The race for the chairmanship of the Peoples Democratic Party has taken a new dimension as the Board of the Trustees of the party is said to be divided over the ambition of two of its members, The PUNCH has learnt.
A former Deputy National Chairman of the party, Chief Olabode George, and a former Minister of Education, Prof. Tunde Adeniran, are said to be the dramatis personae in the tussle.
The National Caretaker Committee of the party has fixed December 9 for its national convention where national officers of the former ruling party are expected to be elected.
The party has zoned the office of the national chairman to the southern part of the country while it also said the North would produce the partyâ€™s presidential candidate in 2019.
Some leaders of the party were said to have met and further narrowed the zoning to the South-West.
However, media mogul and Chairman Emeritus of DAAR Communications PLc, Dr. Raymond Dokpesi, told our correspondent that he was still interested in the race.
Dokpesi, who is from the South-South, may be joined by a former Governor of Cross River State, Mr. Liyel Imoke, from the same zone, to slug it out with other contestants for the partyâ€™s number one position.
Imoke is said to be under pressure from some former governors, who believe that he will protect their interests in the party.
Investigations by our correspondent showed that majority of members of the BoT are lining up behind the candidacy of George and Adeniran.
Some members of the board, who spoke to The PUNCH on condition of anonymity, told our correspondent on Saturday and Sunday in Abuja that it was difficult for the board to make a choice between the two men.
They said both candidates had the requisite attributes for the position, adding that the board, as a body, would not be able to adopt any of them.
One of the BoT members stated, â€œYou know we cannot ask any of them to step down for the other. Both of them are qualified for the position. George is a former military administrator and a former national officer of the party.
â€œAlso, Adeniran is an astute administrator and a former minister as well. Both of them are free to contest since none of them has agreed to step down for the other.â€
Our correspondent gathered that the BoT would meet in Abuja on Wednesday, but a source close to it said the issue might not be discussed.
The source explained that the meeting would deliberate on how to fill the vacant position of the secretary of the board, which became vacant following the death of the occupier of the office, Chief Ojo Maduekwe.
A former Minister of Transportation, who is also a member of the board, Chief Ebenezer Babatope, confirmed the meeting in an interview with our correspondent.
He also confirmed that a new secretary would be elected for the board, adding that George would not step down from the race.
Babatope stated, â€œYes, we (the Board members) are meeting on Wednesday and the agenda is the filling of the vacant position of the secretary.
â€œConcerning the choice of the chairman of the party, the South-West has settled for George and very soon, we are going to embark on a national campaign.
â€œWe need a strong man, an experienced party administrator that can hold the party together ahead of the 2019 battle. Thatâ€™s why we are for BG (as George is known among his supporters).â€
Also, Adeniran said he would still contest the post, adding that he would not expect the BoT to align with either himself or George.
He told The PUNCH on the telephone on Sunday that the BoT should not be partisan in the election of who leads the party.
The former minister added, â€œIâ€™m still interested in the race and Iâ€™m going to work with lovers of the party to return it to the path of glory. The era of imposition is gone.
â€œThe position of the BoT is that it wants the best to lead the party and the body canâ€™t be partisan. But by the grace of God, Iâ€™m talking to them individually.
â€œWe need a strong man to lead the party, to rescue the country from the All Progressives Congress led Federal Government.â€
Adeniran e stated that he was waiting for the partyâ€™s guidelines before rolling out his campaign strategies.
www.sojworld.com Â© September 12, 2017.