Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has stepped down as the chairman, Board of Trustees (BOT) of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
Mr. Obasanjo announced his resignation Tuesday evening in a brief statement he personally signed, shaking the nation’s political foundation in a move that is certain to ripple through the ruling party, already troubled by numerous internal rifts.
The former president said the decision was to allow him more time 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.”
“By relieving myself of the responsibility for chairmanship of BOT of PDP, I have a bit more time to devote to the international demand on me,” he said.
The decision has been communicated to President Goodluck Jonathan and Bamanga Tukur, the newly elected chairman of the party, he added.
But contrary to his claim, top party sources told Premium Times last night that the former president actually resigned in anger.
Mr Obasanjo’s influence in the party had waned tremendously and he had remained a BOT chair only in name, a high-ranking party official said.
“For so long, he was just a figure head,” one of our sources, who requested anonymity, said. ” He has largely been ignored. The President only listens to Tony Anenih and Edwin Clarke. Under Obasanjo, the BOT was a non-factor, a toothless bulldog.”
Mr. Obasanjo has managed to hold on to the position since leaving office as president in 2007.
His decision to displace party top shot Tony Anenih as BOT chairman was fraught with controversy, and it somehow left the party fractured, analysts say.
Shortly before the expiration of his presidential term, the PDP constitution was amended in a manner that made the BOT position the exclusive preserve of Mr. Obasanjo.
By that amendment, he was supposed to occupy that influential party position for life.
Several ad hoc committees that try to reconcile aggrieved party members have condemned the amendment, and a group, led by former President of the Senate, Ken Nnamani, had schemed to dethrone and disgrace the former president.
Mr. Obasanjo also said in the statement his standing down will enable him to build his presidential library and “mobilize and encourage investment in Nigeria and Africa.”
Both Mr. Obasanjo and the ruling party’s spokesperson could not be reached for comments Tuesday night.