Since former President Olusegun Obasanjo's less than ceremonial exit as Chairman of the Board of Trustee (BoT) of the People Democratic Party (PDP), the battle to succeed him has flag off. Bimbo Ogunnaike takes a look at the likely successor for the plum job in Africa's largest political party

Nobody expected former President Olusegun Obasanjo to resign as Chairman, Board of Trustee (BoT) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). It came as a big surprise to the party apparachik. On April 3, Obasanjo, in a dramatic move, suddenly threw in the towel about 16 months to the end of his tenure as BoT chairman. Obsanjo was billed to step-down as BoT chairman July 2013 when his mandatory single tenure of five years ends having assumed the chairmanship in 2008. His assumption then was described by many as a palace coup against Chief Tony Anenih, the then acting Chairman of the BoT.

Obasanjo in his letter of resignation stated, "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 demands on me."

The former president said he hoped to channel more energy to serving mankind both nationally and internationally, just as he hoped to develop his presidential library towards encouraging investments in the country. "I wish 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 and also use my Presidential Library and to mobilising and encouraging investment in Nigeria and Africa,'' Obasanjo said.

The race to succeed him is fast developing into a battle between the north and southern geopolitical zones. There is an unspoken rivalry between him and a number of other caucuses linked to PDP juggernauts from the North. They have never been pleased with his position as BoT chairman, and his exit could be an opportunity for them to determine his successor. While the South-West geopolitical zone believed that the post was zoned to the area, the South-East had come up very strongly to claim the seat. The argument among some leaders is that the slot was not zoned to the South-West and that under the former amendment to the PDP constitution, only former presidents and vice-presidents could occupy the post. Following the amendment to the party's constitution in 2009, the membership has been thrown open to men and women of proven integrity. Since his surprise resignation from the PDP, regarded as Africa's largest political party, many names have been making the rounds within the party circle as replacement for Obasanjo. African Quartz learnt that such names as Senator Ahmadu Ali, the former national chairman of the party, former Vice President, Dr. Alex Ekweme, former president of the Senate, Dr. ken Nnamani, Dr Okwesilieze Nwodo, Senator Adolphus Wabara, Nigeria's ambassador to the Republic of China, Alhaji Aminu Wali and secretary of the BoT, Senator Walid Jibrin, are possible replacement for Obasanjo

Others who have been mentioned include former number two man during the regime of General Ibrahim Babangida, Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe (retd), former BoT chairman, Chief Tony Anenih and Chief Harry Akande, a former BoT chairman of the All Nigeria People's Party (ANPP), who recently returned to the party. Others are former Senator Bode Olajumoke and Shuaib Oyedokun, former national deputy chairman of the party. There is a strong likelihood that Chief Bode George, a former deputy national chairman of the party may be considered for the job. However, the top contenders for the job remains:
Ahmadu Ali
There were indications that former national chairman of the PDP, Senator Ali, is gearing up to succeed Obasanjo as the next BoT chairman. A source who spoke to African Ouartz said even though the process of electing a BoT chairman was clear, President Goodluck Jonathan may have yielded to Obasanjo's request of having Ali as his successor. African Quartz learnt that Obasanjo made it clear before he resigned that he should be allowed to name his successor. Information available suggests Obasanjo mentioned Ali, his long time friend and former national chairman of the party, with whom the de-registration exercise of 2006 was conducted, to replace him. PDP leaders may eventually pencil down for Ali "for his loyalty and for remaining very active in party activities, even several years after relinquishing office as national chairman.

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