By Danlami Nmodu
After what has been described as a failed attempt by incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan to trade tackles with former President Olusegun Obasanjo, the incumbent seems to have chosen to beat a retreat.Contrary to the claims of Aso Rock Presidential image makers that Jonathan and Obasanjo were having a cordial relationship, Newsdiaryonline.com learnt that the relations got so bad at some point that Jonathan “was not picking telephone calls from Obasanjo.”It was further learnt that Jonathan’s decision to snub OBJ got the Ota farmer “really very angry”.
“There is no doubt that Jonathan tried to take on OBJ for some time, but I think some more experienced people advised the incumbent to avoid any conflict with Obasanjo.That is why there have been attempts in recent times to reconcile with Obasanjo,” a source in Abeokuta who has been monitoring the OBJ-GEJ rift said.
Latest reports reaching Newsdiaryonline.com indicate that Obasanjo met with Jonathan in Abuja last week at the instance of Jonathan.Sources said the main item on the table was Jonathan’s attempt to reconcile with the former president who has not hidden his desire to criticize the regime whenever necessary.
No further details were made available about Jonathan’s meeting with Obasanjo in Abuja last week,but Newsdiaryonline.com learnt that Alhaji Bamanga Tukur,national chairman of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party,PDP also met with the former president ,according to a source “for about three hours after Jonathan’s meeting with him.”
In fact ,a political observer in Abeokuta believes Tukur may have been the arrowhead of the recent reconciliatory moves.Some weeks ago ,Tukur paid a “private visit to Obasanjo in Ogun state and somehow somebody tipped off some journalists”.That was the occasion OBJ expressed his resolve to continue to criticize the regime,though he admitted that Jonathan remained his president.The Abuja meeting, therefore, may have been a follow up.
The Abeokuta based observer drew attention to the fact that Jonathan may have begun to take practical steps to placate OBJ.One particular event on the new year’s eve was the reconstitution of some boards by the federal government.The Ogun based observer said Chief Olabode Mustapha who was named as chairman of the National Agricultural Research Development Council is an associate of Obasanjo.And given OBJ’s interest in agriculture, the appointment may have been well thought out.
But as far as the OBJ-GEJ rift is concerned, politics is the crux of the matter.And the 2015 presidential race is the bone of contention.”Those of us in Abeokuta know that Obasanjo is determined to play the Northern card in 2015”,an observer said. In plain Language, OBJ is believed to have resolved that the North should actually produce the next president in 2015.And Jonathan and his men are trying to work on the former president to have him support the incumbent who, though wants to run, is yet to announce his 2015 plans publicly.
A highly placed source in Lagos who is conversant with the intrigues told Newsdiaryonline.com that though reconciliatory talks between OBJ and GEJ are possible,there are serious doubts about what Jonathan can achieve therefrom given the enormity of the forces at play.
But Mustapha’s appointment is an indication that Jonathan may be willing to throw some carrots at the former president.How far that will go in influencing the Ota farmer remains to be seen.