Culled from The Source Magazine
The battle for Nigeria’s political space entered a dangerous bend last Wednesday as President Goodluck Jonathan came under a fresh attack . This time, it was a bombshell from his mentor and a former President, General Olusegun Obasanjo. The cannon from the former Head of States, actually rattled the political landscape and in fact, cleared the fog of the Nelson Mandela’s celebration from our political firmament.
The Balogun of Owu, Abeokuta, Ogun state, in what looked like a call for a general uprising, took his time to pen what he felt to be Jonathan’s failings. In an 18-page letter to the President, titled: Before it is too late, Obasanjo accused him, among other things, of not honouring his words and taking actions calculated at destroying Nigeria. In the letter, Obasanjo accused the President of pursuing “ selfish personal and political interests based on advice from his “self-centred aides.”
“Nigeria is bleeding and the hemorrhage must be stopped,” 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 watch list, he had succeeded in destroying the ruling People’s Democratic Party and polarised Nigeria along regional and religious lines.
Since its release, opinions have been sharply divided on Obasanjo’s war epistle, while Nigerians are also anxious to hear from Jonathan on these issues generally regarded as germaine to the future of the country. Not a few Nigerians also believe that Obasajo is also guilty of the same offence.
National Publicity Secretary, Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, said Obasanjo was as guilty as Jonathan as he did worst things than President Jonathan when he was in power.
“Nigerians should be wary of Obasanjo whenever he said something; it is either he is trying to settle scores, even though Jonathan is facing challenges,” he said.
Odumakin who described the letter as a coup manifesto, urged Nigerians not to allow Obasanjo to deceive them with his frank talks as whatever he did “is self-serving but that does not mean Jonathan should not address corruption.”
Convener, Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, CACOL, Comrade Debo Adeniran said Obasanjo’s letter is like that of a pot calling kettle black.
“It is unfortunate that it is now that Obasanjo sees the fight against corruption as waning. In his days, he frustrated the fight against corruption.
“The ICPC under Obasanjo was underfunded. The EFCC under him was used to suppress the voice of political enemies. Obasanjo came to power with less than N20,000 and left power as a multi-billionaire,” he said.
According to him, “Obasanjo has no moral right to criticise Jonathan even though things are bad with this government. He should keep quiet and allow people with integrity to talk.”
A member of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Ipoola Omisore, said Obasanjo only expressed his frustrations in the letter to Jonathan.
“Obasanjo has no moral right to condemn Jonathan. Jonathan was a docile Deputy Governor in Yenagoa, Bayelsa state, when Obasanjo used him to displace the then Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha and also used him to defeat Atiku by pairing him with the late Umaru Yar’Adua against the PDP’s choice of Donald Duke and Peter Odili.
“You remember this same Obasanjo backed Shagari against Obafemi Awolowo. He has been giving us presidents we do not want and the result is what Nigeria has become today,” he said. Omisore further stressed that every sin he accused Jonathan of committing, he also committed during his era as President.
“During Obasanjo’s time, he never forgave anybody, he played god, he wanted third term, he seized federal allocation to Lagos, he used the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, against his perceived enemies and many more,” Omisore said, adding that he did what he did because he witnessed the recent encomiums poured on late Nelson Mandela of South Africa.
“If Nigeria should collapse today, Obasanjo should be blamed. I just pray he quits politics quickly and repents so that he does not pay for his sins,” Omisore said.
Famous Lagos lawyer, Femi Falana described Obasanjo’s latest posture as hypocritical, saying President Jonathan is a very good student of Obasanjo’s school of politics.
A constitutional lawyer, Professor Itsay Sagay expressed fear for the future of the country.
Northern politicians also blame Obasanjo for deliberately propping up the Late Umaru Yar’Adua, in 2007 considered to be too unhealthy for the rigour of the office. Yar’Adua later died in office, paying way for President Jonathan, his erstwhile deputy.
By 2011, he had changed his mind on Jonathan. According to Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, in his book, Accidental civil servant, Obasanjo had initially preferred a Buhari presidency before a last-minute change of mind. “He also wants to be the super hero and a god to be worshipped forever. The moment you want to be your own man, you run into trouble with him,” a PDP member in Lagos told the magazine last week.
Highly placed sources in Abuja and Lagos informed the magazine that the current plot is hinged on the desire of the former president to come back to relevance by getting a more pliant candidate for the presidency in 2015
During the last Democracy day on May 29, 2013, Obasanjo snubbed the ceremony in Abuja for Sule Lamido’s event in Jigawa, where he eulogised the governor as a potential presidential material. Lamido is one of the G7 governors currently stirring the crisis in PDP.
Analysts equally pointed to several Obasanjo’s undemocratic tendencies during his tenure. Governors like Joshua Dariye of Plataeu, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha of Bayelsa, Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti were removed in orchestrated plots believed to have been fuelled by the former president.
On security and human rights, the analysts contended that Obasanjo did not fare better than Jonathan. Bola Ige, a sitting Attorney General; Marshall Harry, Funso Williams were all high profile unresolved murder under his regime. Odi, a town in Bayelsa and Zaki Biam, a town in Benue state were also leveled by soldiers for offences committed by unknown militants.
While Obasanjo accused Jonathan in his letter of reneging on agreement not to seek a re-election in 2015, many Nigerians also recalled his failed third term bid. The nation was actually seized by throat as members of the National Assembly were allegedly induced by the former president to support the tenure elongation bid, before the plot eventually crashed.
President Jonathan has not responded to the letter, but a statement by presidential spokesman, Reuben Abati in Abuja last week however said that while the presidency acknowledged receiving the letter, the president had directed that none of his aides or any government official should join issues with 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 States,” the spokesman said.
“We however find it highly unbecoming, mischievous and provocative that a letter written by a former Head of States 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,” the statement said.
“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 Obasanjo over it.”