Chuks Okocha, Muhammad Bello in Abuja and Sheriff Balogun in Abeokuta
In a bid to end the festering crisis in the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), President Goodluck Jonathan and the party saturday reached out to former President Olusegun Obasanjo who has been aloof from the party’s activities since his resignation as the Board of Trustees (BoT) chairman in April last year.
President Jonathan and other PDP leaders spoke glowingly of Obasanjo at the reception planned by the South-west PDP to honour the former president after he left office as chairman PDP BoT.
But the reconciliation between the President Jonathan and former president planned by PDP leaders failed to hold.
President Jonathan was represented at the reception in Abeokuta, Ogun State by Vice-President Namadi Sambo. Also, only two PDP governors-Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom and Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta, attended the reception.
But Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha and Ogun State Governor Ibikunle Amosun, who belong to the All Grand Progressives Allaince and Action Congress of Nigeria, among others were also in attendance.
Sambo arrived at the event in company with PDP National Chairman Alhaji Bamanga Tukur.
Jonathan described Obasanjo as a much admired and highly respected elder statesman whose life is closely tied to the history and evolution of Nigeria.
The President, along with PDP chairman Tukur and former President of Ghana, John Kuffour, commended Obasanjo for his leadership.
President Jonathan lauded that the administration of the former president for laying what he called solid foundation for the development of the country through vibrant policies and programmes, which the current administration was building on.
He expressed his gratitude to the former president for his supportive role in the development of the nation.
The President also assured Nigerians that his administration was on course in fulfilling its promises and meeting its basic obligations to the people and called for continued cooperation and understanding to enable it achieve its good intentions and actions.
He said the country has chalked up great success in the power sector, saying "it is a known fact all over the country today that there is improvement in power, this is as a result of improvement that we are making."
On his part, Obasanjo commended the present administration for doing what was right for the people by addressing the critical sectors of the economy.
The former president poked fun at Governor Okorocha by calling him a 'failure'.
He was alluding to the fact that Okorocha, now an APGA chieftain, once vied for the PDP presidential ticket with him and lost.
Okorocha had earlier referred to Obasanjo as his former colleague against whom he had vied for the presidency.
Obasanjo said he could never have been a colleague of a failure, saying "by the virtue of the fact that he was brought up in Jos, he is a true Nigerian and when he wants to pull me down he will say we are colleagues.
"How can I be a colleague of a failure?” he asked.
And talking seriously, the former president said, “One of the things we must look into in people we put in position of authority at whatever level is their integrity and character."
Tukur described Obasanjo as a living legend of Africa, saying he was proud to be associated with the legend.
Meanwhile, the PDP BoT has sought the assistance of Obasanjo in filling the vacuum left after resigning as the chairman of the board. Secretary of the party's BoT, Jubril Walin, made the appeal in his own goodwill message.
He observed that the B0T chairmanship position has remained vacant since Obasanjo’s resignation.
Obasanjo had been absent from the BoT meetings twice – at the end of last year and on January 8. On both occasions the party failed to produce a leader.
And at the end of the last meeting, President Jonathan set up a committee led by Prof. Jerry Gana to streamline the BoT, the membership of which was said to be over-bloated.
Some observers saw the move as a scheme to weed out some Obasanjo loyalists.
The BoT secretary described Obasanjo as a true Nigerian who the people of the country must celebrate for his immense contributions to the development of the nation.