Last month, The Washington Post published an op-ed by Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan answering criticism of his response to the kidnapping of hundreds of schoolgirls by the group Boko Haram. This is what Jonathan should have written.
I have remained quiet about Nigeria's continuing efforts to find the girls kidnapped in April from the northern town of Chibok, because, honestly, I hoped the world would ignore it as just another "African tragedy."
But the attention brought by the #BringBackOurGirls social media campaign forced my administration to abandon its usual do-nothing strategy. I admit that for weeks, the Nigerian military was nowhere to be seen in Chibok and aggrieved parents had to resort to venturing into the jungle on foot to search for their children. But I assure everyone, we are doing our best.
I am speaking out now because national elections are in less than a year and my Washington PR firm needs to earn the reported $1.2 million I am paying it.
I wish to assure Nigerians and the international community that, even though my military wrapped up its investigation into the kidnappings without locating the girls, we are sparing no resources. We will keep the findings of the investigation secret, since my good-faith assurances are enough.
My heart aches for the missing children and their families. In fact, my heartache was so painful that I canceled plans to visit Chibok. Instead, I eased my pain by flying to Paris for a national security summit. My first lady, Patience Jonathan, shares in my grief for the families affected by the tragedy. She was so troubled by the agitation of protesters demanding their girls back that she told them to stop their actions and allegedly ordered the police to detain several protest leaders.
While terrorism knows no borders, and security threats rage across West Africa, Nigeria has long been reluctant to accept counterterrorism assistance from the United States and other partners. Nothing is more important than stopping the machinations of Boko Haram, except maybe my desire to keep up appearances and show the international community that Nigeria has been winning the war against the group. I have characterized Boko Haram as a temporary scourge. In the wake of recent attacks and kidnappings of more women, I recognize that the group has effectively exploited the inability of the Nigerian military to put up any semblance of a sustained, coordinated response. Despite the challenges, we definitely are doing our best.
Though Nigeria is a regional powerhouse with a population of more than 170 million, until now it had not occurred to me to collaborate with neighboring countries to fight terrorism. I wish to thank French President Francois Hollande for inviting me and other West African presidents to Paris to discuss this. When it comes to strategizing on African solutions to African problems, a European should take the lead. Besides, I do my best thinking in Paris.
My critics say that decades of neglect have led to conditions amenable to radicalization in the north. My detractors will point to human rights abuses perpetrated by the military. Let the finger-pointing stop. I propose to set up an international summit to organize a fact-finding commission of investigative inquiry to study the progress of ongoing investigations of corruption and lack of development in the north. I have asked Hollande to provide a forum for this in Paris, though I would accept the French Riviera.
Something positive can come out of the kidnappings in April. The world has seen what can happen when terrorism is left to run amok and the citizens of a country have little faith in the ability of their government to protect them. But I wish to assure Nigerians and the rest of the world that I am doing my best.
Karen Attiah works in The Washington Post's editorial department.
I have had to remain quiet about the continuing efforts by Nigeria’s military, police and investigators to find the girls kidnapped in April from the town of Chibok by the terrorist group Boko Haram. I am deeply concerned, however, that my silence as we work to accomplish the task at hand is being misused by partisan critics to suggest inaction or even weakness.
My silence has been necessary to avoid compromising the details of our investigation. But let me state this unequivocally: My government and our security and intelligence services have spared no resources, have not stopped and will not stop until the girls are returned home and the thugs who took them are brought to justice. On my orders, our forces have aggressively sought these killers in the forests of northern Borno state, where they are based. They are fully committed to defending the integrity of their country.
My heart aches for the missing children and their families. I am a parent myself, and I know how awfully this must hurt. Nothing is more important to me than finding and rescuing our girls.
Since 2010, thousands of people have been killed, injured, abducted or forced by Boko Haram, which seeks to overwhelm the country and impose its ideology on all Nigerians. My government is determined to make that impossible. We will not succumb to the will of terrorists.
The abduction of our children cannot be seen as an isolated event. Terrorism knows no borders. This month, Nigeria, Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Britain and the United States established an External Intelligence Response Unit to share security information on such threats in West Africa. I propose that we build on this step to establish an enduring, worldwide commitment to destroying terrorism and those who finance or give safe haven to the terrorists.
In September, I will urge the U.N. General Assembly to establish a U.N.-coordinated system for sharing intelligence and, if necessary, special forces and law enforcement to confront terrorism wherever it occurs.
In Nigeria, there are political, religious and ethnic cleavages to overcome if we are to defeat Boko Haram. We need greater understanding and outreach between Muslims and Christians. We also know that, as it seeks to recruit the gullible, Boko Haram exploits the economic disparities that remain a problem in our country. We are addressing these challenges through such steps as bringing stakeholders together and creating a safe schools initiative, a victims’ support fund and a presidential economic recovery program for northeastern Nigeria. We are also committed to ridding our country of corruption and safeguarding human and civil rights and the rule of law.
