Nigeria’s former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Thursday left the country for Gambia in a bid to escape a pre-planned peace meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan and the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
It was reliably gathered that as part of the President’s visit to Ogun State on Friday, Jonathan and the leadership of the PDP had planned to meet with the former President.
It was, however, learnt that the former president, who had got wind of the peace move, travelled to Gambia on Thursday.
It was not clear whether the ex-President had plans to attend the Gambia event before Jonathan’s visit.
Investigations revealed that Obasanjo would have been part of the closed-door meeting Jonathan had with some Ogun State traditional rulers on Friday, but for his absence from the country.
An aide of the former president, who pleaded anonymity because Obasanjo did not mandate him to speak on the issue, explained his (Obasanjo’s) main grouse with Jonathan.
He said that the major problem the former president had with Jonathan and the PDP was the promotion of a chieftain of the party, Mr. Buruji Kashamu.
“I can tell you authoritatively that Baba’s (Obasanjo) problem with the President and the PDP is the promotion of Kashamu,” he said.
The aide recalled that Obasanjo had in 2014 written a letter to the then PDP Chairman, Dr. Bamanga Tukur, complaining about Kashamu’s membership of the party.
In the letter dated 7 January, 2014, Obasanjo said he would, temporarily, cease to be a member of the party by withdrawing from its activities because Kahamu had been extolled as a party leader.
“I will consider withdrawing my activity with PDP at local, state, zonal and national levels until the anomalous and shameful situation is corrected,” he had said.
The aide said rather than address Obasanjo’s complaint, the PDP had appointed Kashamu the Chairman of its Mobilisation Committee in the South-West.
Kashamu has also won the PDP senatorial ticket for the Ogun-East Senatorial District.
Obasanjo had on Monday dumped the PDP and directed the party Chairman in Ward 11, Abeokuta North, Mr. Usman Oladunjoye, to tear his membership card.
The Jigawa State Governor, Sule Lamido and the PDP National Chairman, Adamu Mu’azu, had on Wednesday met in Abuja as part of efforts to convince Obasanjo to return to the ruling party.
Another Presidential staff, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, stated that the former President because of his annoyance with President Jonathan, deliberately decided to travel out of Abeokuta to avoid meeting him on Friday.
He said the former Chairman of BoT was aware of the official assignment of the President in his state but chose to travel.
“You can see that he deliberately avoided the President, who he even almost single-handedly made President. That’s not good enough,” he added.
The National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr. Olisa Metuh said the party had not foreclosed reconciliation with the former President.
Metuh told our correspondent that the party would find a way of appeasing him.
Metuh said, “The former President remains a revered member of our party; he is a statesman who led our party to two victories consecutively.
“Because of our respect for him having being the chairman of our BoT and a former President, we won’t allow him leave us like that.
“We agree with Lamido that we should not allow him leave like that. We will do everything within our power to bring him back.
“We still believe that he would work for our Presidential candidate and all other candidates of the party during the forthcoming elections.”
Asked how the party would go about it, Metuh merely said that “we would do everything within our democratic rights to being Baba back to the PDP.”
Also speaking on the issue, a former spokesperson for the party, who was also a former Minister of Environment, Mr. John Odeyemi, said the party has a mechanism through which he said it revolves its crises.
“We would resolve the matter in our own way, because the party has a mechanism through which it resolves its crises and settles such matters,” he added.
Via Sunday Punch