The moves by the Presidency and the Peoples Democratic to seek the support of former President Olusegun Obasanjo for President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015 have reached a dead end.
The PUNCH’s investigations in Abuja on Sunday showed that Jonathan and the PDP had been reaching out to Obasanjo since last December when the disagreement between them worsened.
It was, however, gathered that the former President had not changed his position, particularly on how the PDP should be run and the need for the President to honour his alleged pledge not to contest the 2015 presidential poll.
A member of the PDP Board of Trustees, who confided in one of correspondents, said, “The Presidency and the party have been talking with Obasanjo on the need to support Jonathan; but we have not made progress. Baba is still insisting that the issues he raised in his letters must be addressed.”
Obasanjo had in a December 2, 2013 letter to the President said that Jonathan told him that he had not informed anybody that he would contest the 2015 presidential election.
The former President said he told the President that facts on the ground did not tally with his earlier promise.
Obasanjo recalled that in 2011, Jonathan told Benue State Governor Gabriel Suswan that he would not contest in 2015.
The former President’s letter read in part, “I decided to cross-check with you. You did not hesitate to confirm to me that you are a strong believer in a one-term of six years for the President and that by the time you have used the unexpired time of your predecessor(the late Umaru Yar’Adua) and the four years of your first term, you would have almost used up to six years and you would not need any more term or time.”
But Jonathan in his reply dated December 20, 2013, said Obasanjo’s claims were wrong.
The President further said, “You (Obasanjo) quoted me as saying that I have not told anybody that I will seek another term in office in 2015. You and your ambitious acolytes within the party have clearly decided to act on your conclusion that ‘only a fool will believe that statement’ and embark on a virulent campaign to harass me out of an undeclared candidature for the 2015 presidential elections so as to pave the way for a successor anointed by you.”
In another letter dated January 7, 2014, written to the former PDP National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, Obasanjo said he had withdrawn from the party.
Among other reasons he cited was the imposition of Chief Buruji Kasamu, as the South-West PDP leader.
A PDP Board of Trustees member, who pleaded anonymity because he was not authorised to speak on the issues, said that Obasanjo’s demands, particularly on the President and the 2015 elections, were difficult to meet.
He said, “Inasmuch as we need him, we cannot meet all his demands, particularly that Jonathan should honour the so-called agreement not to contest the 2015 election.
“Baba (Obasanjo) is not happy that the party has not addressed the point he raised about the South-West PDP.”
When contacted, an associate of Obasanjo and a former National Auditor of the party, Chief Bode Mustapha, told one of correspondents that the issues raised by the former president had not been addressed.
The Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Alhaji Abdullahi Jalo, declined comments on the grounds that only the National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, was competent to speak on the issue.
Attempts to get reactions from Metuh were unsuccessful as repeated calls to his mobile telephone number indicated that it was switched off.
He had yet to respond to a text message sent to him as of the time of filing this report.
However, a source in the National Working Committee of the party said talks were on-going on the matter.
He said, “Talks have been going on albeit informally. You will recall just yesterday (Saturday) that Obasanjo was at the wedding of the President’s daughter.
“For those of us who were there, it was obvious that when Baba held discussions with Chief Edwin Clark it was more than a social one. Our enemies will soon be put to shame because the issues are being addressed.”
The Presidency had confirmed to one of our correspondents on Friday that the President was reaching out to Nigerians, including Obasanjo on the 2015 presidential poll.
The Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Mr. Ahmed Gulak, who disclosed this did not give details of the moves to woo Obasanjo or whether they had succeeded or not.
A member of the PDP BOT, Chief Ebenezer Babatope, said the party would not discountenance anything that was genuinely brought to it by any member.
He, however, said, “Chief Obasanjo did not tell the party where the promise (by Jonathan to do a single term) was made. As I speak to you, the trend in the PDP now is moving in the direction of 97 to 98 per cent of the party asking the President to contest for a second term.”
On the issue of restructuring the PDP in the South-West, Babatope said the party was fully aware of the implications of giving the party to the wrong people.
He said “The party cannot afford to give the party to wrong hands because its success or failure in the zone will depend on it.”
Asked to comment on the status of Olagunsoye Oyinlola, former national secretary of the PDP, who was reinstated by a court, Babatope said, “The party is a respecter of the rule of law.”
He added that his supporters were in court challenging the process which produced Oyinlola.“I am sure that at the end of the day, the rule of law will prevail,” Babatope, who desires to become the next PDP national secretary, added