Something positive can come out of the situation in Nigeria: most important, the return of the Chibok girls, but also new international cooperation to deny havens to terrorists and destroy their organizations wherever they are — whether in the forests of Nigeria, on the streets of New York or sanctuaries in Iraq or Pakistan. Those who value humanity , civilization and the innocence of children can do no less.
Goodluck Jonathan is president of Nigeria.
His Excellency, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR, spoke at the Inauguration of the National Conference Monday, 17th March, 2014.
1. I am delighted to welcome you all to the inauguration of this historic National Conference which promises to be another significant landmark in our efforts to strengthen national unity and consolidate democratic governance in our beloved country.
2. I also believe that this National Conference is coming at a very appropriate time. Having just celebrated the first centenary of our country, the most compelling task before us, as we move ahead and contemplate what our nation will be at the end of its second century, is to lay a much stronger foundation for faster development.
3. This we can achieve by building a more inclusive national consensus on the structure and guiding principles of state that will guarantee our emergence as a more united, progressive and prosperous nation.
4. In our history as a political entity, we have experienced highs and lows but have always forged ahead. To my mind, the fact that we have weathered all storms and continued with the mission of evolving a truly national identity signifies that we are going in the right direction.
5. The strongest nations in the world today also went through their own formative stages; some for decades and others for centuries. We must learn from them that nationhood will not happen overnight, especially given the circumstances of our birth as a nation.
6. History also teaches that nation-building is a journey of dedication, commitment, diligence, perseverance and patriotic vision. To be successful, nation-builders must continually strive to evolve better and more inclusive societies in which every citizen is a proud and committed stakeholder.
7. It was with this objective in mind that we set up the Presidential Advisory Committee (PAC) on the National Conference in October last year and charged its members with the responsibility of designing the framework and modalities for a productive National Conference.
8. The Committee which submitted its Report in December, 2013, was able to reach out to all Nigerians and various interest groups, socio-political groupings, regional and religious elements, professionals, civil society, the organised private sector, labour, youth, women and others to ascertain their views on the initiative.
9. The Presidential Advisory Committee established that there was indeed, a national consensus for this Conference to be convened immediately, to meet the yearnings and aspirations of our people.
10. The National Conference is therefore being convened to engage in intense introspection about the political and socio-economic challenges confronting our nation and to chart the best and most acceptable way for the resolution of such challenges in the collective interest of all the constituent parts of our fatherland.
11. This coming together under one roof to confer and build a fresh national consensus for the amicable resolution of issues that still cause friction amongst our people must be seen as an essential part of the process of building a more united, stronger and progressive nation.
12. We cannot continue to fold our arms and assume that things will straighten themselves out in due course, instead of taking practical steps to overcome impediments on our path to true nationhood, rapid development and national prosperity.
13. For many years we have discussed and argued over various issues concerning our national existence and well-being. Much of this national discourse has been conducted through the mass media, both print and electronic. More recently, the advent of the age of ICT and social media has greatly enlarged the space for the discussion of our country’s future.
14. Many more young and articulate Nigerians who previously had little access to the traditional mass media have now joined the conversation, motivated by patriotic concern for good governance, peace, stability, justice, equity, fairness and the harmonious co-existence of the diverse groups that make up our great nation.
15. Dear Compatriots, my administration is convening this National Conference today because we believe that we must assume responsibility for ensuring that the long-running national debate on the best way forward for our country is not in vain.
16. It is our expectation that participants in this conference will patriotically articulate and synthesize our peoples’ thoughts, views and recommendations for a stronger, more united, peaceful and politically stable Nigeria, forge the broadest possible national consensus in support of those recommendations, and strive to ensure that they are given the legal and constitutional backing to shape the present and the future of our beloved fatherland.
17. In inaugurating this national conference today, we are not unmindful of the argument of those who say that we do not need such a conference since we already have an elected Parliament and an elected Government in place.
18. As cogent as that argument may sound, I have chosen to act on the sincere conviction that in the truly democratic nation we are striving to build, we must never ignore the loudly expressed views of the majority of ordinary Nigerians.
19. I have heard that majority say, that we need to rebuild trust by involving them in the process of developing a guiding document of our national political relationships which is more acceptable to all sections of the country. I have heard our people say that we need to openly and frankly discuss our problems and seek acceptable solutions instead of allowing them to fester and remain sources of perennial conflict.
20. I have also heard them say that, as the elected representatives of our people, we must never arrogate to ourselves all knowledge and wisdom regarding the development of our country.
