President Goodluck Jonathan and former president, Olusegun Obasanjo on Thursday had breakfast together in Nairobi, Kenya, when they met behind closed doors in the Intercontinental Hotel, Nairobi, Kenya.
The meeting held less than 24 hours after an 18-page letter Obasanjo sent to Jonathan went public.
Both men were among other African leaders that graced the 50th Independence Anniversary celebration of Kenya on Thursday, December 12.
Obasanjo’s visit was said to have taken everybody by surprise as it contradicts the expected nature of the relationship between both men, owing to recent public criticisms of the President by Obasanjo.
The unexpected meeting held prior to the anniversary event which was held at the Safaricom Stadium in Kasarani, Nairobi with former president, Obasanjo paying a surprise visit to President Jonathan at the Intercontinental Hotel, Nairobi where they had a private breakfast together.
Obasanjo, who had the breakfast with President Jonathan had written a strongly worded letter, which went public earlier this week, accusing him of performing below par and taking actions calculated at destroying the country.
According to our source, the ex-President, in his usual humorous manner, said, “Mr. President, I have come to pay homage.”
According to him, they talked briefly over breakfast after which Obasanjo jokingly said, “Mr. President, permission to go ahead of you.”
Our source said Jonathan replied with “Permission granted,” amidst laughter by the two of them and their aides.
But NE learnt in Abuja on Thursday that the Presidency and the Peoples Democratic Party were already planning a counter offensive against Obasanjo.
Some of the aides of the President, headed by his Chief of Staff, Chief Mike Ogiadomhe, met at the Presidential Villa with Vice-President Namadi Sambo, the Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, the Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar; and the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Chief Olisa Metuh.
The other aides in attendance at the meeting which took place in Sambo’s office were the Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Mr. Ahmed Gulak; the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe; the Senior Special Assistant to the Vice-President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Umar Sani.
Sambo, Maku and Umar later left others to attend a scheduled meeting inside one of the conference halls in the vice-president’s office while others moved to Oghiadomhe’s office to continue their consultation.
A source privy to the meeting told one of our correspondents that they discussed how best the Presidency would respond to Obasanjo’s letter.
It was gathered that the meeting by the presidential aide was approved by Jonathan, who, according to our source, was rattled by the publication of the letter by the media.
They also discussed the way to handle the backlash arising from the letter and how to reach out to those that Obasanjo sent copies of the letter to.
The former President had copied two former Heads of State, Generals Abdulsalami Abubakar and Ibrahim Babangida.
He also copied former Vice-President Alex Ekwueme and a former Minister of Defence, Lt.-Gen. Theophilus Danjuma.
One of the decisions reached at the meeting was that “a high-powered” delegation be sent to Abubakar, Babangida, Ekwueme and Danjuma to explain Jonathan’s angle to the issues raised by Obasanjo.
It was gathered that the team would leave for Minna, Niger State “soon,” to meet with Abubakar and Babangida.
Our source said there were reports that Babangida was also planning to write his own letter to the President, asking him to forget his second term ambition.
The source said, “The two meetings are aimed at dousing tension created by Obasanjo’s letter.
“We will meet those he copied in his letter and explain our points to them before deciding on the next line of action. We know the security and political implications of the letter. So, we don’t have to leave anything to chance.”
The source added that the President might personally reply Obasanjo in writing.
He said, “Chief Obasanjo has said that the President refused to reply his earlier letters. He will get his reply this time round. When the President said he would personally respond to the charges, he did not mean that he would address a press conference for instance. What he will do is to write the former President.”
When asked if the President’s letter would be made public, he replied , “When we reach that bridge, we will cross it. For now, the response is still being compiled.”
Shortly after the meeting , Sambo also met behind closed doors with the Chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees, Chief Tony Anenih.
At the end of the meeting, Anenih, who refused to speak with journalists, also had discussions with the National Chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur.
Meanwhile, in his speech, at the event, President Jonathan called on all Kenyans to unite. According to him, there was no alternative to unity if Kenyans must move their nation forward. In building their nation, Jonathan told Kenyans that they must make unity their focal point.
He said that the destiny of Kenya lies with its people and as such, the people must strive hard to take their country to a greater height. President Jonathan said that he was happy that former Kenyan Prime Minister, Raila Odinga was present at the event and working with President Uhuru Kenyatta.
“Nobody can love you more than Kenyans, so you all have to jointly develop your country. All Kenyans should come together to form an inclusive society.
“Since 2007, many African countries like Kenya have been celebrating 50 years of independence and freedom, our founding fathers talked of political freedom to be followed by economic freedom.
“The present generation of African leaders must work hard on science and technology as well as industrialisation, so that there could be economic development and freedom” Jonathan stated.
Obasanjo was said to have sat quietly during the event and was making calls on his mobile phone at intervals while the event lasted.