The ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, is as weak as the opposition People’s Democratic Party, PDP, former Nigerian President Mr. Olusegun Obasanjo, known for his frank talk, said on Saturday, warning that failure to have a strong party in government and a strong party in opposition could derail democracy in Africa’s most populous country.
“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. That is part of the misfortune of this country today,” Mr. Obasanjo said when he received the factional leader of the PDP, Mr. Ali Modu Sheriff in his house in Abeokuta, Ogun state.
“We need strong political party in government as well as strong political party in opposition for democracy to be strong and dynamic.
“That being the case, 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,” he added.
Although the former Nigerian President did not name President Buhari, it seems his message was directed at the PDP, the APC, Nigerians and Mr. Buhari.
The PDP had accused President Buhari of trying to decimate the opposition in Nigeria by sending security agents after perceived enemies while looking the other way when cases of corruption are levelled against political allies.
Mr. Sheriff’s visit to Mr. Obasanjo was not well received by all parties. The Ekiti State Governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, described it as the “coming together of collaborators (for) the total annihilation of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP)”.
Mr. Sheriff was elected PDP chairman at a controversial convention that was later labelled null and void by another faction of the party led by Mr. Ahmed Makarfi, a former Governor of Kaduna state. Mr. Sheriff was the former governor of Borno state.
The Makarfi led-faction failed to hold its own convention some weeks ago after some heavily armed Federal Government security agents, apparently obeying orders from President Muhammadu Buhari’s men, prevented members from accessing the venue of the convention in Port Harcourt.
However, members met somewhere else and decided to appoint Mr. Makarfi as acting Chairman of the PDP for a year.
Since then, several court orders have left Nigerians confused and members of the once ruling party divided and unsure of who was really in charge – Makarfi or Sheriff.
On Saturday, Mr. Sheriff paid a visit to Mr. Obasanjo, who once was one of the strongest pillars of the PDP before he tore his membership card before last year’s presidential election, after he fell out with former President Goodluck Jonathan, the man he chose in 2006 to be the running mate of the Late President Umaru Musa YarÁdua who died in office, paving way for Mr. Jonathan to take power.
But the relationship between Mr. Jonathan and Mr. Obasanjo collapsed and Mr. Obasanjo wrote an open letter to him, saying corruption had reached an unbearable level. Mr. Obasanjo himself is perceived to have enriched himself while in office, although he left billions of dollars in the foreign reserves.
On Saturday night, Governor Fayose, a vocal member of the PDP who first backed Mr. Sheriff before repudiating him in public and attacking him consistently in the media in the weeks and months that followed labelled Mr. Sheriff’s visit to Mr. Obasanjo, also known as chief Obasanjo or OBJ as useless.
He said it was on record that both Mr. Obasanjo and Mr. Sheriff “collaborated to destroy the All Nigerians Peoples Party (ANPP) and their meeting today must be to further collaborate to destroy the PDP”.
In a statement by his Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Mr. Lere Olayinka, Mr. Fayose said “Sheriff can as well begin to sleep in Obasanjo’s house, it is good riddance to bad rubbish.”
“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.”