Nigeria’s ruling party, the PDP, has removed its chairman, just days after President Goodluck Jonathan won the party nomination for president. The former chairman, Okwesilieze Mwodo, was removed after several top party officials objected to his handling of party activities, but critics say his removal is another indication of how unstable the PDP really is.
One political observer expressed surprise.
“I think by even PDP’s record, this is quite surprising, knowing full well that he just barely got into office and the presidential convention he organized was not that bad.”
Professor Innocent Chukwuma is the executive director of the voter advocacy group the CLEEN Foundation.
“For them to have shoved him aside like that is quite surprising. But if you look at the circumstances that brought him in, it’s like the chicken coming home to roost.”
Chukwuma says President Goodluck Jonathan’s defense of the PDP action was necessary to move the party forward, avoid court battles and foster unity was a purely personal act designed to ensure he wins the presidential election.
Before the convention, some party members had said Nwodo was not qualified to run it and took him to court, obtaining an injunction against him. But he defied the injunction and organized and attended the convention anyway.
Chukwuma says that’s why some members of the PDP wanted him out.
“It is the issue that he was at the convention venue in spite of a court order when the primary was taking place and the fear was that his (President Jonathan) opponents would capitalize on that in challenging the outcome of the primaries.”
Chukwuma says President Jonathan thinks Nwodo made the same error as previous party leaders who were seen as interfering with his chance of becoming president for another four years.
“The removal of the previous PDP chairman was over his statement that the party had zoned the presidency to the north and therefore Jonathan was not qualified to contest.”