Former president blames Kashamu for his decision.
The crisis ravaging the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, is showing no sign of abating as arguably the most powerful personality in the history of the party, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, has informed the party that he is withdrawing from all its activities, The Tribune newspaper is reporting.
In a letter dated January 7, 2014, and addressed to the party’s Chairman, Bamanga Tukur, Mr. Obasanjo said he was withdrawing his activity with the PDP at local, state, zonal and national levels unless the PDP’s South West Zonal leader, Buruji Kashamu, whom he described as “a wanted habitual criminal” was replaced.
Distaste for Kashamu
Mr. Obasanjo had expressed contempt for the relationship between Mr. Kashamu and President Goodluck Jonathan in his controversial letter to the president.
In the letter, the ex-president described Mr. Kashamu as a drug dealer wanted in the United States for drug related offences. Mr. Kashamu in return called the former president an ingrate, claiming that he helped Mr. Obasanjo to take over the party’s leadership in the state.
“I have personally been involved with Obasanjo during the brief period before the 2011 elections when he relied on the successful activities of Prince Kashamu to take over the PDP structure in Ogun State and foist his candidates on the Party,” Mr. Kashamu’s lawyer, Ajibola Oluyede, said in a letter addressed to Mr. Jonathan.
In his own letter, to the President, Mr. Obasanjo said he personally found the South West PDP’s celebration of Mr. Kashamu, who is a major financier of the party, unsavoury.
“Politics played by any national political party must have morality, decency, discipline, principles and leadership examples as cardinal practices of the party,” he said. “I have attached here recent documents that clearly indicates that you extolled PDP Zonal leader in the South West of Nigeria and an indigene of Ogun State, who is, to say the least, not a credit to the party as a member let alone being a zonal leader.
Mr. Obasanjo, who is a native of Ogun State, added: “While I believe that a good and truly national political party must be a microcosm of the nation in its membership, made up of all sorts of characters from near-saints to near-satan, I also believe that on no account should a known habitual criminal that is wanted abroad to face criminal charges levelled against him be extolled as a political leader in a respectable and wholesome nation-building political party.”
Mr. Obasanjo also stated that he could not stand a criminal being installed as the party zonal leader.
“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.”
Possible APC move
Mr. Obasanjo’s suspension of his activity in the PDP becomes more interesting in the wake of recent rumours that the former president is contemplating joining the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC.
In December, leaders of the APC visited Mr. Obasanjo in his country home in Abeokuta.
“You are at home and you are welcome to be at home. As time goes on, I will just appeal that the politics that will be played should be politics without rancour, without bitterness; politics with decency that has Nigerians at heart,” Mr. Obasanjo was quoted as saying during the visit.