21. And I am in full agreement with our people. The power we hold is, without question, in trust for the people. Sovereignty belongs to the people. Their voices must be heard and factored into every decision we take on their behalf.
22. This National Conference is a very important avenue for the voices of our people to be heard. Our people have yearnings and desires that need to be discussed. Their representatives at this conference are neither usurping the role of the National Assembly nor the Executive. They are complementing us in our march towards a greater and stronger union.
23. Over the years, well-meaning Nigerians have drawn attention to inadequacies in our current constitution. Some have described it as a military-inspired document which does not take into full consideration the genuine desires and wishes of the people.
24. The phrase in the preamble that says "we, the people," has been variously criticised as being misleading because, according to the critics, the constitution was not written by the people. There are also those who believe that the constitution is not our problem but the political will to faithfully implement it for the peace and progress of Nigeria.
25. While opinions on the matter can be as diverse as rain showers, I believe that irrespective of our personal views on the issue, no one can deny the fact that every constitution is a living document that needs to be revised and improved upon from time to time. The United States, which is the model democracy in the eyes of many, has amended its constitution 27 times since it was first adopted in 1787.
26. Some of our compatriots also believe that because we have held several conferences in the past, we do not need to hold another one. I do not share that view at all.
27. A deeper look will reveal that the challenges we faced before each of the preceding national conferences were different. The challenges of 1956 are certainly not the challenges of 2014, and definitely not the challenges that the nation will face in years to come. It makes sense, therefore, that as the challenges before us evolve, we must be constant and proactive in our search for fresh solutions. We cannot continue to proffer yesterday's solutions for today's problems.
28. This conference is open for us to table our thoughts and positions on issues, and make recommendations that will advance our togetherness. The issues range from form of government, structures of government, devolution of powers, revenue sharing, resource control, state and local government creation, boundary adjustment, state police and fiscal federalism, to local government elections, indigeneship, gender equality and children’s rights, amongst others.
29. We must not approach these issues with suspicion and antagonism. Rather, we should be open-minded and work to achieve what is best for Nigeria. Even though you come to the Conference as nominees and representatives of different interest groups, I urge you all to make a more united, stronger, indivisible and prosperous Nigeria your preoccupation and reference point at this national gathering. Whatever the pressures on you may be, I call upon you to put the best interest of Nigeria before all other sectional or group interests.
30. Indeed, I am quite worried when I hear people say that some participants in this National Conversation are coming here to defend and promote ethnic or clannish agenda. It is very regrettable that there are persons who believe that we cannot undertake any collective task in our country without the hindrance of ethnic rivalry even after 100 years of nationhood.
31. This conference gives us an opportunity to prove such persons wrong and I believe it will. As we start a new century of nationhood, we have an obligation to reshape and redirect our country for the benefit of our children. There should be no room for divisive cleavages and ethnic jingoism. There should be no room for selfish considerations that defeat the purpose of national progress. There should be room only for the national interest.
32. In the 60s, our country was ranked along with some developing countries including India, Malaysia and South Korea. Today, those countries have moved far ahead of us in several areas. My expectation is that the outcome of this Conference will be a positive turning point for our country’s development. We must seize this opportunity to cement the cleavages and fault lines that tend to separate us. We must re-launch our country.
33. I know the task before you is onerous; but there must be only one winner, and there can only be one winner if we do everything right, and that winner must be Nigeria. I urge you therefore to focus strictly on the Nigerian Agenda.
34. I expect that, as persons of integrity and honour, you will do nothing in this Conference that will undermine our efforts and desire to build a truly great nation. I also expect that your discussions will be informed only by the noblest of instincts and persuasions.
35. Our sole motivation for convening this conference is the patriotic desire for a better and greater nation. We are determined that things must be done in a way and manner that will positively advance that objective.
36. While we recognise that groups and communities are the building blocks of our nation, we must also emphasise that we need one another to build the solid and prosperous country of our dreams.
37. We cannot join hands together to build with a collective vision if we continue to harbour negative biases and prejudices against ourselves.
38. Yesterday's prejudices should die with yesterday. Today is a new day. This is the dawn of a new era. This is an opportunity to think anew. We must jettison the poisonous mind-sets of the past, which were built on unhealthy competition among our diverse groups and peoples.
39. We need a new mind and a new spirit of oneness and national unity. The time has come to stop seeing Nigeria as a country of many groups and regions. We have been divinely brought together under one roof. We must begin to see ourselves as one community. We are joined together by similar hopes and dreams as well as similar problems and challenges. What affects one part of the community affects the other.
40. An average Nigerian sees every part of the country as home. Let us seize the opportunity of this Conference to do more to further turn our diversity and plurality into unique national resources for strength and greatness.
41. I have always affirmed that our ability to stay together despite our acknowledged differences, when other countries are finding it difficult to meet that challenge, is a powerful statement by Nigeria to the world on the virtues of tolerance and unity.
