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Obasanjo: Why PDP cannot pretend over this loss

Few days into the month, the former president, who was seen as enjoying an excellent relationship with the party and its leader, President Goodluck Jonathan,…

Few days into the month, the former president, who was seen as enjoying an excellent relationship with the party and its leader, President Goodluck Jonathan, quickly took an action that would detach him from being a mainstream party man to an independent member of the party.
Obasanjo without any apparent provocation had resigned his chairmanship of the Board of Trustees (BOT) of the PDP, explaining that his action was more as a result of other commitment as a statesman than due to any issue within the party.
Though many sensed that something had to be amiss for Obasanjo – who had gone out of his way to bend the rules to pave way for his emergence into that position – to quit willingly, nobody was able to place a finger on what it was exactly that made the former president to resort to that line of action.
This was more so as the BOT chairmanship is not a full time job that requires his constant presence to the extent that it can distract him from whatever other engagements he may have had.
It was however not until January 2014, close to two years after, that the logic of the action was established with the formal withdrawal of the former president from the PDP.
Obasanjo had in that month written to the then national chairman of the party, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, to express his dismay with the way the party’s affairs was being run, saying he would temporarily cease to be a member of the party by withdrawing from its activities.
Putting two and two together, many concluded that the former president, known for his love for suspense, may might taken the earlier action as a prelude to what he would do subsequently to register his disagreement with the party.
At that time, there was no known issue between the former president and the leaders of the party, but the timing was ominous as a few weeks to his withdrawal, five state governors – Aliyu Wamakko of Sokoto, Abdulfatai Ahmed of Kwara, Murtala Nyako of Adamawa, Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers and Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso of Kano – had renounced their membership of the party and defected to the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC).
The PDP then quickly rallied round and tried to pacify the former president, appealing to him to stay while it looked into the issues he raised even as the APC seeing a big opportunity to boost its burgeoning camp, invited the former president to join its fold.
But Obasanjo refrained from further doing damage to the PDP by not defecting to the APC.
His major grouse then was that PDP chieftain, Buruji Kasamu, who had become irreverent towards him, had been allowed to take charge of the PDP in the South-West zone of the country.
Obasanjo said this was wrong as Kasamu was under investigation for certain alleged misdemeanour allegedly committed outside the shores of the country.
When yesterday, the former president finally kissed the PDP goodbye and tore his membership card in full public glare to drive  home the point, it was obvious that the action was not spontaneous but one that may have been long decided, even though this time it would appear he has been pushed to the limit.
Prior to his dramatic action on Monday, it was obvious that there was no love lost between the former president and the PDP going by the exchanges between them few days before.
Obasanjo had, in his usual manner, criticised the president for postponement of the general elections, saying it is a bid by the president to win the election by hook or crook.
To add insult to injury, Obasanjo compared President Jonathan with former president Laurent Gbagbo of Cote d’Ivoire and deduced the actions being taken by President Jonathan with regards to the elections as similar to that taken by Gbagbo, who he said shifted his country’s elections because he wasn’t sure of winning and refused to hand over when he lost.
The president’s camp, in an unusual haste, replied Obasanjo directly, saying he was being sore because he wants to be made the head of a speculated interim national government.
More than that, the PDP it was learnt was planning to ridicule the former president by suspending him from the party which according to sources led to the action Obasanjo took to deny the party the chance to rubbish him.
The former president said he is ready to sacrifice his membership of the PDP in order to save Nigeria.
“If this is why we cannot have the Nigeria we desire, I am no longer part of this,” he said.
The action definitely has dealt a devastating blow to the PDP which is not only on the threshold of an election but is doing all it can to woo more members to its fold.
Within the past one month, the PDP has suffered serious depletion in its ranks, threatening its behemoth stature on the Nigerian political landscape.
Many politicians from different parts of the country have called it quits with the party and have gone to identify with the opposition APC.
The defection has so affected the PDP that it has slipped from being the majority to the minority party in the House of Representatives.
The PDP also lost a sitting deputy governor, with about three others giving clear signals that they are no longer with the party.
Prior to that, the PDP had lost the speakership of the House of Representatives with the defection of Speaker Aminu Waziri Tambuwal to the APC.
Initially, the PDP pretended the gale of defections did not matter to it and pushed forward some lines that it is eqaully winning members too.
But lately, the PDP has began to own up that it is worried by the wave of defections. Senate President David Mark recently commended the deputy governor of Benue State, Steve Lawani, and his opponent for the PDP ticket for the Senate, Mike Onoja, for not defecting to the APC.
The much Obasanjo weighs both within and outside the country is not one that can be dismissed with a wave of the hand as his support or otherwise of any individual or party means quite much.
The PDP government which has been on the receiving end from international observers would definitely suffer a great deal from the loss of the support of Obasanjo.
Last week alone, Obasanjo was guest at no less than two international fora where he expressed his views on the current administration.
At home, his leaving the PDP will come as a boost to the rival APC even if Obasanjo does not formally declare for the party as it is clear that the obvious and immediate beneficiary of the rift between the PDP and the former president would be the APC, which will appropriate any comment against the ruling party as endorsement of the need for the change it has been clamouring for.
It is not immediately clear which of the many acolytes of Obasanjo that are in the PDP would toe a similar path by dumping the party, but there are reasons to believe that the action taken by the former president would whittle down the enthusiasm his associates like Governor Sule Lamido of Jigawa and others are likely to show for the party.
This is not to talk of the several number of voters Obasanjo has direct influence on. The PDP clearly cannot pretend on this one, it will suffer from the Obasanjo loss.

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