President Goodluck Jonathan, who last week bragged that he was a better leader than Olusegun Obasanjo and every Nigerian leader since independence, today sent a powerful delegation to the former president to plead support for his re-election bid.
Obasanjo had described Jonathan’s presidency as below “average,” and that the “head” [of the government] was “rotten.”
His delegation to Obasanjo’s Hilltop mansion in Abeokuta today included governors Liyel Imoke of Cross River State, Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom, Sule Lamido of Jigawa, Babangida Aliyu of Niger and Isah Yuguda of Bauchi State.
When they emerged from a closed door meeting, Obasanjo told the media that they had only discussed the insecurity in the country.
However, SaharaReporters learnt that the governors, who were protégés of Obasanjo during his tenure, had been asked to visit the former president to beg the former leader to tone down his opposition to Mr. Jonathan.
Following Obasanjo’s hard-hitting “Before It Is Too Late” letter to Mr. Jonathan last December, the former leader has in the past few months stepped up his attacks, underlining the corrupt nature of Mr. Jonathan's regime.
In turn, President Jonathan's attack dogs tried to attack Obasanjo frontally, but today’s delegation to the retired General suggests a strategy is at work.
In “Before It Is Too Late,” Obasanjo warned had Jonathan to learn the lessons of History and avoid taking Nigerians for granted.
“Move away from culture of denials, cover-ups and proxies and deal honesty, sincerely and transparently with Nigerians to regain their trust and confidence,” he advised. “Nigerians are no fools, they can see, they can hear, they can talk among themselves, they can think, they can compare and they can act in the interest of their country and in their own self-interest. They keenly watch all actions and deeds that are associated with you if they cannot believe your words. I know you have the power to save PDP and the country. I beg you to have the courage and the will with patriotism to use the power for the good of the country. Please uphold some form of national core values. I will appeal to all Nigerians particularly all members of PDP to respect and dignify the Office of the President. We must all know that individuals will come and go but the Office will remain.”
That advice was not heeded, but with the economy in trouble and the 2015 elections fast approaching, Mr. Jonathan seems to have decided to swallow his pride and court his political benefactor.
Another factor in the equation is a revelation by SaharaReporters last week that Obasanjo will shortly publish a three-volume autobiography that specifically details Jonathan's incompetence and complicity in corrupt activities. That has reportedly sent further jitters into the presidency, culminating in the decision to send a delegation of governors known to be close to Obasanjo to beg him.
Sources say of the meeting that Obasanjo did not express interest in a truce, reportedly telling his inner caucus that it is too late to mend fences with Jonathan. Obasanjo has probably concluded that he cannot now support Jonathan publicly without losing face at home and abroad.
One of the governors who attended the meeting today said they didn't get any commitment from the former Obasanjo. "Baba didn't say much after we presented our case for reconciliation. He referred us to the letter he sent to President Jonathan and said he stands by every word in that letter."
Our source said Obasanjo did not turn down the fence-mending approach because he said he did the same with his former arch-enemy, Abubakar Atiku when two of his protégés, Professor Babalola Aborisade and Otunba Oyewole Fasawe intervened on the former Vice-President’s behalf of Atiku and asked for a meeting.