After years of open animosity between former President Olusegun Obasanjo and his former deputy, Atiku Abubakar, the duo resolved their feud and agreed to work together in the 2019 general elections.
To this end, the former President said he has forgiven his erstwhile deputy who is now the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the poll.
Obasanjo announced this yesterday when Atiku led other PDP leaders on a courtesy visit to the Abeokuta home of his former boss.
Also at the meeting were Muslim cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Rev.
Father Matthew Haasan Kukah and Bishop David Oyedepo of the Living Faith.
Our correspondent gathered that the clerics played a major role in the realisation of the truce between the two former leaders.
Upon his emergence at the party’s presidential convention in Port Harcourt, Rivers state, the former VP paid glowing tribute to Obasanjo, whom he said, prepared him for the PDP ticket he got.
And as a follow up, the Yoruba sociopolitical group, Afenifere, had, earlier in the week, visited Obasanjo during which they pleaded with him to back Atiku’s candidacy in the forthcoming poll.
At different forums, the former president had vowed never to back his erstwhile deputy, saying God would not forgive him if he did.
The twist However, in a sudden twist, Obasanjo recanted, expressing the belief that Atiku has re-positioned himself to enjoy his support in the next election.
Obasanjo said: “Let me start by congratulating President-to-be, Atiku Abubakar, for his success at the recent PDP primary, and I took note of his gracious remarks in his acceptance speech that it all started here.
“Yes, when it started, it was meant for Atiku to succeed Obasanjo.
In the presence of these distinguished leaders of goodwill today, let me say it openly that we have reviewed what went wrong on the side of Atiku.
And in all honesty, my former Vice-President has re-discovered and re-positioned himself.
As I have repeatedly said, it is not so much what you did against me that was the issue, but what you did against the party, the government and the country.
“I took the stand I had taken based on the character and attributes you exhibited in the position you found yourself.
I strongly believe that I was right.
It was in the overall interest of everyone and everything to take such a position.
“From what transpired in the last couple of hours or so, you have shown remorse; you have asked for forgiveness and you have indicated that you have learnt some good lessons and you will mend fences and make amends as necessary and as desirable.
“Whenever or wherever you might have offended me, as a Christian who asks for God’s forgiveness of my sins and inadequacies on daily basis, I forgive and I sincerely advise you to learn from the past and do what is right, and it will be well with you.
“Obviously, you have mended fences with the party and fully reconciled with the party.
That’s why today, you are the presidential candidate of the party.
In addition to appreciating all that the party has done for you, may I advise you to work together with all those who contested for the party’s flag with you as a team for your campaign.
“There are still areas, nationally and internationally, where you have to mend fences and make amends.
You will know how to handle what is already out and what may yet be put out by the opposition.
But, I am convinced that if you continue with the attitude that brought you here with these distinguished leaders of goodwill, with remorse and contrite heart, the rest of the coast within and outside the country can be cleared.
And if there is anything I can do and you want me to do in that respect, I will do.
“I am sure, with the right attitude for change where necessary, and by putting lessons learned by you to work, you will get the understanding, cooperation, support and mandate- all at the national level.
“With Nigerians voting for you, it will mean that you secured their forgiveness and regained their confidence.
It will be with the hope or assurance of a Paul on the road to Damascus Conversion.
After all, change and conversion are of man.
I believe that with a contrite heart, change is possible in everybody’s life and situation.
“For me, relatively and of all the aspirants in the PDP, you have the widest and greatest exposure, experience, outreach and possibly the best machinery and preparation, for seeing the tough and likely dirty campaign ahead through.
“From what I personally know of you, you have capacity to perform better than the incumbent.
You surely understand the economy better; you have business experience, which can make your administration businessfriendly and boost the economy and provide jobs.
“You have better outreach nationally and internationally and that can translate to better management of foreign affairs.
You are more accessible and less inflexible and more open to all parts of the country in many ways.
As Pastor Bakare, one-time running mate of the incumbent President said, ‘you are a wazobia man’, and that should help you in confronting the confrontable and shunning nepotism.
“As you know, along the road to where you are today, many leaders and ordinary people cooperated and overtly and covertly worked hard.
On your behalf, I thank them all.
May their coast continue to be expanded.
