Sunday, January 5, 2014

President open to reconciliation with Obasanjo –Presidency


Goodluck Jonathan and Olusegun Obasanjo
The Presidency on Sunday said President Goodluck Jonathan was favourably  disposed to mending fences with former President Olusegun.
The Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Mr. Ahmed Gulak,  made this known on Sunday just as  The PUNCH  gathered that the  feud between   Jonathan and Obasanjo was   adding to the worries of the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party.
The sour relationship between the duo became public knowledge in December 2013 when Obasanjo wrote a letter titled “Before it is too late” to Jonathan.
 In  the letter, he accused the President of condoning corruption, training snipers, putting some persons on a watch list and engaging in other acts capable of destroying the country.
Jonathan replied Obasanjo openly, saying  his  letter  was    designed to incite Nigerians   against him.
There were however  speculations that some former leaders had approached the President and Obasanjo to reconcile them.
Although Gulak, in an exclusive interview with one of our correspondents in Abuja,  said he was not aware of such  moves,   he added that  there was nothing wrong with  it.
He  stated  that  in spite of the   exchange of letters between the two leaders, Jonathan still held  Obasanjo in high esteem.
The presidential aide said  the President  did not only see Obasanjo as a leader but  also as his father.
He said the President had nothing against Obasanjo because he believed strongly that only God was  perfect.
The Presidential aide  said, “We are not aware of the reconciliation moves but there is nothing wrong with it. In fact, it is a good development because our party, the PDP, is always open to reconciliation.
“Only God is perfect. If in the wisdom of the nation’s elders, there is a need for reconciliation, there is no problem.
“Let me assure you however that President Jonathan has nothing against Chief Obasanjo. He considers the former President as a leader and a father, that is why he calls him Baba.
“President Jonathan has highest respect for Chief Obasanjo. The recent exchange of letters does not mean that he  does not hold the former President in high esteem.
“Nobody is perfect. No leader is perfect, it is only God that is perfect. There is no alternative to peace in the country and in our party.”
However, a  media aide to   Obasanjo, Mr. Tunde Oladunjoye,   said on Sunday that   the ex-president  was  not at war with Jonathan.
Oladunjoye,   in a telephone interview with one of  our correspondents in Abuja,  also  said   he was not aware of any move to reconcile the two leaders.
He said, “Baba did not write that letter as an enemy.  He said he wrote the letter as part of his duties to his political godson, the PDP  and  the nation.
“I can tell you without any fear of contradiction that Baba is not at war with anybody, including the President. That is why when the President wrote his own letter, Baba said he had no comment to make.”
Oladunjoye  wondered why some people felt they could profit from a dispute that did not exist between Obasanjo and Jonathan.
He added that Obasanjo had, in his letter, stated that he would maintain his serenity.
But a top source in the PDP said the ruling party’s leadership was at a crossroads on how to handle the misunderstanding between the two leaders.
The  source    said  the  disagreement was not good for the PDP,  especially  at this critical period when all hands  must  be on the deck ahead of the 2015 general elections.
The source said, “Those who are saying that the former President is not popular and cannot even win election in his home state are ignorant of the enormous popularity he has in and outside the country.
“The former President is very popular in the North and even in the South-South because he was responsible for the Jonathan Presidency. So, people there still respect him for that.
“Remember that it was this same former President who calmed the frayed  nerves at the Eagles Square during the 2011 presidential primaries and he was also the one who asked the late President, Alhaji Umaru Yar’Adua to step aside if he knew his health could no longer allow him to do the job when he was sick.”
He added that some PDP  governors  loyal to the former President  could  secretly go  to him  to seek  advice on any issue, including the running  of the party and the country.
“The President should know that his popularity and that of the party is declining since  the sycophants around him would not tell him “ he added.
He  said he expected the President and the PDP leadership   to take precautionary measures in dealing with   the  crises  in the party.
The source  said, “We have lost  five governors and  37 members of the House of Representatives and we may also lose more.
“The 2014  budget is still there before the National Assembly and all these are happening in an election year. Definitely, we have rookies at the helm of affairs of the party and those advising the President are not helping him.”

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