Nigeria News

Nigeria: Jonathan moves to reconcile with Obasanjo

Former president Olusegun Obasanjo and President Goodluck JonathanPresident Goodluck Jonathan has begun moves to reconcile with former President Olusegun Obasanjo, as a means of ending the rift between them.

Jonathan and Obasanjo had fallen apart over the last few months, following critical comments made by Obasanjo about the government.

In a recent interview on Cable Network News, the former president criticised Jonathan’s handling of the Boko Haram insurgency and advised him to initiate a dialogue with the extremist sect.

Obasanjo told the CNN in the interview that Jonathan had been applying less of dialogue and more of force in solving the Boko Haram issue.

But the Presidency, in a reaction to the ex-President’s submission, said Obasanjo’s position on the Boko Haram issue had been contradictory.

Both men also disagreed on the choice of the chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees. While Jonathan rooted for a former BOT Chairman, Chief Tony Anenih, his predecessor reportedly backed a former PDP National Chairman, Dr. Ahmadu Ali.

The division between the President and his predecessor led to a stalemate at the last meeting of BOT members at the Presidential Villa on January 8.

After a three-hour meeting, BOT members failed to produce a new chairman of the board as expected.

The meeting was meant to elect a replacement for Obasanjo who resigned from the position last year for personal reasons.

The crisis over the BOT chairmanship also snowballed into moves by governors elected on the platform of the party to remove the National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, over his alleged meddling in the politics of Adamawa State PDP and unilateral dissolution of the executive council of the state chapter.

Matters came to a head when a Federal High Court in Abuja on January 11 sacked PDP National Secretary, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola.

The national secretary was nominated by Obasanjo and the governors and his removal was seen as a big blow to the former president’s control of the party in the South-West.

However, Jonathan made a U-turn on his rift with Obasanjo when he agreed to reach out to the former president at a meeting with some former national chairmen of the party on Wednesday evening at the Presidential Villa.

The former chairmen were said to have been led to the parley by Tukur.

“The party elders and the President spoke at length on the ways to resolve the crisis in the party. But one of the decisions reached was the need for the President to mend fences with former President Obasanjo.

“They believe that once the two leaders are together, the tension in the party will be reduced to the barest minimum,” a PDP leader who attended the meeting said.

In line with the decision, our correspondent learnt that Jonathan had been prevailed upon to try and attend a civic reception organised in honour of Obasanjo by the South-West PDP in Abeokuta, the  Ogun State capital on Saturday.

The event, which began on Friday, would be concluded with a reception on Saturday.

Jonathan travelled to Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire on Friday for an Extraordinary Session of the Economic Community of West African States Authority of Heads of State and Government.

It was also learnt that as part of the reconciliation, Jonathan may withdraw support for Anenih’s BOT chairmanship bid.

Although Political Adviser to the President, Dr. Ahmed Gulak, denied the existence of a rift between both men, he said Jonathan would not interfere with the selection of a new BOT chairman.

He said the President and members of his administration had great respect for Obasanjo and regarded him as “a father.”

Gulak said, “There was never a rift between the President and Obasanjo over BOT chairmanship. The president will work with whoever emerges as BOT chairman.”

He said what arose at the BOT meeting was a constitutional issue over the tenure of some BOT members, insisting that the relationship between Jonathan and Obasanjo was cordial.

At today’s reception, the national leadership is expected to meet with some aggrieved members of the South-West PDP.

Those invited to the meeting apart from Obasanjo are , PDP National Vice-Chairman (South-West), Mr. Segun Oni; Chief Bode George; Chief Dapo Sarumi; Prof. Tunde Adeniran; Chief Bode Olajumoke; and Otunba Oyewole Fashawe.

Others are Alhaji Shuaib Oyedokun; Chief Ebenezer Babatope; Alhaji Tajudeen Oladipo; Chief Yekeen Adeojo; Chief Lekan Balogun; Chief Richard Akinjide; Chief Tunji Olurin; and Chief Joju Fadairo.

Oyinlola and Oni confirmed that they would be at the reception for Obasanjo as well as the reconciliation parley.

Media aide to Oyinlola, Ayo Olaiya, who spoke with one of our correspondents on Thursday, in Osogbo, said, “Oyinlola is already in the South-West. He will be around for the reception for Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.”

Oni’s media aide, Mr. Lere Olayinka said, “Segun Oni will be at Abeokuta on Saturday. As per the meeting, it is natural as the zonal chairman of the PDP that if any meeting is going to be held in the South-West, he would be invited to such meetings and he will surely attend.”

Factional leader of the PDP in Ogun State, Buruji Kashamu, told one of our correspondents that he received an invitation to the reception for Obasanjo, but warned that nobody could dictate to his group on its determination to push Oyinlola, Oni and another chieftain, Bode Mustapha, out of leadership positions in the party.

“They just want to use that reception ceremony for Obasanjo to try to talk to some people to accept their fate. You tell me what will they be discussing there?

“Whatever they want to discuss there is an afterthought. Tukur is an elderly man and an intelligent person and as the father to all of us, it is normal for him to use that occasion to talk to some leaders.

“But you will see that some of these people you think will attend that meeting may not turn up at the end of the day. May be 80 per cent of them may not come.

“It was not Tukur that removed Oyinlola. He only followed the rule of law and implemented the order of the court. So, there is no way he would go there and tell them that the court was wrong. That is not possible,” Kashamu said.

The party leader also said no member of the national leadership of the party could reverse the decision of the court.

“I believe that the problem is not even about the national body prevailing on us to back down. It is in the interest of the national body to always show respect for the rule of law.

“Don’t forget, PDP is the largest party in the whole of Africa and so there is no way they will not have respect for the rule of law,” he added.

Anthony-Claret Onwutalobi
Anthony-Claret Onwutalobi
Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC and CEO of Portia Web Solutions. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.

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