* Shop for new face of leadership in the zone
By JIDE AJANI
There are very strong indications that former President Olusegun Obasanjo is walking a tight rope regarding the depth of his influence in the yet-to-be constituted Executive Council of the Federation, EXCOF, and the appointment of members and chairmen of Boards and Parastatals of the Federal Government.
Sunday Vanguard was made to understand that following the dismal showing of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the South-West geo-political zone at the April elections, a new paradigm is being proposed by some elements in the party which would see the influence of the former president and incumbent chairman, Board of Trustees of the party thaw – yet Obasanjo remains the undisputed leader of the PDP in the zone.
One of the planks of the new paradigm, which is similar to the Alex Ekwueme Reconciliation Committee set up by the late President Umaru Musa YarÁdua, is a move to ensure that all former PDP leaders in the South-West who left the party are persuaded to come back into the fold.
This would be a tall order as some of them have either already won elective offices on the platform of other political parties, or have caused others to win elective offices.
Sunday Vanguard was made to understand that the last-minute fire-fighting mission of President Goodluck Jonathan on the eve of the presidential election paid substantial dividends at the polls.
In fact, the good showing of Jonathan during the presidential election “has been discovered to be a direct result of the efforts of the president himself and not of Obasanjo.
“What is beginning to emerge today is that the activities of former President Obasanjo, who should play the role of a father, are responsible for the seeming ascendancy of the opposition Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, in the South-West because all those who felt aggrieved by his style of leadership simply left the party and moved into the AC N. This movement did not just start during the build up to the 2011 elections but some of them date back to the build up to the 2007 elections”, a top PDP leader said.
According to the source, “what President Jonathan is trying to do today is explore the best possible way to handle his relationship with the former president to whom he remains grateful while at the same time building a formidable support base in the South-West. This is because the president has realized that the votes from the South-West were not for the PDP but for him; therefore, something must be wrong”.
That which is wrong, Sunday Vanguard was told, is the politics of the former president.
Already, some of those who left the PDP are being persuaded to find common ground and return to the fold.
Moves are being made to get Jonathan to buy into an arrangement “which would see a re-branding of the PDP in the South-West”, the source disclosed.
There are strong indications that former Oyo State governor, Rasheed Ladoja, who moved to Accord Party and today has some of his loyalists on the same platform winning legislative positions, is one of the targets of the reconciliation.
Also being penciled down for talks is the Ondo State governor, Dr. Rahman Mimiko, who left the PDP in 2007 to actualize his gubernatorial aspiration on the platform of the Labour Party, LP, and he defeated incumbent Segun Agagu of the PDP.
The reconciliation moves are expected to create a new but respectable face for the PDP in the South-West zone.
Sunday Vanguard was also told that should the moves to bring back those who left the party not be made in earnest, “there is the possibility that the PDP would be totally obliterated by 2015 when general elections are to be held again”.
Already, there are talks of what should become of the chairmanship of the Board of Trustees, BoT, of the PDP now that the presidency is in the south.
The zoning arrangement of the PDP is silent on that and Obasanjo remains the occupier of that office.
As part of the intrigues in the South-West and jostle for relevance and leadership, the list of ministerial nominees and members and chairmen of Boards of government agencies is also creating its own problems as out-going state governors and former senators are loading the list with their own names.