OBASANJO 'RECONSIDERING' JONATHAN ENDORSEMENT
President Goodluck Jonathan may have scored an own goal with his choice of Governor Gbenga Daniel of Ogun State as his campaign co-ordinator in the South-west, THISDAY has learnt.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who led the South-west Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to endorse Jonathan for the 2011 presidential race a fortnight ago, is said to be unhappy with the choice of Daniel who is at loggerheads with Obasanjo and virtually every political heavyweight in the state where the former president hails from.
Obasanjo is also reported to be unsettled by the imminent trial of his former aide and confidante, Mr. Adeyanju Bodunde, over the $180 million Hallib-urton bribe scandal.
'The former president believes it is trial by proxy,' the source said, hinting that the zone might come up with another position to declare itself 'neutral' in the presidential race.
The endorsement of Jonathan two weeks ago had created ripples in the camp of former military president, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, who is also interested in the race.
In a statement by the Media and Communication Director of his campaign, Prince Kassim Afegbua, Babangida had accused Obasanjo of going back on his word to be 'neutral', stating: 'The recent reported endorsement of President Goodluck Jonathan who has not declared his intention to run defeats the earlier neutrality position of former President Olusegun Obasanjo on choice of aspirants. As one of the leaders of the party, a former president and elder statesman, we expect that his word should be his bond. We will not be drawn into any argument with those who easily suspect the political moves of former President Obasanjo, but we insist that a true leader should stand by his word.'
But former presidential spokesman and PDP chieftain in Ogun State, Dr. Doyin Okupe, said the endorsement was a joint decision by the leaders of the party in the South-west as 'anybody who was somebody was in attendance'.
Last week, Jonathan finally informed 11 PDP governors at a meeting in Abuja that he would be stand in the January poll.
He appointed six governors from the geo-political zones to co-ordinate his campaign.
They are Governors Ibrahim Shema for the North-west, Isa Yuguda of Bauchi State for the North-east, Gabriel Suswam of Benue for Nort-central, Martin Elechi of Ebonyi State for the South-east, Liyel Imoke for the South-south and Daniel for the South-west.
Daniel is to be assisted by a close associate of Obasanjo and former governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Agagu.
Daniel, meanwhile, had openly canvassed the candidature of Babangida in the past.
Speaking earlier in Abeokuta at his 50th birthday, Daniel called on Nigerians to forgive Babangida for his 'past errors of judgment', saying the ability to forgive would enhance development and harmony in the country.
In what was understood to be a subtle campaign for IBB's presidential ambition, Daniel urged Nigerians to erase the sins of the former military ruler from their memory.
The governor said though Nigerians may fault IBB, 'some of his achievements while holding the exalted office, his passion for the progress and peace of Nigeria could hardly be faulted'.
In the meantime, Obasanjo is said to be unhappy with the president over the the trial of Bodunde, his former PA.
Bodunde is to be tried over an allegation that he received $5 million in cash payments from six other suspects - George Mark, Jeffrey Tesler, Hans George Christ, Heinrich J. Stockhausen, Julius Berger Nigeria Plc and Bilfinger Berger GMBH.