President Goodluck Jonathan is under a fresh attack . This time, it is a stinker from a former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.
The Balogun of Owu, Abeokuta, did not make an impromptu speech at a public forum, he took his time to pen what he felt to be Jonathan’s failings.
In an 18-page letter to the President, Obasanjo accused him, among other things, of not honouring his words and taking actions calculated at destroying Nigeria.
The letter dated December 2, 2013 and titled, “Before it is too late” became public knowledge on Wednesday. Only on Monday, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, said Jonathan was paying lip service to the anti-corruption campaign in the country.
In the letter, Obasanjo accused the President of pursuing “ selfish personal and political interests based on advise from his “self-centred aides.”
He also alleged that the President had failed to deliver on his promises to Nigerians and to curb insurgency and corruption in the country.
“Nigeria is bleeding and the hemorrhage must be stopped,” an obviously angry Obasanjo lamented. He went ahead to declare that “Jonathan had betrayed God and Nigerians,” who voted him into power.
Obasanjo further alleged that Jonathan had not only placed more than 1, 000 Nigerians on a political watchlist, he had succeeded in destroying the ruling Peoples Democratic Party and polarised Nigeria along regional and religious lines.
He also said the President was involved in anti-party activities.
• PDP crises and Jonathan’s personal agenda
He said the President was using the PDP National Chairman, Bamanga Tukur, to cause the lingering crises in the party.
Obasanjo said, “Let me start with the leadership of the ruling party. Many of us were puzzled over what was going on in the party. Most party members blamed the national chairman. I understand that some in the Presidency tried to create the impression that some of us were to blame.
“The situation became clear only when the national chairman spoke out that he never did anything or acted in any way without the approval or concurrence of the party leader (Jonathan) and that where the party leader disapproved, he made correction or amendment, that we realised most actions were those of the chairman but the motivation and direction were those of the leader.
“It would be unfair to continue to level full blames on the chairman for all that goes wrong with the party. The chairman is playing the tune dictated by the paymaster (Jonathan). But the paymaster is acting for a definitive purpose for which deceit and deception seem to be the major ingredients.”
Obasanjo stated that Jonathan’s failure to keep his promise not to seek a second term had also worsened the crises in the PDP.
“Up till two months ago, Mr. President, you told me that you have not told anybody that you would contest in 2015. I quickly pointed out to you that the signs and the measures on the ground do not tally with your statement. You said the same to one other person who shared his observation with me. And only a fool would believe that statement you made to me judging by what is going on. I must say it is not ingenious. You may wish to pursue a more credible and more honourable path.”
He added that before the 2011 general elections, the President told some governors and the PDP stakeholders, including himself, that he would not seek reelection.
He specifically mentioned Benue State Governor Gabriel Suswam, as having told him that Jonathan accepted not to run for Presidency in 2015.
The former head of state said, “ He (Suswam) told me that you had accepted a one-term Presidency to allow for ease of getting support across the board in the North. I decided to cross-check with you. You did not hesitate to confirm to me that you are a strong believer in a one-term of six years for the President and that by the time you have used the unexpired time of your predecessor and the four years of your first term, you would have almost used up to six years and you would not need any more term or time.”
According to the former Nigerian leader, Jonathan’s failure to keep the promise had made him appear like a man without honour.
Obasanjo told the President that it would be “fatally morally flawed” for him to contest in 2015.
He wrote, “As a leader, two things you must cherish and hold dear among others are trust and honour both of which are important ingredients of character. I will want to see anyone in the office of the Presidency as a man or woman who can be trusted, a person of honour in his words and character.”
The former President accused Jonathan of supporting the candidates of opposition parties in governorship elections in Lagos, Ondo, Edo and Anambra states and causing disagreements between party members.
He said, “Maybe you also need to know that many party members feel disappointed in the double game you were alleged to play in support of party governorship candidates in some states where you surreptitiously supported non-PDP candidates against PDP candidates in exchange for promise or act of those non-PDP governors supporting you for your election in the past or for the one that you are yet to formally declare.”
