The National Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party, Bamanga Tukur, has said that the former President Olusegun Obasanjo estranged kinsman, Buruji Kashamu, enjoys the party support and backing because of the role he played in strengthening the PDP in the South-West.
Tukur’s explanation was contained in his reply to Obasanjo’s letter dated January 7, 2014 to the party chairman.
In his letter, a copy of which was sent to President Goodluck Jonathan, Obasanjo accused the PDP of negating the principles of morality, decency and discipline in its decisions, especially as they affected the South West.
“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, I also believe that on no account should a known habitual criminal that is wanted abroad to face criminal charges levelled against him be extolled as a political leader in a respectable and wholesome nation-building political party.
“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 Zonal 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.
“Since I stick in my practice of party politics to the hallowed and cherished principles enunciated above, I take this opportunity to let you know that while I continue to remain a card-carrying member of PDP, I cannot and I will not subscribe to a wanted habitual criminal being installed as my zonal leader of the party,” Obasanjo had said.
However, Tukur wrote in his reply that “Buruji Kasamu came to limelight in politics as a result of the role he played in the politics of Ogun State where both of you come from.
“He later became a rallying point in the South-West following the courts’ orders in the series of cases brought about as a result of disagreements among leaders of the party in the South-West, and Ogun State in particular.
“In my opinion, Buruji became a rallying point because of the absence of a zonal executive in the South-West. This vacuum in the South-West has made him the person to whom many members in all the chapters of the party in the zone approach for one form of assistance or the order,” Tukur said in a letter he personally signed and made available to newsmen in Abuja.
The PDP Chairman, while preaching continuous dialogue and need for stronger partnership among stakeholders of the party, told Obasanjo that the need for the ruling party to reclaim the lost grounds in the South-West required the full support of party leaders like him.
Sounding conciliatory in his response to Obasanjo’s letter, Tukur expressed his appreciation of the manner of approach by the ex-President in presenting his grievances on issues in the PDP South-West, but said that “there was the need for the PDP to attain success in the “governorship elections coming up this year in Ekiti and Osun states and the subsequent elections in 2015 to reclaim lost grounds in the South-West.”
The PDP Chairman also addressed the complaint of the former President on the state of the PDP in the South-West, adding that the crises within the PDP in the zone were there before he took over the mantle of leadership of the party.
In the same vein, Kashamu also responded to Obasanjo’s letter on Saturday, describing the ex-President’s letter as a ‘cocktail of lies’ and alleged that Obasanjo was blackmailing him.
“First, it is now clear to all and sundry why I have become the target of Obasanjo’s wicked campaign of calumny and blackmail is his perceived loss of political relevance in Ogun State and the South-West. In his 18-page satanic letter to President Goodluck Jonathan, I was the other person – indeed the only one (after the President) – that he singled out for his venomous attack.
“In his usual hypocritical manner, he talked about not being able to work with me because of his principles and decency. But the questions Nigerians should ask him are: where were these principles when he used me to fight Gbenga Daniel? Where was his self-righteousness when I took the party structure from Daniel and handed it to Obasanjo? Where was his decency when he brought Gen. Adetunji Olurin to me and asked that I should roll my structure behind his governorship ambition?
“Where was his morality when he introduced me to South West PDP leaders like Engr. Segun Oni, Navy Capt. Caleb Olubolade (retd) and a host of others? Where was his discipline when he hosted me severally in his Hilltop mansion, taking me into his bedroom and innermost recesses? Where was his decency when he accepted donations from me to his church and other concerns? Where was his gumption when he mounted the rostrum to sing my praises, praying for me as he did in May 2010 during a reception for the former Minister of Commerce and Industry, Senator Jubril Martins-Kuye? I can go on and on,” Kashamu had said.
He denied being the leader of the party in the South-West and described himself as the “party’s foot soldiers in the zone and the Chairman of the Organisation and Mobilisation Committee for the party in the zone. “
He also denied that he is being wanted for extradition by the United States of America.
“I wish to state for the umpteenth time that there is no request for my extradition for any offence whatsoever. I recall that in my earlier response to him, I have challenged him to produce the request for extradition, if there is any.
“Indeed, contrary to his lies that I am wanted in the United States for some offences, the purported and over-flogged case is that of mistaken identity, for which I had been tried and discharged after my innocence was established by the British courts. I am already in court in the US asking that the earlier accusation (not conviction) against me be quashed. That process is ongoing.”
He further alleged that Obasanjo had asked the Beninoise government to frame him up anytime he visited the country.
However, former Minister of Justice, Richard Akinjide, who on Saturday hosted some elders of the South-West Peoples Democratic Party at his home in Ibadan, threw his weight behind Obasanjo, stressing that criminals would not be allowed to rule the party.
“We all heard what the former President Olusegun Obasanjo said. If you read the newspapers today (yesterday), he made some important comments. In essence, he is in support of the meeting we are doing here. If anybody says don’t come to this meeting, disregard him. Don’t trust those people. One of them is a drug addict; I mean the criminal elements who want to lead us. We won’t allow them.”