Vanguard (Lagos)

Nigeria: Obasanjo's Exit as BoT Chair - A Resignation Everything but Ceremonious

FORMER President Mathew Okikiola Aremu Olusegun Obasanjo last Tuesday night in a surprising manner, resigned as Chairman, Board of Trustees, BoT, of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. This action came barely a week after the Alhaji Bamanga Tukur led National Working Committee, NWC, came on board at the Eagle Square, Abuja, March 24, 2012.

It also came as a surprise because there was no premonition of such even at the last National Executive Committee, NEC, meeting, of the party held on February 29. It also took members of the party unawares especially the new leadership because it would require the backing, support and advice of the BoT at least to stabilise.

In his letter of resignation to the PDP National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, Obasanjo said, "I have formally sent in my letter of resignation as the Chairman of BOT of PDP to the National Chairman of the party as prescribed in the party's constitution.

"I have formally requested the President to allow my bowing out and to issue a short statement to that effect. By relieving myself of the responsibility for chairmanship of BOT of PDP, I will have a bit more time to devote to the international demand on me."

According to, the resignation would give him time, "to give some attention to mentoring across the board nationally and internationally in those areas that I have acquired some experience, expertise and in which I have something to share. In 2011, I was in the vanguard of working for PDP to produce a president for Nigeria. God answered our prayer."

He also said that it will allow him concentrate on his Presidential Library as well as to mobilise and encourage investment in Nigeria and Africa, adding that he had said he would reduce his partisan political activities if PDP produces the President.

When Obasanjo emerged as BoT chairman

Obasanjo, who emerged on June 27, 2007, as chairman, was expected to have run his tenure out by July. He took over from the then Chairman, Chief Tony Anenih and he was elected alongside the former governor of Nasarawa State and now a Senator, Alhaji Abdullahi Adamu, as Secretary of the board.

For the record, what could be termed a 'palace coup' against Chief Anenih took place at the Kano Hall of Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja. The drama that took place that fateful day was melodramatic; it was one of political intrigues and backstabbing of the highest order because for the first time in the existence of the PDP, the board of trustees meeting was held in the morning as against its usual nocturnal meeting late into the night.

At the meeting, Chief Tony Anenih was conspicuously absent, having fixed the meeting as Chairman - he head his head shaved in his absence. But Mrs. Josephine Anenih was present at the meeting where the decision was taken to replace the leader, as Anenih is referred to.

Anenih had fixed the meeting for 8pm, but the time changed without his consent. According to the source, Anenih had kicked against the choice of the time and venue of the meeting for morning at 10.am at Hilton Hotel.

At the meeting hotel where he emerged BoT chairman, some five years earlier, Obasanjo who was clad in a flowing green Agbada, with black cap, and black shoes to match, clutched one file close to his breast, devoid of all the accoutrement of a former President, arrived the meeting at 12.20 pm, while the late president, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar'Adua who was dressed in white babaringa, with ash colour cap and black shoes to match arrived the venue at exactly 12.30 pm. The meeting lasted for two and a half hours behind closed door.

Twisted constitution in favour of Obasanjo

Before the June 27 sacking of Anenih, Obasanjo, as president of the country and leader of the PDP, had, in 2006, pushed through an amendment of the constitution of the party when Amadu Ali and Ojo Maduekwe were the chairman and Secretary of the party respectively.

The relevant portion of the 2006 Constitution which gave Obasanjo a straight ticket for the position was contained in section 12.77 (b) which read, "without prejudice to the provision of this Constitution, ensure that an elected Chairman is:

From left, Vice President Namadi Sambo,President Goodluck Jonathan, Abubakar Baraje, former President , Olusegun Obasanjo and Speaker of the House of Reps, Hon.Aminu Tambuwal.

Either a former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria produced by the party or in the absence of such;

"ii. a former National Chairman of the party who has distinguished himself in the service of the party;

"iii. a person of proven integrity who has contributed immensely to the growth of the party."

Knowing the implications of the constitution if left the way it was amended in 2006, the party in 2009, after the recommendations of the Alex Ekwueme's Reconciliation Committee, had to review it to now read, "(a) elect a Chairman and a Secretary from members of the Board. The Chairman and Secretary shall also be members of the National Executive Committee;

"(b) without prejudice to the provision of this Constitution, ensure that the person to be elected Chairman and Secretary, respectively, are of proven integrity and have contributed immensely to the growth of the Party.

"(c) ensure that the Chairman and Secretary of the Board of Trustees shall subject to Article 12.81 of this constitution serve a single term of five years.

"without prejudice to the provisions of Article 12.81 of this constitution, all members of the Board of Trustees specified in paragraphs (e )-(g) of Article 12.76 (1) shall serve a single term of five years. "

FUNCTIONS OF BoT

The BoT of the party is the conscience of the PDP with powers to call to order any officer of the party whose conduct falls below the norms and comprises men and women of integrity that have contributed critically to the conception and nurturing of the party, and who have sacrificed much for it, and as contained in Section 12.80 of the party's constitution.

It ensures highest standards of morality in all the activities of the Party, ensure high morale of members of the Party and that the Party enjoys a good image before the Nigerian populace and is in good political health; harmonize, co-ordinate, review and advise on policies, programmes and activities of the Party at the national level; coordinate the sourcing of Party funds; and be vested with the assets of the Party and shall serve as custodians of such assets.

Other functions of BoT include to mediate in disputes between the Executive and Legislative arms of Government; offer advice on Party matters to the National Executive Committee of the Party; attend any meetings of any other organs of the Party, except the National Caucus and the National Working Committee; and undertake all other functions and activities as may be referred to it by the National Executive Committee or the National Convention. Implication on the PDP?

There are many questions that beg for answers following the unceremonious throwing the towel by the former president who held sway as the Chairman of BoT, he made the BoT grow beyond the major role of an advisory body. One of the questions is why the sudden manner with his Secretary, Senator Walid Jibril not having any knowledge of his exit. Why did he decide to make his letter of resignation for the press through the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN without addressing a world press Conference?

Why did he not wait for the expiration of his tenure and declare at the end of the day that he was not recontesting or was a case of pre-empting that he may not be returned if he wanted or is a case of issues raised by BoT not adhered to by NEC or is it a case of no longer holding sway and twisting members to follow his dictates? Is it a case of making hay while the sun shines since his influence in the board has also gradually waned such that he was most likely to lose the election in July if he decided to stand for re-election.

Could it be that with the constitution giving room for other members of BoT to contest following its amendment in 2009, all may not be well for him or is a case of President Goodluck Jonathan, the leader of the party stamping his feet and being in charge especially with what happened before the National Convention and eventual emergence of Bamanga Tukur? We watch as events unfold.

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