42. It is a strong and compelling statement in a world much afflicted by strife and violence. We must sustain it. We must not allow the antagonists of unity and togetherness to prevail. We must work ceaselessly to remain one nation bound in freedom, peace and unity, as our National Anthem says.
43. Honourable Chairman and distinguished delegates, I urge you not to be under any illusions as you begin your assignment. The task that lies ahead of you is formidable. Over the coming weeks, you will be confronted with complex and emotive issues; strong views will be expressed by opposing sides and some disagreements will, in all likelihood, be intense.
44. I sincerely believe, however, that we can overcome all obstacles to true national unity if we dig deep into the recesses of our national character and look up to God Almighty for wisdom, guidance and the generosity of spirit we need to ensure the success of this conference.
45. Once again, I wish to express my appreciation to the Nigerian people who have, without hesitation, accepted dialogue as a means of resolving all differences and tensions that may exist in the country, and therefore, given their unequivocal support for this National Conference.
46. Let me at this point thank the National Assembly for introducing the provision for a referendum in the proposed amendment of the Constitution. This should be relevant for this Conference if at the end of the deliberations, the need for a referendum arises. I therefore urge the National Assembly and the State Houses of Assembly to speed up the Constitutional amendment process especially with regard to the subject of referendum.
47. I thank the Chairman, Senator Femi Okurounmu and members of the Presidential Advisory Committee for the arduous work they undertook to prepare for the Conference. I also thank the Chairman of this National Conference, Justice Idris Legbo Kutigi, the principal officers and all the distinguished patriots and representatives of our people who have taken time off their busy personal schedules to serve the cause of national unity and progress at this conference.
48. I am confident that we are embarking on a landmark journey that will make us stronger as a nation if we undertake it with all sense of purpose and sincerity. Let us do that which is selfless, purposeful and patriotic so that history will remember us for having served our nation well.
49. In conclusion, I urge all officials and participants in the national conference to work extra hard to ensure that their deliberations are completed on schedule, well ahead of the schedule of events for the next general elections already announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
50. Let me again repeat what I have been saying that Goodluck Jonathan has no personal agenda in convening this national conference.
51. Ladies and Gentlemen, I now have the honour and privilege of declaring the National Conference open, for the good of our Nation and to the glory of God Almighty who has brought us together.
52. I thank you all.
President Jonathan on February 15th visited four traditional rulers in Kano, Osun and Lagos States. President Jonathan paid private visits to the Emir of Kano , Ooni of Ife, Alaafin of Oyo and the Oba of Lagos.
One of the reasons usually given by Igbos for overwhelmingly supporting President Goodluck Jonathan was erased with a stroke of the pen this morning following the sweeping changes in Nigeria’s Military High Command.
Ndigbo used to boast that for the first time in the country’s history, their ethnic group produced two Service Chiefs under the Jonathan presidency. All that is now gone as there is no single Igbo in the new set of Service Chiefs. Both Abia State’s Lt.-General Azubike O. Ihejirika, erstwhile Chief of Army Staff, and Delta State’s Vice Admiral Dele Joseph Ezeoba, until this morning Chief of Naval Staff, were dropped in the shake-up announced via a statement issued in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, by Jonathan’s Special Adviser (Media & Publicity), Dr. Reuben Abati.
As announced by Abati, “Air Marshal Alex Badeh takes over from Admiral Ola Sa’ad Ibrahim as Chief of Defence Staff;
“Major-General Kenneth Tobiah Jacob Minimah takes over from Lt.-General Azubike O. Ihejirika as Chief of Army Staff;
“Rear Admiral Usman O. Jibrin takes over from Vice Admiral Dele Joseph Ezeoba as Chief of Naval Staff; and Air Vice Marshal Adesola Nunayon Amosu takes over from Air Marshal Badeh as Chief of Air Staff.”
It is not yet clear how this turn of events will affect President Jonathan’s political fortunes as Nigeria counts down to the next general elections in 2015 in which he is determined to contest. Already, Igbos, who constitute Jonathan’s electoral backbone, are angry that he is yet to keep his promise to build a second bridge across the famous River Niger in view of the expected collapse of the old one – a situation which does not only endanger lives but also holds the prospect of cutting off Igboland from the entire South-West.
Source News Express
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has replaced Nigeria’s service chiefs with new ones. Reuben Abati, Presidential Spokesperson, tweeted on his twitter account.
Dr Abati tweeted: “President Jonathan has appointed new Chief of Defence Staff and Service Chiefs. Air Marshal Alex Badeh now CDS. Mr. Abati said the former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Alex Badeh, has been appointed the Chief of Defence Staff. He replaces Admiral Ola Ibrahim. As at the time of this report, the names of the new heads of the Army, Navy and Air Force were not available. There had been speculation that the Service Chiefs would be replaced following their perceived inability to curtail the activities of Islamic fundamentalists.
