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2019: OBJ’s sudden reconciliation with S’West leaders may worry APC on Buhari
As more alignments and realignments continue to emerge ahead of 2019 presidential elections, the latest move by former President Olusegun Obasanjo where he along with other strategic figures in Nigeria’s politics met with the leadership of Afenifere, the Yoruba socio-cultural organization, may send shocks to the spines of the newly elected leadership of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC).
Before now, Chief Obasanjo had warned President Muhammadu Buhari to drop his second term bid considering the negative changes facing the country since his emergence in 2015 in an open letter which the presidency waved away.
However, reviewing the weight of the personalities at the meeting even though no clear direction or policy statement was made at the end, political pundits say the veiled resolutions at the Lekki meeting may not be unconnected with issues around the 2019 presidential elections.
It would recalled that former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, erstwhile Deputy National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olabode George, and chieftains of the Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere, who are some of his major critics, met in Lagos, yesterday, to kick-start a reconciliation process and forge a common front ahead of the 2019 general elections.
Obasanjo, who was at Chief George’s residence in Ikoyi before 9am, commiserated with the PDP chieftain over the recent death of his son, Dipo George, discussed national issues as well as, matters concerning the South West region behind close-door.
South West political heavyweight at the meeting are too many to count as the former president who was accompanied by Chief Abraham Akanle; Mr. Joju Fadairo; Dr. Femi Majekodunmi; Dr. Gbolade Oshinowo; Kenny Martins, and Otunba Oyewole Fasawe, arrived at the Lekki Phase One residence of Afenifere leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, where he also entered into a closed-door meeting with former Nigerian envoy to The Netherlands, Dr. (Mrs) Tokunbo Awolowo-Dosumu; Pastor Tunde Bakare; Dr. Amos Akingba; Mr. Supo Shonibare; Senator Femi Okunrounmu; Prof Akin Mabogunje, Prof Banji Akintoye; Mr. Yinka Odumakin, former governor of Ogun State and Director-General, Atiku Abubakar Campaign Organisation, Otunba Gbenga Daniel; former Ondo State governor, Olusegun Mimiko, and others to iron out critical issues about the country.
Observers say even though Obasanjo kept sealed lips at the end of the meeting on the purpose of his visit, his host, Chief Adebanjo, however pointed out that the gathering was about the nation.
The Afenifere leader said the meeting was aimed at forging a common front among stakeholders in the region, and also to ensure unity and oneness of purpose on how to save the country from further drifting.
Adebanjo, who said the country must move forward, stressed that all attempts to establish dictatorship must be opposed, and there must be unity to destroy mediocrity and dictatorship.
While he did not disclose whether Afenifere tried to convince` Obasanjo to change his anti restructuring posture, it was gathered that the subject was part of the issues discussed.
Observers noted that some of the major issues discussed at the meeting were the 2019 general elections; the spate of killings across the country and the rate at which young Nigerians are desperately running away from the country in search of greener pastures abroad.
On whether the Yoruba would agree on a common presidential candidate and the political platform to adopt in 2019, Adebanjo said, “What is important is that we have a common goal.
Continuing, Adebanjo averred that “We don’t have a candidate yet, not yet. We must agree first, any difference among us must be settled. If you are not united you can’t fight the battle. The Yoruba man must put on his thinking cap.”
Party stalwarts and family members, who welcomed Obasanjo to residence of the Georges included Seun Philipps; Chief Dapo Sarumi; Chief Okanlawon Shoboyede; Chief Mrs. Kofoworola Bucknor, Dr. Remi Akitoye, Chief Mrs Onikepo Oshodi, Captain Tunji Shelle; Mr. Debo Dallas; Mr. Biodun Ejemai; Mr Tola Animashaun; Prince Uthman Shodipe-Dosunmu.
It was not clear if the latest statement issued by aide to former governor of Lagos State and national leader of APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu was a tactical response to the Obasanjo’s meeting with Afenifere leaders as he accused some members of the Peoples Democratic Party of hindering the progressive agenda of the ruling APC.
According to him, “I must mention something of high concern; our progressive agenda has been hampered because elements of the PDP remain embedded in many agencies and ministries so crucial to daily governance.
“They have been fifth columnists, undermining our policies at every turn. While impeding reform, they also plot the comeback of their reactionary brethren to power.
“This is something we should no longer abide. Our party teams with competent, reform-minded people who would perform admirably in these positions.
“It is time we swept out the PDP remnants and put in position, people who actually care about the citizens.
“Some among us feared that today we would be joined by the presence of rain. Don’t fret. Let the rain fall if it must. For it is a sign of a great washing.
“We, the party of the broom, should understand more than anyone else what this represents.
“The rain symbolises that we are to wash away the remaining shards of the old, unjust politics so that we can set forth a better path for Nigeria.”
He said many people had thought that the merger by different political parties that gave birth to the APC would be short-lived.