· No, it’s not dying; we remain strong, virile, party says
Former president of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, has denied reports by a section of the media (not Nigerian Tribune) that he attended a meeting of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Abuja, on Friday, noting that he quit partisan politics in February 2015 and anyone who tried to drag him back would fail.
Obasanjo, in a statement by his media aide, Kehinde Akinyemi, described the reports as “irresponsible journalism,” noting that if he quit a party when it was alive, how could he return to the party, which he said “is gasping for breath.”
But the Publicity Secretary of the PDP’s National Caretaker Committee, Prince Adedayo Adeyeye, has noted that though the reports that linked the former president to his party’s events were shocking, because he was not at the party’s event, it was incorrect to describe the PDP as a dying party.
The former president was reported to have been “spotted” at the Shehu Miss Yar’Adua Centre in Abuja, venue of a meeting of the PDP.
But former president said he was embarrassed by the report and that any one hoping to drag him back to the PDP would “fail like any man feeding mice to a dead cat.”
“Those who know me know that I have publicly announced my quitting partisan politics, and those who will believe the purported story will believe anybody who says that his or her mother is not a woman. If I quit a party when it was alive and seemingly united, how could I go back to a now divided, factionalised party gasping for breath?” Obasanjo queried.
He added that he was at the centre on the invitation of the Commodities Association Stakeholders.
“His Excellency was invited to the “Zero Hunger Nigeria” event at the Centre. He arrived at about 10.00am and immediately moved to the meeting. The meeting commenced but a few minutes into the session, his attention was drawn to the presence of some people walking up to where he was seated. At a closer glance, he recognised them to be politicians and they exchanged pleasantries, saying they came to greet him and they walked out again from the meeting,” he said.
“The former President cracked joke with them calling them “invaders and gate crashers”.
“The programme ended and immediately he and his entourage headed back to Lagos. He was barely hours in Lagos when he started receiving calls from both far and near, wanting to find out about his presence at a political party programme in Abuja,” the statement said.
Meanwhile, Prince Adeyeye, who reacted in a telephone interview, explained that “the Yar’Adua event centre has a lot of auditoriums and Chief Obasanjo was at another event at the centre and never came to the PDP event, neither did we notice that he answered questions as regards the PDP event, which he wasn’t even part of.”
On the contention that PDP was “a dying party”, Adeyeye said “while I don’t think Chief Obasanjo answered them any question, I want to state that PDP is not a dying party because of the calibre of people who are still struggling for PDP.”
According to him, “that a lot of credible and notable Nigerians are jostling to lead the PDP shows clearly that the party is very viable. People regard the party as very strong, virile and one that has a strong potential to regain power in this country. That is why there is a lot of contention for it. How can it be a dying party when there are lots of Nigerians who are angling to be part of the party’s move to return to winning ways?”
He said “our recent challenges show that PDP is still very strong and the array of people who have been showing up and displaying active interest in all our events point to this fact. So, we must not elevate mischief or ignorance or both in anything that we do.”