Loyalists of former President Olusegun Obasanjo in the Peoples Democratic Party have dumped the ruling party for the All Progressives Congress.
On Wednesday the former President’s supporters, particularly those in the South-West, left the PDP because they felt that they had been sidelined.
It was learnt that the former president’s loyalists would have left the PDP early this year, but they were prevailed upon by Obasanjo to remain in the party after the visit of the PDP National Chairman, Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu, to him in Abeokuta on January 26, 2014.
A member of the PDP National Working Committee, who confided in one of our correspondents, said that the party was aware that the former president’s loyalists had left the party.
The national officer, who is sympathetic to the group, stated, “I am aware that their grouse is mainly that they have been sidelined. All the points raised by Obasanjo in his letter to the former PDP chairman, Dr. Bamanga Tukur, have not been addressed.
“We continue to behave as if we do not want the old man and his supporters in the party. Mu’azu promised to address those points when he visited Baba (Obasanjo) in January, but nothing has been done.”
Obasanjo had, in a letter to Tukur dated January 7, 2014, alleged that the PDP was negating the principles of morality, decency and discipline in its decisions, especially as they affected the South-West.
Part of the letter read, “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. Kashamu Buruji has been so extolled in PDP in South-West geo-political zone, which I personally find unsavoury. Politics played by any national political party must have morality, decency, discipline, principles and leadership examples as cardinal practices of the party. I have attached here recent documents that clearly indicate that your extolled PDP Leader in the South-West zone of Nigeria and an indigene of Ogun State is, to say the least, not a credit to the party as a member, let alone being a zonal leader.”
But Tukur, in his response, said that Kashamu enjoyed the party’s support because of the role he (Kashamu) played in strengthening the PDP in the South-West. Kasamu had also described Obasanjo’s letter as a “cocktail of lies.’’
The crisis in the South-West PDP worsened in early 2013 when Tukur dissolved the party executive in Ogun State led by Senator Dipo Odujirin, a loyalist of Obasanjo.
Tukur also removed the party’s National Secretary, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, and the National Auditor, Chief Bode Mustapha, who are staunch supporters of the former President.
When contacted, Mustapha told Saturday PUNCH on the telephone that he and his supporters had defected to the APC.
He stated, “I cannot continue to remain in a party where injustice is the order of the day; where the leader of the party does not deem it right to address the injustice that was meted out to me; where a person, who did not contest an office, is today occupying the office. They think it is the norm.
“It only smacks of one thing: that I am not wanted in the party; that I am seen as somebody who has no value in the party. Whether I have value or not, we shall see at the polls.
“I left the party on my own free will. Baba Obasanjo is my Baba (father). At the same time, at 64, if I don’t know where I am going, I should know where I am coming from. I should know when to appreciate that I am not wanted in an environment.
“Let neophytes continue to tell lies to Mr. President. I wish all of them well, but if they are planning to rig, I want to tell them that they can only rig where they are popular.”
But the PDP Chairman in Ogun State, Chief Bayo Dayo, dismissed Mustapha’s threat, saying the former national chairman had no political value.
He said, “Bode Mustapha has no value. If he has any value, tell him to go and give it to the APC. I can tell you that he cannot even win his ward.”
Dayo said despite Mustapha’s defection, members of other political parties had been joining the PDP.
According to him, the PDP cannot force anybody to remain in the party.
He declined to comment on Obasanjo’s letter. “What I can tell you is that the PDP is one in Ogun State and Baba Obasanjo is our father.”
When contacted, a former governor of Ekiti State, Mr. Segun Oni, who is also a loyalist of Obasanjo, declined to comment on the issue. He said that he would talk to the media at the appropriate time.
Oni said, “I don’t want to talk now. I will talk maybe next week. Definitely it won’t be long but I will talk.”
But a source within the APC said the opposition party was wooing Oni and a former secretary of the PDP in the South-West, Chief Ropo Adesanya.
Adesanya confirmed that politicians from the APC had been talking to him to join the party.
He said, “As politicians, you have to stretch out your nets to catch more people because democracy is a game of number. I capitalised on a minor cabinet reshuffle by Otunba Niyi Adebayo when he was the governor and some of his cabinet members were lured to the PDP.”
Efforts to get the party National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisah Metuh, to comment on the issue did not succeed as his mobile telephone indicated that it was switched off. He did not respond to an SMS sent to him.
But Metuh’s deputy, Abduallhi Jalo, said that the letter written by Obasanjo to Tukur was still being looked into.
He stated, “As a party we have the utmost respect for him. It is not everything that we want to discuss on the pages of newspapers. All I can tell you now is that the matter is being treated internally. It is a party affair.”
Jalo dismissed the defection of Mustapha, adding that the party could only worry if Obasanjo leaves the PDP.
The PDP deputy national publicity secretary said, “Some people just do and say things that will draw attention to themselves not that they have what it takes. If it were someone like our respected leader, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, that you say is leaving–God forbid– then you can say there is a cause for worry.”
He said that Mustapha does not have the political clout to cause problems for the PDP in the South-West.
Jalo also said that the party was still deliberating on Oyinlola’s case, adding that the party respects the former national secretary.
“The party has a secretary and the case of the Oyinlola is still being deliberated upon by the relevant organs of the party. The matter will be resolved sooner than later,” he stated.