Former President Goodluck Jonathan met President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday to brief him on the political crisis in Mali after which he praised his successor in office for continuing with the legacy projects of previous administrations.
President Buhari had only recently named the largest station on the Warri-Itakpe railway route – the Agbor railway facility and station – the after former President.
Reacting to the gesture after Tuesday’s meeting at the presidential villa, Abuja, Jonathan, who said he had already written a letter of appreciation to President Buhari, commended him for carrying on with the railway programme and other legacy projects inherited from previous administrations.
He told correspondents in a chat that what Buhari has done is the ideal thing to do.
When asked about the naming of projects after him, he said:
“Let me use this opportunity to commend Mr President publicly. I’ve already sent a letter to appreciating. It’s a good gesture.
“And completing the railway programme is good. It shows that the President is doing, is going on with the legacy projects of the previous administrations. That is the way to go.
“I sent a letter to him. I commended him verbally too but you are asking me now. Let me also do it publicly. I appreciate it, I thank Mr President, the Minister of Transportation and others that made it possible.”
Asked about his relationship with President Buhari who defeated him in the 2015 presidential election, the former President stated: “You’ve been seeing me coming and you have been seeing us having friendly conversations. So, our relationship is ok.”
On the crisis in Mali, the Presidency revealed that following the receipt of the briefing from former President Jonathan, President Buhari will consult with key leaders of ECOWAS countries in order to find a solution to the crisis rocking the Republic of Mali.
Recall that Jonathan was appointed a Special Envoy to Mali to attempt to resolve the lingering political crisis in the country.
After meeting with the parties involved in the crisis, Jonathan had recommended a government of national unity in the country, which the opposition group had turned down.
Speaking on the issue, President Buhari said:
“We will ask the President of Niger, who is the Chairman of ECOWAS to brief us as a group, and we will then know the way forward.”
He thanked Dr Jonathan for his comprehensive brief on the situation in Mali, “which you had been abreast with since when you were the sitting Nigerian President.”
According to a statement issued by Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President (Media and Publicity), the former President had filled in President Buhari on his activities as Special Envoy to restore amity to Mali, rocked by protests against President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who has spent two out of the five years the second term in office.
The statement pointed out that a resistance group, M5, is insisting that the Constitutional Court must be dissolved, and the President resign before peace can return to the country.
It noted that crisis had erupted after the court nullified results of 31 parliamentary seats in the polls held recently, awarding victory to some other contenders, which the resistance group said was at the instigation of President Keita.
The statement also informed that riots on July 10 had led to the killing of some protesters by security agents, causing the crisis to spiral out of control, hence the intervention by ECOWAS.
“ECOWAS can’t preside over the removal of an elected President. Not even the African Union (AU), or the United Nations (UN) can do it. Leaders must be elected and leave under constitutional processes, otherwise, we would have Banana republics all over the place,” it quoted Dr Jonathan as submitting.
The former President thanked President Buhari for providing a Presidential jet for the mission, “thus making our trips convenient and comfortable,” and he equally expressed appreciation for the Itakpe-Warri railway complex named after him last weekend.
“It was a big present for me. Thank you very much,” he said.
The former President was at the presidential villa in company of President of ECOWAS Commission, Mr Jean-Claude Kassi Brou.