President Goodluck Jonathan seems to have improved on his relationship with former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, after sending him a rare message of commiseration on the death of his sister, Adunni Oluniola Eweje-Obasanjo. Since Obasanjo’s letter to the president went viral in December 2013, the president stopped all forms of felicitation or commiseration with the former head of state.
Before then, though, Jonathan had “nothing but the greatest respect for Obasanjo” and he had said he would not probe his benefactor. “The president has nothing but the greatest respect for Chief Obasanjo’s very notable contributions to national growth and development over many years and far from taking offence or seeking retaliation, will always welcome objective criticism and advice from the very highly-regarded elder statesman,” Reuben Abati, special adviser to the president on media and publicity, wrote in 2013. Evidence of a sour relationship between the duo came to fore in December, when Abati, speaking for Jonathan, said Obasanjo’s letter was “mischievous, provocative and self-serving”.
Jonathan ordered his aides not to join issues with the 78-year-old retired general, saying he himself would respond appropriately. “The president himself will, at the appropriate time, offer a full personal response to the most reckless, baseless, unjustifiable and indecorous charges levied against him and his administration by the former head of state.” Jonathan conspicuously avoided sending public wishes to Obasanjo on his birthdays in 2014 and 2015, against his tradition in the previous years. In 2015, Jonathan sacked Martin Luther Agwai as chairman of the Subsidy Reinvestment Programme (SURE-P) for preaching “change” at Obasanjo’s 78th birthday in March. The latest commiseration with Obasanjo suggests that the bad blood between the two presidents has become history.
“The president joins Chief Obasanjo and his family in mourning the late Madam Eweje-Obasanjo who passed away recently at the age of 76,” the commiseration message read in part. “As they mourn her, President Jonathan urges Chief Obasanjo and his family to be consoled by the knowledge that his late sister lived a worthy and very fulfilled life in the service of her family and community.
“The President prays that God will grant Chief Obasanjo and his family the fortitude to bear the loss of Madam Eweje-Obasanjo. He similarly prays that God will receive Madam Eweje-Obasanjo’s soul and grant her eternal rest.”
Jonathan and Obasanjo both attended the last council of states meeting, which Obasanjo had boycotted since falling out with the outgoing president.