Why did former President Olusegun Obasanjo suddenly forgive his erstwhile deputy, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar? Was there any truce called for reconciliation? Who could have been the intermediary behind the scene? Was there a deal between the duo? What was the reason for Obasanjo’s sudden change of mind? These and many more are the questions agitating the minds of many Nigerians after Obasanjo’s open endorsement of Atiku during the latter’s visit to his Abeokuta home on Thursday. O basanjo had earlier vowed never to support Atiku on the basis that he knew so much about his former deputy that would not allow him support the Turakin Adamawa for the exalted office. But on Thursday, he made U-turn to the surprise of many people.
Obasanjo still angry a week ago
According to Saturday Telegraph revealed that as at last Sunday when Atiku was picked as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Obasanjo was still angry and even hoped that he didn’t emerge from the primary. Sources close to the former president explained that Obasanjo would not have changed his stance if not the pressure from high-level quarters.
“But for the caliber of individuals that waded into the matter and persuaded him, baba couldn’t have supported Atiku. Those people calling and seeing him are not those he can easily ignore. “ATiku has really done his home work. He reached out to so many people that in turn reached out to baba. These people had been mounting pressure on him to change his stance and support Atiku.
“He has no choice than to agree. More so, when he knows that Atiku is the only option available to him because he couldn’t have gone back to his vomit on President Muhammadu Buhari. “He brought Umar Yar’Adua, he was disappointed, he brought Goodluck Jonathan, he was disappointed, he supported Buhari, and he was disappointed. What else could he have done? Is it not better to back the one you know his capabilities?”
Atiku mounted pressure on VIPs
Further investigations by our correspondent showed that Atiku’s reach to some prominent individuals within and outside the country and their subsequent pressure on the former president was the masterstroke that made Obasanjo to soft pedal and gave his backing to Atiku. An ally of the former president, who claimed to be in the know of happenings during the period, explained that the last oneweek had been of intense lobby and pressure on Obasanjo, from some Africans leaders who believed that the Nigerian situation needs to be salvaged. “I can confirm to you that there had been so much pressure on Baba to support Atiku.
I can confirm to you that people like Pastors Enoch Adeboye, W.F Kumuyi and Bishop David Oyedepo spoke with baba. I can also tell you that people who matter outside Nigeria had been calling him. “In fact, Baba was still angry as at Sunday during the PDP convention. But with the caliber of people mounting pressure and with the need to remedy the current situation, he had no choice”.
Though the source could not confirm those talking to Obasanjo from outside the country, he agreed that there had been visible signs of such interactions in the last few days. “I won’t tell you about those calling from outside Nigeria but we have seen traces of such in the last one week. I may not be able to confirm specific individuals to you as of now. But I won’t say you are wrong in that area”.
Some African leaders involved
However, our correspondent gathered from other sources that some of African leaders include two former Ghanaian presidents and a former Vice President of South Africa. The others sources insisted that the outsiders are those who believe in the ability of Atiku to move Nigeria out of the woods and had been asking Obasanjo to toe their path and work with them to ensure the emergence of the former number two citizen. “I won’t give you their names but I can tell you that some of those that have ruled and are still ruling some Africa countries that matter, are in support of Atiku and they have told baba that much. “They had even been invited to meet some of these leaders outside the continent.
They are supposed to meet in Asia and Europe but that would depend on how Baba want to arrange his schedule”. To buttress her point, the female source hinted that Obasanjo left the country immediately after receiving Atiku, explaining that “baba would have traveled but delayed the trip to receive his former deputy. “As I am talking to you, baba is on his way to meet some of the people that had invited him over Nigeria’s future.
He left after meeting with Atiku and talking to the press. “You heard what he said during Atiku’s visit. He has endorsed the man and he will give the feedback to those talking to him when he arrives their meeting. “Though he is going for his usual business meetings, I am sure he will use that opportunity to put in a word on the matter. The Nigerian election has become a source of concern for many people around the world”, he said.
