President Muhammadu Buhari and former President Olusegun Obasanjo were all smiles on Sunday when they met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, at the opening session of the 30th African Union summit.
This came five days after Obasanjo issued a scathing “special press release” asking Buhari not to seek re-election in 2019.
They shook hands and, although they spoke for about two minutes, their encounter caused excitement inside the Nelson Mandela Hall.
Hadi Sirika minister of state for aviation and Geoffrey Onyeama, minister of foreign affairs, alongside others members of the Nigerian delegation smiled as they watched from a distance.
Photojournalists scrambled to take shots of the moment.
Abdulsalami Abubakar, former head of state, later joined Buhari and Obasanjo for photographs.
Although the federal government said it took Obasanjo’s admonition in good faith, it warned the elder statesman against distracting Buhari.
In a statement by Lai Mohammed, minister of information, the government said Buhari’s focus at the moment is to fulfil the mandate which Nigerians gave to him.
“On whether or not President Muhammadu Buhari should run for another term, it is true that many Nigerians have been calling on the President to run again, while others are opposed to his return,” the statement read.
“However, we believe this issue is a distraction for the president at this time. This is because Mr President spends every waking hour tackling the enormous challenges facing the nation, most of which were bequeathed to his administration by successive past administrations.”
On Friday, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo said Buhari is not thinking about a second term “at the moment”.