Jonathan phones Obasanjo, begs him to rescind decision on PDP

By The Rainbow
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President Goodluck Jonathan has telephoned former President Olusegun Obasanjo to deny responsibility for promoting a controversial member of his Peoples Democratic Party, Buruji Kashamu, as an influential party leader in the south-west geo-political zone, Premium Times reports.

Obasanjo had in a letter dated January 9 indicated his intention to withdraw from all activities of the Peoples Democratic Party a development that unless something was done about the Kashamu issue.

The online news portal reported that Mr. Obasanjo was travelling to Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, at the time of the conversation with Mr. Jonathan, those familiar with the matter said.

According to the report, a usually reliable presidency sources told the news portal that Mr. Jonathan hurriedly called Mr. Obasanjo on Thursday shortly after he received the former president's latest letter informing him and the PDP National Chairman, Bamanga Tukur, that he was suspending participation in party activities for as long as the ruling party continued to treat Mr. Kashamu, believed to be a fugitive, with reverence.

Quotes its sources, Premium Times reported that during the telephone exchanges, Mr. Jonathan appealed to Mr. Obasanjo to reconsider his decision to suspend himself from the party, saying he would personally prevail on Mr. Tukur to stop fraternizing with Mr. Kashamu and imposing him on the South-West PDP as a rallying point.

The president, according to the  sources, told Mr. Obasanjo that he had never met Mr. Kashamu and had never instructed anyone to accord the controversial Ogun politician a special or preferential treatment in the party.

'Baba, believe me, I don't know Kashamu,' our sources quoted Mr. Jonathan as saying. 'I think it is the chairman (Tukur) that knows him. Personally, I have nothing with him. But I will ask chairman.

'Kindly consider your decision again. The PDP belongs to us all and we need to correct whatever is wrong together.'

The president then promised to 'hear from' Mr Tukur, and to 'do something' about the matter, those informed about the discussion said.

In his response, Mr. Obasanjo is said to have explained to the president his frustration at explaining to world leaders how an alleged criminal, wanted by the United States authorities, ended up as a leader of Nigeria's ruling party.

He reportedly told the president that his assurance of action might amount to nothing as he believed not much could be done as of now.

The Special Adviser to the President on Media, Reuben Abati could not be reached to comment for this story. Several telephone calls to him failed to connect.

But three separate presidential aides, who do not want to be named for fear they might be sanctioned, however confirmed details of the conversation between Mr. Jonathan and Mr. Obasanjo.

Contacted, Mr. Obasanjo's spokesperson, Tunde Oladunjoye, said he had no permission from his boss to confirm details of his conversation with anyone.

An aide of the former president however confirmed the exchanges