THE COMPLETE TEXT:
President Goodluck Jonathan has in the exercise of the powers conferred on him by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria approved the following changes in the nation’s Military High Command:
Air Marshal Alex Badeh takes over from Admiral Ola Sa’ad Ibrahim as Chief of Defence Staff; Major-General Kenneth Tobiah Jacob Minimah takes over from Lt.-General Azubike O. Ihejirika as Chief of Army Staff; Rear Admiral Usman O. Jibrin takes over from Vice Admiral Dele Joseph Ezeoba as Chief of Naval Staff; and Air Vice Marshal Adesola Nunayon Amosu takes over from Air Marshal Badeh as Chief of Air Staff.
All the changes are with immediate effect.
The new Chief of Defence Staff and former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Badeh was born on January 10, 1957 and joined the Air Force as a member of the Nigerian Defence Academy’s 21 Regular Course while the new Chief of Army Staff, Major-General Minimah was born on July 27, 1959 and joined the Army as a member of the Nigerian Defence Academy’s 25 Regular Course. Until his new appointment, Major-General Minimah was the Commander of the Nigerian Army Infantry Corps, Jaji.
President Jonathan has briefed the leadership of the National Assembly on the appointment of the new service chiefs and will, in keeping with the provisions of the law, request the National Assembly to formally confirm the appointments when it reconvenes.
Since the 18-page "open letter" which former President Olusegun Obasanjo wrote to President Goodluck Jonathan was released to the public domain, there has been disquiet in the land. Statements have been issued for and against, commentaries and even editorials have been written. In many articles and columns the belligerent contents of the letter have been viewed and reviewed from different angles. Some commentators have opted to beam their searchlight on the writer of the controversial letter, Obasanjo, an elder statesman that is not averse to stirring the hornet's nest.
Reading through Obasanjo's letter, there is no doubt that he raises salient issues that are of fundamental interest to all Nigerians. But, they are mostly trite or mired in political diatribes. In a nutshell, Obasanjo's angst is founded on his aversion to the idea of Jonathan seeking re-election for a second term in office, his fury over the handling of the crisis in the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) to which he belongs, his disgust with Jonathan for overriding his (Obasanjo's) political leadership and influence culminating in the imposition of a particular person as PDP zonal leader for the South West zone, and what he perceives as Jonathan's incompetence in various respects including his condonation of ethnic irredentism and criminality.
The rest of Obasanjo's letter consist of a bundle of contradictions: allegations, lamentations, and admonitions plus veiled chest-beating and bizarre confession of his role in past electoral manipulations and such other outbursts that a wizened old fox would haul from a safe distance at a younger and more virile one that has outfoxed him in the jungle.
Shorn of political jingoism and patriotic pomposity, the only thing that can be deduced from Obasanjo's bellicose letter is that he has an axe to grind with President Jonathan. It is clear from this extremely venomous letter that the primary objective of the writer is to torpedo the perceived ambition of Jonathan to run for a second term as President. But, by the singular action of demanding that Jonathan should perish the thought of a possible re-election bid, Obasanjo contradicts himself and shows quite clearly that he is not a democrat. If he was, he would realize that in a democracy, it is only the people that can renew or refuse to renew anyone's mandate and they can only do so through the ballot box. If at this stage in the democratic evolution of our country the renewal of the political mandate of an elected public office holder is not determined by the people but by the whims and caprices of one man, then our democracy is in danger and our future is in jeopardy.
Obasanjo argued that Jonathan's reelection bid would constitute a breach of some promise the president is alleged to have made before the 2011 election to the effect that he would serve for only one term. Unless Obasanjo is living in denial, he cannot pretend to be unaware that Nigeria's recent political history is replete with politicians that reneged on their pre-election promises and on top of the list is Obasanjo himself! Was it not Obasanjo who was said to have promised to serve for one term to pave the way for the return of Ibrahim Babangida, the architect of his prison-to-state house odyssey but after he won the election, he began to sing a different tune? Was it not this alleged promise that former Vice President Atiku Abubakar sought to force Obasanjo to keep in 2003 that set him on a collision course with the vengeful Balogun of Owu whose ire is like a whirlwind? Atiku touched the tiger's tail again when he instigated opposition to Obasanjo's "Third Term Agenda" in 2007 and came out of the ensuing battle badly bruised with his political ambition in stitches.
