Obasanjo: I have no preferred candidate, but ‘national agenda

Former president Olusegun obasanjo said yesterday he had no special candidate for next year’s presidential election.

The ex-president, however, said he had a national agenda, which would be unveiled soon.

He spoke against the backdrop of speculations that Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP) is his preferred candidate for the race to Aso Villa, Abuja.

“I do not have a special candidate. I only have a national agenda,” he told reporters after visiting a former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalam Abubakar, in Minna, Niger State.

Obasanjo was at the Uphill residence of Abdulsalam, who is recuperating from an illness.

He also met with Enugu State Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi at the State House, Enugu, yesterday.

Although details were not given, a source said the meeting was also in connection with negotiations and alliances ahead of the poll.

The source said: “The meeting is true. It was held on Sunday evening.”

Although he left power in 2007 after spending two terms of eight years, Obasanjo, despite tearing his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) membership card and announcing his retirement from politics, has maintained keen interest in periodic succession.

The former president has always had a preferred candidate, starting with the late Alhaji Umaru Yar’Adua, who succeeded him.

In 2011, Obasanjo threw his weight behind President Goodluck Jonathan, who defeated his challenger at the primary, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.

Jonathan defeated Mallam Nuhu Ribadu of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and Muhammadu Buhari of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) at the poll.

Four years later, Obasanjo supported Buhari, who ran on the platform of the APC, after ditching Jonathan. He had written a letter to Jonathan, decrying his administration.

In 2019, the former leader turned his back at Buhari, who was seeking a second term. He wrote a letter to Buhari, admonishing him to jettison his second term bid.

Obasanjo supported Atiku, who ran on the platform of the PDP, although he had castigated him in his book, saying that he was unfit for the number one position.

Although Obasanjo had warned Buhari not to run, he defeated Atiku during the 2019 poll.

Ahead of next year’s polls, the three main contenders; Atiku (PDP), Obi (LP) and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu (APC) had held consultations with the former president.

Atiku visited OBJ, as he is fondly called by admirers, in Abeokuta, ahead of the presidential primary.

Immediately he picked the flag of the LP, Obi also visited the former president.

Two weeks ago, Tinubu, accompanied by other eminent politicians, visited him in Abeokuta.

However, controversy has trailed Obasanjo’s recent visit to London, where he held meetings with Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike and his supporters – Samuel Ortom (Benue), Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), and former governor of Cross River State Donald Duke.

Details of the meeting were sketchy. But, sources said Obasanjo had drummed support for Obi, urging Wike and his team to back him for president.

Wike was said to have turned down the request.

However, Obasanjo, speaking in Niger, denied rallying support for the former Anambra State governor.

He said he was planning to drive a national agenda. He never expatiated on the proposed agenda.

He said: “I have come to see my brother who has been a little indisposed. When he was in London, I had wanted to visit him, but the day I arrived in London was the day he left.

“So, I said, ‘well, since I could not see him in London, I will come to see him in Nigeria.’ And so, that is what I have come to do.

“He is special in a way and he was indisposed. So, I had to come and see him.

“I am still strong to visit those special to me.”

After a closed-door meeting by the two leaders, Abdulsalami, accompanied by his wife, Justice Fati Abubakar, led Obasanjo to his car at about 1.13 pm.

From the Uphill mansion, the former President drove to the home of erstwhile military President Ibrahim Babangida where the duo also met behind closed doors.

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