Details emerged on Monday how ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo’s loyalists facilitated his fence-mending visit to the Aso Rock Villa on Sunday.
At the core of the arrangement that led to the visit and closed-door talk between Obasanjo and President Goodluck Jonathan were business mogul, Aliko Dangote; oil marketer, Femi Otedola; court-sacked National Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, Olagunsoye Oyinlola; and a former Chief Executive Officer of the United Bank of Africa, Mr. Tony Elumelu, among others.
Dangote, Oyinlola, Otedola and Elumelu are all said to be the loyalists of the ex-President.
These Obasanjo’s men who are also said to have the ears of Jonathan were said to have impressed it upon the former President that the lingering feud between him and the current occupier of Aso Rock was inimical to the interest of the ruling PDP, especially with the justling for the 2015 poll already picking up.
Dangote and others were however, said to have received the blessing of Jonathan before they approached Obasanjo for a possible settlement.
In spite of denials by the Presidency, both Jonathan and Obasanjo had been at loggerheads for some time with each side taking a sharp jab at the other.
Barely 24 hours before Obasanjo’s sudden visit to the villa in Abuja, the Presidency had railed at the ex-President, whom Jonathan’s aides said was “confused” in his assessment of the Boko Haram issue.
“If Obasanjo said what he said, we will just tolerate him because the other time, he said force should be used and he turned back to say dialogue must be used. Now, he is saying another thing. He is becoming confusing. I think the old man is becoming confused. The fact is that the insecurity issue started even during Obasanjo’s regime. It did not start with Jonathan’s regime,” Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Ahmed Gulak, had said in an interview with The PUNCH on Saturday.
Alarmed at the statement from the Presidency and knowing what would be Obasanjo’s response, Dangote, Otedola, Elumelu and co were said to have rushed down to Abeokuta to meet the ex-President at his Presidential mansion and begged him to give peace a chance.
Indeed, Obasanjo, according to a source, had planned a “befitting” acerbic line to drop on his way out of the country on Sunday but for the quick intervention by the “men of peace”.
The peacemakers were also said to have been propelled by Jonathan’s known aversion to pick quarrels with Obasanjo who was said to have facilitated the President’s rise to power, though a fresh revelation by another Obasanjo loyalist and former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, in his yet-to-be-released book is said to have indicated that the ex-President really wanted to ditch Jonathan because of his “weak character”.
It is said to have been the prevailing view among those managing the President that his major concern should be the provision of effective leadership for the party under his leadership as President and not to be seen to be fighting.
But there are said to be some in Obasanjo’s camp who did not want the rift between their principal and Jonathan to come to an end.
Recounting the circumstances that led to Obasanjo’s Sunday’s fence-mending visit to Aso Rock, a source in the know said, “You see, the Obasanjo camp is divided between its loyalists who wanted a fight and those who wanted settlement.
“You can see that while people like Oby Ezekwesili wanted a fight, people like Femi Fani-Kayode were not in support of such a fight, although they would defend Obasanjo in all situations no matter what.
“However, some of Obasanjo’s allies like Oyinlola, Dangote, Otedola and Elumelu initiated the move to bring the two men together. With what has happened, it is clear that those who didn’t want a fight are the ones winning. But don’t lose sight of the fact that the other camp would not go to sleep.
“The challenge, however, is that the President’s men and those on the side of peace from the Obasanjo camp have to work hard to nurture it.
“The President is the leader of the party. It is his responsibility to lead the party. He cannot be fighting his people; he has to lead them.”
Meanwhile, Jonathan has reportedly ordered his aides to cease fire on the dispute between him and Obasanjo in tandem with the truce agreed upon by the duo on Sunday.
Obasanjo was accompanied to the Villa by two of his daughters; a son, identified as Juwon; and Otedola.
A top chieftain of the PDP, who pleaded anonymity, said, “You will observe that Jonathan has not engaged in any direct verbal war with Obasanjo. He has been looking for ways to restore the peaceful relationship between them.”