Former President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday restated his vow not to return to partisan politics.
Obasanjo, 84, made this known when a delegation of the leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) led by the National Chairman of the party, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, visited him at his residence in Abeokuta, Ogun State.
This is coming as Ayu has described the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration as a clueless government that is piling eternal debts for future generations.
The PDP delegation during the meeting, held behind closed doors, dwelt extensively on the party’s search for a suitable presidential candidate, who will wrestle power from the APC.
The National Secretary of the party, Senator Sam Anyanwu; the Deputy National Chairman, South and former Deputy Governor of Oyo State, Mr Taofeek Arapaja; other members of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) and the PDP vice presidential candidate in 2019 elections, Mr, Peter Obi, were part of the delegation.
The delegation also include a former governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko; a former governor of Jigawa State, Mr. Sule Lamido; and two former governors of Cross River State, Mr. Donald Duke, Senator Liyel Imoke; former Police Affairs Minister, Adamu Waziri, and former Minister of Special Duties, Tanimu Kabiru Turaki (SAN), were also among the PDP chieftains in attendance.
A source privy to the meeting told THISDAY that the PDP leaders sought Obasanjo’s contribution to the issue of zoning and the search for a formidable presidential candidate.
“The visit was part of the wider consultations embarked upon by the PDP to strategise for the 2023 general election, especially the presidential election. They had fruitful discussions on the issue of zoning and the need to search for a suitable and credible presidential candidate,” the source said.
However, after the closed-door meeting, Obasanjo publicly told his guests to bear in mind that he was no longer in partisan politics.
Recall that the former president had some years ago publicly announced that he was quitting politics, and tearing his PDP membership card in his house in Abeokuta.
But speaking yesterday, Obasanjo said: “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, PDP will continue to be part of the history of my life.
“But having said that, the day that in my ward I decided to tear my PDP card was the day I ceased to be a member of PDP and that day I vowed that I will not be a member of any political party again, but I will remain a statesman in Nigeria, in West Africa, in Africa and indeed in the world.”
The former president, who said the responsibilities on the shoulder of Ayu, were enormous, prayed that he would be able to carry them.
“Your case is like the case of Idi Amin of Uganda. Idi Amin came to me and he said ‘my brother, you have Africa load and it is on your shoulder, I pray God will help you carry Africa load’.
“Iyorchia, you have PDP load with Nigeria 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.
“In my hope, which is also some people’s disappointment is that some of you who knew how things were done 21 years ago are still there but then some people will say here if you knew how it was done 21 years ago why have you not consistently be doing it? I think you can answer that, I will not answer for you, but if you ask me, I retired 14 years ago and I remain retired and I will remain retired by the grace of God.
“But if I retired from partisan politics if politics is the welfare of the people, I must not retire from the welfare and well-being of people whether in my community, in my 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 responsibility is not an easy one either, but it has to be done.
“But bear 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 give it in the best interest of Nigeria and the best interest of Africa,” Obasanjo explained.
Responding, Ayu commended Obasanjo for what he did when he was Nigeria’s president.
He described the President Muhammadu Buhari administration as clueless and piling eternal debts for this and future generations.
Ayu also described the present administration as wicked, pointing out that only a wicked regime would subject generations unborn to the servitude of slavery.
Not done, the National Chairman blamed Buhari for the low in Nigeria’s international reputation as an insecure country and the poverty capital of the world, a reversal of fortunes which he measured, were the direct opposite of the achievements of Obasanjo of the PDP.
“We thank you for the service you rendered and the great work you have done in the PDP as the first president.
“Your period as president under the platform of PDP was seen as the golden era of the PDP because not only did you grow the economy to be the biggest economy in Africa, you were able to eradicate 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 set free, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) was on the increase daily; we were respected in the international community, everywhere we went.
“I remember I accompanied you as your minister to some countries – Germany, Indian – I saw the respect they accorded you in India and I was very proud to be a Nigerian.
“Today, unfortunately, we don’t have the same recognition because what we have has fallen short of the leadership that Nigeria deserves.
“Apart from the infrastructural intervention, which you did, most of the institutions, some of them are today useful… like EFCC, the ICPC and so on you- put it in place.
“I remember when you took some of us to Germany to the offices or 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 Nigerians but our party and Africa.
“Over these years that you were 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,” Ayu explained.
“In Africa today, I think today, in all modesty, after the departure of 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 President Olusegun Obasanjo and you have continued to display the leadership because it is wrong to address you as Nigerian leader or Yoruba leader or an Owu chief.
“Even though you retired from partisan politics, partisan politics will never retire from your blood, because you want the right thing done and since you want the right thing done, for the life you will remain the emeritus member of the PDP. You cannot build a house and leave it to collapse,” Ayu told Obasanjo.
He promised the former president that the PDP would restore Nigeria’s lost glory
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