Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Monday finally dumped the ruling Peoples Democratic Party by asking that his membership card be torn.
But almost two hours after he did that, the Ogun State PDP executive council, headed by Chief Adebayo Dayo, announced his expulsion from the party over what it termed his “series of unabated anti-party activities.”
The former President was hosting the executive and members of the party from Ward 11, Abeokuta North at his Hilltop residence when he announced that he was dumping the PDP.
The ward Chairman, Alhaji Usman Oladunjoye, who led the delegation, had told Obasanjo that they were on the visit to verify reports on a plot to suspend him from the PDP.
After he had thanked them for their concern and narrated how the Goodluck Jonathan administration had almost run the country aground, he said, “They said they want to expel me from the PDP, although I have not been told that; I have my ears to the ground.
“We have been trying to run away from a mad man but he pleads we wait for him at the other side of the river.
“I have told you before that I became President on the platform of the PDP and once I leave the party, I will not join any other party.
“I will only be a Nigerian, I am ready to work with anybody regardless of political affiliation. Why would some people say they want to send me away.
“They don’t need to bother themselves, here’s your membership card, take it (at this point, he gave the card to Oladunjoye to tear).
As Oladunjoye stood up and tore the card, with Obasanjo watching him closely, the visitors rose from their seats, raised their hands and danced in support of his action.
After the pieces of the card were handed to some of the visitors, Obasanjo said, “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.
“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.
He said, “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.
Dayo said, “Following the series of unabated anti-party activities unbecoming of a highly celebrated party man engaged in by Chief Obasanjo, totality of the executive, leaders and members of the PDP family in Ogun State hereby state categorically as from today, Monday, February 16, 2015, that Olusegun Obasanjo stands expelled and ex-communicated from the party, thereby losing all rights, previous privileges and respect of our teeming members.”
He added that whatever Obasanjo “does or say henceforth must no longer be seen from the prism of a PDP leader.”
The PDP chief recalled that the former President was “intolerable of any form of criticisms while in office,” and wondered why he should be at loggerheads with Jonathan and the PDP.
Last year, Obasanjo withdrew from all PDP activities on the grounds that he could no longer be in the same party and be led in the South-West by someone he referred to as a drug baron.
The PDP National Chairman, Adamu Mu’azu, avoided comment on Obasanjo’s exit from the party but the Board of Trustees, the South-West chapter and Ekiti State Governor Ayodele Fayose described it as a welcome development.
The BoT Chairman, Tony Anenih, told State House correspondents after attending a meeting of PDP chiefs with Jonathan at the Presidential Villa, Abuja that the party stood to lose nothing from Obasanjo’s exit.
Anenih, who took over from Obasanjo as the BOT chairman, was initially reluctant to react to the development which obviously rattled the party chiefs.
The following conversation ensued between him and the State House correspondents.
As the chairman of the PDP BoT, how will you react to former President Obasanjo’s action which indicated that he had formally left your party?
He (Obasanjo) has the right to leave any party and he has the right to join any party. He is a Nigerian.
Will you miss him?
Why should we miss him?
Is Obasanjo’s exit not a big loss to the PDP?
To us leaders, it is not a loss.
He did not answer further questions as he made his way to his waiting car.
When the State House correspondents turned to Mu’azu, he pretended not to hear them.
The National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, had to tell him that reporters were talking to him.
At this point, Mu’azu turned to the reporters, took a bow and walked briskly into the new Banqueting Hall of the Presidential Villa where Jonathan presided over another round of meetings with the party chiefs.
But the PDP spokesman, Olisa Metuh, later issued a statement in which the party described Obasanjo’s action as ‘‘unfortunate.’’
It said that it was difficult to know what made Obasanjo ask that his membership card be torn.
The statement read, “We have also carefully examined the circumstances and the reasons adduced for this unfortunate decision.
“While we concede to the inalienable rights of every citizen to hold opinion and to decide who to associate with, we are however deeply saddened that Obasanjo, a revered leader of our party, our first presidential candidate whom the PDP offered the platform to rule our nation for eight years, could decide to abandon this party at this critical point in time.
“This is especially as Obasanjo, who was also the chairman of the highest advisory organ of the PDP, the BoT, discountenanced all pleas by elders and leaders of our great party with regard to his reservations on certain issues within our fold.
“Many Nigerians are still bewildered as to what manner of provocation could have led a former President to lose his composure and go to the extent of tearing the membership card of the party that he once led.
