The Catholic bishop of Sokoto diocese, Mathew Kukah, has explained how he convinced ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo to reconcile with Atiku Abubabar, former vice-president.
Obasanjo had on Thursday played host to Kukah, Ahmad Gumi, a Kaduna-based Islamic cleric; and David Oyedepo, founder of Living Faith Church Worldwide, and some top politicians and civil rights activists at his hill-top residence in Abeokuta, Ogun state.
The ex-president, during the occasion announced his endorsement of Abubakar as his preferred candidate for the 2019 presidential election, saying he has forgiven his former deputy.
Criticisms had trailed the visit, with many accusing the religious leaders of swimming in the mud of politics. Oyedepo has since absolved himself of the criticisms, saying his presence during the meeting was that of a mediator.
Kukah followed suit in a wordy statement, to explain his role in the meeting. Both Oyedepo and Kukah said they received no financial tipping from any politician.
Kukah said he only went to Obasanjo’s residence to complete the reconciliation agenda which he had been pursuing for years. He expressed delight that the meeting took place, saying he remained eternally grateful to God.
According to him, he had planned for the meeting to be between just the three of them, but his host requested the presence of other parties, a plan he says he was not comfortable with.
“I was not interested in the politics of reconciliation but the spiritual angle. Although trying to reconcile President Obasanjo and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar was something I had been working on intermittently in the last few years, nothing could have prepared me for the way things finally shaped up,” Kukah said.
“My focus all along had been with President Obasanjo and I had never brought Alhaji Abubakar into what I was doing. Quite fortuitously, a chance meeting changed the tide in favour of reconciliation.
“I am therefore very clear about the boundaries, the slippery slopes and the contexts. Unlike Shaikh Gumi and Rev. Oyedepo who were invited to this event, I am a central actor.”