By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor & Levinus Nwabughiogu
ABUJA — The presidency affirmed last night that the private visits which former President Goodluck Jonathan made to President Muhammadu Buhari last Thursday followed by former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Friday were not aimed at stopping Buhari’s anti-corruption war.
The presidency’s clarification followed insinuations in Abuja and some sections of the polity at the weekend that the private visits of the two former leaders to President Muhammadu Buhari were aimed at protecting the interests of the two former leaders.
President Jonathan who handed over to Buhari made his first visit to his successor on Thursday night. The visit only became known following news speculations that were subsequently confirmed by Buhari’s spokesman, Femi Adesina, yesterday.
Obasanjo also visited the villa last Friday under much secrecy and was said to have met Buhari in his residence within the villa outside the sights of news reporters. Obasanjo’s visit was also alleged to have been after working hours when the president had retired to the residence.
Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu who also confirmed the meetings like Adesina, claimed ignorance of the details of the meetings.
Shehu, however, cautioned against speculations that the meetings were meant to derail any specific investigation of alleged corrupt deals.
“The meeting between former Presidents Obasanjo and Jonathan with President Buhari were private and confidential. The president can call them for advice. But it will be unfair for anybody to feel or say it was to stop the war against corruption. The war will continue to go on,” Shehu said.
The speculations around the visits were prompted by the focus of security agents on associates of some of the former leaders. Obasanjo had the previous weekend received Hajiya Turai Yar‘Adua, the widow of President Umaru Yar‘adua in his Abeokuta residence under much secrecy allegedly directed by the former President Obasanjo.
Interest in Mrs. Yar‘Adua’s visit to Obasanjo was upon the investigation of her daughter, Mrs. Zainab Dakingari, the immediate past First Lady of Kebbi State by the anti-graft agency on an alleged crime. Mrs. Dakingari’s husband stepped down from power last May and was believed to have been quizzed by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
Obasanjo had in the past played a benefactor role to the Yar‘Aduas and steered the way for Umaru to become his successor in 2007 though the relationship between the two families, however, steadily deteriorated subsequently as the successor ditched several landmark programmes he inherited from Obasanjo.
Jonathan’s visit to Buhari was also secret and was only confirmed by Adesina, yesterday.
Jonathan’s visit aroused concern following affirmation by the presidency that the new administration would probe his government upon revelations of withheld funds, leakages and graft in the financial dealings of the immediate past administration.
Before he handed over last May, President Jonathan had, however, urged his successor not to limit his inquiry to his administration, urging him to extend any possible investigation to administrations before him.
Besides the two former leaders, Speaker Yakubu Dogara and his predecessor, Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State also met with President Buhari at the weekend. However, multiple sources privy to the meetings affirmed that the visits were strictly private and were of no official imputation.