Concerning the allegation of "dividing" and "destroying" PDP, Nigerians know better. Was it Jonathan that foisted a military command structure and farmed out political territories to political war lords which put democracy in retrogression in Nigeria? Was it Jonathan that promoted the emergence of "parallel structures", factions and unending divisions that have arrested the development of the PDP and prevented it's natural development? Even a political novice knows that it is the absence of internal democracy and the institution of the undemocratic culture of imposition and anointment of unpopular candidates both at congresses and party primaries by Obasanjo that is at the root of much of the unending crisis in PDP. If Jonathan has adopted this undemocratic template, then he is merely reading from Obasanjo's script. Is it not the same Obasanjo that is now chanting the mantra of "politics is a game of numbers" in his letter that initiated the massive deregistration of political opponents from which the party is yet to recover.
During Obasanjo's eight-year administration, interference with the party and with the electoral process, harassment and persecution of perceived political opponents, unending removal and replacement of Senate Presidents and PDP National chairmen were common place. Was it not Obasanjo, as President, that announced to Nigerians that politics, for him, is a "do or die" affair? Controversial impeachment of governors and declarations of state of emergency, high profile murders, abduction of a sitting governor and setting of the state capital on fire, sale of federal government assets, misuse of government institutions such as EFCC, INEC, and ICPC, etc, were the order of the day. What about the scandalous land allocations, international bribery scandals involving multi-national companies, innumerable corruption cases, human rights violations, flouting of court rulings, controversial projects such as Obasanjo Presidential Library, Abuja Stadium, Transcorp shares, etc. It is commonsensical that anyone that lives in a glass house should not throw stones. Obasanjo is the least qualified person to censure or admonish anyone or to pontificate on corruption and malfeasance as he sanctimoniously did in his letter not being without stain in that regard himself.
If Obasanjo is looking for a scapegoat on whom to hang the leadership failures that have brought Nigeria to the edge of the precipice, he should look in the mirror. The truth is that we, Nigerians, have all failed: self-serving leaders, tepid civil society groups, dispassionate students, wealth-amassing clergy, pinging and face-booking youths, internet-tiger diasporan community and an annoyingly docile populace. We have all failed. We can launch tirades against our leaders from the safe confines of our comfort zones, we can talk the talk, but no one is prepared to walk the walk to freedom and justice.
If Obasanjo wants to develop letter writing as a hobby, he should learn to do it properly. A letter, any letter, should follow certain rules anchored on decency and decorum. If Obasanjo wants to put on the toga of an advocate of the masses, then he should abide by the rules of engagement which place objectivity and civility in front so that younger generations do not mistake absurdity for propriety. Any one that goes to the court of public opinion is like one that goes to equity: he must do so with clean hands. It is sheer hypocrisy and double standards for anyone to play the advocate in a matter in which they are as guilty as the accused.
If Jonathan were to adopt Obasanjo's adversarial style, heat rather than light would be generated. And such heat could lead to a conflagration the end of which no one can predict. Thankfully, unlike Obasanjo's daughter, Iyabo, that chose to add to the fray by writing to her father in the horrid lingo that he and his protégée, Femi Fani Kayode are best at, President Jonathan in his reply to Obasanjo, aside from addressing the issues raised in Obasanjo's corrosive letter, adhered to the fine art of writing with decorum which ought to provide Obasanjo with a civilized specimen for his future letters. A statesman should exhibit civility in his manners and language.
What Obasanjo has done by placing the integrity of the office and person of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on the global chopping block is a bad precedent. The job of president of any country is tough enough without a predecessor having to vilify the occupant by writing letters capable of corroding the confidence of the investment community, inciting the people and destabilizing the nation. If anyone had dared to write such a letter to Obasanjo while he was president, it would have been akin to waving a red flag before an enraged bull.
Even if everyone criticizes or condemns Jonathan, Obasanjo by reason of his age and experience should be the last person to join in the needless Jonathan-bashing that seems to have become a national pastime among many Nigerians citizens at home and in Diaspora. There is no other country in the world where citizens take their leader to the cleaners as we do in Nigeria. And it is very rare to find any country where a former president libels and defames his successor in the reckless manner Obasanjo has done especially when they belong to the same political party! If a retired general, a former military head of state, a former civilian President and an elder statesman of Obasanjo's standing says that the president of his country is dishonest, incompetent, and untrustworthy, how can any reasonable person except adventurers and pirates do business with that country or it's citizens?
Obasanjo's letter to Jonathan is not only an embarrassment to the nation, it is a costly gambit that has wrought incalculable economic damage to the image of the country, the costly investment drive, the tourism promotion campaign, the integrity of the presidency, and the perception of every Nigerian in the eyes of world. Not even Jonathan's courteous and timely reply can remedy that in the long run.
