Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has rebuffed repeated pleas from concerned member of the Peoples Democratic Party to help revive the party following its defeat in the March 28 presidential election.
President Goodluck Jonathan, who flew the PDP flag in the March 28 election, lost to his All Progressives Congress challenger, Muhammadu Buhari, a former military head of state.
The party, which has ruled Nigeria since the return of democracy 16 years ago, also lost its majority status in the National Assembly just as it won a fewer number of states unlike in the past election.
With the defeat, the ruling party will now take on the opposition role as from May 29 when Mr. Jonathan hands over power to Mr. Buhari.
Since the defeat, the party’s senior members have been bickering with one another with some demanding the exit of its National Chairman, Adamu Mu’azu and other officers, who are accused of working against the party during the election.
Concerned about the future of the party, some of its leaders have been reaching out to Mr. Obasanjo to return to the party and help build it ahead of future elections.
The former president had in February directed a fellow PDP member and ward leader to openly tear his party membership card at a forum in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.
PREMIUM TIMES gathered that among those persuading him to return to lead the party were serving governors and federal lawmakers who believed the party should play viable opposition in the next dispensation.
Mr. Obasanjo’s close allies said the anxious party men have been pressuring the former leader, who was the first elected president on the party’s platform, by either visiting him or through telephone calls.
This newspaper learnt that the former president, who was also the PDP leader and Chairman of its Board of Trustees, has repeatedly rebuffed the request to return to the party.
Sources close to him said at some point he told those mounting pressure on him that rather than returning to the party he would encourage viable opposition from other standpoints.
“I’m done with party politics here on earth and in heaven. Period,” Mr. Obasanjo was overheard telling a PDP chieftain who telephoned him recently to raise the matter.
Mr. Obasanjo was also said to have told some people pressuring him that he could have considered returning to the party had his membership card not been publicly thorn before the general elections.
He was quoted as saying his membership card has been shredded and that “as it is now, a goat has eaten up the pieces”.
Mr. Obasanjo confirmed to PREMIUM TIMES in a telephone interview that he has been under pressure to return to the PDP but vowed not to do so.
“I’m not ready to discuss partisan politics because I’m done with it,” he said.
After a meeting with Mr. Jonathan sometime in February, the outgoing governor of Jigawa State, Sule Lamido, had assured that the PDP would beg Mr. Obasanjo to return to the party.
“When a father is angry with his children, the children should beg him. Baba is more than a party man. He is an icon, a national symbol and a leader and inventor, a creator of all the institutions today in Nigeria from the president to the governors, who are his own sons, are all his creations.”
“And so when a father is angry with his children, we will only say we are sorry to him. But then, we cannot be renounced for whatever it is…….We might have made some mistakes, but abandoning us is not the solution because the country is first before anything else. So, he is our Baba even up to the president.”
But Mr. Obasanjo told PREMIUM TIMES he has foreclosed any possibility of returning to the PDP.
“I agree that Nigeria needs a strong and viable opposition and I will continue to encourage that,” the former President said. “I will continue to do that even without belonging to a political party. I have moved beyond party politics.”
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