Nigeria’s ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Monday chose a new chairman, days after his predecessor was forced out following months of bitter in-fighting.
Members of the party’s national executive council unanimously chose Ahmadu Adamu Mu’Azu to replace Bamangar Tukur, who had been widely seen as a place man for President Goodluck Jonathan.
Mu’Azu was the governor of the northern state of Bauchi from 1999 to 2007.
The head of political science at the University of Ibadan, Osisioma Nwolise, said Mu’Azu’s choice could breathe fresh life to the party, which has lost ground to the main opposition.
“If the new person has the charisma, strategy, good public relations and humility, he will galvanise the party,” he told AFP.
“He will energise the party and steer it well into the 2015 elections.
“Some people who left the party in anger may come back if Mu’Azu handles affairs of the party and gains the confidence of members.”
Jonathan last week told the national executive committee that Tukur had stepped down, in a move interpreted as an attempt to calm competing factions and heal divisions.
Tukur had been seen as an undemocratically appointed place man for Jonathan within the party, with critics using his presence to bolster their opposition to the president.
Late last year, five influential state governors and 37 lawmakers defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC), largely in opposition to Jonathan’s predicted run for re-election.
The lawmakers’ actions lost the PDP its parliamentary majority, raising the prospect that it could lose power for the first time since Nigeria returned to civilian rule in 1999.
Jonathan, who has yet to declare his candidacy, has been accused of ignoring an unwritten party rule to rotate presidential candidates between the largely Christian south and mainly Muslim north.
Former presidential candidate Olapade Agoro was less positive about Mu’Azu’s ability to heal divisions, suggesting that he faced a monumental task to build bridges.
“Since the beginning of democratic rule in 1999, PDP has never been stable with its leadership,” he said.
“It has produced about six chairmen and they have either been disgraced from office or politically wounded.”
“The trouble with PDP is not about the personality but with the structural defects in the party which incapacitate its chairman to function well.
“I don’t see Mu’Azu playing a meaningful role in the party.”