*Moves to pacify North, meets traditional rulers
*Aso Villa ‘hawks’ want his wings clipped
*President launches counter offensive, woos S/West elders
*Anenih on fence-mending with govs
By Jide Ajani
Fresh facts emerged, at the weekend, that former President Matthew Okikiolakan Aremu Olusegun Obasanjo is intensifying his opposition to the 2015 re-election aspiration of incumbent President Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan.
This is at a time when some hawks in the Presidency are pressing for decisiveness on the part of Mr. President, with a view to clipping Obasanjo’s wings.
The latest indication about the former President’s moves are what sources described as the “series of meetings and consultations between Obasanjo and traditional rulers in the North”.
A former state governor familiar with the surreptitious movements of Obasanjo in the last one month told Sunday Vanguard: “The former president has been moving round the North under the guise of being a special guest at functions; but the real reason for his visits to the North is the series of consultations he is holding with traditional rulers across the zones – save, of course, North East geo-political zone where the dreaded Jamaatu Ahlil Sunna Lidawati wal Jihad, otherwise known as Boko Haram, holds sway”.
It was learnt that Obasanjo’s latest moves are “with a view to pacifying the North which heaps on his head all the blames for the loss of its hold on power as occasioned by the death of late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, a death which paved the way for the enthronement of Jonathan as president.
“What Obasanjo has come to realize is that even most of those he considers his traditional friends and confidants poke disdain at him for his role in the imposition of the late Yar’Adua and Jonathan as presidential candidate and running mate on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in 2007, and he is very desperate to make it up to ‘his people’”.
“The meetings are centred on how best the North can present a united front against the aspiration of Jonathan. And because of his vast network of friends across the country, Obasanjo is cashing all his cheques because of this project”.
Sunday Vanguard can also report that the off-and-on relationship between Obasanjo and former military president, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, has again engaged the ‘ON’ mode.
“When you see Obasanjo and Babangida coming together again with their interests coalescing, then you know something is in the air”, our source said.
Another source – a former presidential aide – that is very familiar with the scheme, said, “It is not so much of what Obasanjo wants from the northern traditional rulers but what the rulers want from him. Yes, I can confirm to you that he has been all over the place and he has been holding series of consultations. The agenda is to work against the 2015 aspiration of President Jonathan”.
Asked about the rumoured rapprochement between Obasanjo and his ex-deputy, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, the source was emphatic in saying that “the two have not sat down to meet one on one but there are behind the scene consultations with a view to ensuring that happens”.
In addition, Obasanjo is also said to be in consultation with a few PDP state governors who are very loyal to him, specifically Sule Lamido of Jigawa State and Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso of Kano State.
Indeed, sensing this emerging threat, PDP Board of Trustees, BoT, Chairman, Chief Tony Anenih, launched a counter offensive.
Already, the BoT Chairman has held talks with Lamido, Kwankwaso, Governor Babangida Aliyu of Niger State, and Governor Mukhtar Yero of Kaduna State, among others.
His rescue mission is to “ensure that a proper reconciliation is engendered between the President and the state governors”, a very dependable source told Sunday Vanguard.
The talks, which are continuing, are said to be “yielding very positive results”.
On his part, Jonathan himself held talks with a section of Yoruba leaders three weeks ago in Lagos.
Sunday Vanguard learnt that the meeting, which had some elders in the land as well as a very strategic traditional ruler in attendance, explored ways of pacifying the S/West geo-political zone which is increasingly becoming vociferous about its claims of marginalization under the Jonathan administration.
The Yoruba leaders, who do not appear to be on the same page with the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, or its intended successor party, the All Progressive Congress, APC, are to hold another round of talks with the President at a later date.
Interestingly, even as the President patience is being taxed by Obasanjo’s scheme, some hawks in Aso Rock Presidential Villa are of the view that the former President’s wings should be clipped.
A Presidency source told Sunday Vanguard:”It is because President Jonathan is mild-mannered; if not, are we not living witnesses to how the former President deployed state power to haunt those he perceived as capable of stopping him from achieving his failed Third Term agenda?
“That he is walking the streets of Nigeria free does not mean he is a saint, especially the way he’s been carrying on. Is it not the mess that he created after eight years in office that this administration is still battling to clear”?, the Presidency source quipped.