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Sunday, 4 September 2016

Sustaining Democracy: Obasanjo Berates PDP

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has called for strong parties both in power as well as in opposition.
Chief Obasanjo says the PDP is currently too weak to play an effective role as an opposition party.

The former leader also flayed the government of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, for not being strong enough as a ruling party.

He stated this yesterday while playing host to the ousted chairman of the PDP, Senator Alimodu Sheriff, at his residence in Abeokuta.

Sheriff who arrived the home of the former President at 11:04am in a convoy of four cars went straight into the inner chambers of the mansion and did not come out until 12:10 in the afternoon.

When the duo finally emerged to address journalists who had been laying siege on the residence since 8am, Obasanjo insisted that PDP was a party in intensive care unit and wondered why Sheriff had decided to be the undertaker.

The former President reiterated his earlier position that he had renounced partisan politics. He said, “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.

“But he came and I am very happy to receive him and I said look, for my own education, for my own knowledge, tell me what exactly is happening, and he briefed me. And, as they all want to say now, ‘well, you were once the father of PDP.’ 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.”

Obasanjo maintained that for democracy to thrive, Nigeria needs both a strong government at the center and a strong opposition party. “For our democracy to thrive we need strong political party in government and strong political party in opposition, for democracy to be strong and dynamic. Today, PDP cannot 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,” Obasanjo stated.

He, however, called on all Nigerians not to allow the present democratic dispensation to derail on account of weak political parties. “That being the case, it must be the concern of all Nigerians that the present democratic dispensation must not be allowed to be derail and for it not to be derailed, we must have a strong political party in government and a strong political party in opposition.

Obasanjo , who emphasized the importance of political parties as vital institutions urged all Nigerians to nourish the institution adding that, “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.

The former president revealed that he had tried to bring Sheriff into the PDP when the party was alive saying, “ but he did not come, but the PDP they have given him now is a dying PDP, a dying baby, it needs to be in intensive care, otherwise, he will just be an undertaker.”

In his remarks, Senator Alimodu Sheriff said he was in Abeokuta to seek counsel from Obasanjo whom he described as the grandfather of PDP. He said, “Since we are looking for solution whether he is inside, he has said he’s not going to play any partisan politics, we agree but he is our father, father of the Nigeria nation and the grandfather of PDP, therefore, the soul that has gone, he has to bring it back to us and through his advice, we will get through.”

On steps necessary to revitalize the party, Sheriff  said, “Nigeria needs a strong party in government and outside government and he (Obasanjo) also told you that both are needed for democrac 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.”

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