By Uche Mbah
The running battle between the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, and former President Olusegun Obasanjo is expected to be resolved soon since the Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, are said to have waded into the matter with a view to settling the issue. Since the emergence of Atiku as the Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Obasanjo has not officially congratulated him. Several versions of his endorsement have been flying about on the Social media, but none bore a true imprimatur of his endorsement.
Atiku, during his acceptance speech, has noted that without Obasanjo, his former boss, he would not have been a candidate in the first place. This was seen by pundits as a face-mending statement to cushion the effect of the victory on the man who has publicly vowed to stop him from becoming president. Sources say that Afenifere has had a marathon meeting with Obasanjo in an attempt to convince him to forgive and forget whatever animosity he has against Atiku.
In the wake of the consultations of Atiku with Yoruba elders, he was said to have got the Afenifere endorsement. The first indirect endorsement came from former President Jonathan, who advised him to go and beg Obasanjo, “the boss of all bosses.”” You ignore him at your peril”, Jonathan had admonished. Obasanjo is the oldest and most senior in military ranking among the five kingmakers comprising retired Generals, generally called the five musketeers. They are Olusegun Obasanjo, Ibrahim Babangida, Abdulsalam Abubakar, Theophilus Danjuma and Garba Wushishi.
Atiku had gone to Obasanjo but it was said that meeting did not yield the desired result.
When Obasanjo started his own face mending tour of Yorubaland, he met with Yoruba leaders of thought. He also used the opportunity to reconcile with the PDP strongman, Bode George, whom he had not seen since George’s Son died sometime ago. During the meeting, Afenifere was said to have asked him what crime that Obasanjo committed that does not deserve his forgiveness, but Obasanjo was not able to give a convincing answer. But his vitriolic attacks on Atiku softened since then.
Sources in the know believe that the last minute decision by the Musketeers to back Atiku may not have been supported by Obasanjo, but he was overruled because the tally was said to be four against one. The same thing happened in 2014, where four endorsed Buhari but Ibrahim Babangida was said to have voted against it. Obasanjo is said to have been prepared to destabilize the Atiku Campaign by supporting a third force that will divide the votes of PDP, but he appeared to be between the Devil and deep blue sea. He is insistent that Buhari must go, but does not want an Atiku replacement.
Atiku’s only crime appears to have been fighting his so-called third term agenda to a standstill. But some insist he is piqued by the humiliation of begging Atiku to allow him a second term.
Nigerians are waiting for the outcome of the meeting.