By Segun Adeleye, Chesa Chesa, Rotimi Akinwunmi, Yaqoub Popoola and Temidayo Akinsuyi
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Monday tore his membership card of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and declared he would no longer join any political party.
Obasanjo renounced his membership of the party at his Hilltop Mansion in Abeokuta while hosting PDP leaders from his Ward 11, in Abeokuta North Local Government Area.
The party leaders in the ward led by Sunmonu Oladunjoye had gone to see him to clear rumours that the former president had been expelled from the party following his recent comments in the media.
Obasanjo said he was aware of his expulsion rumour from PDP but joked that he was already leaving on his own, promising not to join any other political 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 am 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.”
“From today on in the presence of all 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.
“The issue that they want to expel me from the party; once you people are with me, what other people am I looking for?” he queried.
“What is important is that we should hold Ward 11 community together, what we are going to do now is that after I don’t have burden of PDP again, help me to tear into pieces my membership card,” he told his ward leaders.
Obasanjo maintained that Nigeria belongs to all, stressing that he would continue to protect the interest of the nation.
“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, our children and the incoming generation.
“I belong to the group that believes that Nigeria must not be destroyed,” he stated.
Obasanjo bemoaned the falling value of Naira stressing that the economy is in bad shape in terms of inflation rate.
“Those of you that are marketers you observe that there’s inflation in the market.
“The bureau de change operators exchange dollars with N150 then and is going to be N250 to a dollar now.
“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,” he stated.
Obasanjo lamented lack of employment opportunities saying some people have started destroying the country.
“There’s no job, no 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 any more.
“What some of us should be concerned about is how to make Nigeria stronger and our economy would witness growth.
Obasanjo also dismissed the idea of Interim National Government stressing that anybody in his right senses cannot be thinking of ING.
“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’ll be meeting time to time to discuss and interact on whatever you want and what I want,” he told the ward leaders.
Obasanjo, however, used the occasion to call on Nigerians to collect their permanent voter’s cards (PVC) for them to vote at the election.
“And on the day of election, what ever 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.”
He said he would vote for those that would repair the country and not those that will destroy it.
The Chairman of the PDP in Ogun State, Bayo Dayo, told Daily Independent in a telephone interview that the former President had been expelled from the party.
He said Obasanjo’s expulsion came after he tore the party’s membership card at his Hilltop residence.
However, Chairman of PDP Board of Trustees, Tony Anenih, in reaction dismissed the repudiation of the party by Obasanjo, saying the party leaders would not necessarily miss him.
Emerging from a meeting of PDP chieftains at the Presidential Villa, Anenih told State House correspondents that Obasanjo had the right to quit or join any political party of his choice, hence nothing could be done about it.
His words: “He has the right to leave any party and he has the right to join any party. He is a Nigerian. Why should we miss him? To us (PDP) leaders, it is not a loss.”
Also in his reaction, the Ekiti State governor, Ayodele Fayose, described the exit of Obasanjo from PDP as a good omen to the party, saying “Obasanjo’s exit is good riddance to bad rubbish. His departure is inglorious, we will never miss him.”
Fayose said Obasanjo’s tearing of his PDP membership card was a vindication of his stand that the former president should have been shown a red card by the PDP long time ago.
“Now the PDP can sleep with two eyes closed because the lion among our brethren, the tormentor of Nigeria just departed from our party to join the All Progressives Congress (APC),” he said.
Fayose who spoke through his Chief Press Secretary, Idowu Adelusi, said the former president was “a man without honour” who has been the major problem of the PDP and that “tearing his membership card was to save him from imminent expulsion.”
“Obasanjo shouldn’t just tear his PDP membership card; he should relinquish the ownership of Bell University, Obasanjo Farms, Obasanjo Presidential Library, and other financial benefits he got during his eight years as president.
“If there is anything negative about PDP, Obasanjo contributed 50 per cent. His eight years tenure is part of the 16 years that the APC people claim is a waste. And now that Obasanjo and Atiku are members of APC, it can be said that APC ruled Nigeria from 1999 to 2007 and the party should be ready to accept the liabilities of Obasanjo and Atiku’s government.
“Therefore, Obasanjo’s exit from the PDP is a confirmation that there is victory ahead for our party and, mark my words, President Jonathan will be re-elected; Nigeria will have a clean departure from its sordid past, which Obasanjo and Buhari represent and take a giant leap into a promising future, “Fayose said.
In his own reaction, the Former Minister of Transport, Ebenezer Babatope, also described Obasanjo’s dumping of PDP as a welcome development.
Babatope, a member of PDP’s Board of Trustees (BoT) told Daily Independent that with his exit, a big burden had been lifted off the shoulders of the faithful all over the world.
“Obasanjo’s quitting of the PDP is a welcome development. I congratulate the PDP for this positive situation. A big load has been taken off all PDP faithful all over the world. I wish former President Obasanjo luck in his future endeavours,” he said.
In the words of political activist, Yinka Odumakin, “Only a few people will still think Obasanjo is a PDP member”.
Odumakin said from his body language and comments, Obasanjo has clearly shown that he is a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) who was still stating back in the PDP to cause damage and run the Jonathan administration aground.
“Obasanjo is clearly an APC member. The whole APC went to him and made him their navigator. And it is in public domain that when he asked his boys like Oyinlola, Amaechi, Oni, Kwankwaso and others to go to APC, he told them he would stay back in PDP and cause serious damage”.
“Now, election was postponed and the plans he had for February 14 has failed; he has perceived that things has got to a point that between him and Jonathan someone must go down and that is why he is doing all sort of things to overheat the polity,” he said.
Also speaking, Igbo Think Tank, Aka Ikenga, said Obasanjo had no moral justification to criticise President Jonathan .
The group’s President, Goddy Uwazurike, told Daily Independent that the former president’s incessant criticism has clearly shown that he had ulterior motive which may cause Nigeria serious damage if not checked.