DISCOMFORTING news for President Goodluck Jonathan’s re-election bid broke out from former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s Hilltop Mansion, Abeokuta, yesterday evening, indicating that the outcome of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, governors who had gone there to plead for the President’s support was initially played down.
We can authoritatively disclose today that Obasanjo flatly refused to support Jonathan although Obasanjo had publicly said that he only explained to the governors his position on national issues.
But we gathered that it was more than that as he maintained his stand against Jonathan’s style of administration which didn’t deserve his support.
This was even as Jonathan and the son of the late former Head of State, Mohammed Abacha met behind closed doors at the Presidential Villa yesterday, apparently to strategise on how to secure victory for him and the party in Kano and other States..
The PDP is presenting the junior Abacha, who was freed from corruption and theft charges by the Federal Government last June, as its governorship candidate for Kano, apparently based on his assumed influence and popularity to dislodge the All Progressives Congress, APC, candidate backed by out-going Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso.
However, the five governors; Mallam Isa Yuguda of Bauchi, Babangida Aliyu (Niger), Sule Lamido (Jigawa), Liyel Imoke (Cross River) and Godswill Akpabio- (Akwa Ibom) had approached Obasanjo on behalf of Jonathan and the PDP and pleading with him to not only tone down his verbal attacks on the president and his administration but back him in the forthcoming election.
The governors, who spent at least three hours discussing with Obasanjo, however were said to have left his mansion without any strong promise from the former president, who sounded rather defiant, claiming that it was clear to all Nigerians that Nigerian under Jonathan was in a bad shape.
Obasanjo was, however, said to have given his visitors some words of consolation, saying, ‘the situation in Nigeria today is bad but is not beyond redemption’. “That means that something can still be done to change it, if there is courage and determination to do so.”
A source close to the Abeokuta meeting told Saturday Vanguard that Obasanjo accepted to receive the five governors because of his respect for them as individuals and politicians who rode to national limelight through his instrumentality and not because of Jonathan or PDP. The source told our correspondent on Friday that although Obasanjo was disappointed by the action of most of the governors who visited him, he did not want to vent his anger and disappointment by turning down their request to visit him.
The source, who is close to Obasanjo said: “But the truth of the matter is that ‘Baba’ did not give them any promise of word of comfort throughout their stay in Abeokuta because he is very upset with most of them, who have betrayed him in many ways since he helped them to clinch power in 2007.
“He told them the truth as it is that Jonathan’s leadership had really hurt the image of Nigeria at home and abroad and that they themselves should help him to change course so as to help Nigeria and Nigerians out the doldrums.
“Obasanjo made it clear to the visitors that he was not just speaking out for the sake of bringing Jonathan or his government down but to draw his attention to the urgent need to rise up and fight the monsters of insecurity and monumental corruption that are fast eating away the fabric of the nationhood and making Nigeria a mockery before the international community.
Asked if Obasanjo had tabled any demand as a condition for backing Jonathan in next year’s presidential poll, the source hinted that the former head of state did not give any condition and was not keen on any since he was not ready to back down on his position.
“Look, let me tell you the truth; Baba stands on his position concerning Jonathan and his administration and he is not ready to change whatever he had said or written no matter who comes to him or not.
“I can tell you that if the mission of the five governors was successful, one of them, who likes to talk at every event, would have been the first to speak. What happened was more of a mission not accomplished to say the truth,” the source said.
A source close to the Presidency said that the visit by the five governors to Obasanjo might have been sanctioned by the Villa as a means of staving off lingering criticism of President Jonathan by Obasanjo ahead of the crucial presidential poll fixed for the first quarter of next year.
Obasanjo had last month described Jonathan’s performance so far as ‘below average,’ a rating that received an instant bashing from Jonathan’s aides, who descended heavily on the former leader, calling him names.
Meanwhile, although the details of the discussions between Jonathan and Mohammed Abacha were not made public, Abacha told State House correspondents shortly after emerging from the parley with the president that he was confident the PDP would ‘recover Kano’ from the APC.
According to him, Kano was stolen from PDP and the party is on its way to recovering the stolen ticket. Abacha was also optimistic he would emerge the party’s gubernatorial flag bearer,saying, “We are hopeful; I wouldn’t want to say too much. I said it before that it was a PDP state; it was a PDP ticket. It was taken or converted or even stolen; whatever you want to call it, so be it. The chances of the PDP are still bright.’’
Speculations had been rife that the Presidency deliberately withdrew the charges bordering on the alleged stealing of N446 billion preferred against the aspirant last June in order to pave the way for him to contest the Kano governorship election.
The government through the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Mohammed Adoke, had justified the nolle proseque (don’t prosecute or discontinue prosecution) entered in favour of Abacha, claiming that it was done in the overall interest of the country and not for pecuniary or political reasons.