Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, on Wednesday, June 27, 2018, had the first ever public exchange of greetings with former Vice President Atiku Abubakar during a function on ‘A New Era for China-Africa Cooperation’ at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja.
This was keenly witnessed by former President of Benin Republic; Boni Yayi who watched the scenario with high sense of excitements at the Gusau Institute.
Though there had been no official statement from both political heavyweights on the development, political watchers say the move may not be unconnected with strategic efforts at building alignments and realignments ahead of 2019 presidential elections.
Observers say both former President Obasanjo and former Vice President Abubakar had been on same page in effecting leadership change, but from very opposing directions.
Though it was not immediately revealed that the coming of Beninese President was to effect the reconciliation at the meeting, indications are rife that the move may pave way for fortification of further partnership even though their relations had been soiled many years ago.
Analysts say a political tactician wouldn’t mind reconciling with known ‘enemies’ to drive home his target in record time.
Recall that lately, the former president had been under intense pressure from close friends and political allies to support his erstwhile deputy, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, in his presidential bid.
Those urging Obasanjo to back Atiku believe the former president has genuine intentions for Nigeria. According to them, Atiku remains one of the most qualified and ready candidates for the office of president ahead of 2019, and one who can give Buhari a run for his money.
One of such organisations said to be ready to work with Obasanjo on the understanding that it is purely a Nigerian project is Afenifere, which has never hidden its reservation about Buhari.
Afenifere is said to be discussing with Obasanjo the imperative of not closing the space on anyone on account of personal animosity, citing specifically the case of Atiku.
The reason Afenifere is believed to be making a case for Atiku, not as an automatic candidate of the alliance but one of the many aspirants to come together in collective interest, inside sources say, is his position on the issue of restructuring, which a majority of Afenifere members consider crucial to the future of a united Nigeria.
This is against the backdrop of the speculations that Obasanjo had sworn at different fora that never would Atiku rule Nigeria in his lifetime. Such dispositions clearly establish where Obasanjo is believed to stand on Atiku’s long-nursed presidential project.
The former president is believed to be the one de-marketing his former deputy on the allegations that he was a corrupt politician, who should not be found anywhere close to power again.