Ex-President’s move to replace Bakare with Okonjo-Iweala meets brick wall
•Ladoja: Ogun voters will reject Obasanjo
A SECRET move by former President Olusegun Obasan jo to the presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), to begin a ‘political romance’ has met a brick wall.
He made the move shortly after Buhari picked fiery Lagos cleric, Pastor Tunde Bakare, as his running mate for the April 9 election.
It was gathered that the former President began the process of reaching out to Buhari “because of the general feeling in the land that the race is between Jonathan (President Goodluck) and Buhari”.
A source said Obasanjo is no longer feeling comfortable with the way everybody is attacking him over his manipulation of democratic processes in various state chapters of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The source declared that the former President sent a two-man delegation to Buhari in his Kaduna residence to persuade him to drop Bakare, his kinsman from Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, for the Managing Director of the World Bank, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
He said: “Also at the meeting were Bakare and former Federal Capital Territory Minister, Malam Nasir el-Rufai. After receiving them, they told Buhari that they were sent by Obasanjo with a message to drop Bakare for the woman.
“They quoted Obasanjo to have said that Okonjo-Iweala would be better as a Vice-President than that abusive Pastor for some reasons. Okonjo-Iweala has experience in government as Finance Minister and later External Affairs Minister, she is from the South-East, a woman who will appeal to the female gender, a Christian and a strong one for that matter and the Managing Director of the World Bank who will use her international connection to fix the country’s economy in no time.”
The source said Buhari listened to them “and when they finished, he told them that he was surprised that Obasanjo could send emissaries to him when they don’t belong to the same political party and they are sworn partisan enemies, having contested against Obasanjo in 2003 and the late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua in 2007.”
Buhari was said to have asked the delegation in whose interest Obasanjo sent them to him: “In Jonathan or my own interest? Did he send you to me based on the knowledge that Jonathan may lose the election? If I become the President, does he think I will be his stooge or work with him? Did he tell Jonathan before sending you to me?”
The former head of state between 1983 and 1985 reportedly asked the delegation follow-up questions to which they could not answer.
“Greet OBJ for me,” he reportedly told them and left the living room. The delegation immediately left his residence.
Meanwhile, notwithstanding recent overtures made to him by four members of the Presidential Campaign Committee for the 2011 Goodluck/Sambo Campaign Organisation to support Jonathan’s aspiration on April 9, former Governor Rashidi Ladoja of Oyo State yesterday vowed never to return to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Ladoja had, late last year, following the intractable crisis in his former party which was tilted in favour of his estranged former deputy, now Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala, left the PDP for a relatively unknown Accord Party (AP), which is today, one of the leading political parties in the state.
Former Chairman of PDP Board of Trustees, Chief Tony Anenih, recently led Chiefs Ojo Maduekwe, Jerry Gana and Alhaji Shuaib Oyedokun to the Bodija, Ibadan residence of Ladoja where they persuaded him to work for the aspiration of the President and was said to have responded in the affirmative.
Ladoja, who foreclosed his possible return to PDP, while answering questions from the League of Veteran Journalists at the Press Centre, Iyaganku, stated that PDP, as presently constituted, has derailed from its founding fathers’ dreams.
According to him, there is no way the PDP will win in Ogun State because of Obasanjo’s imposition of candidates, adding that the people of the South-West have already rejected the PDP.
The former governor decried former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s larger than life attitude on the party in his home state and the South-West as a whole, stressing that, after the April elections, PDP would have finally been
a party of the past. He said that Jonathan’s political fortune in the South-West would be affected by the hatred the electorate have for Obasanjo.
Ladoja said the people were already tired of the party that has brought to them untold hardship, assuring that the PDP would be rejected during the forthcoming polls by the people of the zone, whom he described as “wiser and knowledgeable”.