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Eight years after leading Buhari to Obasanjo, Tinubu meets ex-president for own ambition

By Leo Sobechi, Azimazi Momoh Jimoh (Abuja), Charles Coffie Gyamfi (Abeokuta) and Kehinde Olatunji (Lagos)
18 August 2022   |   4:16 am
The presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, yesterday, held a closed-door meeting with former President Olusegun Obasanjo, in Abeokuta over his presidential bid.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo (right); All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu; Ogun State Governor Dapo Abiodun and Chief Olusegun Osoba during Tinubu’s visit to Obasanjo in Abeokuta… yesterday.

• George, FFK differ on Tinubu’s visit
• Nnamani dissociates self from Atiku gang-up, explains why he spoke out for Tinubu
• PDP stakeholders rue crisis as Wike plots new breed coalition
• Ayu’s case not before us yet, Jibrin
• Wike’s meeting with Obi, others in order, says Ologbondiyan

The presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, yesterday, held a closed-door meeting with former President Olusegun Obasanjo, in Abeokuta over his presidential bid.

While Tinubu’s opponent, Peter Obi of the Labour Party, has been a frequent guest of Obasanjo, the frosty relationship between the former Lagos State governor and Obasanjo thawed in the run up to the 2015 general elections.

Shortly after Obasanjo had openly tore his membership card of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Tinubu joined other APC leaders to present the party’s candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, to him, requesting that the former president becomes the party’s navigator.

The duo had not been seen together since then, though he was at the 78th birthday of the former president held at Abeokuta in March 2015. They have since kept their distance as Obasanjo withdrew his support for President Buhari and the APC.

Not long after, the honeymoon between Obasanjo and the APC-led administration ended as the former president became a fierce critic of President Buhari, with some open letters to the president released at intervals on the state of the country.

Eight years after Tinubu’s last visit to Obasanjo’s penthouse residence inside the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL) in Abeokuta, the APC candidate paid another visit, this time on behalf of himelf. He arrived at the residence around 1:10p.m. when the chopper landed and immediately went into a closed-door meeting with the former president, which lasted more than an hour.

The APC flag-bearer, however, could not address newsmen after the meeting because of the teeming crowd. He, thereafter, proceeded to the MKO Abiola International Stadium to address party chieftains.

After pronouncing blessings on APC members at the stadium, Tinubu told them that it was not yet time for campaign. The presidential candidate said he was in Ogun to greet them and the people of the state.

Tinubu also acknowledged the “good works” of the governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, and the support people of the state had continued to give to him.

Tinubu visited Obasanjo in company of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; APC former chairman, Chief Bisi Akande and former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu.

He was received by Governor Abiodun, former governors Segun Osoba and Gbenga Daniel, Speaker of the House of Assembly, Olakunle Oluomo and other top government functionaries.

An inside source told The Guardian that Tinubu, Abiodun, Gbajabiamila, Osoba, Akande, Ribadu and others first held a meeting with the Balogun Owu behind closed doors.

After about an hour, the former president pulled Tinubu and they both went into a private room for another meeting. It was gathered that the duo had a private discussion not known to any of those who went in with the APC national leader.

It was learnt that Tinubu later had lunch at Obasanjo’s place before he departed after about two hours. When he was accosted by pressmen downstairs, the presidential candidate refused to grant an interview as he ‘hopped’ into the waiting bus that conveyed him to the MKO Abiola Stadium.

Scores of APC stalwarts had stormed the former president’s residence, singing, drumming and dancing.
REACTING to the visit, former National Vice Chiarman (South) of the PDP, Chief Bode George, yesterday, expressed confidence that Obasanjo would not mince words in telling the truth to Tinubu on the 2023 election. He, however, stated that it was Tinubu’s right to seek advice and words of wisdom from Obasanjo.

  
Speaking on Channel’s Television Politics Today, George said: “Whatever Bola (Tinubu) is looking for in Baba’s house I have no idea, but I can tell that when the truth is to be told, Baba will not mince his words to tell him.

“As a leader and icon, he must allow all kinds of characters to pay a visit to him, to listen to his words of wisdom and his sense of reasoning. I don’t have a qualms about that, I wish him (Tinubu) well in his journey.”
 
On his part, former Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode (FFK), said Tinubu consulted Obasanjo to consolidate Southwest’s votes to win the presidential election. He asked the former president to reciprocate the gesture by supporting him (Tinubu).
 
