Abuja - The Board of Trustees (BOT) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Tuesday in Abuja deferred the election of its chairman.
Ojo Maduekwe, a former National PDP Secretary and current Nigerian Ambassador to Canada, disclosed this after the meeting of the BOT, presided over by President Goodluck Jonathan at the Presidential Villa.
Briefing State House correspondents in the early hours of Wednesday, Maduekwe said that a special committee had been set up to scrutinise the membership of the board and work for a free and fair election.
He said that the committee, which would be chaired by Prof. Jerry Gana, was mandated to look into the membership of the BOT and the procedure for the coming election.
He listed the other committee members as Dr Shetimah Mustafa, Gov. Ibrahim Shema of Katsina State, Sen. Stella Omu, Sen. Hope Uzodinma and Chief Olabode George. Madueke stressed that the meeting did not entertain the nomination and election of the BOT chairman, adding that it only discussed the procedures for the election.
``As a party, PDP is wholly committed at all times to free, fair and credible elections. The party believes it must continue to be a model for internal democracy which begets the wider democracy. ``Accordingly, at the BOT meeting of today, a special committee was set up to properly align membership of the BOT with the relevant constitutional provisions of the party in order to enhance the legitimacy of the outcome of the eventual election of a new BOT," he said. Maduekwe, however, said that the meeting unanimously agreed that the incumbent BOT Secretary, Sen. Wali Jubril, should continue to serve in that capacity.
He, nonetheless, denied the rumour and media reports that there was a dispute within the National Working Committee (NWC) of the PDP. He rejected speculations regarding the purported disagreement among members of the NWC, saying:
``Let it be clearly stated that there are no major cracks in the PDP family.
``The NWC and every organ of the PDP have emerged stronger; we, therefore, re-affirm the unity and solidarity of the national leadership of the party and that of the NWC and the BOT.
``The party leadership also remains bound together and obligated to support President Goodluck Jonathan and his transformation agenda," he said. Also speaking, Gana said that his committee was given few weeks to submit its report, adding that the election of the BOT would take place after the submission of the report.
He said that the committee was set up to ensure that the election and its outcome would be acceptable to all party members.
The BOT Secretary said that 12 persons had so far indicated interest to contest for the chairmanship position. Jubril said that the aspirants included former Vice-President Alex Ekwueme, former Senate President Ken Nnamani, Sen. Oyebo Obi, Chief Emmanuel Nwanyanwu, Dr Okwesilese Nwodo and Dr Ahmadu Ali. Others are Chief Tony Anenih, Chief Don Etiebet, Chief Sylvester Odogu, Alhaji Shuaibu Oyedokun, Alhaji Yekinni Adeojo, and Chief Richard Akinjide.
He stressed that a date for the election had not been fixed, adding that members of the BOT had not endorsed any candidate.
Earlier, a former National PDP Chairman, Chief Barnabas Gemade, said that the BOT meeting was inconclusive.
``This is an ongoing exercise of streamlining membership to ensure that everyone that is a member is constitutionally recognised to vote.
``In less than one month, we will definitely have an opportunity to tackle the issue once and for all," Gemade said in an interview.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that party leaders who attended the meeting include Vice-President Namadi Sambo, Senate President David Mark and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal. Gov. Ibrahim Shema of Katsina State, Gov. Sule Lamido of Jigawa and members of the party’s National Executive Members, led by Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, also attended the meeting.
Also in attendance are Ekwueme, former Senate Presidents Adolphus Wabara and Ken Nnamani, former Deputy Senate President Ibrahim Mantu and former Speakers of the House of Representatives, Ghali Naaba and Patricia Etteh.
Some former governors, some ex-PDP chairmen and some senators, among other party chieftains, also attended the meeting.