Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has cited as a reason for his lethargy in the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, affairs the role given to Buruji Kashamu, the party’s Southwest Contact and Mobilisation chairman.
He said “As a former President of Nigeria, the Chairman of West Africa Commission on Drug and a member of Global Commission on Drug, I cannot accept that the Zonal leader of my political Party and, worse still in my zone, will be an indicted drug baron wanted in America. How do I explain that to friends outside Nigeria?”
The former President was reacting to pleas by PDP National Chairman, Senate President and former Ogun State Governor, Adamu Muazu, David Mark and Gbenga Daniel respectively to return to the party. Obasanjo said their appeals showed ‘misunderstandings and misrepresentations’, giving the issue of Kashamu as ‘one of the many issues that I have pointed and still pointing out’ to those controlling the party. Obasanjo said having risen to become President on the PDP platform, he had no reason to ditch the party. “Talking of inviting me back to PDP is wrong and it is a great misrepresentation as I have never left PDP and I will never leave PDP. I have said it before and I will say it again, I rose to become the President of Nigeria on the platform of PDP and for that reason alone, I will remain a card-carrying and ward-active member,” Obasanjo said.
He claimed to have sounded President Goodluck Jonathan, Muazu and Mark out on his dissociation with the party and does not begrudge any member of the party. Rather Obasanjo apologized for anyone offended at his continued membership of the party.
His full statement below:
During last week when I was in South Africa as the Chairman of AU Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan and while with my fellow Commissioners, we were deliberating on how to help that new country out of its problem of security and violence, I received avalanche of news and cacophony of appeals and pleadings from some quarters of PDP leadership. There are misunderstandings and misrepresentations which some of those appeals and pleas manifested; hence this explanation from me. Talking of inviting me back to PDP is wrong and it is a great misrepresentation as I have never left PDP and I will never leave PDP. I have said it before and I will say it again, I rose to become the President of Nigeria on the platform of PDP and for that reason alone, I will remain a card-carrying and ward-active member of PDP for as long as I have to be a political party member. Secondly, nobody has personally offended me as a result of my membership of PDP. If, however, anybody or group feels offended by my continued membership, I will offer an unreserved apology but continue to remain in the Party. I have had occasions to say to the President, the Senate President and the Party Chairman separately that I have no quarrel with any individual or group in the Party. There are, for me, issues of principle, morality, honour , integrity, commitment and character which are paramount.
For instance, as a former President of Nigeria, the Chairman of West Africa Commission on Drug and a member of Global Commission on Drug, I cannot accept that the Zonal leader of my political Party and, worse still in my zone, will be an indicted drug baron wanted in America. How do I explain that to friends outside Nigeria? This is only one of the many issues that I have pointed and still pointing out. I have national and international standard to maintain and reputation to keep and sustain. For these reasons, I opted to remain active only at the ward level of the Party till the leadership does the needful. But under no condition will my commitment to Nigeria be diminished. And, for me, it is commitment to Nigeria first and any other commitment can only follow in second or third place. Where any other commitment is in tandem with what I see and understand as commitment to Nigeria, such other commitment will share a pride of place with Nigeria. I must hasten to thank the President, the Senate President and the Chairman of PDP with whom, at their instances, these issues have been discussed and laid to rest. My interest and commitment to Nigeria go beyond partisan politics. Today, Nigeria needs all hands on deck to deal with our pressing problems of security including the issue of Chibok girls, widening inequality, infrastructure, impunity, corruption, poverty and youth education, skill-acquisition, empowerment and employment. These are issues of concern to most Nigerians. We all need to join hands to move Nigeria forward. I don’t need to be begged for that. Rather, I beg and appeal to those who are begging me to realize that we must put Nigeria’s interest above politics – party or personal – otherwise, we will all be judged at the bar of history if not the bar of current affairs. In addition, we must preserve, sustain and deepen democracy and democratic practices.