By Stephen Ubanna
Ahead of the 2019 Presidential election there had been new political realignment of political gladiators in the country. This is evident going by the consultations going on across the country.
On Wednesday, October 18, 2017,, former President Goodluck Jonathan had visited Ibrahim Babangida, a retired army General and former military President and elder statesman in his Hill top residence, Minna, Niger state to consult with him.Jonathan was said to have been accompanied in the visit by Nimi Barigha Amange, one of the Senators representing Bayelsa state in the 8th .Senate. It was a close-door meeting. Amange was said to have waited for the former President in another part of the expansive Hilltop residence to keep him away from their discussion which many believed centered on National issues.
The meeting between the two elder statesmen was said to have lasted over two hours. Beaming with smiles when he came out from the meeting, the Bayelsa state born former President who was ambushed by a bee-hive of Journalists said he had come to Minna to see the former military President who, he had not seen him since he came back from his oversea medical vacation. You know, ”we are retired Politicians”, he remarked.
But a close source told the Magazine that the meeting between the duo centered on many burning national issues ranging from clamour for restructuring of the country, devolution of power, terrorism militant activities in the Niger Delta to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP crisis and how to bring back all the former chieftains of the Party who had left in protest to the rival All Progressive Congress, APC. Indeed, Jonathan major concern now is how to return the PDP back to power in 2019.
The former President visit to Babangida is coming on the heels of the earlier one made by Ahmed Makarfi, former governor of Kaduna state and a one- time Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and now Chairman of PDP Interim National Committee to former President Olusegun Obasanjo to solicit for his return to the party. Obasanjo had left the PDP in protest about two years ago. The exit of Obasanjo and several other Chieftains of the party may have worked against it to lose the 20115 Presidential election to the APC.
Obasanjo was said to have made it clear to the August visitor that , ”before I was in PDP but now, no”. He was said to have told the PDP Interim Chairman that , ”for now no partisan politics for me again”, adding that ”anything that concerns Nigeria, the good of Nigeria, you would see my involvement”. This may have sealed the hope of getting a Commitment from the former President.
He however may have gladdened Makarfi’s heart when he said that for Democracy to continue to be strong, the country need a strong party in position of power , otherwise the party in government will get away with ”impunity”. The former President may be referring to the APC, which is in power. It is not surprising why Makarfi is doing everything within his powers to reposition the PDP, which had boasted of ruling the country for an uninterrupted 60 years at the early stage .
Atiku Abubakar, a former Vice President who hasa Presidential ambition may not want to be left out in the Political realignments.Late September, the former Vice President who has been under intense pressure from PDP Chieftains to dump the APC to enhance its position of regaining power in 2019, may have started thinking along that line. This is evident going by his visit to former President Goodluck Jonathan to seek his support to achieve his Presidential ambition if he agrees to join the PDP. But Jonathan was said to have told him at their close-door meeting that there would not be any automatic ticket for him in the party. The former President may have spoken as the leader of the party.
The duo had agreed to keep all options open as the political dynamics of the country remain fluid, requiring more pragmatic approach to the upsurge in politicking which the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had warned against.
The former President had advised Atiku to return to the PDP early enough if he wants to realise his Presidential ambition. He fears that further delay in returning to the party may work against him as he may be caught up by certain provisions of the party Constitution which had stipulated the period of time , a member has to spend in the party before seeking elective office.
For now,Atiku may not have heeded to the advice as he is still consulting with political Associates. But the mere fact that it is being rumoured of likely going to switch camp to PDP was said to have led to the termination of his company, Intels contract of pilotage monitoring of vessels with Nigeria Ports Authority, NPA by the Federal government. The cancellation of the contract, according to sources was said to be at the instance of President Buhari. But the House of Representatives, had reversed it as a spite on Buhari. But whether NPA will stick to the original contract remain to be seen.