Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Saturday warned a factional chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Modu Sheriff, that the party was “dying”, and he just be responsible for its final rites.
Mr. Obasanjo spoke to Mr. Sheriff who visited him in Abeokuta on Saturday. He later explained to journalists what he said had been the subject of their closed-door meeting.
“He called me yesterday and said ‘where are you’ and I said, ‘I am in the country’ and he said, ‘May I come and see you?’ and I said ‘my house is open to all Nigerians of goodwill and even non-Nigerians of goodwill. And I said, he can come’,” Mr. Obasanjo said.
“I have said to my brother that I wish him well with the dying baby they have put on his laps because PDP is comatose and he was of course not in PDP, he has never been in PDP until now. When I was in PDP, I tried and encouraged him to come and join PDP, but he did not come, but the PDP they have given him now is a dying PDP, a dying baby, it needs to be in intensive care, otherwise, he will just be an undertaker,” Mr. Obasanjo said.
Speaking further, the former president said he had not rescinded his decision to renounce partisan politics.
“Let me make it absolutely clear once and again, I have renounced partisan politics, I don’t belong to any political party, not to talk of his own faction of PDP or any other faction of PDP. But he came and I am very very happy to receive him and I said ‘look, for my own education, for my own knowledge, tell me what exactly is happening’, and he briefed me,” he said.
“And, as they all want to say now, ‘well, you were once the father of PDP’, I was once the leader, for eight years, I was the leader of PDP but the PDP that I was the leader of is not the PDP of today. The PDP of today, if you can talk of a party again as PDP, its soul has been taken out of it and those who allowed that to happen are, unfortunately, either in the country or out of the country unperturbed about the fate of the party and indeed the fate of the country.”
The former president said for democracy to thrive in the country there must be strong political party as opposition.
“For our democracy to thrive we need strong political party in government and strong political party in opposition. Today, PDP cannot claim to be a strong party in opposition, I don’t know if APC can claim, at the national level, to be a strong party in government either. Now that is part of the misfortune of this country today.
“That being the case, it must be the concern of all Nigerians that the present democratic dispensation must not be allowed to be derailed and for it not to be derailed, we must have a strong political party in government and a strong political party in opposition’.
“When they talk about institution, a political party is an institution and in a democracy, it is a very important institution that we must all nourish and we must all cherish’.
“But like I said, it is the responsibility of all Nigerians of goodwill and all friends of Nigeria that wish this country well that we should ensure that the institution that will underpin a virile, dynamic, thriving democracy are put in place,” he said.
In his own remarks, Mr. Sheriff said he called on Mr. Obasanjo to help solve a problem within the crisis-ridden party.
“Baba has spoken everything, Baba said the PDP given to me is a dying PDP, he built the PDP that everybody cherished; Baba, whether today in politics or outside politics, he has a role in Nigeria nation and every one of us that is looking up to him,” Mr. Sheriff said.
“If we have a problem, we must come to him for solution, therefore, since we are looking for solution whether he is inside, he has said he’s not going to play any partisan politics, we agree but he is our father, father of the Nigeria nation and the grandfather of PDP, therefore, the soul that has gone, he has to bring it back to us and through his advice, we will get through.
“You know, Baba is very correct, so many things have gone wrong and it will be alright Insha Allah. Making it right is a matter of concentration and talking to the right people.
“Baba told you already, Nigeria needs a strong party in government and outside government and he also told you that both are needed for democracy to survive, he keeps saying this as a practical experience as a two-time president of Nigeria, every wisdom that we want to lead our party, he has it and that is why we come to consult him,” Mr. Sheriff told journalists.