By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor, Dapo Akinrefon and Charles Kumolu
CHIEF Bode George, the preeminent leader of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in the Southwest was careful to play down the latest eruption in the party on his return to the country on Saturday night. “It is an internal affair of the party,” George said as he was accosted by journalists, weekend.
Just before he touched down after a two month holiday abroad, it emerged that former President Olusegun Obasanjo had written a letter to the national chairman of the party, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur to withdraw himself from the activities of the party on the basis of his unwillingness to associate with Chief Kashumu Buruji who he alleged to be a suspect running away from justice in the United States of America.
“Since I stick in my practice of party politics to the hallowed and cherished principles enunciated above, I take this opportunity to let you know that while I continue to remain a card-carrying member of PDP, I cannot and I will not subscribe to a wanted habitual criminal being installed as my zonal leader in the party; a criminal for whom extradition has been requested by the US government,” Obasanjo said in the letter to Tukur dated, Tuesday, January 7, 2014.
The letter follows earlier complaints by Obasanjo in an earlier letter to President Goodluck Jonathan where he pointed to Buruji as among suspicious characters who he claimed had taken position around the presidency and were now directing the affairs of state.
Buruji, a billionaire businessman burst into national consciousness shortly before the re-election of Otunba Gbenga Daniel as governor of Ogun State when the crisis between him and former President Obasanjo began to take shape. Buruji sided with Obasanjo and became an instrument through which Obasanjo supposedly took the structure of the party away from Daniel. Buruji has confessed to luring support to Obasanjo using hundreds of cars and other incentives to stakeholders.
For whatever reasons, Buruji and Obasanjo parted ways in the approach to the 2011 election and have been on opposite sides of the political equation in their native Ogun State. Buruji was allegedly instrumental to the displacement of Obasanjo’s nominees in the national executive of the party through court actions and other means. Buruji has also sided with the national chairman of the party and is known to be one of the arrow heads in the defence of Tukur’s controversial leadership of the party.
PDP leaders keep mum on feud
When contacted by Vanguard to comment on the imbroglio, former Caretaker Committee chairman of the party in the South-West, Chief Ishola Filani said “no comment.” On his part, a former Minister of Power and Steel, Elder Sola Oyelese told Vanguard on the telephone that there are no plans to dissuade the former president from carrying out his threats.
Oyelese said, “I do not think that is a big deal because already Tukur is already begging him not to withdraw his activities from the party. The chairman of the party is already pleading with him.” Also, former South-West Vice-chairman of the party, Alhaji Tajudeen Oladipo said “I have not been making public comments but at the appropriate time, I will talk.”
A former national secretary of the PDP, Chief Remi Akitoye told Vanguard that the leaders are making efforts at ensuring that Chief Obasanjo rescinds his decision.
Chief Akitoye said “the elders and leaders of the party have decided to take up the matter so that there will be peaceful resolution. People like Chief Obasanjo, Alex Ekwueme and other elders of the party should not be allowed to go. A meeting is going to hold in Abuja within the few days and all issues that will make PDP stronger, will be discussed.”
Chief Bode George on his part said: “I do not want to get into that kind of discussion because it will be a whole night of another letter. When you go to the market place to discuss your family matter, then you are gone. This is a PDP problem, we will discuss it in the PDP enclave, it is not meant for public consumption.”
“We will do the analysis and find out where we went wrong, what happened, how it happened and how we can prevent it from happening in the future. That is the way I was trained. But if it was against the opposition, I will say it in the open.”