Former President Olusegun Obasanjo appears to have abandoned his status as a non-partisan elder statesman to begin the campaigns of Labor Party presidential candidate Peter Obi.
The former president had so far said that he had grown into an aging statesman who should now be seen as a father and mentor to all, regardless of their political affiliations.
Indeed, Obasanjo, in his Penthouse residence inside the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, has played host to almost every prominent presidential candidate in Nigeria.
The DAILY POST recalls that dozens of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s followers beat the drums when he visited Obasanjo in August. In what many thought would be the end of the rivalry between the two political leaders, they were seen in photos entering a private room for personal conversations.
After the visit, Speaker of the House Femi Gbajabiamila was quoted as saying that Obasanjo had ensured victory for Tinubu. It was also in the news that the former president described Tinubu as a super politician.
But, in a quick reaction, Obasanjo denied endorsing Tinubu or making a statement promoting him as a super politician.
He said: “Those who claim to be insiders in the meeting who issue statements about the discussion and those who credit me with statements I had not made are enemies of the visitor and are doing the visitor no good.”
While saying that his meeting with Tinubu was “more brotherly than political”, Obasanjo added that, at Tinubu’s request, he “did not accept any statement from either party”.
Last year, the Balogun Owu also received its former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP); Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) and others. As all the meetings were held behind closed doors, no one was aware of what happened between the Ogun-born farmer and his guests. It is unclear whether or not Obasanjo had stated to Atiku, Tinubu and others that he would ignore them for Peter Obi.
It should be remembered that on the eve of the 2015 elections, Obasanjo tore up his PDP card to announce that he would no longer participate in politics, but would remain a statesman. https://dailypost.ng/2015/02/16/obasanjo-finally-dumps-pdp-tears-partys-card/
However, Obasanjo at the time endorsed President Muhammadu Buhari as his preferred candidate for the 2015 election. He hosted Buhari and other APC leaders at his residence, while also going to some markets in Abeokuta to subtly campaign for Buhari. , ditching then-Chairman Goodluck Jonathan from his party.
The relationship between Obasanjo and Buhari hit rock bottom less than two years into his first term. Obasanjo could not hide his disgust at Buhari’s administration and resorted to writing letters. In different open letters, Obasanjo called out Buhari’s administration and withdrew support from him.
In an attempt to remove Buhari, the octogenarian in 2019 supported Atiku from the PDP, but his support for Atiku was not enough to oust Buhari.
As the 2023 presidential election approaches, the non-partisan statesman elder has taken the lead in promoting Obi. Obasanjo seems to leave no stone unturned in making sure that Peter Obi becomes Buhari’s successor.
At first, Obasanjo was seen during Ibogun Day 2022 distributing Peter Obi souvenirs to people. After this, Balogun Owu made it clear in an open letter, in which he said that the former governor of Anambra State had an advantage over Atiku and Tinubu.
He was blunt about his disapproval of Tinubu’s ’emilokan’ ambition, urging young Nigerians not to be gullible this time or they would take the blame themselves.
Obasanjo’s latest letter raised a lot of dust and almost heated up politics as many criticized the former Nigerian leader; they have probably forgotten that he has the right to endorse whoever he wants.
It remains to be seen where the aging non-partisan statesman’s endorsement of Obi and his Labor Party will lead.