Obasanjo working to clear Atiku in US –APC
However, the All Progressives Congress seemed to be laying credence to the hints that Obasanjo may be working with some power brokers outside the continent. In a statement issued by yesterday by its Ag.
The party’s acting national publicity secretary, Mr. Yekini Nabena, the party said it came across credible reports that Obasanjo was making moves to secure United States entry visa for Atiku Abubakar.
The party said: “It is learnt that that the former President who during and after leaving office insisted on Atiku’s unsuitability to govern Nigeria based on his knowledge of the latter’s extensive corrupt practices while he served as Vice President, is lobbying the US authorities to withdraw the ban reportedly placed on Atiku from entering the United States following a 2005 $500,000 bribery scandal that involved Atiku, his fourth wife, Jennifer and former United States Congressman, William Jefferson. “Recall that the former president while in office had deployed enormous resources of the country on a global dragnet coordinated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in getting Atiku prosecuted for corrupt enrichment and money laundering.
“A report by the United States Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, chaired by Senator Carl Levin reported that Atiku used offshore companies to siphon millions of dollars to his fourth wife in the United States, Jennifer while still the vice president of Nigeria between 2000 and 2008.
“The report further stated that then President Bush had on the strength of his report, barred Atiku and other corrupt politically exposed persons from being issued visa to the United States, a reason for which he has been unable to travel to the United States till date. “Obasanjo’s intervention in Atiku’s ban from the United States of America is evidence of Obasanjo’s legendary hypocrisy and self-serving interest in national affairs”, the party wrote.
Buhari has scored own goal –APCO
In a swift reaction, APCO said it read with bemusement the panicky reaction of the Buhari Campaign Organisation to the endorsement of Atiku by Obasanjo. In a statement issued yesterday, the organisation said: “We note the insult the Buhari Campaign Organisation has heaped on former President Obasanjo, and we can only say that it was expected. The Buhari camp is very predictable.
“In trying to paint former President Olusegun Obasanjo as a flip-flopper, the Buhari Campaign Organisation shot itself in the foot. “Their statement says President Buhari was never reported to have groveled and ‘begged’ anyone for forgiveness, just to be endorsed as a Presidential candidate”. How true is this? Let the facts speak for themselves. “In an interview that the then Major General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) gave to Premium Times on December 24, 2012, Mr. Buhari accused both former President Olusegun Obasanjo and ex military President, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, of betrayal.
His exact words were: ‘I felt betrayed by Mr. Babangida’ and ‘I haven’t forgiven Obasanjo’. “Now, fast forward to November 13, 2013 and the same Muhammadu Buhari, visited General Babangida, who he had called a traitor, in his home in Minna and praised him to high heavens when seeking his support for his Presidential bid.
“A month later, on December 22, 2013, Mr. Buhari also visited former President Obasanjo, who he had previously savaged, and together with his party leaders, begged Obasanjo to ‘be APC’s navigator’ to victory. “From the above facts, Nigerians can see for themselves who the hypocrite is between Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and Atiku Abubakar on the one side and President Buhari.
“Moreover, we note that the Buhari Campaign Organisation, in the statement, took it upon itself to also insult the men of God who were present at that event. We are not surprised. “After all, Festus Keyamo, who signed the statement, was indicted by a young girl who provided video and documentary evidence alleging that he participated in framing up a renowned man of God on false charges. It would seem that attacking men of God is now a full-time occupation of the Buhari Campaign Organisation. “Finally, we note the disingenuous smear of the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library Complex by the Buhari Campaign Organisation. In their statement, they alleged that the library is in clear violation of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers. “Nigerians know of the notoriety of the Buhari government in using the Code of Conduct Tribunal to blackmail political opponents.
They tried and failed with Senate President Bukola Saraki and they are now trying and failing with Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu. “Funny enough, when President Muhammadu Buhari visited the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library Complex, he had words of praise for it. Today, that praise has turned to threats.