A mixture of relief and raging indignation swept through the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, yesterday, after former President Olusegun Obasanjo publicly tore his membership card of the ruling party.
Obasanjo’s theatrical renunciation of the party on whose platform he was twice elected president, was laced with another drama hours later when the state chapter of the party announced his expulsion from the party.
OBASANJO—Ex-President Obasanjo (left) watches as Alhaji Usman Oladunjoye tears the PDP membership card. Right: Obasanjo’s card after it was torn, yesterday.
In three tweets, last night, Obasanjo gave as his reasons, his uneasiness in abiding in the same party with a president who he said was determined to use corruption to destroy the country. He also said he would not abide in a party that is led by a ‘drug baron’, saying his action had freed him to comment on national issues as he felt.
The subdued relief in the Presidency which has been the butt of Obasanjo’s stinging criticism in recent times was manifest, yesterday, when senior Presidency officials calmly referred responses to the development to party officials. Chief Tony Anenih, Chairman of the Board of Trustees and once Obasanjo’s trusted aide, led the reactions with his dismissal of the action, saying the party would not miss him.
A number of other party officials including members of the board of trustees, state officials in Ogun State, Governor Ayo Fayose, Chief Buruji Kashamu among others reacted to the development yesterday.
Why I tore myPDP membership card— Obasanjo
In three tweets, yesterday night, explaining his decision, 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.
He said: “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.”
The former leader, who is known to have spearheaded the emergence of the Jonathan Presidency, 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.
“My first preoccupation is what is best for Nigeria: Nigeria first, party second and anything third,” Obasanjo said.
On the Military
He also accused the Presidency under Jonathan of politicising every public institution in Nigeria, including the Nigerian military.
“It’s no longer news that the Presidency has politicised every institution in Nigeria. Even the military has chosen to be another arm of PDP,” he alleged.
Members of the court martial sit during the inauguration to try soldiers accused of mutiny tasked with fighting Boko Haram militants in Abuja on October 2, 2014. Nearly 100 soldiers tasked with fighting Boko Haram militants in Nigeria’s far northeast appeared at a military court martial on Thursday, facing a range of charges including mutiny. The hearing comes just weeks after a tribunal sentenced 12 soldiers to death following their conviction for shooting at their commanding officer in the Borno state capital, Maiduguri, in May. AFP PHOTO
Vanguard learnt that Obasanjo might have taken his decision to tear his membership card and voluntarily quit the party before the leadership, apparently upset by his tantrums against Jonathan moves against him.
The move to suspend OBJ
It was reliably gathered that the party had mooted the idea of formally suspending him from its fold but was restrained by the leadership which had hoped he would soft-pedal over time, only for Obasanjo to unleash more caustic assaults last week, alleging a determination of the president to win the forthcoming presidential election by hook or crook.
Obasanjo early yesterday, announced his exit from the party while hosting members of the PDP from his Ward 11, Abeokuta North Local Government Area of Ogun State, who called on him to enquire on his continued membership of the party following what they claimed as the no love lost relationship with the president.
The members were led by the ward chairman, Alhaji Usman Oladunjoye who asked him to explain where he belongs.
In his response, Obasanjo said he had his ears close to the ground and said that he, too, had heard of the plan by the PDP leadership to sanction him.
He said: “You asked me two questions and I will answer them comprehensively. This Nigeria belongs to all of us and it must not be destroyed. This is my PDP’s membership card, where I am 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 our burden to our children and incoming generation.
“The question asked is that which party am I? I belong to the group that believes that Nigeria must not be destroyed. Those of you that are marketers you observed that there’s inflation in the market. The bureaux de change operators exchanged dollars with N150 then and is (now) going to be N250 to a dollar.
“What it means is that, what you’ve been buying for N150 will be bought for N250, this is not the kind of country we dream of. There’s no job, employment. Some people have started destroying Nigeria and I will never be in a party that will destroy Nigeria. Perhaps, you don’t understand that it is because there’s Nigeria that is why PDP exists. Without Nigeria, there will be no PDP anymore.
“What some of us should be concerned about now is how to make Nigeria stronger and our economy would witness economic growth.
I won’t join another party
“They said they want to expel me from PDP, although I have not been told but 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 you before that I became president on the platform of PDP. Once I leave PDP, I will not join any party.
“I will only be a Nigerian, I’m 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,” Obasanjo said as he handed over the card to the ward chairman.
“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. Once you people are with me what other people am I looking for?
“And on the day of election, whatever it takes”, the PVC must be obtained, you don’t 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 will repair Nigeria and not those who will destroy it.
Tears the card
“What is important is that we should hold Ward 11 community together, what we are going to do now is that I don’t have the burden of PDP again. Help me tear into pieces my membership card”, he said as the ward chairman dutifully carried out the directive.
Obasanjo also dismissed claims by the Jonathan campaign organisation that he was planning the installation of 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 (but) God will not allow it. In my ward, we’ll be meeting from time to time to discuss and interact on whatever you want and what I want.
“I don’t want to be carrying membership card around but you can do that but when election comes, we’ll pray God would direct us to vote rightly. Nigeria will be okay, Ogun will be alright,” Obasanjo said.
Ward members jubilate
Immediately after Obasanjo’s card was torn, his ward members rose in jubilation and started praising him for the action.
Before now, scores of Obasanjo’s loyalists, including the sacked PDP National Auditor, Chief Bode Mustapha; the sacked National Secretary, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola; former governor Segun Oni, Dr. Femi Majekodunmi, Chief Jide Awosedo and others had defected from the PDP to the APC, on the orders of the former president.
The former Board of Trustees chairman had also, about a year ago, written an open letter to President Jonathan, expressing his displeasure about the state of the nation and the need for him not to continue to associate with the likes of the Chairman of the Organization and Mobilization Committee of the party in the South West, Prince Buruji Kashamu.
Shortly after the development, there was a mild drama when the chairman of the state chapter of the party, Adebayo Dayo said the chapter had expelled the former president from the party over alleged “unabated anti-party activities unbecoming of a highly celebrated party man”.
Dayo at a news conference yesterday, said his Ward 11 Abeokuta North LG had earlier sent in a letter dated February 12, 2015, expressing serious concerns at his numerous anti-party activities and uncomplimentary utterances targeted at the leader of the party, President Jonathan.