Former Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro has finally come out to speak about his reconciliation with Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and his rumoured defection to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Obanikoro on the rumoured defection said whatever step he is taking or will take later is about public interest. It is about the overall interest of the community that I represent, and my supporters who see me as their true representative. Politics is not static; it is very dynamic and when certain interest, especially the one that borders on public interest is challenged, a politician that is worth his onions must react immediately.
Categorically, Obanikoro said that the report that he has defected to the APC is a rumour and it is still a rumour, if a personality like me will leave Peoples Democratic Party to join another party, it will be done in a grand way. I would call a press conference and tell the whole world that I am moving (to another party). I will also explain the reasons for my defection. It will not be like the judgment given to the ABN (Association for Better Nigeria) which was delivered at night (9pm). If I want to defect, it will be done publicly with fanfare. I have no reason to make it a secret. Nigerians, especially the media, should just wait and relax for the appropriate time for me to declare my next political move.
In this interview with Punch Newspaper, Koro reveals that as someone who has always been proactive, it behoves on me to start assessing the situation with a view to making a justifiable political decision that would be in my interest and in the interest of those who are looking up to me for the right direction to follow. The essence of all these is service to people. A situation whereby a group of people, who are not prepared for governance or ready to offer anything to the society are controlling a big party like the PDP, one should review his participation in such a party. I can tell you without mincing words that I am at that stage now. I am reviewing and assessing the options before me.
One thing that is certain is that if Sheriff wins at the Supreme Court, you will not find people like me in the party again. That is certain. Let us not also forget that all politics is local. Without mincing words, anybody can accuse me of anything.I am pleased with what Governor Akinwumi Ambode is doing in Lagos. If at the end of the day, I have to choose between a progressive like him or continue with a PDP being controlled by Sheriff, I would rather opt for the former.
On the issue of reconciliation with Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Koro said it did not just happen overnight. I want to thank the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu, and my personal friend, Kashim Imam, for the reconciliation. The reconciliation was not meant to serve political interest but rather a personal and Lagos interest. Asiwaju and I belong to one family. If something untoward happens to a member of the family, we must see it as something that has happened to all of us. My relationship with Asiwaju prior to my defection to the Peoples Democratic Party, many years ago, was very cordial. I have also been close to kabiyesi (Oba Akiolu) to the extent that he got me enrolled in the Nigeria Police Force, when he was still an officer. I didn’t take the offer because as a young man then, I didn’t like the setup in the police. That was why I ran away. But I had already been enlisted as a cadet of the Nigeria Police Force from Lagos State. Oba Akiolu was shocked when he learnt that I didn’t take the offer. At a point, he started looking for me. He was really upset when he was told that I had returned to the United States. He wondered why I “wasted” the slot of Lagos State just like that. I share this incident to show you the extent of my closeness to kabiyesi. The issue did not, however, affect our relationship even up till today. So, he ensured the successful reconciliation. As a Yoruba man, I believe that when an elder intervenes on your behalf with another elder, that should be the end of the issue. Whatever comes out of the reconciliation is final.
Furthermore, he said he was happy that the reconciliation was done successfully. As I have said earlier, a very good friend of mine was also involved in the process. What has happened to me as regards my relationship with Asiwaju Tinubu should serve as a good lesson to the younger generation. Whenever you play your politics, always have it at the back of your mind that when you have disagreements, politically with someone, leave personal relationship out of it. Don’t allow your disagreement to affect the personal relationship you have with that person.
I was never comfortable all along that I lost personal relationship with Asiwaju Tinubu. We can always mend fences after political disagreements easily but it is the personal relationship that is crucial. There is also another person that I have been looking for a way to reconcile with. Don’t ask me for his name because I won’t tell you. We were extremely close before political difference tore our relationship apart. It is highly unfortunate that both of us allowed our disagreement politically to affect that relationship as friends. I will do everything possible to ensure that I reconcile with him too because he is also important to me.
When Obanikoro was asked if Oba of Lagos was the one that initiated the move to reconcile with Asiwaju Tinubu, he said
‘ I don’t think that is of any importance. What is important is that Asiwaju and I have forgotten about the past and have reconciled. He is my leader, my elder brother and I respect him a lot ‘.
Koro also also express himself on the situation that the PDP found itself today, he said its not good for democracy in Nigeria. It is not the PDP that will lose at the end of the day, it is the country. There must be options in any viable democracy. The fact that some political actors, for their selfish interest, decided to collapse the party either by omission or commission, has succeeded in reducing the fortunes of the party to the state it is now. Most of the major current players within the party at both sides will not want to admit that they contributed to the PDP crisis; rather they will want to point accusing fingers at one another. For instance, I was out of the country when the idea of bringing (Ali Modu) Sheriff on board was mooted. I want to commend my colleagues, the former ministers in the ex-president Goodluck Jonathan government who vehemently opposed the idea openly and secretly. I didn’t speak publicly against it but I worked against it behind the scene. I was constantly in touch with those who were going to confirm his nomination. I told them that allowing him to be at the helm of affairs of the party will not serve the interest of the PDP. Unfortunately today, we are facing crisis in the party because of some people’s recklessness and selfishness. In any case, the outcome of the Supreme Court judgment will go a long way to determine what will be the fate of the PDP in Nigeria. With the crisis, the party has been weakened and that is why we lost the governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states last year. To worsen the situation, the recklessness is still manifesting.