From PAUL ORUDE,Bauchi
The Peoples’ Democratic Party, (PDP) botched attempts to produce a chairman for its advisory organ, the Board of Trustees, has been a cause of concern to the party faithful. In this interview with Daily Sun, a chieftain of the party from Gombe State, Barrister Jalo Ibrahim warns that stakeholders in the party must first of all resolve the differences between former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and his estranged political son, President Goodluck Jonathan, in order to address the logjam over Obasanjo’s successor as chairman of the party board of trustees.
Your party, the PDP has been finding it difficult to produce a chairman for its Board of Trustees. Could you please give us an insight into what led to the aborted attempts?
You see, earlier on as far back as December there was a move to conduct the election without a hitch, then suddenly we heard that the acting secretary, Senator Walid Jibrin came out and said they, had not collected letter of intent from contesters so in that case they were now shifting the election to take place on the 8th January which was equally aborted.
But I want you to recall that your paper, in its 10th January edition had erroneously said that Ahmadu Ali was out of the race. I want to make a categorical statement that Ahmadu Ali is still in the race and currently without mincing words, he is going to contest.
I am speaking as his spokesman that come February when Professor Jerry Gana’s committee may have finished their assignment, Ahmadu Ali is venturing to become the BoT Chairman if that election is going to be held. Certainly I am telling you if it is 11 times that this election is to be conducted and if it is human beings that will vote, Ahmadu Ali is going to win. What happened on the 8th of January up to 11, because they started the meeting around 8: 30a.m. and they finished it around 2 p.m. the following day, was that Wali Jibril was unanimously asked by members of the BoT to act as the BoT secretary.
These candidates that we have, about six of them namely, Ahmadu Ali, Tony Anenih, Ken Nnamani, Don Etiebet, Shuaibu Oyedokun, will continue to talk to their supporters and look for their votes. Any one of them that will emerge will certainly be elected through voting. When that meeting started, the entire members of the BoT wanted Walid Jubrin to resign but you know what politics is all about. You know the circumstances that brought in Walid Jibrin. We are not questioning his capability but he was brought in to complement the remaining period when he was serving with Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.
From what the papers were saying he refused to step down to pave way for Dr Ahmadu Ali. So in that case one of the members particularly the Senate President, David Mark said that since there is this problem let us now appoint a committee headed by Professor Jerry Gana: Ojo Madueke is a member, Governor Shema of Kastina State is a member, with few of them, to see how we can draw eligibility of these contestants since some people were against consensus; at least, let us trim them down so that the election will be held without rancor.
That what was brought in the suggestion by David Mark which was graciously accepted by the President.
But party members were worried that for the second time, even President Jonathan was seated and the election was aborted?
Most of the people that were there that day were out to elect Ahmadu Ali. So it was aborted. Now a committee has been appointed and I believe Jerry Gana may not draw the conditions of contesting this seat more than the rules and regulations and the positions stipulated in our party’s constitution. Our constitution has stipulated in a clear term how it is going to be, how you can become a BoT chairman and who is eligible.
The eligibility is simple. I have a printing press besides being a lawyer. I printed this constitution of PDP more than a hundred times during the period of Ahmadu Ali so I know it from cover to cover. Ahmadu Ali has fulfilled that requirement.
One he is a founding member of the party; two he was a coordinator of the north central zone of the PDP which brought all the governors in the zone under PDP led by Ahmadu Ali. Three, he made efforts to convince these governors to vote for PDP where the President got a 100 per cent votes from the zone and fourth he is a board of trustee member, statutorily.
So, we are waiting for the Jerry Gana’s committee to draw their own guidelines so that we can see how the BoT chairman will come on board through democratic process.
But Walid Jibrin and Ahmadu Ali many PDP members argue that they come from the same zone.
Do you think the constitution will allow a BoT chairman and the Secretary to come from the same zone?
Well, I told you on. I told you Walid Jibrin is only finishing a little period, Obasanjo’s period. But you know politics is about interest. Wali Jibril knows that his tenure has finished but we know in Nigeria there is this god fatherism somebody maybe behind him telling him don’t relinquish that seat for Ahmadu Ali because when Ahmadu Ali becomes the BoT chairman, he may block me to contest the presidency come 2015. Mind you, this is not Ahmadu Ali’s view. This is Barrister Jalo’s view.
But the reality on ground, tenure of Wali Jibril has finished. If we are respecting the tenets of democracy, Walid Jibrin case must have been a forgotten case. So people are looking at it beyond now to 2015 and are now concerned about the relationship between the president and Chief Obasanjo, particularly his absence.
Is there a silent power play between the two?
You see, this is an interesting question.
Even during the BoT meeting Obasanjo was conspicuously absent and he has not written a letter to explain why he was absent. But one cannot vividly say that the relation between Obasanjo and Jonathan is sour. We will wait a little time; darkness will come to light.
But many people saw Obasanjo’s absence at the last BoT meeting as a sign of cold relationship between him and the president. Coupled with speculation that Jonathan will contest 2015 election. Well, one cannot say exactly.
As a politician, I don’t believe in rumour mongering. I believe in reality and facts. But the issue is in court and even President Jonathan’s lawyer submitted in court that his client has the right to contest the 2015 general election. That case instituted by Barrister Nwoke from Enugu or so I have followed it to conclusion and there is no judgment yet so the issue is prejudice. It is still an issue in court.