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No going back to partisan politics, Obasanjo insists

By Charles Coffie Gyamfi, Abeokuta
23 January 2022   |   4:30 am
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, yesterday, foreclosed any chance of returning to partisan politics, insisting that no amount of persuasion would make him rescind his decision, which is final.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo (seventh from left); National Chairman, Peoples Democratic Party, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu (sixth left); leftwards are: former governor of Anambra State, Dr. Peter Obi; former governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko; National Secretary of PDP, Senator Sam Anyanwun; Deputy National Chairman, South, Amb. Taofeek Arapaja; and former governor of Cross River State, Liyel Imoke. Former governor of Jigawa State, Sule Lamido (sixth from right) and rightwards are: former Police Affairs Minister, Adamu Waziri; National Women Leader of PDP, Prof. Stella Effah-Attoe; Deputy National Chairman (North), Amb. Umar Iliya Damagu; former Minister, Special Duties, Tanimu Kabiru Turaki, SAN; and former governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke, during a visit by the PDP Chairman, National Working Committee members and leaders of the party to Obasanjo at his library in Abeokuta, Ogun State, yesterday. 

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Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, yesterday, foreclosed any chance of returning to partisan politics, insisting that no amount of persuasion would make him rescind his decision, which is final.

Obasanjo who said that he had left party politics for good, however, noted that he would continue to contribute his quota to the country’s development as an elder statesman.

The former President stated this against the backdrop of various attempts by founding members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to woo him back into politics.

Obasanjo reiterated his stand when members of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the PDP, led by the National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, paid him a visit at his Abeokuta, Ogun State residence.

The team arrived the Pent House, located within the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL), Oke Mosan, Abeokuta, at about 12:25pm and went into a closed-door meeting with the former president.

Those who accompanied Ayu included, the PDP vice presidential candidate in the 2019 general election, Peter Obi, former governors Sule Lamido (Jigawa), Olusegun Mimiko (Ondo), Liyel Imoke (Cross River) and Donald Duke (Cross River), and the Deputy National Chairman of PDP (South), Taofeek Arapaja among other party officials.

Speaking to journalists shortly after the meeting, which lasted for over two hours, Obasanjo said that even though he retired 14 years ago, he has remained committed to the welfare and wellbeing of Nigerians.

The former president had quit partisan politics many years ago when some leaders of PDP, led by Surajudeen Oladunjoye, the chairman of the ward around his former residence in Ita Eko, visited him at his Presidential Hilltop Mansion.

Obasanjo admitted that the PDP played an important role in his life, but he has since ceased to be a member of the party the day he directed his ward chairman to tear his membership card.

His words, “I have been with the party right from inception. Whatever I do in my own life because I became president on the platform of PDP, the party will continue to be part of the history of my life, but having said that, the day that my ward decided to tear my PDP card was the day I ceased to be a member of the PDP, and that day I vowed that I will not be a member of any political party again, but remain a statesman in Nigeria, in West Africa, in Africa, and indeed in the world. I retired 14 years ago and I remain retired and I will remain retired by the grace of God. 

“Bear it in mind, and I want to emphasise that, I’m no longer in partisan politics, and there is nothing that will bring me back to partisan politics, but I will always be interested in what is good for Nigeria, and anybody who wants to have my advice, I will distinctly give it in the best interest of Nigeria, and in the best interest of Africa,” Obasanjo said, adding, “But if I retired from partisan politics, if politics is about the welfare of the people, I must not retire from the welfare and wellbeing of the people, whether in my own community; in my own state; in my own country, anywhere in Africa, or indeed anywhere in the world. And that is why I have the type of responsibility that I now have in the Horn of Africa, which is not an easy responsibility, but it has to be done, but I will say that your (Ayu) own responsibility is not an easy one either, but it has to be done.”

Obasanjo told Ayu that, the responsibility of PDP and that of Nigeria rests on his shoulders, and he would continue to make himself available to counsel.

“Iyorchia, you have PDP’s load with Nigeria’s load, and it is only God that can help you to carry this load, which of course, I believe if God gives you a responsibility, he will also give you the wherewithal to be able to carry that responsibility,” Obasanjo said.

In his response, Ayu described Obasanjo’s administration as the golden era of PDP and Nigeria, lamenting that, “what Nigeria is now falls short of leadership that Nigeria deserves.”

Speaking on Obasanjo’s retirement from politics, Ayu said, “Even though you (Obasanjo) retired from partisan politics, partisan politics will never retire from your blood, because you want the right things done and since you want the right things done, for life you will remain an emeritus member of the PDP. 

“You cannot build a house and leave it to collapse. You throw a challenge to me that if I have been there from the beginning why have I not done anything, may be I was doing something, but it was not good enough, we will continue to contribute our own quota, we will continue to come to you. So, I want to plead with you, please, don’t be tired of us as we come knocking asking for your advice; asking for wisdom because the words of elders are the words of wisdom and there is no leader here in this country than President Olusegun Obasanjo.”

Taking a swipe at the President Muhammad Buhari-led administration, the PDP chair described it as a clueless and piling eternal debts for this and future generations.

He also described the present administration as wicked, pointing out that only a wicked regime would subject generations unborn to the servitude of slavery, even as he blamed Buhari for the country’s waning international reputation, and its emergence as the poverty capital of the world.

A statement from Ayu’s Media Office, quoted him as insisting that virtually all Obasanjo’s good works have been undone by Buhari.

“Sir, we thank you for the service you rendered and the great work you have done in the PDP. As the first president in this Republic, your period as president on the platform of the PDP is seen as the golden era of the PDP and Nigeria, because not only did you lay the foundation to grow the economy to become the biggest economy in Africa, you were able to remove Nigeria from slavery by negotiating and cancelling so much of our foreign debts that would have made it very difficult to run the country. By the time you left office, Nigeria was totally set free, direct foreign investment was on the increase on a daily basis, and we were respected in international community and every where we went.

“Today, this clueless APC and President Muhammad Buhari have undone that, and has plunged Nigeria into eternal debt. The new debt overhang created by this wicked government is going to create massive problems for the coming generations.

“I remember when I accompanied you as your minister to a number of countries including Germany and India, I saw the respect they accorded you and I was very proud to be a Nigerian.

“Today, unfortunately, we don’t have the same recognition because what we have become has fallen short of good leadership that Nigeria deserves.

“This is on account of worsening insecurity and Buhari’s creation of a Nigeria regarded as poverty capital of the world.

“Apart from infrastructural intervention, which you did, most of the very useful institutions like the EFCC, the ICPC and so on are now being used to hound people.

“I remember when you took some of us to Germany to the offices to the Transparency International and we had a very useful discussion there. So, you are very passionate about this country, and you did a lot and we thought we should come and thank you for what you have done not to just for Nigerians, but to our party and Africa .

“Over these years that you are in power, you saw every Nigerian as one family, you didn’t discriminate against the South, the East, the West, or the North. Even though, in your first tenure, the South West didn’t actually support you, but, you brought them back on board and they supported you in your second tenure and that was an achievement,” the statement said.

It continued: “Today, Buhari’s nepotism has divided Nigerians just as his other actions have further created wedges between fellow countrymen and women.

“ It is our prayer that you will continue to try and support us. In Africa today, in all modesty, after the departure of the late President Mandela, there is only one person of such stature on the African continent, and we are proud that that person is a Nigerian, and that Nigerian is no other than former President Olusegun Obasanjo, and you have continued to display good leadership.”

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