Obasanjo, Atiku Make Peace at Last

Posted by From Jaiyeola Andrews in Abeokuta and Imam Imam in Gusau on 2009/01/21 | Views: |

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Obasanjo, Atiku Make Peace at Last

Almost two years after leaving office during which their disagreement while in office continued to put them asunder, former President Olusegun Obasanjo and his estranged deputy, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, got back on talking terms yesterday.

* Obasanjo “There was nothing personal about our disagreement.”“Atiku "It’s my New Year

Almost two years after leaving office during which their disagreement while in office continued to put them asunder, former President Olusegun Obasanjo and his estranged deputy, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, got back on talking terms yesterday.
The duo met behind closed doors for two hours at Obasanjo’s Hill Top residence in Abeokuta.

THISDAY learnt that the meeting was a product of several other exploratory parleys between the emissaries of the duo and other concerned people including the Governors’ Forum.

But it was Osun State Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola who rode to Atiku’s Ikoyi residence yesterday to convey the former vice-president to Obasanjo’s Abeokuta home and also took him back to Lagos after the meeting.

The meeting was said to be a fence-mending one between Obasanjo and Atiku but with the larger aim of looking at what sources called the state of the nation and how the duo can help the country at this critical time of the global economic crisis.

But, according to sources, the ongoing rapprochement is also not unconnected with moves to bring the former vice-president back to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Obasanjo and Atiku were locked in a bitter succession battle, which began quietly in the build-up to the 2003 election but became pronounced in the run-up to the 2007 presidential election, following which Atiku was forced to leave PDP for Action Congress (AC) on which platform he contested the 2007 poll and lost.

At yesterday’s talks, Obasanjo and Atiku were engaged in discussion for two hours during which far reaching decisions were allegedly reached.

Emerging from the meeting, the former vice-president told journalists that the visit was “my New Year visit to my former boss".

He did not utter any other statement before he was cut short by Obasanjo.
But when asked if his former deputy was re-aligning with him, the former president merely said, "there was nothing personal about what happened then, it was just a political disagreement".
He said it was normal for two persons to disagree, explaining that "even father and son disagree".

Asked whether the duo were back as political associates, Obasanjo said: "No. I will not say we are political associates because Atiku is in a wrong political party. Until he leaves Action Congress, we are just political friends."

Obasanjo said yesterday's visit of Atiku to his residence was the first since they both left office, stating that even if the duo had met, such meetings were not behind closed doors.

THISDAY checks revealed that there may be a subtle move for Atiku’s return to PDP to pave the way for him to run for the presidency in 2011.
But other sources said the new initiative was not about running for presidency or about 2011 election.

It is said to be a “patriotic move” to rally round the present government in stirring the ship of the state at this difficult time economically and that President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and other prominent Nigerians will be involved in subsequent meetings.

“It’s not about 2011. Some prominent Nigerians including political, traditional and religious leaders just thought that all hands must be on deck to help the government navigate the nation out of this troubled time. If the price of crude oil goes further down internationally the country will be in serious trouble,” said one source.

The source said the meeting was not going to be the last and that other prominent Nigerians would be involved in the process later.

A different source, however, said Atiku went to solicit Obasanjo’s support for his return to the ruling party and for Obasanjo to support his quest for the 2011 presidential election.

Obasanjo was said have given his support for Atiku’s return to PDP but reportedly declined to support his ex-deputy’s rumoured presidential quest.

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