Buhari, Obasanjo meet at Villa


It would have been a routine spectacle attracting no curiosity.

The President and a former leader who used to be a frequent caller at the seat of power. Smiles, banters and handshake – that’s all.

That was not the situation yesterday when President Muhammadu Buhari and former President Olusegun Obasanjo met at the Council of State meeting at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

All eyes were on them as the President and Obasanjo moved towards each other, hands stretched out. They shook hands and exchanged pleasantries.

Obasanjo’s face was wreathed in smiles – not the toothy, broad smiles or laughter that he is known for when in a cheery mood. His face was firm; it was a wry smile.

Buhari also smiled, his trademark gap tooth on display.

Why the animosity?

Not a few thought the former leader would not show up at yesterday’s meeting following his 16-page statement in which he lashed Buhari, accusing him of planning to rig the February 16 election and behaving like the late Head of State Gen. Sani Abacha.

But Obasanjo proved bookmakers wrong as he made his way into Council Chamber, venue of the meeting scheduled for 11am at exactly 10.51am.

His presence immediately drew the attention of those who had arrived before him as well as those who came after.

Some of those in the hall standing or sitting on the path he followed to take his seat greeted him and he was in his usual element, exchanging pleasantries with them.

He also exchanged pleasantries with former Interim National Government (ING) Head Ernest Shonekan, who was already seated.

He sat down momentarily, stood up and walked back towards the entrance to greet some of those in the hall, including former Head of State Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar.

Obasanjo was still discussing when it was announced that everyone should settle down.  The President was on the way.

He was still in transit when Buhari entered the Chamber.

Buhari immediately went straight to exchange pleasantries with Shonekan, who remained seated and then Gen. Abdulsalami, who walked towards him.

By the time he finished with Gen. Abdulsalami, Obasanjo was close to him.

So, standing eyeball to eyeball and smiling, the duo greeted and shook hands- to the admiration of all in the hall.

The President returned to his seat and called for the rendition of the National Anthem.

After the national anthem, the President asked Obasanjo, a theologian, to say the Christian prayer, which he did.