Leadership (Abuja)

25 December 2012

Nigeria: 2015 - Jonathan, Obasanjo Meet Secretly

Photo: Vanguard
President Goodluck Jonathan

As part of efforts to keep his second term bid on track, indications have emerged suggesting that President Goodluck Jonathan has commenced moves to pacify one of his predecessors in office, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.

This is coming on the heels of reports yesterday in which the President denied insinuations that the relationship between him and ex-president Obasanjo was strained.

The relationship between the two seemed to be on the slide in recent times owing to the verbal exchanges that have ensued between them, prompting suggestions in some quarters that the Owu-born soldier-turned-politician might dump his protégé for another candidate in 2015.

There were speculations that two serving governors had been lined up to square up against President Jonathan in the event that he decides to contest the ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). One of the two being propped up and others from the northern part of the country have been making contact with the former president with a view to enlisting his support, especially to lend them his platform in the south west.

Sources close to the former president told LEADERSHIP in Lagos that President Jonathan penultimate Friday paid a secret visit to Obasanjo to reconcile issues with him over some grievances that the former leader might habour against him.

The source said one of the nation's respected Christian clergymen (names withheld) was part of the presidential delegation, during which the two spoke for some hours before Jonathan proceeded to the retreat camp of the Redeemed Christian Church of God for the monthly Holy Ghost service.

"The president was in the Lagos-Abeokuta axis two Fridays ago (December 14) to see Baba (Obasanjo) on the perceived gulf between the two of them, which has become common knowledge. Owing to the respect which the former leader has for the office of the president, he (Obasanjo) had to wait for him as he was scheduled to travel on the said day," the source said.

After Jonathan's visit, the national chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, was also reported to have visited Obasanjo in Ota and the two met behind closed-doors, after which the host was reported as saying that he would not stop speaking out when he sees anything going wrong in the nation's polity. The full details of the meeting between Obasanjo and Tukur are still very sketchy at the time of filing this report, but sources said the visit might not be unconnected to the fallout of the earlier visit by the president.

According to the source, a former deputy-governor of Lagos State, the president used the opportunity of the visit to really ascertain the misgivings of his host, with a view to mending the cracks cropping up in their relationship.

The former leader reportedly gave some conditions that should be met for him to soft-pedal on his continued opposition to the president's second term bid, which he reportedly promised to look into.

"One of such conditions was that the president must not in any way try to diminish his (Obasanjo's) status as the leader of the party in the south west, as he was the most senior former or current office holder as recognised by the PDP constitution," the source stated. Details of the other conditions are still being closely guarded for strategic reasons, but the source stated that President Jonathan seems disposed to meeting with them, "at least half way in the interest of peace and progress."

Obasanjo also called on the president to ensure that a party member from the south west replace him as the chairman of the board of trustees (BoT) of the party, contrary to the suggestion that he was rooting for the candidacy of Senator Ahmadu Ali, a former national chairman of the party.

On whether the former leader was scheming to stage a return, the source said an emphatic no, but stated that the demand was due to too much pressure on Obasanjo by party members in the zone who have continued to lament their marginalisation from the power loop.

"Though it might be tough for the zone to produce any candidate that can match the status of Senator Ali amongst members of the board from the south west caucus, Baba's demand is premised on the need to look for something worthwhile for members of the party in the zone," said the source.

Trust me, Jonathan urges Nigerians

Meanwhile, President Jonathan yesterday implored Nigerians put their trust in the determination and political will of his administration to better their lot as he had pledged during his campaign.

In his goodwill message to Nigerians to mark the Christmas celebration, the president reiterated that Nigerians would soon begin to see the outcome of diligent planning and execution of developmental projects by his administration as they enter 2013, the security challenges confronting facing the country at the moment notwithstanding.

He said stressed the need for significant achievement in the critical areas of public infrastructure, power, roads, education, job creation, agriculture, healthcare and industrialisation, among others.

"It is my hope and expectation that more of the efforts, actions and measures we are already undertaking in these areas will successfully come to fruition next year and make the results of the diligent project planning and execution being done under this administration more apparent to all Nigerians.

"No one should doubt that we have the political will and determination to deliver on our promise of positive changes in the living conditions of our people in the shortest possible time," he said

The president added that Christmas and the lessons of Jesus Christ's mission on earth had great significance for Nigerians as a people, adding that there could be no doubt that the entire citizenry, irrespective of their religious beliefs, could draw immense strength and inspiration from the Messiah's enduring personification of selflessness, dedication to duty, and commitment to the well-being of others as the nation continues to grapple with the challenges of development and nation-building.

Jonathan promised that his administration would continue to do its best to give the country effective leadership towards rapidly overcoming present challenges.

He also expressed gratitude to "the vast majority of patriotic Nigerians who have kept faith with this Administration since its inception," saying, "we will continue to count on your support and cooperation, as well as your prayers for peace, stability and progress of our beloved nation."

Meanwhile, as Nigerians join their counterparts all over the world to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ at Christmas, the First Lady, Dame Patience Goodluck Jonathan yesterday urged Nigerians, particularly Christians, to pray for peace and progressive development of the country.

According to a statement by her media assistant, Ayo Osinlu, the First Lady wants Nigerians to imbibe the virtues of selflessness, love, peace and tolerance, all attributes of Jesus Christ, who came into the world to redeem mankind.

She enjoined all Nigerians to demonstrate the spirit of charity and brotherliness, by sharing with the less privileged in the society during this Christmas period, so that they too can experience the joy of the season.

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