And when you become Nigerian President which, In Shaa Allah you will be, remember what we did together in government -we ran an administration by Nigerians for all Nigerians where merit and performance counted more than blood relationship, friendship or kith and kin.
“Although some time and ground have been lost, you should endeavour to start from where we stopped and recover some lost ground, if not time.
Please uphold truth, integrity, principles, morality and fight corruption, crimes and insurgency.
“The fundamental law of the land, our constitution must be scrupulously defended.
I make one demand and one demand on you today, I need you to say before God and man that you will always remain irrevocably committed to upholding ALL the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the whole country will remain your single indivisible constituency.
“Constitutionalism, popular participation and inclusiveness are pre-conditions for reversing the deficits of the past three and half years.
They will ensure abiding faith in our indivisibility, oneness and faith in the survival of all against none.
“The fundamentals for our development, economic growth and progress are hard and soft infrastructure.
Remember to always give adequate places in your administration to our youth and women.
“All the authorities involved with the preparation, all processes and conduct of the election must ensure that the election is free, fair and credible.
Once again, congratulations and I wish you well.
“My distinguished brothers and leaders of goodwill, thank you for making this happen.
I will now count on you to encourage all hands to be on the deck to take Nigeria to the level God has created it to be – autopilot level.” ‘Obasanjo lacks electoral value’ In a reaction, however, the Buhari Presidential Campaign Organisation, dismissed the endorsement, describing it as a “non-event.” In a late night statement by the Director, Strategic Communications for Buhari Campaign Team, Festus Keyamo, SAN, the purported endorsement, reminded Nigerians that until few weeks ago, the same Obasanjo as touching on “the lack of character, lack of integrity and corruptibility of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
Keyamo said: “We are inclined to dismiss this gathering and “endorsement” as a complete non-event, but we feel we have a responsibility to Nigerians to remind them of the character and antecedents of these individuals, lest they take Nigerians for granted and see all of us as fools.
“We do not intend to dwell on all the unprintable things touching on the lack of character, lack of integrity and corruptibility of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar that Chief Obasanjo has repeatedly and consistently told the whole world about up until few weeks ago.
These are well-documented and circulated for Nigerians to remember.
“However, we are bemused and amused that a character who intends to be President of Nigeria has, for the past eleven years, consistently begged for “forgiveness” from a man who has consistently and unequivocally called him a very corrupt fellow.
We wonder what type of character would not vigorously confront his accuser with facts to show his innocence, but would rather consistently ask for “forgiveness” from him.
“The desperation to get the endorsement of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo by the PDP and its candidate is a clear sign that they want to return us to our sordid past where a few people decide who should govern us.
“In 2014/2015, President Muhammadu Buhari and his team, out of respect and convention, paid courtesy calls on prominent individuals and statesmen in the course of their campaigns when they visited cities in which these individuals lived.
“However, Nigerians should note that President Buhari was NEVER reported to have grovelled and “begged” ANYONE for forgiveness, just to be endorsed as a presidential candidate.
Ultimately, he relied on the people of Nigeria to decide his fate.
President Buhari would continue to rely on the endorsement of the people of Nigeria to be re-elected.
“Interestingly, just a few weeks ago, specifically on the 4th of August, 2018, Chief Obasanjo was widely reported to have said “God will NEVER forgive me if I support Atiku for President”.
“Whilst we acknowledge the constitutional right of the ex-president to support anyone of his choice, we draw attention of all Godfearing Nigerians to a character who would use the name of God in vain and in a flip-flop manner in just a matter of weeks.
Where is the shame? Where is the honour? Where is the pride? “When a person invokes the curse of God upon himself if he does a particular thing, like Obasanjo has done, and then deliberately does that particular thing and calls on Nigerians to follow him to receive his curse, Nigerians must flee in the opposite direction.
We urge Nigerians NOT to follow this character to receive the curse he invoked upon himself.
“We are also constrained to ask Chief Obasanjo about his Coalition For Better Nigeria, otherwise known as Third Force.
We hope it is doing well.
“We also note with interest the full participation of some “men of God” in the entourage of the Peoples’ Democratic Party for this political re-alignment.
We are glad that they have publicly declared their partisan interest and urge all Nigerians to see all their previous, present and future attacks on President Buhari from their pulpits in the context of partisan politics and not in the context of nationalistic or altruistic commitment.
We wish them well.”