So much vitriol and virulence drip from every page of Obasanjo's letter that no discerning person can be persuaded that he wrote out of patriotism or any altruistic consideration. His letter was crafted to obliterate the credibility of Jonathan and his administration and to, thereby, deliver a mortal blow strong enough to sink Jonathan's inchoate presidential reelection ship. Period! Even the postscript of Obasanjo's letter in which he craved the indulgence of Jonathan to "share the contents of this letter" with some named persons and to extend the sharing to the world at large suggests an uncharitable intent and am attempt to obfuscate his true intension. The English writer, Francis Bacon (1561-1626) may have had the likes of Obasanjo in mind when he wrote in Essays "Of Cunning": "I know one that when he wrote a letter he would put that which was most material in the postscript, as if it had been a bymatter".
In 1998, Obasanjo published a book titled "This Animal Called Man" anchored on the premise that man is a contradiction. Obasanjo's letter to Jonathan dated December 2, 2013 serves as a good example of just how contradictory this animal called man can really be. I rest my case.
Ohia, wrote from Owerri
December 20th 2013 His Excellency,
Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR
Agbe L’Oba House, Quarry Road,
RE: BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE
I wish to formally acknowledge your letter dated December 2, 2013 and other previous correspondence similar to it.
You will recall that all the letters were brought to me by hand. Although both of us discussed some of the issues in those letters, I had not, before now, seen the need for any formal reply since, to me, they contained advice from a former President to a serving President. Obviously, you felt differently because in your last letter, you complained about my not acknowledging or replying your previous letters.
It is with the greatest possible reluctance that I now write this reply. I am most uneasy about embarking on this unprecedented and unconventional form of open communication between me and a former leader of our country because I know that there are more acceptable and dignified means of doing so.
But I feel obliged to reply your letter for a number of reasons: one, you formally requested for a reply and not sending you one will be interpreted as ignoring a former President.
Secondly, Nigerians know the role you have played in my political life and given the unfortunate tone of your letter, clearly, the grapes have gone sour. Therefore, my side of the story also needs to be told.
The third reason why I must reply you in writing is that your letter is clearly a threat to national security as it may deliberately or inadvertently set the stage for subversion.
The fourth reason for this reply is that you raised very weighty issues, and since the letter has been made public, Nigerians are expressing legitimate concerns. A response from me therefore, becomes very necessary.
The fifth reason is that this letter may appear in biographies and other books which political commentators on Nigeria’s contemporary politics may write. It is only proper for such publications to include my comments on the issues raised in your letter.
Sixthly, you are very unique in terms of the governance of this country. You were a military Head of State for three years and eight months, and an elected President for eight years. That means you have been the Head of Government of Nigeria for about twelve years. This must have, presumably, exposed you to a lot of information. Thus when you make a statement, there is the tendency for people to take it seriously.
The seventh reason is that the timing of your letter coincided with other vicious releases. The Speaker of the House of Representatives spoke of my “body language” encouraging corruption. A letter written to me by the CBN Governor alleging that NNPC, within a period of 19 months did not remit the sum of USD49.8 billion to the federation account, was also deliberately leaked to the public.
The eighth reason is that it appears that your letter was designed to incite Nigerians from other geopolitical zones against me and also calculated to promote ethnic disharmony. Worse still, your letter was designed to instigate members of our Party, the PDP, against me.
The ninth reason is that your letter conveys to me the feeling that landmines have been laid for me. Therefore, Nigerians need to have my response to the issues raised before the mines explode.
The tenth and final reason why my reply is inevitable is that you have written similar letters and made public comments in reference to all former Presidents and Heads of Government starting from Alhaji Shehu Shagari and these have instigated different actions and reactions. The purpose and direction of your letter is distinctly ominous, and before it is too late, my clarifications on the issues need to be placed on record.
Let me now comment on the issues you raised. In commenting I wish to crave your indulgence to compare what is happening now to what took place before. This, I believe, will enable Nigerians see things in better perspective because we must know where we are coming from so as to appreciate where we now are, and to allow us clearly map out where we are going.
You raised concerns about the security situation in the country. I assure you that I am fully aware of the responsibility of government for ensuring the security of the lives and property of citizens. My Administration is working assiduously to overcome current national security challenges, the seeds of which were sown under previous administrations. There have been some setbacks; but certainly there have also been great successes in our efforts to overcome terrorism and insurgency.
Those who continue to down-play our successes in this regard, amongst whom you must now be numbered, appear to have conveniently forgotten the depths to which security in our country had plunged before now.
At a stage, almost the entire North-East of Nigeria was under siege by insurgents. Bombings of churches and public buildings in the North and the federal capital became an almost weekly occurrence. Our entire national security apparatus seemed nonplussed and unable to come to grips with the new threat posed by the berthing of terrorism on our shores.
But my administration has since brought that very unacceptable situation under significant control. We have overhauled our entire national security architecture, improved intelligence gathering, training, funding, logistical support to our armed forces and security agencies, and security collaboration with friendly countries with very visible and positive results.
