Former President Goodluck Jonathan sneaked into the State House, Abuja on Thursday night for a secret meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, 24 hours after the return of the ex-president from a six-week long trip abroad.
News of the meeting began to circulate yesterday a few hours after Buhari met separately with former President Olusegun Obasanjo and a delegation of Anglican bishops led by the Primate of the church, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh.
There was no official confirmation of Jonathan’s visit, but a reliable source said the meeting took place at about 9pm when reporters and most workers at the seat of power had gone for the day.
Obasanjo, who was accompanied by his long-standing friend, Chief Oyewole Fasawe, was driven into the Presidential Villa complex at about 12 noon..
Obasanjo declined to speak to reporters on his mission to the villa,his third since Buhari aasumed office a little over a year ago.
Shortly after his departure, the Anglican bishops arrived.
President Buhari, at the meeting with the bishops, said while the rescue and safe return of the remaining Chibok girls remained a priority of his administration, it would not fall for the antics of fraudsters who have been asking the Federal Government for money for the purpose of negotiating the release the girls.
Buhari, in a statement by the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, said that his administration would continue to insist on a thorough authentication of the identities of any persons or groups claiming to have custody of the girls before entering into negotiations with them.
He, however, assured the Anglican bishops of his steadfast commitment to the rescue of the Chibok girls, stressing that their safe return will be one of his greatest fulfilments in office as President.
The President also assured the clerics that the Federal Government would give maximum attention to the clean-up of Ogoniland which was launched on Thursday.
‘‘We inherited the United Nations Environmental Project report from the previous administration. We decided it needed urgent attention, in spite of the economic crunch because of our concern for the welfare and environmental comfort of the people of Ogoniland,’’ he said.
Archbishop Okoh told State House correspondents at the end of the meeting that they discussed the herdsmen attacks across the country and oil pipeline vandalism in the Niger Delta region with their host.
“We told him many things.We are all looking for solution to issues of the herdsmen, vandalism and security in one way or the other because the people are asking us and we want to have explanations for the people we lead,” he said.
Asked what the president’s disposition was to the issues,he said:”Very favourable.He gave us detailed explanations of what he is doing to ensure that these things are solved.
“So we have hope, we have a message for our people.”
Okoh opined that the President spent his first year in office clearing the table, and was optimistic that things will improve in the country over the next one year.
“We believe that so far it has been okay because of the difficulties of the times and between now and the next one year we are looking forward to something that will get to the people easily,” he said.
“So far, for the first year he is trying to clear the table, prepare the place, make the work move forward.
“We look forward to a better 2016-2017 budget. You can see that with the long delay in budget, the issue of padding we were not able to begin easily.
“So the next one we know will be better. That is why we are taking it that way.It’s okay for now but it could be better.”
A newspaper report last week claimed that Jonathan was on exile after being tipped off that government had ordered his arrest in connection with alleged massive corruption during his tenure.
The report suggested that he had landed in Cote D’Ivoire on his way from the UK to seek asylum.
The former president swiftly dismissed the report as imaginary.
He said it was the latest attempt to embarrass him and link him with the resurgence of violence in the Niger Delta.
The Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) has launched a series of attacks on oil facilities in the geo-political zone as part of the pressure to excise the zone from the rest of the country.