Former President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday sneaked into Ibogun of Ogun State, the ancestral of one of his predecessors in office, and an architect of his defeat in the 2015 election, ex – President Olusegun Obasanjo.
The rare meeting between the duo who were bitterly divided in the run-up to the election saw Obasanjo tell his host how wise he (Jonathan) had become since leaving office.
“When leaders come, they have little or no experience. When they have to go is when they have really amassed a lot of experience, where they have wisdom, their experience is in high demand.
“Those like you and me who have the grace of God to bow out gracefully, if there is now what I call a constitutional office, we have residual responsibilities for Nigeria,” Obasanjo said.
With Jonathan on the trip, which observers branded as fence mending yesterday, were former Minister of Special Duties, Tanimu Kabir Turaki; a former Minister of National Planning, Prof. Suleiman Abubakar; King A.J Turner; and a former Chairman of the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency( FERMA), Engr. Jide Adeniji.
They flew into the village in a chartered helicopter at about 11.30am.
The visit lasted about four hours of which Obasanjo and Jonathan alone spoke behind closed doors for 40 minutes.
No member of Jonathan’s entourage or Obasanjo’s associates was allowed into the inner room where the secret talks took place.
One source said yesterday that the visit was part of Jonathan’s new rapprochement with some of the key figures that had a hand in his defeat in the April 2015 polls.
Obasanjo received his visitor in company with former Governor of Osun State, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, who was ousted as National Secretary of the then ruling PDP by Jonathan and his loyalists.
Obasanjo took Jonathan round the village for a door-to-door greeting of the elders and the residents.
The people sang and danced in appreciation of Jonathan’s visit.
Obasanjo, welcoming Jonathan, said: “The first point I want to make is to thank you very sincerely and most sincerely for taking it upon yourself to pay us a visit at this point in time and at this location. Secondly, since you left office, you hardly have time to sit down and relax like you have been able to do today, and I hope, I sincerely hope and pray for more such relaxed situation where we can reminisce on situations of the past that we have been through in this country and we can also look at what the future portends.
“I believe that not only Nigeria, West Africa and Africa and indeed the world will continue to tap our experiences, our wisdom and I hope and pray that when the call is made to you, you will be more than ready to put your experience, the lessons you have learnt into the service of this country, for African and indeed for humanity in general.
“ I have said to you before, and I will say again that there are plenty of opportunities out there, within the country, within West Africa, within Africa and indeed in the larger world where people will want you to make contributions.
“I believe that you are resting now and when you have fully rested, and you will be hearing from me because I have this opportunity to be around the world and if I mention your name in dispatch, I thank you sincerely that you have received us as we are in this village to prove to you that we are in a typical village, I was telling you that your village is better than mine.
“I want to say that we have it. Nigeria is a good country, and we must never be tired of lifting the country up to the height that God has created it to be, and God did not make a mistake when he put all of us together and if he doesn't want us to be together any power in the world will have made us come together.
“My regards to everybody at home, especially your wife. Please, tell her that my wife sends her regards and I hope sooner or later we will be on your part of the world to enjoy the atmosphere together. I want to thank you on behalf of everyone here in this village.”
Explaining his mission, in company Jonathan said he had planned to visit Obasanjo during thin company with former military ruler, General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida (IBB), but the plan fell through owing to unforeseen circumstances.
He said the idea came about when he visited Babangida in Minna when the two of them agreed to come to Ibogun.
Jonathan thanked Obasanjo for the warm reception accorded him and entourage.
Thereafter, Obasanjo and Jonathan retired to one of the sittings rooms for “strictly personal talks for 40 minutes.”
Talks over, Obasanjo and one of his friends launched into the popular Yoruba game of ayo.
Jonathan watched as the game went.
A source at the meeting said he was “full of admiration” for it.
It was not immediately clear if the trip was part of the ongoing political realignment for 2019 general elections.
But a top source simply said: “It is a reunion of Papa and his son. Do not read any meaning into it.
“The ex-President decided to make it a private visit in order to be able to have frank talks with Obasanjo.
“During the visit, Obasanjo and Jonathan locked themselves up for 40 minutes. No member of Jonathan’s entourage nor Obasanjo’s associates in Ibogun was allowed to be part of the private session.
“All I can tell you is that the two leaders were able to iron out a few things and Jonathan has since returned to Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.”
“At the end of the visit, ex-Minister Turaki, who is the Chairman of ex-Ministers Forum, gave the vote of thanks.”
Jonathan started out as Obasanjo’s political godson having been plucked out of office as Bayelsa State governor to become presidential running mate in the 2007 election.
He went on to become president, following the death of President Umaru Yar’Adua and won the 2011 election.
The parting of ways came in 2015, following persistent disagreements between them with Obasanjo launching vitriolic attacks on Jonathan culminating in the tearing of his membership card of the PDP and openly campaigning against Jonathan’s re-election.
They had not seen eye to eye since then until yesterday.