By Chuks Okocha
Following the recent criticism by former President Olusegun Obasanjo of President Goodluck Jonathan handling of the Boko Haram insurgency and the riposte by Jonathan over Obasanjo handling of the Odi invasion in 1999, there has been palpable unease within the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over the growing feud between the two.
Of particular concern, a top member of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party told journalists yesterday in Abuja that the party was worried over the preponderance by President Jonathan’s aides to encourage the president to engage in verbal diatribes with the former president on the pages of newspapers
In expressing the concerns of the party, the NWC member said it would be wrong for the president to fall out with Obasanjo.
He said: “The former president might have his faults, he is not a saint, but taking on Obasanjo on the pages of the newspapers is not good for the party,” advising Jonathan to tread softly because of the stature of Obasanjo.
“He was a former military head of state and was also president for eight years,” he said.
The NWC member said anyone advising Jonathan to take on former President Obasanjo was not helping matters.
“We are concerned about this feud between the president and Obasanjo, two critical members of the party.
“The president must be careful. It is dangerous for him to take on this man, who is very close to the northern oligarchy.
“Jonathan should rather seek his advice as a father because of his second term ambition. This is not the time to start fighting people like Obasanjo.
“He (Jonathan) should not make Obasanjo, a hero. It was this same Obasanjo who appealed to restive members of the party at the Eagles Square when Jonathan picked the party’s presidential ticket.
“That time, the North was very angry that the party did not follow the zoning formula as enshrined in its constitution following the death of President Umaru Yar’Adua,” the source said.
According to the source, “The party is working too hard to smoothen the relationship between the presidency and the National Assembly and now this. We can’t win the 2015 presidential election like this. We need a united party for things to work well for us.”
When contacted, the National Secretary of the PDP, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola and the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Chief Olisa Metuh, said there was no rift between Jonathan and Obasanjo.
According to the National Secretary of PDP, “The issue of Odi killings will not cause hostility between the two leaders of our party.”
The National Publicity Secretary added that Jonathan and Obasanjo were “working together towards deepening democracy in Nigeria.”
However, the NWC source said that it was in order to contain such unnecessary face off that the party wants to constitute its Board of Trustees (BoT), so that they can mediate in such disputes between leaders of the party.
“We need elders that can look at both senior members of the party and tell them the truth, instead of playing into the hands of the opposition. If we allow such bitter quarrels, what will the opposition parties do?” asked the NWC member.
He blamed the recent disagreement between Jonathan and Obasanjo on what he described as “some of the overzealous aides of the president.”