There is confusion over the status of former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, and ex-Speaker, House of Representatives, Ghali Na’Abba, as members of the Board of Trustees of the Peoples Democratic Party.
Punch correspondents gathered in Abuja, on Sunday, that although the duo were re-admitted to the party, they had their rights and privileges as members of the BoT suspended until 2014 as punishment for their dumping the party in 2007.
A source in the BoT told one of Punch correspondents that the board received them back into its fold in the first place with a condition.
The source added, “For Atiku and Na’Abba, they have to wait till 2014. Etiebet’s case is different because at the time he returned, he had a waiver in writing. The whole thing is to encourage discipline and maintain standards.
“The two of them abandoned the party and absconded from their positions as members of the BoT. Now, how do you treat a case of absence without leave?
“They abandoned ship and joined another party. They cannot just jump back and expect that there will be no consequences for their action. We cannot as a party set a bad precedent when we are trying to re-engineer the party. 2014 is not far away, they can wait.”
When one of our correspondents called the Secretary of the BoT, Senator Walid Jibrin, for explanations on the exact status of the two members he gave a non-committal reply.
He said, “We will compile the details (of the BoT meeting) and give you later. We are compiling the details, which we will make public very soon. It is not yet late, you have to be patient.”
The spokesman for former Vice-President, Mallam Garba Shehu, said no such information was available to his principal, adding that it would be speculative to make a categorical statement on the issue.
Shehu said, “We don’t want to delve into speculation in an important constitutional issue about which we have not been communicated. PDP is a party governed by rules as prescribed by the Constitution and to the best of our understanding, it has not changed from what we know it to be.”
Na’Abba also declined to comment on the issue, but commended the emergence of Chief Tony Anenih as the party’s BoT Chairman.
In a text message, the former Speaker said, “Chief Anthony Anenih is one of the founding fathers of the party and a disciplinarian. I am hopeful that he will once again bring character to the party thereby bringing what is known of him in his private realm to the public domain.”
However, a source close to Atiku and Na’Abba said it was obvious that members of the board, who had remained uncomfortable with them, had targeted them.
He said, “Take the case of Na’abba, for example, he returned to the party before the 2007 elections based on the work of the Alex Ekwueme reconciliation committee to which Prof. Jerry Gana was secretary. The committee pleaded with them to come back without pre-conditions, now sees what is happening.”
Section 12.76 of the Constitution of the PDP, which listed qualifications for membership of the BoT specifies members of the party, who are statutory members.
Specifically Section 12.76 (a) reads, “All past and serving Presidents and Vice-Presidents of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, who held or hold the respective posts as members of the party and who are still members of the party;
“(b) Past and serving National Chairmen, Deputy National Chairmen and National Secretaries of the, who are still members of the party;
“(c) All past and serving Presidents of the Senate and Speakers of the House of Representatives who are still members of the party.”