By Daud Olatunji
FORMER President Olusegun Obasanjo, yesterday, explained why he preferred to be active only at the ward level of his party even as he said he bears no grudge against anyone.
Obasanjo, a former Chairman Board of Trustees of the PDP was reacting to pleas made to him by National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Adamu Muazu, Senate president, David Mark and former governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, last Wednesday in Abuja where they all begged the former president for forgiveness and asked him to come back to the party.
In a statement issued to newsmen in Abeokuta, Obasanjo, however, said it was wrong for the party leaders to be inviting him back to the PDP, describing it as a great misrepresentation, adding that he had never left PDP and will never leave PDP.
He said his being passive in the party was based on “principle, morality, honour, integrity, commitment and character which are paramount.”
Obasanjo said, “Last week when I was in South Africa as the chairman of AU Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan and while with my fellow commissioners, we were deliberating on how to help that new country out of its problem of security and violence, I received avalanche of news and cacophony of appeals and pleadings from some quarters of PDP leadership.
Cacophony of appeals
“There are misunderstandings and misrepresentations which some of those appeals and pleas manifested; hence this explanation from me. Talking of inviting me back to PDP is wrong and it is a great misrepresentation as I have never left PDP and I will never leave PDP. I have said it before and I will say it again, I rose to become the President of Nigeria on the platform of PDP and for that reason alone, I will remain a card-carrying and ward-active member of PDP for as long as I have to be a political party member.
“Secondly, nobody has personally offended me as a result of my membership of PDP. If, however, anybody or group feels offended by my continued membership, I will offer an unreserved apology but continue to remain in the Party. I have had occasions to say to the President, the Senate president and the Party chairman separately that I have no quarrel with any individual or group in the Party. There are, for me, issues of principle, morality, honour, integrity, commitment and character which are paramount.
“For instance, as a former President of Nigeria, the chairman of West Africa Commission on Drug and a member of Global Commission on Drug, I cannot accept that the zonal leader of my political party and, worse still in my zone, will be an indicted drug baron wanted in America.]
How do I explain that to friends outside Nigeria? This is only one of the many issues that I have pointed and still pointing out. I have national and international standard to maintain and reputation to keep and sustain. For these reasons, I opted to remain active only at the ward level of the Party till the leadership does the needful. But under no condition will my commitment to Nigeria be diminished.
“And, for me, it is commitment to Nigeria first and any other commitment can only follow in second or third place. Where any other commitment is in tandem with what I see and understand as commitment to Nigeria, such other commitment will share a pride of place with Nigeria.
I must hasten to thank the President, the Senate president and the Chairman of PDP with whom, at their instances, these issues have been discussed and laid to rest. My interest and commitment to Nigeria go beyond partisan politics.
“Today, Nigeria needs all hands on deck to deal with our pressing problems of security including the issue of Chibok girls, widening inequality, infrastructure, impunity, corruption, poverty and youth education, skill-acquisition, empowerment and employment. These are issues of concern to most Nigerians. We all need to join hands to move Nigeria forward. I don’t need to be begged for that.
“Rather, I beg and appeal to those who are begging me to realize that we must put Nigeria’s interest above politics – party or personal – otherwise, we will all be judged at the bar of history if not the bar of current affairs. In addition, we must preserve, sustain and deepen democracy and democratic practices.”