The rift between President Goodluck Jonathan and former President Olusegun Obasanjo may widen due to the pardon granted the former Bayelsa State Governor, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha by the Federal Government.
It has been revealed that the former President stayed away from the meeting of the National Council of States where the pardon was approved once he knew of the agenda of the meeting. It was during the Obasanjo administration that the former governor was impeached, arrested, prosecuted and convicted for corruption.
Former Heads of State, Generals Muhammadu Buhari and Ibrahim Babangida also stayed away from the meeting.
President Jonathan, who was Alamieyeseigha’s deputy, became governor when his boss was impeached.
The conviction of the former governor was one of the major achievements of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, which was established by the regime of former President Obasanjo, under its inaugural chairman, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu.
Prior to taking this controversial decision, the regime of President Jonathan had been accused of not doing enough to fight corruption by many, including Obasanjo who said his administration was not doing enough in this regard. He had also said President Jonathan’s regime was not doing enough to combat insecurity in the country.
Their clashes have been fingered as the reason for the sack of Obasanjo’s loyalists as officials of the Peoples’ Democratic Party.
There have been attempts by the party, mandated by its Board of Trustees Chairman, Chief Tony Anenih, to reconcile President Jonathan and Obasanjo.
However, with this pardon granted the former governor, sources in the Presidency say the reconciliation would be difficult to achieve.
However, the Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Ahmed Gulak, counteredthis, saying President was merely exercising his constitutional powers. He compared with the amnesty granted to the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Salisu Buhari, who was then convicted for perjury by Obasanjo during his time as president.
In an interview with one of our correspondents, Gulak said Jonathan granted the former governor the pardon in exercise of his powers under the constitution and in due consultation with the National Council of State.
He wondered how the President’s constitutional action could cause a rift between him and anybody.
Gulak said those who had been criticising the President’s decision were only being mischievous.
He said, “I don’t know why people are so particular about Alamieyeseigha. This man has served his term and is currently contributing to ending militancy in the Niger Delta.
“Why are they not talking about (Gen. Oladipo) Diya? Why are they not talking about Bulama? Is Alamieyeseigha not a Nigerian?
“Is it because he is from Bayelsa, the same state with the President? President Jonathan does not consider such a myopic factor when taking decisions. He has constitutional power to grant pardon and he has exercised that power.
“People should stop being mischievous on the matter. Obasanjo too gave presidential pardons during his time. A case in point here is that of Salisu Buhari.”
Meanwhile, The Ijaw Republican Assembly has termed as childish the reports that the presidential pardon granted Alamieyeseigha, was connected with the President’s ambition to run for a second term in 2015.
The group said Jonathan did not the support of Alamieyeseigha to get the support of the Niger Delta for a second term.
The spokesperson for the Ijaw Republican Assembly, Annkio Briggs, said that it was only people that were politically and economically greedy in the region that would not support Jonathan.
“It was not Jonathan’s decision as a person, it was the unanimous decision of all the members of the Council of State. To narrow it down to Jonathan’s interest in 2015 is mischievous,” he said.