The PUNCH learnt in Abuja that the presidential directive came on the heels of intervention by some unnamed chieftains of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party. The party lords were said to have asked the President to caution his aides.
A Presidency source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said some members of the party felt that the exchange of words between the President, his aides and the former President was not good for the image of the party.
The source said, “The party informed the President that the members of the opposition could capitalise on the disagreement to cause a major friction between the two leaders of the party.
“The President has directed his aides not to speak either directly or indirectly on anything that is injurious to the former President on any issue. This is because some leaders of the PDP have advised him not to take on the former President in a fight.
“Apart from the political implication of such, we also believe that it could heat up the polity and cause tension in both the party and the polity.
“Moreover, the party has seen that the opposition is already trying to make gains from the fight and that will not be a good thing either for the two leaders or our party.
“The President respects Obasanjo. He will not do anything that will widen the gap between them. I am sure that the disagreement will be settled.
“Besides, there are no plans by the President to witch-hunt Obasanjo with any probe.”
A member of the National Working Committee of the party, who spoke with selected journalists in Abuja on Sunday, said the party was worried about the increasing animosity between the two senior members of the party.
Obasanjo was the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the PDP until April this year when he resigned his appointment.
Obasanjo stirred a hornet’s nest recently when he gave an indication that Jonathan might be a weak leader because of the way he had been handling the security challenges facing the country.
The former President said he directed the security agencies to fish out the militants who killed some security men in Odi, Rivers State, during his tenure as President.
Jonathan however used the occasion of his Media Chat to respond to Obasanjo’s comment, saying the invasion of Odi during Obasanjo’s presidency did not solve the problem.
Rather, he said, innocent lives were lost as the security operatives did not succeed in killing the militants that were suspected to have killed the security men.