Big Blow To Jonathan Obasanjo Quit Ruling Party, PDP

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has quit the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) ahead of the 28 March elections.

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  play Former President, Olusegun Obasanjo
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Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo has quit the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) that he helped found, in a blow to President Goodluck Jonathan six weeks before an election.

Obasanjo, a heavyweight in regional politics and godfather of many a Nigerian politician, had long expressed dismay over Jonathan's handling of the Boko Haram Islamist insurgency and corruption scandals in the oil sector.

"Henceforth I will only be a Nigerian. I am ready to work with anybody regardless of his or her political affiliation," he said in a statement printed in the local press on Tuesday.

He tore up his party membership card at his home in Abeokuta, southwest Nigeria, late on Monday, local media reported.

"Without Nigeria there will be no PDP anymore ... What some of us should be concerned about is how to make Nigeria stronger," Obasanjo, 77, a former mentor of Jonathan, said.

PDP spokesman Olisa Metuh said the party was "deeply saddened that Chief Obasanjo, whom the PDP offered the platform to rule our nation for eight years, could decide to abandon this party at this critical point in time".

Obasanjo's decision to dump the party that helped smooth Nigeria's transition from decades of military dictatorship to democracy when he took power as a civilian president in 1999 was no great surprise.

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