According to state radio in Nigeria, the chairman of Nigeria’s ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has resigned, giving in to mounting pressure after being charged with conspiracy and fraud. The ruling PDP’s executive body is expected to meet later on Friday to decide on a replacement for the chairman, Vincent Ogbulafor. Mr. Ogbulafor pleaded not guilty on Monday of conspiring with four others to siphon off 233 million naira in public funds while he was a government minister in 2001.
A judge in an Abuja court granted Ogbulafor bail and set a June 21 hearing for the case. The Chairman’s departure will add to the growing crisis within the PDP, which has dominated Nigerian politics since the country’s return to democracy just over a decade ago.
Divisions have emerged over who will be the party’s candidate for next year’s presidential elections. A group of 19 senior members were suspended by the party last month after they launched an open rebellion calling for reforms which could break the stranglehold of a small elite over the party and throw the presidential race wide open. Party politics in Nigeria is very volatile, the stakes are always high as everyone has their own vested interest, and the hierarchy is usually made up of small factions all with their own political agenda. State Governors wield a lot of influence in political matters and are very potent in federal decision making.
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