President Goodluck Jonathan and Olusegun Obasanjo
By Muhammad Bello
President Goodluck Jonathan and former President Olusegun Obasanjo signalled hope of a rapprochement in their relationship as the duo spent some hours together in Abuja Sunday.
Obasanjo, who in recent weeks has been critical of the president’s administration, was at the State House in company with the Chairman, Zenon Oil and Gas, Mr. Femi Otedola, two of his daughters and his son, Juwon, where they attended a church service with the president and later had lunch with him.
Just last week, Obasanjo, once again, took on the Jonathan presidency on what he described as the latter’s inability to overcome the security challenges posed by the proliferation of violence orchestrated by the activities of the Islamic sect, Boko Haram.
The visit came in the wake of an interview Obasanjo granted this month’s edition of the pan-African magazine, New African, in which he was quoted as saying: “If the president is the chief security officer of the country and there is a security problem, where do you go for solution? And if that solution is not coming from the chief security officer, who has everybody and can mobilise everybody, inside and outside to get a solution, then he has the responsibility to solve the problem. And nobody else should be blamed but him.”
His attack on the administration drew a response from the Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Alhaji Ahmed Gulak, who described the former president as a confused man.
Gulak urged Nigerians not to pay heed to Obasanjo’s criticism of Jonathan because it was either his comments were based on ignorance or outright mischief or both.
He accused Obasanjo of criticising the Jonathan administration in order to confuse the people and distract the presidency from delivering the dividends of democracy to Nigerians.
“As far as I am concerned, Obasanjo is becoming more confused and Nigerians should not take him seriously on the issue of his attacks on President Goodluck Jonathan,” the presidential aide had said.
However, the two bigwigs of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) seemed to have resolved whatever differences between them yesterday as they discussed various issues of common interest, according to sources.
THISDAY gathered that Jonathan and Obasanjo attended the church service at the villa chapel signifying a thaw in their frosty relationship, during which Obasanjo read the second lesson at the church service.
The president and Obasanjo also went to the Sunday School and after the service, had lunch together, following which Jonathan saw the former president off to his car.
Commenting on the visit, a source told THISDAY that Obasanjo’s visit’s should not be seen as unusual, adding: “If you recall the vice-president had last month visited the former president. What is happening is both are trying to see how the intractable crisis threatening the unity of the PDP can be tackled once and for all.
“You should also not forget that Obasanjo, apart from being an elder in the party, is also an elder statesman whose spiritual guidance and profane wisdom must be sought by President Jonathan in all matters of state.”
He refused to give details of the meeting between the duo, saying that it was a prayer meeting, during which “Obasanjo took the second reading at the service and accompanied President Goodluck Jonathan to the children's church. That is how the visit should be seen and nothing else.”
On what Obasanjo discussed with Jonathan before leaving the villa, the source said jocularly: “That one na big men’s affair o (this is a big men’s affair). But I can assure you that they prayed together and subsequently had a meal. I was not privy to the details of what they discussed over lunch.”