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Obasanjo and his former foes

By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor

Last Saturday’s meeting between former President Olusegun Obasanjo and some of his most notable political foes in the All Progressives Congress, APC is another illustration.

Asiwaju Bola Ahmed
Tinubu and many of the other leaders of the All Progressives Congress were initially not too enthusiastic meeting former President Olusegun Obasanjo. Many APC leaders indeed tried to discourage the APC leaders from going ahead with the meeting last Saturday. But Tinubu was determined to keep a promise he had reportedly made to the five governors who defected from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP to the APC penultimate week.

As one of their conditions for defecting to the PDP the five governors had extracted from the national leaders of the APC, a promise to visit Obasanjo who was to a majority of them, a patron.
Besides their doubts about Obasanjo, the APC leaders trying to stop the visit also had another reason; the open letter from Senator Iyabo Obasanjo to her father, the former president.

To some of the APC enthusiasts, meeting Obasanjo especially after the damning letter from Iyabo would not bring any positives to the budding party. But Tinubu according to sources was determined to keep to the promise he made to the five governors.
When the visit eventually took place last Saturday, it became the first meeting between Obasanjo and many of his notable foes who in the days of his political expeditions were trouble to him.

Indeed, at the peak of their political squabbles when Tinubu was governor of Lagos State and Obasanjo was president of Nigeria, Tinubu was so put off by the former president that he almost always absented himself from the regular meetings between the nation’s governors and the then president. The animosity was indeed mutual. For most of the time he was governor of the state, Tinubu also did not give Obasanjo the courtesy of receiving or sending aides to receive the president while the two of them held office.


But last Saturday with much water having passed under the bridge, and with the APC leaders and Obasanjo now sharing the common objective of torpedoing the incumbent president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, the former bitterness that was almost always spewed when Tinubu mentioned Obasanjo was banished.

“We are here because of your courage and salient points. Nobody can say he has information more than you,” Tinubu told Obasanjo.
Apart from Tinubu other notable Obasanjo foes in the delegation included the three time presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari who Obasanjo trounced in 2003 and strategised against in 2007 and 2011.
Other former foes present were Governor Chibuke Amaechi of Rivers State who Obasanjo stopped from flying the PDP ticket in 2007 because of a “K-leg” problem, Governor Rochas Okorocha who Obasanjo sacked as chairman of Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN and the APC national chairman, Chief Bisi Akande.

Obasanjo’s pointsmen including Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, Senator Modu Ali Sheriff who are all now leading chieftains of the APC were also present.
What many had thought should be a symbolic visit to appease the five governors it was learnt later turned into strategic political exchanges.

Chief Akande in giving the brief of the delegation had told the former president that the party agreed totally with him on the 18-page letter written to President Jonathan.
Though party leaders claimed that they did not come to woo Obasanjo, however, sources at the meeting spoke to the contrary as it was claimed that Obasanjo was pointedly told to defect to the APC and that a membership form was even presented to him.

The former president was understood to have declined asserting his continued membership of the PDP.
The former president it was learnt, nevertheless reiterated to his visitors the urgency of saving the country.


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