James Sowole in Abeokuta
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Saturday declared that nothing can bring him back to partisan politics which he quit some years ago, when he tored his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) membership card in his house at Abeokuta, Ogun State.
Obasanjo stated this at his Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL), when he hosted the National Working Committee ,(NWC) of the PDP, led by the Chairman and former Senate President, Iyorchia Ayu.
Ayu also had in the delegation, the National Secretary, Senator Sam Anyanwun, the Deputy National Chairman, South and former Deputy Governor of Oyo State, Mr Taofeek Arapaja, and the PDP Vice Presidential Candidate in the 2019 Election, Dr Peter Obi.
The PDP National Chairman, was also accompanied by former Governors of Ondo, Jigawa, Cross River, Dr Olusegun Mimiko, Sule Lamido, Donald Duke and Liyel Imoke respectively.
The former president, who earlier held a closed -door meeting with the PDP National officers, emphatically told his guest to bear in mind that he was no longer in partisan politics.
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, was enormous, prayed that he would be able to carry it.
“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’.
“Iyorcha, 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 welfare of the people, I must not retire from the welfare and well being of people whether in my own community, in my own 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 own 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 distinctingly give it in the best interest of Nigeria and in the best interest of Africa, Obasanjo stated.
Responding to the challenge thrown at him, Ayu commended Obasanjo, for what he did when he was Nigeria’s president.
Ayu said, “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 totally set free, Direct Foreign Investment was on the increase on a daily basis , we were respected in international community, every where we went.
“I remember I accompanied you as your minister to a number of countries ,Germany , Indian , I saw the respect they accorded you in Indian and I was very proud to be a Nigerian .
“Today , unfortunately , we don’t have the same recognition because what we have has fell short of leadership that Nigeria deserves .
“Apart from Infrastructural intervention which you did, most of the institutions , some of them are today useful… like EFCC , the ICPC and so on and so forth you actually put it in place .
“I remember when you took some of us to Germany to the offices or the Transparent 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 to 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.
“It is our prayer that you will continue to try and support us . 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 Nigerian leader or Yoruba leader or an Owu Chief.
“Years ago you told me that you will do everything to make Nigeria one because you feel diminished if they say you come from Oduduwa Republic instead of Nigeria. That talk stuck to my head that all of us have a responsibility to keep this country United and take it to be the biggest country in Africa and the world .
“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 life you will remain the emeritus member of the PDP.
“You cannot build a house and leave it to collapse . You throw a challenge to me that if I have been there from the beginning why have I not done anything , may be I was doing something but it was not good enough , we will continue to contribute our own quota , we will continue to come to you. So, I want to plead with you, please , don’t be tired of us as we come knocking asking for your advice asking for wisdom because the words of elders is the word of wisdom and there is no leader here in this country than president Olusegun Obasanjo . we appreciate you …. we will do everything to rebuild this country .
“We found the PDP to fight dictatorship, Sule Lamido is here, he fought for it ,Abubakar Rimi is late , these are the two people that went to prison to fight this battle .
“We want to assure you that the new leadership of the PDP with the rest of PDP family will do everything possible ward to ward , local government by local government across the country to restore lost glory of Nigeria which your era was a shinning example because anytime we talked about the history of the PDP, there is no way we talk about the PDP without mentioning between 1999 and 2007. We thank you very much for your contributions to be a statesman which is the correct thing you are doing.”