President Goodluck Jonathan has a date with Southwest traditional rulers tomorrow.
Twenty-three obas are due to attend the meeting, an initiative of the President, at the Aso Rock Villa.
The Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuade, will lead the traditional rulers, sources said last night.
“The obas are going to Abuja at the invitation of the President. He has been reaching out to the traditional institution in Yorubaland for a while now. The meeting is as a result of his incessant rapport with the leadership of the obas in the region.
“He wants the obas to help him reach out to the political elite in the region ahead of the 2015 general election. On many occasions, his emissaries have told our traditional rulers of the President’s desire to have them on his side as he prepares to battle the opposition in 2015, especially in the Southwest which is an opposition stronghold.”
It was gathered that the Ooni personally handled the invitation of the obas for the meeting.
A few top obas had allegedly held several meeting with the President before now to discuss the viability of Jonathan’s 2015 presidential ambition especially as it concerns voters in the Southwest.
It was gathered that following extensive discussions, it was agreed that a larger contingent of traditional rulers from the region should meet with the president with a view to hearing from him directly on his aspiration and plan for the geo-political zone.
The idea is that the visit will avail them of information to pass on to their subjects on the return from Abuja.
Sources said: “It is no longer news that Jonathan wants to win the Southwest at all cost. This meeting is one of the ways he wants to penetrate the region and he intends to use the traditional rulers to achieve his desire.
“The number of traditional rulers invited by the organisers for the trip was in excess of the 23 that agreed to go to Abuja tomorrow. Many of the obas contacted declined to be part of the team.
“Many of the obas invited from Osun State turned down the invitation after considering their relationship with the governor of the state. One of the traditional rulers declined to be part of the trip. He will be on his way out of the country tomorrow as a decoy.”
It was also gathered that the organisers of the trip plan to explain it away as part of the effort to find an enduring solution to the current security challenges in the country.
An activist and leader of the Yoruba Renaissance Movement (YRM) Dr. Seeni Olaforiju, dismissed the planned meeting as a big disappointment.
His words:”There is no doubt that these traditional rulers are going to Abuja on their own accord. They surely do not have the mandate of their people to go and discuss politics with Jonathan.
“If they think they can help the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to penetrate the Southwest, then they are joking because they will fail. Yoruba are no fools and they know their leaders. Jonathan and the obas are just wasting their time.
“What has Jonathan done for the Southwest since he came on board? This is a man we supported when some forces wanted to prevent him from succeeding his late boss. What we got as a people is nothing but acute marginalisation, disregard and disrespect at the end of the day. Now he wants to use traditional rulers to hoodwink us.
“The fear of the merging political party is leading Jonathan to seek help where he will not find any. As much as we respect the traditional institution in Yorubaland, we also know how to say no to those who may want to lead us astray. The obas can go to Abuja and enter into whatever agreement they like, we will be waiting for them in 2015.” (NATION)