Despite claims by the Presidency that all is well between President Goodluck Jonathan and former President Olusegun Obasanjo, it seems that the rumoured less than chummy relationship between them is about to get worse as indications point to a clash between them over who becomes the next chairman of the Peoples’ Democratic Party Board of Trustees.
Investigations show that Obasanjo is not comfortable with President Jonathan’s backing of former Minister of Works, Tony Anenih for the seat, as he has shown a preference for former national chairman of the party, Ahmadu Ali.
It is learnt that even though Jonathan had not openly pressured BoT members to vote for Anenih, he is said to have shown confidence in him.
However, a member of the National Working Committee of the party who spoke anonymously, said that 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.”
He added that if Anenih should become the BoT chairman, it could widen the rift between the President and Obasanjo, which could end up tearing the party apart.
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.”
Anenih, who is called “Mr Fix-It” in Nigerian political circles, was recently appointed to chair the board of the Nigerian Ports Authority, a position previously occupied by Chief Bode George, another party chieftain until he was found guilty of corruption and jailed until June 2011.
Anenih had been succeeded by Obasanjo as BoT chairman when the PDP constitution was amended to allow only a former President to head it.
However, presidential spokesman, Reuben Abati denied that the President had a preferred candidate, saying that as a democrat, the President could not impose a candidate on the board, especially as it was not a one-man affair.
The BoT Secretary, Senator Walid Jibrin, had spelt out the modalities of the election and promised that the constitution of the party would guide its conduct.
Nonetheless, the NWC source said a clash between Obasanjo and Jonathan could be prevented if Obasanjo’s choice for the chairmanship, Ahmadu Ali, is persuaded 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.
The BoT secretary had also claimed that one of the candidates had been involved in a 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.
Meanwhile, the South-East and South-South caucuses are of the insistence 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.