There are strong indications that efforts by the PeoplesDemocratic Party to make former President Olusegun Obasanjo to have a rethink on his decision to stay away from the party’s activities have failed.
Investigations on Thursday showed that Obasanjo insisted when the new PDP National Chairman, Adamu Mu’azu visited him on January 26, that Jonathan must honour his alleged promise in 2011 not to contest the 2015 presidential election.
A very reliable PDP national officer confided in The PUNCH that Obasanjo also gave other conditions that the new leadership of the party must meet before he would have a change of mind.
They include the restructuring of the party as well as the correction of the anomalies relating to the removal of Olagunsoye Oyinlola as the national secretary of the PDP and Bode Mustapha as national auditor in early 2013.
Mu’azu was reported to have, during the closed-door meeting in Abeokuta, pleaded with the former President to back the President’s alleged 2015 interest and other activities of the ruling party.
Our source said that Obasanjo told Mu’azu bluntly to address the issues he raised in his December 2, 2013 and January 7, 2014 letters to President Goodluck Jonathan and a former PDP National Chairman, Dr. Bamanga Tukur.
In his letter to Tukur dated January 7, the former President accused the PDP of negating the principles of morality by giving prominence to a party chief in the South-West, Chief Buruji Kasamu.
He also said in the December 2 letter that Jonathan told him that he had not informed anybody that he would contest the 2015 presidential election.
Obasnjo had in the letter to the President said, “Only a fool would believe that statement you made to me judging by what is going on. I must say that is not ingenious. You may wish to pursue a more credible and more honourable path.”
The former President added that in 2011, Benue State Governor, Gabriel Suswan, informed him that Jonathan had accepted a one-term Presidency.
Part of the letter reads, “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 term of your predecessor 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.
“I cannot comment much on the constitutional aspect of your second term or what some people call third term. That is for both legal and judicial attention.
“As a leader, two things you must cherish and hold dear among others are trust and honour, both of which are important ingredients of character.”
He had also said that he would like to see anyone in the office of the Presidency as a man that could be trusted.
But the President fired back at Obasanjo in his letter dated December 22, 2013. He faulted the former President’s claim and accused him of wanting to incite Nigerians against him.
On his purported interest in the 2015 election, Jonathan said, “I am still of the considered opinion that it would have been best for us to do all that is necessary to refrain from heating up the polity at this time. Accordingly, I have already informed Nigerians that I will only speak on whether or not I will seek a second term when it is time for such declarations.
“Your claims about discussions I had with you, Governor Suswam and others are wrong; but in keeping with my declared stance, I will reserve further comments until the appropriate time.”
The PDP source, who confided in The PUNCH, said although the party had not given up on efforts to ensure total reconciliation of Obasanjo and Jonathan, as of now, it (PDP) had not succeeded.
He said, “Baba (Obasanjo) is still insisting on issues he raised in his two letters, particularly the restructuring of the party. He had said that he would withdraw from the party’s activities, until grievances he mentioned in the letter to Tukur were addressed.
“On Jonathan’s purported second term ambition, Obasanjo stated that nothing had changed from what he wrote in the letter to the President because it is a matter of honour.”
It was gathered that PDP leaders were divided over Oyinlola’s return as the national secretary of the party.
Some members of the National Working Committee are said to be uncomfortable with the idea.
Mu’azu met with Oyinlola at his residence in Abuja few days ago as part of the reconciliation process going on in the party.
The meeting between them was a follow- up to the Obasanjo-Mu’azu parley.
Sources said the Mu’azu-Oyinlola meeting was as a result of the advice given by the former President.
Obasanjo was said to have told Mu’azu that since the Court of Appeal had reinstated Oyinlola, there was no need for the PDP to pursue the case to the Supreme Court.
It will be recalled that few days after the judgment, the then Tukur-led NWC announced Oyinlola’s suspension from the party.
Apart from the former Osun State governor, a former Acting National Chairman of the party, Alhaji Abubakar Baraje; a former National Deputy Chairman, Dr. Sam Jaja; and former National Vice-Chairman, North- West, Ambassador Ibrahim Kazaure, were suspended by the Tukur-led NWC of the PDP.
A member of the new NWC, who spoke with one of our correspondents on condition of anonymity, said the committee had yet to be briefed on the outcome of the meeting between Mu’azu and Oyinlola.
He said, “We are aware of the meeting our chairman had with the former secretary. But we are expecting him to brief us soon.”
He, however, said that not every member of the NWC was favourably disposed to the idea of Oyinlola returning to his position.
The source said, “First, there are those who are saying that we should allow the Supreme Court to handle the matter.
“There are also those who are saying that he has gone to the All Progressives Congress and that bringing him back might affect our cohesion.
“But the majority of us in the NWC, who worked with him, knew that he was innocent of the allegations against him and that bringing him back would further heal the wounds among our members.”
None of the former President’s aides could be reached on Thursday to comment on Obasanjo’s stand.
One of his media aides, Mr. Tunde Oladunjoye, had on January 8, 2014, said that Obasanjo was “not at war with anybody, including President Jonathan.”
A Presidency source, who pleaded anonymity, told one of our correspondents on Thursday, that the President was not losing sleep over Mu’azu’s visit to Obasanjo.
He said, “As far as the meeting between the PDP chairman and the former President is concerned, we are playing politics.
“We know our friends and we know our enemies. In politics, you don’t befriend your friend alone, you also befriend your enemies but the visit was politics.”
When contacted, the Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Mr. Ahmed Gulak, said Jonathan was favourably disposed to any move that would restore total reconciliation to the party.
Gulak said the President, like any other well-meaning member of the party, would welcome any step that would bring back aggrieved members of the party who defected to the APC.
“Mr. President is a man of peace. He will welcome moves that can bring reconciliation to the party,” he said.
On its part, the PDP said the peace mission embarked upon by its national chairman was beginning to yield positive results.
The Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the party, Abdullahi Jalo, said this in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents in Abuja on Thursday.
Jalo said the new chairman’s vision of leading renewed efforts aimed at rebuilding the party was responsible for the closed-door sessions he held with prominent Nigerians.
According to him, recent interests shown in the party by leading opposition figures are results of the chairman’s efforts.
He cited the defection of a former Sokoto State governor, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa, and his Kano State counterpart, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, from the APC to the PDP to buttress his claim.