Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, on Saturday, vowed to lead the coalition that would unseat President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019.
The former President, however, advised the 39 political parties and associations, which signed a Memorandum of Understanding in a grand alliance ahead of general elections last Wednesday, to be cautious of external forces which he believed might want to destabilise the arrangement.
Obasanjo spoke during a closed-door meeting with a 21-man team, led by the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Prince Uche Secondus, which visited him in Abeokuta on Saturday.
The meeting was held at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, Abeokuta, the Ogun State captial.
Among those at the meeting were the Chairman, Board of Trustees of the PDP, Senator Walid Jibrin; a former Deputy National Chairman of the party, Chief Olabode George; a former Governor of Osun State, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola; and members of the National Working Committee of the PDP.
A source at the meeting, who spoke with one of our correspondents on condition of anonymity, said the ex-President told the gathering that he was ready to lead the coalition that would sack Buhari in the 2019 presidential election.
Obasanjo was also said to have told them that he played a prominent role in the formation of the coalition that met in Abuja last week where the parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding to field a single presidential candidate in 2019.
The source added, “The former President asked the attendees (at the MoU signing) to get ready for a fight in 2019 and that he is ready to lead the coalition.
“He told us that it would not be a tea party, and that we should be ready to field a single presidential candidate and that all others would line up behind such candidate.
“He also warned us against saboteurs and that we must be ready to make sacrifices.”
It was also gathered that the former President told his visitors why he left the PDP.
According to multiple sources at the meeting, Obasanjo said he left the former ruling party when a sitting governor was busy abusing him and the leaders of the party refused to caution him.
“He said he decided to leave because the governor (name withheld ) was abusing him and we refused to caution him. He said the governor was also mobilising people to remove him as the chairman of the BoT. He said he decided to leave when we didn’t do anything about these,” the source added.
However, the media aide to the ex-President, Kehinde Akinyemi, in a statement after the meeting, quoted Obasanjo to have advised his guests that all members of the political parties in the PDP-led alliance “must be cautious of fake news, rumours, blackmail and seeds of discord that may be sown among them from external quarters.”
The PDP, African Democratic Congress, the Reformed All Progressives Congress and 36 other political parties had, last week, signed a MoU to forge a grand alliance ahead of the 2019 general elections.
Obasanjo, who expressed confidence in the arrangement, advised that the individuality and independence of each political party must be respected by all parties concerned.
He had added that “it is also desirable that in the process of implementing the MoU to achieve the set objective, solidarity and focus on the objective must be maintained.
“The MOU for grand alliance is what it says – a grand alliance. It is not a merger nor an absorption of any political party by any political party.”
According to the statement, in the delegation were some members of the NWC of the PDP, who apologised to the former President for the way he was treated by the former ruling party.
While the former President told them he would no longer play partisan politics, he stated that his doors would remain opened to those who might need his advice on the way to move the country forward.
While speaking with journalists after the meeting, Secondus said though Obasanjo was no more a member of the PDP, his advice would help the party as the 2019 elections draw near.
He said, “Obasanjo is a national leader in this country. He is a father of the nation. So, we came to consult him. Our deliberation, although a little bit private, is connected to the 2019 polls.
“Yes, it is true Baba is no longer a member of the PDP, but he is a father of the nation. I believe that regardless of political parties, his direction is highly needed now to rescue Nigeria.”
George equally said the grand alliance was needed to rescue the country from the precipice, saying good managers were needed to manage the affairs of the country better.