The major headlines from mainstream newspapers today, Friday, October 11, are focused on former president Olusegun Obasanjo’s endorsement of his former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, for the presidency in 2019 and reactions to the development.
Vanguard reports that Chief Olusegun Obasanjo made an about-face and endorsed his former deputy, Atiku Abubakar, for the presidency in 2019.
The presidency, however, countered the move, saying no amount of gang-up can stop President Muhammadu Buhari from winning next year’s presidential election.
Also, the Buhari Campaign Organisation described Obasanjo’s endorsement of Atiku as untenable. It said: “The gathering of the politicians and the men of God was a confederate of desperate power-mongers and questionable characters who wish to return us to the era of unbridled corruption.”
The closed door meeting between Obasanjo and Atiku was attended by the national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Uche Secondus; PDP chieftain, Chief Bode George; founder of Living Faith Church, Bishop David Oyedepo; Catholic bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Matthew Hassan Kukah and popular Islamic preacher, Sheikh Abubakar Gumi.
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The Nation also reports that former president Olusegun Obasanjo on Thursday, October 11, endorsed his former deputy, Atiku Abubakar, for president; after previously scorning him relentlessly as unfit for the job.
The publication also notes that the development, however, elicited a harsh reaction from the presidency; describing it as a ‘gang up’.
Presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, stated on Twitter: “The harder they come, the harder they fall. 2019 presidential election on my mind.”
Also reacting to the development, the senior special assistant (media and publicity) to the president, Mallam Garba Shehu, said Obasanjo and Atiku would lose together in the 2019 election.
In line with the previous publications, The Guardian reports that former president Olusegun Obasanjo made a surprising reversal of his stance by endorsing the political ambition of his former vice president, Atiku Abubakar.
The publication recollects that the former president had earlier stated: “With what I know about Atiku, if I had put Atiku forward, God will not have forgiven me.”
However, Obasanjo put the past behind him, when the PDP presidential candidate paid him a visit alongside eminent Nigerians and opposition party chieftains.
He said: “Let me start by congratulating president-to-be, Atiku Abubakar. In the presence of these distinguished leaders of goodwill today, let me say it openly, that we have reviewed what went wrong on the side of Atiku. And in all honesty, my former vice president has re-discovered and re-positioned himself.
“As I have repeatedly said, it is not so much what you did against me that was the issue but what you did against the party, the government and the country.”
The Punch does not deviate from the focal point of the previous publications; reporting that the frosty relationship between former president Olusegun Obasanjo, and his former deputy, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, ended on Thursday as Obasanjo declared that he had forgiven the Atiku and endorsed him as his candidate in the 2019 presidential election.
Obasanjo made this declaration in a chat with journalists, following the two-hour closed-door meeting with Atiku.
The publication notes that the relationship between Obasanjo and Atiku had become frosty towards the twilight of the Obasanjo’s administration which ran from 1999 till 2007.
It was alleged that Atiku had worked against Obasanjo’s purported third term agenda. On his part, Obasanjo also did not support his former deputy’s presidential ambition, afterwards.
However, on Thursday, Obasanjo said he had not only forgiven Atiku, but was ready to support him in actualising his dream of becoming the country’s president.
Rounding things off, This Day brings an interesting perspective to the development; reporting that Obasanjo’s endorsement of Atiku Abubakar for the nation’s highest political office appears to be reshaping the battle for the presidency in 2019 as it indicates the realignment of political and religious forces in the country.
Atiku was accompanied to the meeting by top leaders from the two leading religions in the country.
The publication suggests that there might be a coalition against the re-election of Buhari, whose reign had been mired in massive killings of both faiths’ faithful by gunmen largely suspected to be Fulani herdsmen; as indicated by the presence of Bishop Kukah of the Catholic Church, Oyedepo from the Pentecostal flank and Gumi, a Moslem cleric.
The political forces are reportedly gathering behind Atiku against Buhari, largely because they see his three and a half years in the saddle as the most divisive of the nation in its 58 years of independence, fearing that another four years for him might push the country over the precipice.
Sources close to the emerging coalition of forces reportedly disclosed that the endorsement was the outcome of several months of pressure on Obasanjo to drop his opposition to his former deputy, who many of the political leaders estimate is the most viable politician that could unseat Buhari.
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