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Why I quit PDP, by Obasanjo

By Madu Onuorah, Mohammed Abubakar, Azimazi Momoh Jimoh, (Abuja) and Charles Coffie Gyamfi (Abeokuta)
16 February 2015   |   9:15 pm
• He was expelled, won’t be missed, says party  •DHQ berates ex-Head of State FORMER President, Olusegun Obasanjo said yesterday that he left the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) so as to remain an elder statesman.   Speaking to journalists in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, he further maintained that he was not prepared to join…

 --Obasanjo

• He was expelled, won’t be missed, says party 

•DHQ berates ex-Head of State

FORMER President, Olusegun Obasanjo said yesterday that he left the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) so as to remain an elder statesman.

  Speaking to journalists in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, he further maintained that he was not prepared to join another political party, as he wished to remain an elder statesman. 

  But Ogun State chapter of PDP said he was expelled for anti-party activities.

 Also, the Chairman, Board of Trustees, (BoT) of the PDP, Chief Tony Anenih, yesterday played down the effect of the development on the party’s fortunes ahead of the forthcoming general elections.

   On its part, the military has reacted to statements by Obasanjo last weekend, alleging that President Goodluck Jonathan plotted the postponement of the elections because he planned to use the military to subvert the peoples’ will during the rescheduled March 28 and April 11, 2015 polls.

  Obasanjo who made the announcement when a delegation from his ward 11, Ita-Iyalode, Abeokuta called on him at his Hilltop residence, also said he would no more belong to any party.

“Henceforth, I will only be a Nigerian, I am ready to work with anybody regardless of his or her political affliation. I am no more a politician but a stateman, both internally and externally,” he affirmed.

Obasanjo claimed that he quit the PDP because by its behaviour and actions the party was bent on destroying the country.

 Although Obasanjo was first elected President on the PDP’s platform, he has openly been backed Maj.-Gen. Mohammadu Buhari (rtd), Jonathan’s opponent in the Saturday, March 28 election.

In fact, last Saturday, Obasanjo, in a chat with newsmen in Abeokuta among other things accused Jonathan of being behind the postponement of the election.

His allegation attracted a lot of criticisms from PDP stalwarts, some of them calling for his expulsion.

But reacting to such calls, he said: “Perhaps, people do not understand that it is because there’s Nigeria that is why PDP exists. Without Nigeria, there will be no PDP any more. 

“What some of us should be concern about is how to make Nigeria stronger and make our economy to witness significant growth.

“They said they want to expel me from PDP, although I have not been told about it, I have my ears on ground.

We’ve been trying to run away from a man but he pleads we wait for him at the other side of the river. 

 “I have told people before that I became President on the platform of PDP and once I leave PDP I will not join any party. I will only be a Nigerian who will be ready to work with anybody regardless of his or her political affiliation.

 “Why would some people say they want to send me away. They don’t need to bother themselves, here is your membership card. Take it (giving it to a member of the delegation).

“From today, in the presence of all you (delegation) and with your support I am not going to be a member of any political party in Nigeria. I am no more a politician but a statesman, both internally and externally. 

“The issue that they want to expel me from the party, once you people (delegation) are with me what other people am I looking for.

“This Nigeria belongs to all of us and it must not be destroyed. We must not allow anybody to destroy it wherever they come from, whatever they have because if they destroy it it becomes a burden to our children and incoming generation.”

 According to him, Nigeria is gradually being destroyed economically, saying that the exchange rate of the dollar to the naira, for example had risen. He also said the unemployment situation is skyrocketing.

“Is it the type of country we dreamt of?” he queried.

“Those of you that are marketers, you might have observed that there is inflation in the market. The bureau de change operators used to exchange dollar for N150 but it is now going to be N250 to a dollar.

“What it means is that, what you have been buying for N150 will now be bought for N250. There is no employment. Some people have stated destroying Nigeria and I will never be in a party that will destroy Nigeria.

“And on the day of election, whatever it takes the Permenent Voters Card (PVC) must be obtained. You do not need to be a politician before you get your PVC. On the day of election, you can vote for your choice, but I will vote for those who repair Nigeria and not those who will destroy it.

 “What is important is that we should hold ward 11 community together.”

Obasanjo told a member the delegation: “What we are going to do now is that since I do not have burden of PDP again help me tear into pieces my membership card.” He then handed the card to that person.

  He went on: “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. In my ward, we will be meeting from time to time to discuss and interact on whatever you want and what I want.”

   A statement by the party’s state chairman, Chief Dayo Bayo, in Abeokuta said Obasanjo was ejected because he had engaged in “anti-party activities.”

According to the seven-paragraph statement, by his expulsion, the former President “stands expelled and ex-communicated from the party, thereby loosing all rights, privileges and respect of our teeming members.”

  The PDP statement added: “The general public, especially the media, are to take note that whatever Obasanjo does or say must no longer be seen from the prism of a PDP leader.

   “Indeed he seem to have lost all sense of proper behavior expected of a man who previously used and abused the opportunity provided him by the

PDP”.

  “His Ward 11 Abeokuta North Local Government had earlier sent in a letter dated 12th Febuary, 2015 expressing serious concern  at his numerous anti-party activities and uncomplimentary utterances targeted at the leader of the party, President Ebele Jonathan.

