31 January 2013

Nigeria: Why PDP Cannot Bungle BoT Chairmanship


Douglas Eze is of the view that the Peoples Democratic Party has a golden opportunity to put its house in order on the choice of an ideal Board of Trustees Chairman

A major problem afflicting our great party, the PDP, is the tendency to allow personal and factional interests determine major party decisions. It is about time the party leadership corrected this weakness and began to insist that the objective interest of the party guides its decisions.

The Board of Trustees (BoT) is an advisory body which doubles as the supervisor of the operations of our great party. Both functions need to be performed well at this time in the history of our party. The solution to this lies in choosing effective BoT chairman. The best choice for BOT chairmanship is a person who has been a successful former National Chairman during which he had accumulated the necessary knowledge and experience to equip him to now advise on all aspects of the party's operations.

This is what the objective interest of the party demands and not pandering to the sectional, personal or factional interest of various categories of party Godfathers. Of all the potential contestants for the office of our BoT chairman, Senator Ahmadu Ali, easily comes across as the best choice. Now, let me tell you why I think so.

Senator Ali has operated as a very successful National Chairman of the party. He completed his due term and successfully organised both a general election and national convention. Since he has the exhaustive experience of running the party, he has in that process acquired all the knowledge and experience required to advise on every aspect of the party. A successful National Chairman will be a highly valued BoT chairman to help keep the party on a steady and constructive path.

As National Chairman, Ali showed tremendous strength of character. He could not be pushed around by any Godfather or factional leaders in the party. And even with President Obasanjo's no nonsense mien, Ali was also able to stand up to Obasanjo as President. We need that strength of character in a BoT Chairman who can afford to say it like it is without pandering to selfish interest of other Godfathers and factional leaders. PDP needs such a steady hand now than ever before.

Ali is favourably disposed to President Jonathan. This is important because we cannot at this time risk a BoT Chairman who will work at cross purposes with the President and Party Leader. Such a mismatch will generate crisis that can destabilise the party. 2015 is too close for us to risk such a crisis.

An important responsibility of a ruling party is to moderate the relations among the various branches of government, especially between the Executive and the Legislature. As a former minister, Ali is familiar with the culture of the Executive branch, and as a former Senator of the Federal Republic, he is also familiar with the culture of the legislative branch. He is, therefore, qualified as a BoT Chairman with such solid experience to mediate and advise on the increasingly conflict-ridden relationship between our Executive and Legislature.

We are in a world where knowledge is power/strength. As a former Minister, Senator, National Chairman, Medical Doctor and even Military officer, he has garnered tremendous knowledge and experience which will be a tremendous asset for the party as its BoT chairman.

Ali tops it all with intellectual alertness and wisdom of age. The combination of intellectual alertness, wisdom of age, and practical political experience is a winning combination for a BoT Chairman as an adviser and supervisor of our great party.

However, it is important to make the following clarifications about Ali's candidature: Ali is still very much in the race for BoT chairmanship. Suggestions to the contrary are aimed at confusing BoT members. BoT chairmanship has never been on the basis of zoning. That is why all previous chairmen have been from the South of the country. The Senate President, David Mark, is the leader of PDP in the North Central zone because he is the number three person in the nation's protocol hierarchy. Ali's chairmanship of BoT will not change that fact and therefore, cannot threaten David Mark's leadership of the zone.

It is irregular to worry about the election of the Secretary of the BoT before its chairman. This will be allowing the tail to wag the dog. For instance, you do not elect the vice-president before electing the President; nor do you elect the deputy governor before the governor.

The BoT should resolve the matter of its chairmanship before giving any thought to who becomes its Secretary. Those who are maneuvering the BoT into choosing the Secretary before the Chairman are not operating in the best interest of the party. By the way, since the two previous Secretaries have all been from the North Central zone, and there is no special reason for this, it will be a good idea this time to choose a Secretary from another zone to break the jinx as it were.

Finally, since the BoT is updating its membership, the new Board with an updated membership should begin afresh the business of choosing a new Board Chairman and Secretary. In short, the new Board should not allow its hands to be tied by whatever the old Board may have done in this regard.

There are two reservations some may raise about Ali's candidacy. One is the theory of garrison democracy the press attached to him and the other is an alleged involvement of his son in the subsidy controversy. Since he will not be operating in an executive capacity, his theory of democracy will not come for much reckoning, and as for his son's problem, it is unfair to hold him responsible for the alleged indiscretion of a 29year old grown-up son. Everything considered, Ali will be the best thing to happen to PDP as its BoT Chairman.

*Eze is a PDP stakeholder from the South-east

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