Jonathan Storms Out of Reconciliation Meeting; Accuses Obasanjo of Being Behind PDP Crisis
President Goodluck Jonathan lashed out at former President Olusegun Obasanjo, accusing him of being the mastermind of the intractable crisis in the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, reliable presidency sources have said.
“Obasanjo created the problem, he should go and solve it,” Mr. Jonathan was quoted as saying at a meeting he held with leading members of the Abubakar Baraje’s faction of the party on Sunday night.
The reconciliation meeting was called a day after former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, seven state governors, and some other party top guns walked out of the party’s national convention in Abuja and then announced the formation of a parallel faction.
Mr. Obasanjo was not at the meeting but both men had worshipped together at the Aso Rock chapel earlier that day.
Sources at the meeting said after the “dissident” governors, led by Kano State Governor, Musa Kwankwaso, tabled their grievances; a livid President Jonathan fumed about how opposition elements within his party were trying to blackmail him to submission.
He then suddenly rose from his seat and stormed out of the meeting saying, while going away, that he was no longer in the mood for any reconciliation talk and that Mr. Obasanjo, who created the mess in the party, should be allowed to clear it.
“We were shocked when the president walked out of the meeting in anger saying he had grown increasingly frustrated by Mr. Obasanjo’s destabilizing antics,” one of our sources said. “He pointedly accused the former president of being behind the crisis.”
Another source said as the president hurried away, the chairman of the party’s Board of Trustees ran after him pleading with him to return.
He eventually returned.
The president’s adviser on political matters, Ahmed Gulak, as well as his senior special assistant on public affairs, Doyin Okupe, did not answer or return calls to their mobile telephones when PREMIUM TIMES sought to get their comments for this story.
Mr. Obasanjo could also not be reached.
Reports of the president’s comment and behaviour at the closed-door meeting came shortly before a pro-Jonathan group, Media Network for Transformation, circulated a statement in Abuja accusing Mr. Obasanjo of destabilizing the PDP and asking him to call his associates to other.
“Apart from being their sponsor, the rebel governors draw their inspiration from him,” Goodluck Ebelo, Coordinator of the group, said in the statement. “Apart from numerous clandestine meetings, President Obasanjo started his public romance with the rebel flank when he became unavoidably absent at this year’s Democracy Day celebration in Abuja, but vigorously participated in the day’s activities in Dutse, Jigawa State. That was followed by the rebel governors’ visit to his Abeokuta home.”
Mr. Ebelo was not done. He continued, “Then came last Saturday, and Chief Obasanjo’s mischief literarily flew over the Eagle Square venue of the Special Convention. Unavoidably absent, again, he was to turn up the next day in Church, at the Presidential Villa. Made a few platitudinous remarks on the need for a peaceful resolution of the crisis and thereafter called a meeting. His meeting failed and will continue to fail.
“Chief Obasanjo cannot continue to be hands of Esau and the voice of Jacob at the same time. No arbiter, who is the guiding light of the rebels can make peace. Peace, in this matter, will continue to elude President Obasanjo because his activities are the very antithesis of the conditions precedent to peace.
“Unfortunately, his eight years in office provides no road map to resolving a political dispute. All that can be gleaned from the debris of his time in power, are abuse of institutions of State in shutting down dissent, hounding political opponents into prison and forcing a party chairman to resign at gun point. Little wonder that such baleful legacy dogs his attempt at making peace.
“President Obasanjo has to come out publicly to renounce his ties with seven governors who are trying to impose their will on the remaining twenty nine states and the Federal Capital Territory or acknowledge them and be treated like them. The governors are welcome to contest the PDP primaries, individually or present a candidate. That’s democracy. But for persons, who themselves, stood for elections for their second terms to demand that Mr. President cannot avail himself such amenity is not only rude but feudal.”
Our sources said before the president’s brief walkout at the peace meeting, the aggrieved governors had accused Mr. Jonathan of using the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to hound governors and other party chiefs considered opposed to him.
Specifically, the governors, according to our sources, accused the president of having masterminded the recent investigation of Senator Bukola Saraki and conviction of a son of Governor Sule Lamido for under declaring the amount of foreign exchange he was taking abroad.
The governors also reportedly asked the president to keep his promise to run for only one term and jettison his 2015 presidential ambition.
In response, Mr. Jonathan reportedly denied being behind the investigation of anyone by the EFCC, saying most of the investigations commenced long before he came to power.
On the request that he shuts down his presidential ambition, Mr. Jonathan was quoted as saying he would not surrender his right to vote and be voted for.
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