government officials in the present administration.

Besides the President who is from South- South; Vice-President Namadi Sambo hails from North-West; the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Anyim,  South-East; Senate President David Mark, North-Central;  and Speaker, House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, North-West.

Although none of the top four is from the North-East, the zone produced the National Chairman of the PDP , Alhaji Bamanga Tukur. The post is regarded as a powerful one in the party.

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