The troubleshooting mission to Ota by the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party to reconcile ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo and President Goodluck Jonathan has failed to yield the expected outcome with Mr. Obasanjo saying he won’t stop criticizing the present administration.
Mr. Obasanjo had angered Mr. Jonathan after he suggested that the president appeared a weak leader given the way he was handling the security challenges facing the country.
In his comment, the former President reminded the nation of how he directed security agencies to invade Odi, Rivers State, to fish out militants who killed some security men during his tenure.
An angry Mr. Jonathan however hit back at Mr. Obasanjo during his last media chat, saying the Odi invasion Mr. Obasanjo boasted about did not solve the problem but only ended up shedding the blood of the innocent.
Since then, elements loyal to the two men within the party have engaged one another in a war of words, and the national leadership of the party has been desperate for a reconciliation.
But when the peace team, led by party chairman Bamanga Tukur, visited Ota on Saturday, Mr. Obasanjo insisted he would continue to comment on national issues whenever necessary not minding whose ox is gored.
He said, “If there is anything that requires my own comment, position or views I will say it. “Because, if there is no Nigeria, there will not be a party and if there is no party, there will be nothing to govern on the platform of the party.
“It is my passion, patriotism and love that will continue to make me say my own. If I see something that is inimical to the growth of the party, I will talk.”
He said that keeping quiet on issues of national importance was not the best option for him because of his love for Nigeria.
Mr. Obasanjo expressed his delight over Mr. Tukur’s visit, describing the PDP chieftain a respected leader.
“It is always a delight to have our oga visit us to see what we are doing and what we are not doing. “Without Nigeria there will be no party even when I was in prison I was not quiet,” he said.
After a closed-door meeting where he tried to persuade Mr. Obasanjo to moderate his comment on national issues, Mr. Tukur told journalists the main purpose of his visit was to appreciate the former PDP Board of Trustees chairman for his service to the party, country and the international community.
“Your support has never been relenting and I have come to say “thank you sir,” he said.
To also pacify Mr. Obasanjo, Mr. Tukur informed him that the national leadership of the party would continue to recognize the leadership of the Dipo Odujirin-led executive in the state.
The Ogun State PDP has two factions with Mr. Obasanjo belonging to the Odujirin-led group, which was voided by a Federal High Court in November.
“Whoever the people have elected as far as I am concerned, is the chairman of our party in Ogun,” Mr. Tukur said, in disregard of the court order.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Sen. Odujinrin and 28 others were elected as members of the state Executive Committee in August 2012 and the election was supervised by the national body of the party.
But Mr. Odujinrin’s chairmanship was opposed by a faction of the party who claimed a court ruling was in their favour.
Mr. Tukur said : ”there is no crisis here in Ogun PDP at all.
“I have come here because of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who is the leader of our party and I’m now the chairman.
“We do this with the leaders of our party throughout the country and my own programme is about reconciliation, reformation and rebuilding.
“I have been going round to the leaders and stakeholders of our party. So I can assure you that there is nothing about crisis here.
“Secondly, about discipline in our party; if you listen to what I said in Akwa Ibom, first of all, our own principle today is rebuilding our party based on equity and justice, no imposition so that everybody will feel to be part of that great party.
“It is only when you give people the leadership they did not elect that is when you then start to get crisis.
“As long as you build on harmony, consultation and consensus you will see that the party will be less or at almost zero conflict,” he added.