“Indeed, the PDP is hugely at loss as to how the decision and action of the former President who had enjoyed the benefits of being elected to the highest position of leadership will assist in deepening our democracy and stabilising the polity.
“It is our considered opinion that no matter the provocation, a statesmanly disposition from a person of Obasanjo’s status could have encouraged our citizens and help in stabilising system.
“We believe however, that what this country needs now is patriotic actions that engender national unity, tolerance and peaceful coexistence of our people irrespective of political, ethnic and religious persuasions. The overall interest of our nation and well being of our citizens must remain paramount and above all personal and group interests.”
The Director of Media and Publicity of the Goodluck Jonathan Campaign Organisation, Femi Fani-Kayode, also described Obasanjo’s exit as tragic.
“We shall miss baba,” he said, promising to send a formal response on the issue through his press secretary.
But the response had yet to be sent as of 8pm on Monday.
The South-West Chairman of the PDP, Makanjuola Ogundipe, described Obasanjo’s action as “childish, self-serving and cruel.
He said, “Instead of turning himself to a masquerader, dancing naked in the market- place, Obasanjo should be honest enough to disclose those selfish demands that he made from President Jonathan, which were declined.”
Like Anenih, Ogundipe said in a statement that the party would not miss the former President, who according to him, had ceased from being a member of the PDP since last year.
The statement read in part, “He only formalised his exit from our party today(Monday) and we in the PDP are relieved now that we no longer have a mole among us.
“In the first instance, he has never contributed a dime to the PDP, a party that made him president. Rather, he has promoted strife and rebellion among members for his own selfish interests.
“It was his selfishness that caused us the governorship election in Ogun State in 2011 and it was his high-handedness that led to the exit of key members of the party. We are therefore happy that he has finally bid us farewell and we will not miss him.’’
Governor Fayose, who also described Obasanjo’s exit from the PDP as a good omen, said the former President ought to have been shown a red card long ago.
He said, “Obasanjo’s exit is a good riddance to bad rubbish. His departure is inglorious; we will never miss him.
“Now the PDP can sleep with two eyes closed because the lion among our brethren and the tormentor of Nigeria just left our party to join the All Progressives Congress.”
Fayose, who reacted through his Chief Press Secretary, Idowu Adelusi, added, “The former President was a man without honour who had been the major problem of the PDP.”
He said, “Obasanjo shouldn’t just tear his PDP membership card; he should relinquish the ownership of Bell University, Obasanjo Farms, Obasanjo Presidential Library, and other financial benefits he got during his eight years as President.’’
Kashamu, who is the chairman, Mobilisation and Organisation Committee of the PDP in the South-West, said Obasanjo had no electoral value and was therefore free to exit the PDP.
He said, ‘‘Obasanjo only took a pre-emptive step. It was reported in the newspapers today (Monday) that the state executive of the party would initiate appropriate disciplinary action against him for anti-party activities.
“This is in the hopes that the National Executive Council of the party will take it up from there.”
Two members of the PDP BoT – Shauib Oyedokun and Walid Jibrin – said the former President merely exhibited anger by tearing his membership card.
Oyedokun, in a text message to one of our correspondents, asked God to save the country and give her leaders that would lead by example.
He said, “Tearing of party card connotes anger at its peak. May Allah save Nigeria and give us leadership by example, leaders whose actions will be worthy of emulation.”
Jibrin, who is the Secretary of the BoT, said the former President should have behaved responsibly if he wanted to leave the party.
He said, “He (Obasanjo) should have behaved responsibly. If he wants to leave the PDP, is it wrong for him to do so? If he is to do that, will he come out in the public?
“He has access to the President; he has all the podium to do so; he has all the privileges to go and discuss with the President; do others behave that way?
“Should Obasanjo, a former Head of State, behave that way? Even if you want to take a decision like that, will you do it that way? As a responsible person, will you do it that way?
“There is a process of coming out of the PDP. You go to your ward and submit your card; give some explanations on why you are doing so.
Obasanjo’ s action, a plus for APC
The All Progressives Congress Governorship candidate for Kaduna State, Nasir el-Rufai, said Obasanjo’s action would boost the fortune of the APC in the March 28 and April 11 elections.
El-Rufai, a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, said through his campaign organisation, that for the ex-President to dump the PDP should be a source of concern to Nigerians.
He said, “Obasanjo is a highly respected figure in the country and if somebody of his calibre should throw out the party that he rode on to power for eight years, then, it should be a source of concern to all Nigerians.
“He will be highly welcome to the party. If the party can receive him, its a plus for the APC.”
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