Three and half years after publicly tearing his People’s Democratic Party (PDP) membership card in a dramatic fashion, former President Olusegun Obasanjo seems to have returned to the party. In this article Patrick Andrew looks at likely reasons.
February 15, 2015
The former leader, who spearheaded the emergence of the former Vice President, Goodluck Jonathan as president, explained that being patriotic demanded the will to sacrifice anything, including his life for the interest of Nigeria but not his life for a political party.
Accordingly, he responded to the appeal of members of his wards to denounce the PDP especially following utterances against the party some days earlier.
The guests, who were leaders of the PDP from Obasanjo’s ward around his former residence in Ita Eko, where he registered, had expressed their concern with his recent utterances against the government of President Goodluck Jonathan and what he considered as the President’s role in the postponement of the general elections from February to March.
“From today on, in the presence of all of us and with your support, I am not going to be in any political party in Nigeria.
“I am no more a politician but a statesman, both internally and externally. You asked me two questions and I will answer them comprehensively. But before I answer them let me say this. This Nigeria belongs to all of us and it must not be destroyed.
“This is my PDP membership card, where I’m standing is that Nigeria belongs to everybody, including babies. We must not allow anybody to destroy it. Wherever they come from, whatever they have and if they destroy it, it becomes a burden to us, our children and the incoming generation.”
Obasanjo had alleged that Jonathan had a “grand plan” to scuttle democracy in the country through the poll shift, accusing the President of trying to win the presidential poll “through hook or crook.”
The guests visited to plead with him to stop his criticisms of the incumbent president and equally informed him that they gathered from the grapevine the leadership of the PDP were plotting to expel him from the party for alleged anti-party activities. Subsequently, he and his guests destroyed their membership cards.
Explaining his decision in three tweets soon following the dramatic destruction of his membership card, Obasanjo said:
“I’d rather sacrifice my political party for the interest of Nigeria than sacrifice my country for a political party led by a drug baron.
“I’d rather tear the PDP membership card than sit down and let Jonathan use PDP and corruption to tear my beloved country apart.
“I have national and international standard to maintain. For this reason I’d rather stand alone than be in the same political party with Kashamu.”
Obasanjo said that the party card he tore was one of the considerations to him in the bid to project Nigeria, pointing out that there was nothing he could not sacrifice for the interest of the nation.
He boasted that despite the destruction of his party card, he would not be cowed by anyone, as he was still ready to comment on any matter that required his comment or view.
“If there is anything that requires my comment, position or views, I will say it. It is only when you kill me that I will stop doing so.”
“My first preoccupation is what is best for Nigeria: Nigeria first, party second and anything third,” Obasanjo said.
On Monday, February 16, 2015, at his Hilltop, Abeokuta, Ogun residence, the former president said that his membership card had become a burden to him hence the decision to get rid of it.
“I instructed that my PDP membership card be destroyed because it has become a burden to me. And I am no longer interested in anything that has to do with PDP.”
Burden on his mind
“The question asked is which party am I? I belong to the group that believes that Nigeria must not be destroyed. Those of you that are traders will observe that there’s inflation in the country. The Bureau de Change operators used to change a $1 for N150 but it is going to be N250 to a dollar.
“What it means is that, what you’ve been buying for N150 will sell for N250. This is not the kind of country we dream of. There’s no job; no money.
“It is unfortunate that those destroying the country are oblivious of the fact that the PDP exists because Nigeria still exists. I will never be in a party that will destroy Nigeria. Without Nigeria, there will be no PDP. What should be of concern to us is how to make Nigeria stronger by making our economy grow.”
Obasanjo, who joined the PDP in 1998, also debunked the allegation that he wanted to head an Interim National Government.
“How can anybody in his right senses talk of ING in a democratic setting? Some of them are working for it. God will not allow it.’’
But almost two hours after he quit the PDP, the Dayo-led executive of the party, said the former President’s ward had in a letter dated February 12, accused him of anti-party activities and uncomplimentary utterances against President Goodluck Jonathan.
OBJ still in PDP -Okupe
One year after his public denunciation of his membership, former Senior Special Assistant to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan on Public Affairs, Doyin Okupe, claimed that Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, has not resigned from the PDP.
In a statement, Okupe insisted Obasanjo has not left the PDP but still remains the undisputed and authentic leader of the PDP in the south-west.
Though admitting that his membership card was torn, Okupe said d was huge difference between resignation from the party and merely tearing of one’s membership card.
“The fact that he tore his membership card is not tantamount to resignation from the party. An action he has not undertaken to date”, he said.