He claimed that a former Lagos State Governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu “was nocturnally brought to Abuja to strike a deal for support “ for Jonathan’s personal election at the expense of the PDP and its governorship candidate.
“If you as leader of the party cannot be seen to be loyal to the PDP in support of the candidates of the party and the interests of such party candidates have to be sacrificed on the altar of your personal and political interest, then good luck to the party and I will also say as I have had occasions to say in the past, good luck to Goodluck,” he said in the letter.
• Insecurity/Boko Haram
Noting that the President had not been able to tackle the remote causes of insurgency in the country, Obasanjo again advised him to adopt “a carrot and stick approach” to stem the problem.
He stated that “conventional military actions based on standard phases of military operations alone will not permanently and effectively deal with the issue of Boko Haram.”
Obasanjo also took on Jonathan for being clannish and wondered why he had not quietened some Ijaw leaders who publicly attack those opposed to his leadership style.
The former President said, “For you to allow yourself to be ‘possessed’, so to say, to the exclusion of most of the rest of Nigerians as an ‘Ijaw man’ is a mistake that should never have been allowed to happen.
“Yes, you have to be born in one part of Nigeria to be Nigerian if not naturalised but the Nigerian President must be above ethnic factionalism. And those who prop you up as of, and for ‘Ijaw nation’ are not your friends genuinely, not friends of Nigeria nor friends of the ‘Ijaw nation’ they tout about.
“To allow or tacitly encourage people of ‘Ijaw nation’ to throw insults on other Nigerians from other parts of the country and threaten fire and brimstone to protect your interest as an Ijaw man is myopic and your not openly quieting them is even more unfortunate.”
• Political watchlist
Obasanjo also alleged that the President had not only placed more than 1, 000 Nigerians on a political watch list, he had encouraged the “training of snipers and other armed personnel secretly and clandestinely.”
He added that weapons were being purchased them for political purposes and training given to them where Abacha trained his killers.
The former President wondered why the Presidency was providing assistance for “a murderer” to evade justice.
He said, “Presidential assistance for a murderer to evade justice and presidential delegation to welcome him home can only be in bad taste generally but particularly to the family of his victim.
“Assisting criminals to evade justice cannot be part of the job of the presidency. Or, as it is viewed in some quarters, is he being recruited to do for you what he had done for Abacha in the past? Hopefully, he should have learned his lesson. Let us continue to watch.”
Obasanjo did not give the name of the but he was apparently referring to the former Chief Security Officer to Abacha, Hamza Al-Mustapha.
Obasanjo called on Jonathan to take at least, “one effective corrective action against high corruption which seems to stink all around you in your government.”
He mentioned the recent allegation that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation failed to remit billions of dollars in proceeds of crude oil sales to the federation account.
“This allegation will not fly away by non-action, cover-up, denial or bribing possible investigators,” he told the President.
He added, “Please deal with this allegation transparently and let the truth be known.
“The dramatis personae in this allegation and who they are working for will one day be public knowledge.
“Those who know are watching if the National Assembly will not be accomplice in the heinous crime and naked grand corruption.
“As head of government, the buck of the performance and non-performance stops on your table and let nobody tell you anything to the contrary. Corruption has reached the level of impunity. It is also necessary to be mindful that corruption and injustice are fertile breeding grounds for terrorism and political instability.”
He also told Jonathan to do the right things because God and Nigerians would hold him responsible for “whatever happens and fails to happen in the country.”
“I have had opportunity, in recent times to interact closely with you and I have come to the conclusion painfully or happily that if you can shun yourself to a great extent of personal and political interests and dwell more on the national interest and also draw the line between advice from selfish and self-centered aides and advice from those who in the interest of the nation may not tell you what you will want to hear,” Obasanjo said.
The former President told Jonathan that nothing, at this stage of his life, would prevent him from standing up for whatever he considered to be in the best interest of Nigeria, Africa and the world.
He added that he was ready for whatever reaction the letter would provoke from the Presidency.
