Governors Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom), Liyel Imoke (Cross Rivers), Isa Yuguda (Bauchi), Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu (Niger) and Sule Lamido (Jigawa), all of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Thursday met with former President Olusegun Obasanjo behind closed-doors. The meeting, held at Obasanjo residence in Abeokuta, the capital of Ogun State, lasted for three hours and was thought to mend the apparent strained relationship between him and President Goodluck Jonathan. At the end of the meeting, Obasanjo told journalists the governors had come to discuss the country’s salvation based on current economic and security challenges. Obasanjo clarified that his recent statements about poor handling of the Boko Haram crisis, among other things, was not to disparage anyone. “I have raised in my own public pronouncement in recent times not to castigate anybody, not to bad-mouth anybody, not to run anybody down but out of genuine concern for the situation of this country and that is the same thing that has brought them and I want to thank them,” the former president said. He said “when we looked at these issues closely, very objectively and we came to the conclusion that yes we have a bad situation but not irretrievably bad. Something can still be done and what now is required is the will and the courage to do something when and how it needs to be done.”
Obasanjo said he and the governors agreed that the situation in the country had worsened and required collective efforts of everyone. “This task is not for one man and it is not even a task for one group, it is a task that requires all hands on deck and as they have said and assured me that this type of consultation, they would have with other leaders so that this country which is ours and for which we have no alternatives,” he stated.
He said: “The other day, somebody told me he knows NADECO route, I do not want to follow NADECO- It is incumbent on us to do what is right, with men like them; Issa Yuguda, Godswill Akpabio, Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu the Chief Servant, Sule Lamido and a very good one Liyel Imoke. They are colleagues with whom I have worked together, they will like to call themselves my sons, when you have a son like Sule Lamido who is almost a foot taller than yourself, you must watch what you would say and do,” Mr. Obasanjo said.
Obasanjo said he was nervous about experts predictions that Nigerian economy might collapse. He commented that “when we had surplus, we did not remember the rainy day now that the rainy day is staring us in the face, we must be honest and courageous enough to do what is right, to let the nation know and then to take the steps that will put it right as quick as possible.”
Akwa Ibom Governor, Akpabio, thanked Obasanjo, whom he described as “our dear leader, our former president and a man that all Nigerians love and respect.” Akpabio further stated: “If you notice, we are from the PDP extraction and we have decided that as the party in power and the party that the country has a lot of confidence in right from 1999, he played a key role in the emergence of the current democracy and he is still playing both nationally and internationally, so, we decided that it is important for us to come and consult with him as he said. Pay our respect, discuss the affairs of the nation and then to tap from his wealth of wisdom.
“The intention here is that all Nigerians are determined to reposition the country, we have no other country than Nigeria and so, no matter the challenges we may face today, we must work together as a team to redeem the situation, I want to thank our dear leader for receiving us and for what he said that the situation is redeemable and that we must also consult other leaders and work to ensure that the country is redeemed.”
Akpabio’s colleague, Aliyu said they had come to consult the oracle of leadership and politics of this country (Obasanjo) and said “all of us are his children both administratively, politically and in reality”…”we have benefited tremendously with our coming.”