   “It is ironic that this is the same Obasanjo who when he was President neither tolerated nor accepted any opinion, suggestion or criticism of his tenure.”

   Emerging from a meeting with Jonathan at the State House in Abuja along with other top national leaders of the party, Anenih, in a brief interaction with correspondents, noted that the party leadership  would not miss Obasanjo.

Among those at the meeting were Vice President Mohammed Namadi Sambo, Senate President David Mark; his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu; National Chairman of PDP, Ahmadu Bello Mu’azu, his deputy, Uche Secondus; Deputy Directors-General of the Presidential Campaign Organisation, Prof. Tunde Adeniran and Kabiru Tanimu Turaki (SAN).

Anenih believed that Obasanjo had the right to quit or join any party of his choice. 

Asked if the PDP will miss him, he said, “Why should we miss him? To us leaders of the party, his departure is not a loss.”

In a statement released by Defence Headquarters, the military stated that it cannot be used to subvert the people’s will as it remains and will continue on the path of professionalism in the discharge of its duties at all times.

Obasanjo was a former military Head of State (1976-1979) and later President from 1999 to 2007.

 Full text of the posting read: “The Defence Headquarters has noted the remarks of a former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo as reported in the media stating his views on perceived state of the armed forces and the roles being allegedly played by the military in the nation’s political process in recent times. The leadership and cross section of the military believes that the former President and retired General has every right to be interested in the actions and fate of the military. Hence, his views like many others will continue to be accorded the well-deserved attention. It is however noteworthy that most of his utterances lately indicate an attitude of playing to the gallery or indulging in politicization of serious national security or military affairs.

“For instance, the comments credited to Chief Obasanjo alleging that the postponement of the General Elections was to enable President Jonathan to use the Service Chiefs to plot a tenure extension is to say the least, very surprising. It is surprising indeed, considering the fact that the retired General chose to ignore the clarification and emphatic assurances of non-partisanship of the military as declared in a DHQ statement on the position of the Armed Forces in the ongoing political activities. His motive as usual remains unknown but it is certainly less than noble or well intentioned.  We dare say again that Chief Obasanjo’s assertions are false.

 “Much as the military desires to respect the old General and his views, it has become necessary to point out that his conduct and unguarded utterances of late has fallen short of the standard of discipline expected of an individual who has had the privilege of service in the military and risen to the status of a General. The behaviour of retired General (Chief) Obasanjo has been so unbecoming and continues to constitute a serious embarrassment to the military before all who have reasonably and rightly adjudged the essence of military background in terms of the high value and standard it tends to contribute to statesmanship.

 “We feel constrained to remind the old General that the world has moved beyond that parochial and self-adulating reasoning and mindset which he seems stuck to. Indeed, he needs to be told that by virtue of their better training, exposure, education, assessment and environment, the military personnel of today are already far beyond his level in their appreciation of democracy and it’s indispensability for the stable and prosperous society which Nigerians cherish.

 “In this instance, the military wishes to inform the retired General, that the institution which he bequeathed to the nation has certainly developed beyond how he left it. The Nigerian military is now better placed to strive for the maintenance of the legacies and ethos of service, valour, subordination to constituted authorities, and nonpartisan commitment to duty and fatherland. It has to be restated that the military as an institution, is neither as inept in the discharge of its duties, nor is it being misused for political ends in the manner the retired General Obasanjo who was also a former President has possibly been made to believe.

 “Indeed, the system now strongly believes in Democracy as well as its structures and institutions to the extent that it will do nothing whatsoever to undermine or truncate the steady growth and development of the nation’s democracy. The military will remain professional as it keeps doing its best along with others to ensure adequate security and defence of the nation’s territorial integrity in this auspicious period in the country.

 “The Defence Headquarters will like to encourage Chief Obasanjo to be genuinely interested in the growth and sustenance of Nigeria’s democratic credentials.  He is also enjoined to endeavor to improve in his understanding of intricate issues and try to encourage the military rather than continue with this tendency to indulge in imputation of ulterior motives to every effort, all for the purpose of discrediting well thought out policies or decisions related to the military’s roles in the polity. The support of all well-meaning elderly Nigerians remains vital in the onerous duty of working for the stability, defence, and peace of our country under duly constituted authorities in a democratic environment.”

 The PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation (PDPPCO), in a statement issued by Director of Media and Publicity, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode  said: “Watching our party membership card being torn up whilst President Obasanjo was standing there and smiling was painful and tragic.

“This is a party which he helped to build and on whose platform he was elected President for eight good years. The truth is that President Obasanjo is far better and far bigger than that. 

 “This knee-jerk reaction is most unlike President Obasanjo. It is clear that he has burnt all the bridges and that he has left us forever.

“On a personal note I feel saddened by this but the truth is that many in our party have heaved a huge sigh of relief. Many of us love President Obasanjo and we shall continue to do so regardless of whether he is in our party or not but tearing up that party card was too much to bear. 

“It spoke volumes and it was indicative of the deep hatred and contempt that he has for us and our cause. It reminded me of the biblical passage in which King Saul rejected David and then planned to stop him from ascending to the throne by attempting to kill and destroy him. Thankfully the Lord was with David and not only did he deliver him from Saul but he also crowned him King.”