He said, “Knowing what happens around you, most of which you know of and condone or deny, this letter will provoke a cacophony from hired and unhired attackers but I will maintain my serenity because by this letter, I have done my duty to you as I have always done, to your government, to the PDP, and to our country, Nigeria.
“I have passed the stage of being flattered, intimidated, threatened, frightened, induced or bought… Death is the end of all human beings and may it come when God wills it to come.
“The harassment of my relations and friends and innuendos that are coming from the government security apparatus on whether they belong to New PDP or supporters of defected governors and which are possibly authorised or are the work of overzealous aides and those reading your lips to act in your interest will be counter-productive.
“It is abuse of security apparatus. Such abuse took place last in the time of Abacha. Lies and untruths about me emanating from the Presidency is too absurd to contemplate. Saying that I recommended a wanted criminal by United Kingdom and United States authorities to you or your aides to supplant legitimately elected PDP leader in the South-West is not only unwise and crude but also disingenuous. It is a clear indication of how unscrupulous and unethical the Presidency can go to pursue your personal and political interest.
The former Nigerian leader urged the President to share the contents of his letter with former Heads of State, Generals Abdulsalami Abubakar and Gen. Ibrahim Babangida as well as a former Vice-President Alex Ekwueme and ex-Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Theophilus Danjuma.
He told Jonathan that he should do so because Abubakar and Babangida had shared the concerns he raised in the letter with him (Obasanjo).
Obasanjo said, “I crave your indulgence to share the contents of this letter, in the first instance, with Generals Babangida and Abubakar, who, on a number of occasions in recent times, have shared with me their agonising thoughts, concerns and expressions on most of the issues I have raised in this letter concerning the situation and future of our country. I also crave your indulgence to share the contents with Gen. Danjuma and Ekwueme, whose concerns for and commitments to the good of Nigeria have been known to be strong.”
Initial fear that the letter did not emanate from Obasanjo was doused by his Chief of Staff, Deacon Victor Durodola, who confirmed its authenticity to one of our correspondents.
Durodola said the elder statesman decided to write Jonathan despite their perceived close rapport.
“The reasons are already stated in the letter, including where Baba (Obasanjo) said the last letter he wrote was not even acknowledged; so, the reasons are there, about 10 of them. So, he wrote the letter.”
He also confirmed that Obasanjo left South- Africa on Tuesday after the memorial service for the former South African President, Nelson Mandela.
But the Presidency described the allegations by Obasanjo as “most reckless, baseless, unjustifiable and indecorous.”
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, who confirmed receipt of the letter by the Presidency, added that it was “highly unbecoming, mischievous and provocative” that it (letter) was deliberately leaked to the mass media in an effort to impugn the integrity of the President.
The presidential spokesman said in a statement that Jonathan, at the appropriate time, would offer a full personal response to the allegations.
The statement reads, “We have noted the publication on several websites today (Wesnesday) of a letter recently written by Chief Obasanjo to President Jonathan.
“The Presidency acknowledges that it has indeed received the said letter from Chief Obasanjo.
“We however find it highly unbecoming, mischievous and provocative that a letter written by a former Head of State and respected elder statesman to President Jonathan has been deliberately leaked to the mass media in a deplorable effort to impugn the integrity of the President and denigrate his commitment to giving Nigeria the best possible leadership.
“While many patriotic, objective and well-meaning Nigerians have already condemned the leaked letter as self-serving, hypocritical, malicious, indecent, and very disrespectful of the highest office in the land, President Jonathan has directed that none of his aides or any government official should join issues with Chief Obasanjo over it.
“The President himself will, at the appropriate time, offer a full personal response to the most reckless, baseless, unjustifiable and indecorous charges levied against him and his administration by the former Head of State.”
The PDP, in a statement by Tukur also called on Obasanjo to tread with caution. It said the letter was a direct assault on the person of Jonathan.
It added, “ For such a statement against the person of the national chairman of the PDP, to come from Chief Obasanjo, a former head of state and President is most unfortunate.
“For him to insinuate that the President is using the national chairman to cause multiple problems for the party doesn’t in any way portray him as a true democrat.