Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Nigeria: Ex-president quits ruling party ahead of polls

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday announced that he was quitting his party, the PDP as well as partisan politics but would remain a statesman. In a move to save the face of PDP, the Ogun State chapter of the party, expelled him moments after he announced his resignation from the party that made him President of Nigeria at a time he got out of jail allegedly broke and broken.
The decision to expel him may not be unconnected with his action yesterday, when he tore his PDP membership card during a meeting with the leadership of the party in his Ward 11 Abeokuta North Local Government Area.
Obasanjo spoke with newsmen after the meeting with his Ward leaders at his Hilltop Mansion, saying he already had the hint that the party would expel him.
He however said he was not perturbed, having been trying to distance himself from the party and its leadership.
He told reporters, “They said they want to expel me from PDP. Although I have not been told but I have my ears on ground.
“We’ve been trying to run away from a man but he pleads we wait for him at the other side of the river.”
Obasanjo said he would prefer to remain a statesman rather than joining another political party but will be available to work with anybody without political affiliation.
“I have told you before that I became president on the platform of PDP. Once I leave the PDP, I will not join any party.
“I will only be a Nigerian. I am ready to work with anybody regardless of political affiliation.
“Why would some people say they want to send me away? They don’t need to bother themselves.
“Here’s your membership card, take it.
“From today on, in the presence of all of us and with your support, I am not going to be in any political party in Nigeria.
“I am no more a politician but a statesman both internally and externally. The issue that they want to expel me from the party for, once you people are with me what other people am I looking for?
Meanwhile, the Nigerian military has come down hard on the former President, saying his conduct and unguarded utterances have fallen short of the standard of discipline expected of a General.
According to Military High Command, his recent negative comments about the military are far from being “noble”.
While positing that his motive “as usual remains unknown, but it is certainly less than noble or well intentioned”, the Defence Headquarters added that “We dare say again that Chief Obasanjo’s assertions are false.”
In a statement yesterday, the Director of Defence Information, Major General Chris Olukolade, asserted that the former military leader was only playing to the gallery or indulging in politicization of serious national security affairs.
The statement reads in full:
“The Defence Headquarters has noted the remarks of a former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo as reported in the media stating his views on perceived state of the armed forces and the roles being allegedly played by the military in the nation’s political process in recent times.
“The leadership and cross section of the military believes that the former President and retired General has every right to be interested in the actions and fate of the military. Hence, his views like many others will continue to be accorded the well-deserved attention. It is however noteworthy that most of his utterances lately indicate an attitude of playing to the gallery or indulging in politicization of serious national security or military affairs.”
“For instance, the comments credited to Chief Obasanjo alleging that the postponement of the General Elections was to enable President Jonathan to use the Service Chiefs to plot a tenure extension is to say the least, very surprising. It is surprising indeed, considering the fact that the retired General chose to ignore the clarification and emphatic assurances of non-partisanship of the military as declared in a DHQ statement on the position of the Armed Forces in the ongoing political activities. His motive as usual remains unknown but it is certainly less than noble or well intentioned. We dare say again that Chief Obasanjo’s assertions are false, the statement said.


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