As the cold war between President Goodluck Jonathan and his benefactor, former president Olusegun Obasanjo, rages, some of Obasanjo’s loyalists who are at the receiving end have chosen to quit the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
But the former president has vowed to remain in the party and fight to the finish.
The relationship between the two leaders of the party has been everything but cordial despite the public show of friendship and mutual trust. Those who know better have read the handwriting on the wall, which aims at dismantling Obasanjo’s political structure for daring to ask Jonathan to quit the presidency come 2015 as he promised two years ago.
Before Governor Muazu Babangida Aliyu of Niger State reminded President Jonathan of the one-term pact he struck with the PDP chieftains before he was endorsed for the 2011 presidential race, Obasanjo, LEADERSHIP Sunday learnt, had asked the president to suspend the second term bid. The president was said to have replied, “Sir, I have never thought of 2015.”
LEADERSHIP Sunday checks revealed that Obasanjo’s loyalists recently met with him to sound him out on their intention to quit the PDP for another political party as “it is becoming evident that the party wants to adopt President Jonathan as its presidential candidate for 2015”.
The former president was said to have told them they would not be intimidated out of the party.
“We are going nowhere, nobody would kick us out of our party,’’ he reportedly said. “We will fight back. ”
To ensure that Jonathan does not win a second term ticket, it was learnt, the former president has engaged a former ambassador from the north-east geopolitical zone as one of his foot soldiers in the north, while the governors of Niger, Jigawa, Sokoto, Bauchi and two others are working behind the scenes to actualise a northern president come 2015.
Since that time, according to our checks, the president had ambushed his godfather severally, looking for ways of forcing him to endorse his candidacy. As fate would have it, the court ruling that voided the election of Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola as the national secretary of the party became a weapon as he was asked to go in obedience to the court verdict, and his deputy was sworn.
However, President 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 led by the incumbent, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, at the presidential villa.
“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 Jonathan to mend fences with Obasanjo. They believed 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.
The meeting also advised Jonathan to attend a civic reception organised in honour of Obasanjo by the south-west PDP in Abeokuta, Ogun State, on his way to Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, for an extraordinary session of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Authority of Heads of State and Government.
The meeting also prevailed on him to withdraw support for Chief Tony Anenih’s bid for Board of Trustees (BoT) chairmanship. It was thought that this would persuade Obasanjo to reconcile with the president. Those that were at the reception included the former PDP national vice-chairman (south-west), Mr. Segun Oni, Oyinlola, Chief Bode George, Chief Dapo Sarumi, Prof. Tunde Adeniran, Chief Bode Olajumoke, and Otunba Oyewole Fashawe. Others were 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.
But the president never showed up. Instead it was Tukur that attended, saying that he represented the president. That was when Obasanjo told him that he would never stop criticising the president despite the fact that he held him in high esteem as president, a source said.
However, both Jonathan and Obasanjo had a private meeting in London after the launch of Obasanjo’s foundation. LEADERSHIP Sunday learnt that Jonathan solicited Obasanjo’s support for his second term bid to enable him continue with his transformation agenda. Obasanjo reportedly told him point blank to bury the thought, noting that it would impugn on his integrity as a former military head of state and two-term civilian president.