The Nigerian political elite are increasingly realigning their forces in readiness for the 2019 general election – ruffling a few feathers in the process.
Indeed, the recent visit of former President Goodluck Jonathan to ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, who played a prominent role in dethroning the Bayelsa-born politician, has sent jitters down the spines of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Presidency, The AUTHORITY can report.
Although the details of the two ex-Presidents’ meeting remain sketchy, the APC is said to be uncomfortable that Obasanjo, who had recently criticised some polices of President Muhammadu Buhari, is suddenly felicitating with Jonathan.
Obasanjo had danced openly when Buhari defeated Jonathan at the presidential poll in 2015.
But less than two years after Jonathan’s ouster, Obasanjo at the weekend hosted him in Ota, Ogun State, where they were reportedly seen playing the traditional “Ayo” game.
An APC leader, who reacted to the meeting and the purported comeback bid of Jonathan, declared that he cannot deceive Nigerians, who are yet to recover from his monumental failure in office.
The party chief however admitted that any time Obasanjo is mending fences with his foes, “he is up to something strange.”
There are speculations that Jonathan is under intense pressure by some political actors to play a more prominent role in the embattled People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
Jonathan, in a response, has of recent begun to pay more attention to the party that brought him to limelight, fueling suspicions of his real intentions. This unstated project has been admitted by the opposition PDP.
The PDP is presently divided into two factions headed by two former governors Ahmed Makarfi and Ali Modu Sheriff. Makarfi and Sheriff are also former Senators.
The surprise visit to Ota, Obasanjo’s country home, came at a time the ruling party and the presidency are apprehensive of the real intentions of the Jonathan project.
A source told The AUTHORITY that the state of the nation is causing more apprehension for the cabal in the present government, making them suspicious of every movement of the Bayelsa-born former president.
According to the source: “All the blame game on the past administration is no longer holding water. This is almost two years; continuing to blame the previous administration is causing more harm to the present administration.
“What was dollar going for in the past? What of the cost of commodities in the market? What of the price of fuel? Nigerians no longer agree with the blame game. People are suffering.
“Did we suffer like this during Jonathan’s reign? So, how will you tell them the previous regime caused the suffering? So, any further attempt to taint the image of Jonathan is rather attracting sympathy to him”.
He told The AUTHORITY that with the dwindling economy, cries of marginalisation in some parts of the country and the crisis in the ruling All Progressives Congress, the leading opposition PDP is working to get a candidate that has a national posture, prompting some political watchers to suggest that PDP is looking in the direction of Jonathan.
The sources said that some parts of the North also see Jonathan as a better alternative. The recent incident in Sokoto where some people carried placards urging Jonathan to come back is seen as testing the waters.
It added: “Also, don’t forget what is happening in Southern Kaduna, what happened in Benue and some parts of the country under Buhari. The way this regime is handling the killings is sending a very bad message.”
“Look at the speed with which Buhari rushed to condemn the suicide bombing in Maiduguri! Did he speak on time when people where being slaughtered in Southern Kaduna and Benue?”
“What of the killings in Enugu by what some are calling herdsmen? Even with the menace of Boko Haram, some feel Jonathan handled most of these issues in the national interest.”
But a chieftain of the PDP from the North East, however, described the Jonathan project as a part of the reconciliation process in the party.
“No, he is not contesting; but the meeting in Ota is part of the reunion, to mend fences. There is no way Jonathan will contest. Already, the PDP has zoned the presidential ticket to the north. Jonathan is just bringing the party chieftains back for peace to reign”.
The secret Jonathan project is however being described as a plan in futility, with some saying the Jonathan era witnessed massive corruption in various sectors.
Comrade Okpokwu Ogenyi, National Coordinator, Coalition for Good Governance and Change Initiative (CGGCI), said Jonathan should concentrate on his role as a statesman.
“It is not possible; Jonathan’s visit to OBJ is part of fence-mending among leaders and should not be attributed to the politics of 2019.
“The kind of impunity and corruption witnessed in the era of Jonathan is terrible. Even Jonathan himself did not believe such money was moved out in his government.”
“I am sure Jonathan will not bring down himself in seeking for the presidency again. He is the youngest elder statesman in Nigeria today and I believe he is enjoying that status. Irrespective of party affiliation, Jonathan should support President Buhari to continue to cleanse the country.”
A prominent figure in the ruling APC from the North described the scheming as inconceivable, but realizable.
“In our country, anything can happen. However, you don’t blame those planning it; look at what is happening in the country. It is anything goes.”
National Vice Chairman of the Sheriff faction of PDP, Chief Cairo Ojuogboh, however dispelled insinuations that his party plans to present Jonathan in 2019.
“There is nothing like that; we have not discussed the issue of presidential candidate in any way. What we are working on is the total reconciliation of the party.”
“We are resolutely committed to reconciliation. Jonathan has not told anybody that he is going to contest the presidency and people should not cause problems. Mischief makers should not cause problems for us, so we can bring the party back.”