Nigeria: Jonathan courts Obasanjo for 2015
By Soni Daniel, Regional Editor, North & Henry Umoru
ABUJA — TROUBLED by the crises his party and the emergence of more political parties, President Goodluck Jonathan has entreated former President Olusegun Obasanjo to throw his weight behind him to surmount the opposition to his re-election in 2015.
Vanguard learnt that Jonathan has also sought the forgiveness of Obasanjo over unbridled attacks unleashed on him by some of his aides in recent times.
This came as the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has scheduled a National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting tomorrow where issues like recent registration of opposition parties, reconciliation efforts, Anambra, South-West crisis and ratification of convention date are expected to top the agenda.
It was gathered that Jonathan met privately with Obasanjo and solicited his assistance towards dislodging mounting opposition, particularly from the North, towards his re-election.
Competent presidential sources said that Jonathan initiated the meeting with Obasanjo following the withdrawal of the former president from the administration as a result of some irreconcilable differences.
The meeting was also said to have been necessitated by the complaints of five PDP governors against President Jonathan and the PDP leadership to Obasanjo and their claim that the nation and the party were adrift and needed urgent rescue.
The five governors were said to have given some stringent conditions under which they would back Jonathan, a move that was said to have jolted Jonathan and Obasanjo.
An impeccable source said that Jonathan, who felt slighted by the action of the five governors and worried that they could also sway their support to the opposition, appealed to Obasanjo to use his fatherly disposition to call the ‘rebel’ governors to order so as not to rob him of victory in the next election.
Rebuilding of PDP
Jonathan reportedly begged Obasanjo to ‘come back’ and help rebuild the party so that it would not be disgraced by the rampaging opposition.
The source said that at the meeting, Obasanjo drew the attention of the President to the spate of attacks unleashed by his aides on him despite the fact that he facilitated his emergence as President and asked him to call his aides to order. The former ruler was said to have, however, accepted Jonathan’s plea to step into the political imbroglio and bail him out.
According to findings by Vanguard, it was after the meeting with Jonathan that Obasanjo invited the five Northern governors to meet with him at the Presidential Villa to ‘sort out areas of disaffection’ with the President.
Although Jonathan was not directly involved in the meeting that stretched for two days and ended in a deadlock, he nonetheless, provided the platform for his mentor to gauge the feelings of the five governors and their Rivers State counterpart, Rotimi Amaechi.
Findings also showed that apart from meeting the aggrieved governors of the party at the Villa, Obasanjo also advised President Jonathan to take urgent steps to meet with former leaders of the party, one of them Dr. Ahmadu Ali, who was the chairman of the PDP under Obasanjo.
The former President also asked Jonathan to reach out to influential leaders from the Middle Belt to speak out against the clamour by the North to clinch the Presidency in 2015, a suggestion that the President bought into.
Reaching out to Middle Belt
“It is true that the President also met privately with Ahmadu Ali in his house in Abuja a few days ago and pleaded with him not to stand aloof while the party was boiling,” a source close to the meeting of the two men said.
“You can also see that many Middle Belt leaders, who have been tapped by the President to help him secure a second term ticket, have been taking turns in the media to castigate the core North of being hasty in taking another shot at the Presidency.
“The other day it was Ameh Ebute and today you may have seen the interview by General Lawrence Onoja arguing that it was not time for the North to take over power.”
But the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) said yesterday that it was aware of the recruitment of some Middle Belt leaders to speak against the core North so as to prevent them from clinching the Presidency in 2015.
A waste of time — Northern Elders
Secretary General of the NEF, Prof Ango Abdullahi, noted the resort by the Presidency to cheap tactics to divide the North for selfish political gains ahead of the 2015 election.
The former ABU Vice-Chancellor said, however, that the plot by the Presidency against the North will fail, as the tactics being employed do not add up.
“I can tell you that those Middle Belt voices speaking against the North know their limitation and that what they are doing will not help them in any way.
“In any case, time will tell if the Middle Belt can stop the North from getting the Presidency in 2015,” the NEF leader stated.
PDP holds emergency NEC tomorrow
Meanwhile, the PDP will tomorrow hold an emergency NEC meeting at the Wadata Plaza, National Secretariat of the party.
It was gathered that at the meeting which will have President Jonathan, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and other members in attendance, will deliberate on the crises rocking the party as well as assess the successes recorded so far by the Governor Seriake Dickson-led National Reconciliation Committee.
The PDP NEC will also strategize on the August 24 governorship primary election for Anambra State, the election itself and that of Ekiti.
The meeting which is a follow up to the one held on June 20, will have its members ratify the August 31 date fixed for the Special National Convention.
It will be recalled that NEC at its last meeting approved July 20 for the Special Congress but the Professor Jerry Gana-led Special Convention team changed the date to August 31 and will require NEC to approve it.
As gathered, members of NEC will discuss the crisis currently rocking the South-West zone of the party.
It became imperative for the NEC to discuss the South-West PDP political quagmire against the backdrop of speculations, yesterday, that some stakeholders have obtained a court injunction from an Osogbo high court stopping the special congress scheduled to hold in the zone this weekend.
Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, the former National Secretary of PDP had obtained an injunction restraining the PDP from conducting the South West zonal congress on the grounds that he still has a pending matter at the Court of Appeal.
The court ruled that the status quo be maintained, pending the determination of the case.
The sacked National Auditor of the party, Chief Bode Mustapha, it will be recalled, is also challenging his removal from the party’s NWC at the Supreme Court.
He was sacked for violating the PDP constitution for holding the position of National Auditor of the party without being a professional accountant.
With the coming on board of the All Progressives Congress, APC, and the recently approved Peoples Democratic Movement, PDM, by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), President Jonathan, PDP governors leaders and stakeholders are also expected to review political developments in the party with a view to positioning itself for the 2015 general election.
The NEC meeting was confirmed in a memo signed by the PDP Acting National Secretary, Dr. Charles Akintoye.
- Via Vanguard