“He is consulting and he has gone to meet the man that many of us considered to be the father of the nation. He has gone to meet a Yoruba elder, he’s gone to consolidate his base. He’s gone to explain his mission to him and I sincerely hope that our former president will reciprocate this gesture by supporting him. We need a solid base in this coming election.”
  
When the anchor of the programme, Seun Okinbaloye asked Fani-Kayode to react to statements made by Tinubu in the past, referring to Obasanjo as “the greatest election rigger, whose time has expired,” Fani-Kayode said: “Obasanjo has said worst things about Tinubu both in his books and also on television. We say these things sometimes and that does not mean we should be enemies forever.

“Whatever anybody says at any point in time, they reserve the right to retrace their steps and say something else based on conviction. I don’t think Tinubu will say the same thing again about former president Obasanjo, otherwise, he won’t be where he is today (yesterday’s visitation).

MEANWHILE, chairman, Senate Committee on Cooperation and Integration in Africa/NEPAD, Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani, said he decided to speak out in favour of Tinubu on grounds of his profession as a health worker. He noted that as a medical practitioner, who swore to the Hippocratic oath, he felt appalled that some people could come together to make a jest of another citizen’s health or physical stature.

Recall that at the height of a song by the National Association of Seadogs during their convention, Nnamani released a statement condemning the attempt to parody the former governor of Lagos, stressing that Tinubu remains the hardest working politician in modern Nigeria.

Although the statement did not go down well with some commentators, Nnamani told The Guardian that contrary to insinuations in some quarters that he was supporting the APC presidential candidate against Atiku Abubakar, he intervened as a health worker.

“I was piqued and compelled to speak out as one, who subscribed to the ethical principles of the medical profession, which enjoins us, not only to treat the sick to the best of one’s ability, but also preserve patient’s privacy.

“So, I do not believe that one’s health or physical condition should become a subject of political competition or caricature. Campaigns should be on the basis of track records and programmes. It is on record that Tinubu’s tenure as Lagos State governor was eventful and outstanding,” he remarked.

THERE were insinuations that some Southern politicians in PDP were forming an alliance against the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku, as a fallout from his choice of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa as running mate and insistence of Dr. Iyorchia Ayu to retain his position as national chairman.

The chairman of PDP Board of Trustees (BOT), Senator Walid Jibrin, has disclosed that the issue of whether the national chairman, Ayu, should step aside or not has not been brought to the BOT.

He assured that PDP was taking all permissible steps to ensure that the party remains united to be able to win the forthcoming election, adding, “As far as the BOT is concerned, the issue (Ayu’s resignation) has not been brought to us.

“People should be very careful and try not to cause any problems. We don’t need any problem now; we want us to get together to the end to ensure that our presidential candidate, Atiku wins the race. Nobody should jam heads.”

The BOT chairman remarked that the party is not ruling out the possibility that APC could be adding fuel to the crisis in PDP, even as he urged PDP stalwarts not to do anything to undermine what is going on in the reconciliation process.

“We are not unmindful of the antics of APC. One does not need to be told that APC is up to that task. That is their stock in trade, to cause more confusion in the system. But, we depend on God. God is on our side.”

The BOT chairman spoke, just as some party stalwarts expressed dismay that the lingering unease within the party was taking the shine out of its plans and determination to bounce back and win the forthcoming poll.

HOWEVER, former national publicity secretary of the PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, said on Wednesday that the Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, was free to meet or associate with members of any other party. He said the governor remained a valid member of the PDP in as much as he has not obtained the membership card of another party.

Ologbondiyan, who made the clarification during an interview on Arise TV’s ‘The Morning Show’ said he didn’t see anything wrong with Wike meeting with anyone from another political party.

Wike had been meeting with some APC governors. He has also met at different times with Peter Obi. Ologbondiyan said: “As far as I’m concerned, Wike is at liberty to associate with whosoever he wishes to associate with.

“He’s allowed. When Bukola Saraki left the APC and joined the PDP or when Aminu Tambuwal left the APC and joined the PDP, did it just happen? No, you go and consult. What I’m saying is this, no matter the consultation, no matter the discussions, until Wike goes out and picks the membership card of the APC or Labour Party, there are no issues as far as I am concerned.”

He assured that whatever issues were there in the PDP would be resolved. “What is important to us is that the burden that APC is must not come back,” he added.