Tearing of the membership card though a very negative action is undoubtedly a knee-jerk reaction to certain unacceptable or intolerable happenings within the party which can and will be redressed.
Is OBJ desiring to rule by proxy?
January this year, Obasanjo in his characteristic manner sent a bombshell to President Buhari denouncing both the APC and PDP and urging the President against seeking a second tenure,
“I have had occasion in the past to say that the two main political parties – APC and PDP – were wobbling. I must reiterate that nothing has happened to convince me otherwise. If anything, I am reinforced in my conviction. The recent show of PDP must give grave and great concern to lovers of Nigeria.
“To claim, as has been credited to the chief kingmaker of PDP, that for procuring the Supreme Court judgement for his faction of the Party, he must dictate the tune all the way and this is indeed fraught with danger. If neither APC nor PDP is a worthy horse to ride to lead Nigeria at this crucial and critical time, what then do we do?
“We need a Coalition for Nigeria, CN. Such a Movement at this juncture needs not be a political party but one to which all well-meaning Nigerians can belong. The Movement must be a coalition for democracy, good governance, social and economic well-being and progress.
“I, therefore, will gladly join such a Movement when one is established as Coalition for Nigeria, CN, taking Nigeria to the height God has created it to be. From now on, the Nigeria eagle must continue to soar and fly high. CN, as a Movement, will be new, green, transparent and must remain clean and always active, selflessly so”, he said.
It seems though with the emergence of his former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, whom he has not seen eye to eye for years and many underground negotiations, he finally forgave Atiku whatever there were that created a hedge between them.
“For me, relatively and of all the aspirants in the PDP, you have the widest and greatest exposure, experience, outreach and possibly the best machinery and preparation for seeing the tough and likely dirty campaign ahead through.
“From what I personally know of you, you have capacity to perform better than the incumbent. You surely understand the economy better; you have business experience, which can make your administration business-friendly and boost the economy and provide jobs.
“You have better outreach nationally and internationally and that can translate to better management of foreign affairs. You are more accessible and less inflexible and more open to all parts of the country in many ways”, he said of Atiku and clearly disposed to the PDP.
Subsequently, he was at President Jonathan’s ‘My Transition Hour’ where he freely identified with the PDP hierarchies and was again available in Yola last weekend when Atiku was turbaned the Waziri Adamawa.
His presence raised the question is OBJ back to the PDP?
Obasanjo not back to PDP – Ologbondiyan
The National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Kola Ologbondiyan, says the former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo has not formally returned to the PDP.
Ologbondiyan said the former President is a patriotic elder stateman who his interested in the growth and development of Nigeria, “Obasanjo will support anything good”.
“The former President, Chief Dr. Olusegun Obasanjo is not back to our party, but he is fully involved in all efforts to reset Nigeria for positive growth and development.
“He is a patriot who will always want the best for our country. Like all other leaders, Obasanjo his in support of the PDP Presidential candidate, Alh Atiku Abubakar.
Acording to him, Obasanjo’s interest is beyond party, but for the nation. “Just like some of us, whatever Obasanjo does today is for the growth and development of Nigeria and not in the interest of any political party”.
Obasanjo wants to rule Nigeria by proxy -APC
The APC is not threatened at all whether he returns to the PDP or not.
“Well, not at all. Obasanjo’s position is clear. Just as the party has stated earlier, he wants to continue to rule this nation by proxy. It would have been okay if he meant well. But, his 8 years and subsequent years after whatever action or whatever steps he has taken did not suggest he meant well for this country.
“And so, in any case we are not worried. But, again we are waiting for a review of his book of all the things he said about Atiku. We are waiting for him to do volume 11 so that he will say it was a lie. And if it was not lie and he was saying the truth then he doesn’t have the interest of this country in mind by supporting somebody he said that much about him and he has warned us”, the National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu’s said in reaction to Obasanjo’s purported return to PDP.
Further, the APC said Obasanjo should come clean on what he knows about Atiku.
“And we should also take note of Obasanjo’s statement when the so called reconciliatory meeting they had. He said Atiku I have forgiven you. But, go and do what you need to do to sort out the international community. Is there something Obasanjo knows about Atiku that he has not told us?
“Or that the country does not know yet? As a leader of this country, a one-time military president and a one-time civilian president for 8 years, he owes this country the full disclosure of whatever he is hiding about Atiku. He has done enough but in the interim there are more that we want to know.”
On the claim that APC was planning to neutralize Obasanjo, Onilu said: “For what? It is about vote. With due respect to the former president, he has only one vote. Only one vote. And, we also want to ask if has found the pieces of his voter’s card or PDP’s card that he tore publicly. Has he been able to put them together now? Or has he gotten a new one?”