President Goodluck Jonathan, with Olusegun Obasanjo and Ibrahim Babangida
Vincent Obia reports on the curious coming to London about the same time by President Jonathan, former President Obasanjo, former military leader, General Ibrahim Babangida, and some top business and economic players…
It was one week Nigeria literally moved to London. The top echelon of the nation’s politics and economy were in the city. President Goodluck Jonathan earlier expected to join the Super Eagles in South Africa for the finals of the African Cup of Nations as he promised was in London “because of urgent official commitments”.
It is not clear whether that urgent commitments included the need to solidify the seeming rapproachment between him and former President Obasanjo, meet former military president Ibrahim Babangida who was also in London, and visit the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero, who is recuperating in the city after an armed attack on his convoy.
This is because Jonathan’s visit to London coincided with the launch of Obasanjo’s charity organisation, christened Olusegun Obasanjo Foundation, which the president attended.
He was at the launch along with three other African leaders-President John Mahama of Ghana, Boni Yayi of Benin Republic and Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia- and other eminent personalities
Obasanjo had stylishly waited until Jonathan arrived before the event could start and when the president came, the former president got up from his seat to personally usher him and other African leaders to the event.
Curiously, however, Babangida who was staying in a hotel five-minutes walk away from the venue of Obasanjo foundation launch did not attend the event.
THISDAY learnt that President Jonathan also called at IBB’s hotel as he did also on the Emir of Kano.
Nigeria’s industry chiefs, which included President of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote and Chief Femi Otedola, Chairman Forte oil, as well as Access Bank Managing Director Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede were also in London.
Also were the Petroleum Resources Minister Deziani Alison-Maduekwe and virtually all the major oil marketers. One analyst privy to the assemblage of these major political and economic players said it was one week Nigeria moved to London.
His presence at the Obasanjo foundation launch was the second time in one week President Jonathan and the former president would sit together after a period of reciprocal tirades. Obasanjo had called at the Presidential Villa last Sunday during which he worshipped at the Aso Villa Chapel with Jonathan and his wife, Patience.
The former president, accompanied on the visit by two of his daughters, one of his sons, and business mogul, Otedola, also, reportedly, followed the president to his official residence after the church service, where they had lunch and held private discussions.
By taking the initiative to openly visit the Presidential Villa, Obasanjo not only tried to douse the widely held notions about a faceoff with Jonathan. The former president also tried to boost his image as a statesman.
Some contend that an honest attempt by the two leaders to restore good relations after their often-embarrassing public spats would certainly do the country good. It would at least save the country the humiliation of the never-ending disreputable diatribes being mutually fastened on each by the two leaders. It would also help the ruling Peoples Democratic Party in the run up to the 2015 presidential election.
In any case, when it comes to politics, compromise always seems inevitable. But the greatest compromise, according to analysts, is always that which serves the national interest. The compromise this time between Obasanjo and Jonathan, many fear, may be for self-preservation.