•Meets Sheriff closed-door •Fayose reacts •As INEC recommends end to PDP crisis
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, on Saturday, said the country needed a strong opposition party and a strong political party at the centre for the its democracy to survive.
Obasanjo said this while addressing newsmen shortly after he had a closed door meeting with the factional chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, who paid him a visit at his Presidential Hilltop Estate home, in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.
He said that the PDP as of now could not claim to be a strong opposition party, following the intractable crisis rocking it at the national level, while the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) at the national level claim not to be a strong political party either.
He explained that the PDP was handed over to Sheriff as a dying baby under intensive care, submitting that the soul of the party had been taken away, while describing a political party as an important institution that must be nourished and cherished.
Obasanjo explained that the present democratic dispensation must not be allowed to derail, insisting that only a strong opposition party and strong party at the helm of affairs would sustain it.
The former president said, “He called me yesterday (Friday) and asked where I was and I told him I was in the country. He asked if he could come and see me and I told him that my house is open to all Nigerians of goodwill and even non-Nigerians.
“Let me make it absolutely clear once and again, I have renounced partisan politics. I don’t belong to any political party, not to talk of his own faction of PDP or any other faction of PDP. He came and I am very very happy to receive him.
“I asked him to brief me for my own education and knowledge on what is happening and he did.
“I was once the leader, for eight years. I was the leader of PDP but the PDP that I was the leader of is not the PDP of today. The PDP of today, if you can talk of a party again as PDP, its soul has been taken out of it and those who allowed that to happen are, unfortunately, either in the country or out of the country unperturbed about the fate of the party and indeed the fate of the country.
“For our democracy to thrive, we need strong political party in government and strong political party in opposition, for it to be strong and dynamic.
“Today, PDP can not claim to be a strong party in opposition, I don’t know if APC can claim, at the national level, to be a strong party in government either. Now that is part of the misfortune of this country today.
“ It must be the concern of all Nigerians that the present democratic dispensation must not be allowed to be derailed and for it not to be derailed, we must have a strong political party in government and a strong political party in opposition.
“When they talk about institution, a political party is an institution and in a democracy, it is a very important institution that we must all nourish and we must all cherish.
“I have said to my brother, that I wish him well with the dying baby they have put on his laps because PDP is in comatose and he was of course not in PDP, he has never been in PDP until now.
“When I was in PDP, I tried and encouraged him to come and join PDP, but he did not come, but the PDP they have given him now is a dying PDP, a dying baby which needs to be in intensive care, otherwise, he will just be an undertaker.”
He, therefore, called on Nigerians, to ensure that political parties that would underpin a virile, dynamic, thriving democracy are put in place.
Sherrif equally admitted that the party bequeathed to him was a dying party,but explained that he was in Abeokuta to search for solutions to the challenges battling the party.
He described Obasanjo as the father of the nation, hence his resolve to seek solutions from him.
“Baba has spoken everything. He said the PDP given to me is a dying PDP, he built the PDP that everybody cherished. Baba, whether today he is in politics or outside politics has a role in Nigeria and everyone of us that is looking up to him, comes to him when we have a problem.
“He is our father, father of the Nigeria nation and the grandfather of PDP, therefore, he has to bring back the soul of the party that has gone to us and through his advice, we will get through.
“You know, Baba is very correct, so many things have gone wrong and it will be alright, Insha Allah. Making it right is a matter of concentration and talking to the right people.
“He has told you already, Nigeria needs a strong party in government and outside government and he also told you that both are needed for democracy to survive, he keeps saying this as a practical experience as a two time President of Nigeria, every wisdom that we want to lead our party, he has it and that is why we come to consult him” he said.
In another development, the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC on Saturday maintained that the crisis rocking the PDP would linger on unless its members embrace arbitration and mediation of eminent citizens and statesmen “who are neutral and command the respect of the warring factions.”
The Deputy Director in charge of Publicity in the Commission, Mr Nick Dazang stated this Abuja yesterday while reacting to the visit of Senator Sheriff to Chief Obasanjo.
According to him,”on our part we have always maintained that the best way to resolve the PDP crisis is through arbitration and mediation of eminent citizens and statesmen who are neutral and command the respect of the warring factions
“Mediation is cheaper and faster, makes for more enduring conciliation and eschews the bitterness that goes with court rulings or judgments, he stated.
Fayose berates meeting
Meanwhile, Ekiti State governor, Mr Ayodele Fayose has reacted to Senator Sheriff’s meeting to Obasanjo, saying it was a coming together of collaborators in the total annihilation of the PDP.
The governor said it was on record that both Obasanjo and Sheriff collaborated to destroy the All Nigerians Peoples Party (ANPP) and their meeting must be to further collaborate to destroy the PDP.
Governor Fayose, who reacted to the visit through his Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, said; “Sheriff can as well begin to sleep in Obasanjo’s house, it is good riddance to bad rubbish.”
The governor added: “since Obasanjo is no longer a member of the PDP and he has consistently maintained that he can never return to the PDP, only those in the same league with him can go about visiting him.”
He said it was hypocritical and deceitful for Sheriff to have said he went to see Obasanjo to seek advice on the way forward for the PDP because he (Obasanjo) was among those who made the PDP to lose the presidency, despite that no one benefited from the party more than him.
He reiterated his call to Nigerians to beware of Obasanjo, saying; “The result of Obasanjo’s imposition of President Muhammadu Buhari on the country is the hunger and sufferings that Nigerians are facing now.”