The scope and impact of terrorist operations have been significantly reduced and efforts are underway to restore full normalcy to the most affected North Eastern region and initiate a post-crisis development agenda, including a special intervention programme to boost the region’s socio-economic progress.
In doing all this, we have kept our doors open for dialogue with the insurgents and their supporters through efforts such as the work of the Presidential Committee on Dialogue and the Peaceful Resolution of the Security Challenges in the North-East. You also know that the Governor of Borno State provided the items you mentioned to me as carrots. Having done all this and more, it is interesting that you still accuse me of not acting on your hardly original recommendation that the carrot and stick option be deployed to solve the Boko Haram problem.
Your suggestion that we are pursuing a “war against violence without understanding the root causes of the violence and applying solutions to deal with all the underlying factors” is definitely misplaced because from the onset of this administration, we have been implementing a multifaceted strategy against militancy, insurgency and terrorism that includes poverty alleviation, economic development, education and social reforms.
Even though basic education is the constitutional responsibility of States, my administration has, as part of its efforts to address ignorance and poor education which have been identified as two of the factors responsible for making some of our youth easily available for use as cannon fodder by insurgents and terrorists, committed huge funds to the provision of modern basic education schools for the Almajiri in several Northern States. The Federal Government under my leadership has also set up nine additional universities in the Northern States and three in the Southern States in keeping with my belief that proper education is the surest way of emancipating and empowering our people.
More uncharitable persons may even see a touch of sanctimoniousness in your new belief in the carrot and stick approach to overcoming militancy and insurgency. You have always referred to how you hit Odi in BayelsaState to curb militancy in the Niger Delta. If the invasion of Odi by the Army was the stick, I did not see the corresponding carrot. I was the Deputy Governor of BayelsaState then, and as I have always told you, the invasion of Odi did not solve any militancy problem but, to some extent, escalated it. If it had solved it, late President Yar’Adua would not have had to come up with the amnesty program. And while some elements of the problem may still be there, in general, the situation is reasonably better.
In terms of general insecurity in the country and particularly the crisis in the Niger Delta, 2007 was one of the worst periods in our history. You will recall three incidents that happened in 2007 which seemed to have been orchestrated to achieve sinister objectives. Here in Abuja, a petrol tanker loaded with explosives was to be rammed into the INEC building. But luckily for the country, an electric pole stopped the tanker from hitting the INEC building. It is clear that this incident was meant to exploit the general sense of insecurity in the nation at the time to achieve the aim of stopping the 2007 elections. It is instructive that you, on a number of occasions, alluded to this fact.
When that incident failed, an armed group invaded Yenagoa one evening with the intent to assassinate me. Luckily for me, they could not. They again attacked and bombed my country home on a night when I was expected in the village. Fortunately, as God would have it, I did not make the trip.
I recall that immediately after both incidents, I got calls expressing the concern of Abuja. But Baba, you know that despite the apparent concern of Abuja, no single arrest was ever made. I was then the Governor of Bayelsa State and the PDP Vice-Presidential candidate. The security people ordinarily should have unraveled the assassination attempt on me.
You also raised the issues of kidnapping, piracy and armed robbery. These are issues all Nigerians, including me are very concerned about. While we will continue to do our utmost best to reduce all forms of criminality to the barest minimum in our country, it is just as well to remind you that the first major case of kidnapping for ransom took place around 2006. And the Boko Haram crisis dates back to 2002. Goodluck Jonathan was not the President of the country then. Also, armed robbery started in this country immediately after the civil war and since then, it has been a problem to all succeeding governments. For a former Head of Government, who should know better, to present these problems as if they were creations of the Jonathan Administration is most uncharitable.
Having said that, let me remind you of some of the things we have done to curb violent crime in the country. We have reorganized the Nigerian Police Force and appointed a more dynamic leadership to oversee its affairs. We have also improved its manpower levels as well as funding, training and logistical support.
We have also increased the surveillance capabilities of the Police and provided its air-wing with thrice the number of helicopters it had before the inception of the present administration. The National Civil Defence and Security Corps has been armed to make it a much more effective ally of the police and other security agencies in the war against violent crime. At both domestic and international levels, we are doing everything possible to curb the proliferation of the small arms and light weapons with which armed robberies, kidnappings and piracy are perpetrated. We have also enhanced security at our borders to curb cross-border crimes.
We are aggressively addressing the challenge of crude oil theft in collaboration with the state Governors. In addition, the Federal Government has engaged the British and US governments for their support in the tracking of the proceeds from the purchase of stolen crude. Similarly, a regional Gulf of Guinea security strategy has been initiated to curb crude oil theft and piracy.
Perhaps the most invidious accusation in your letter is the allegation that I have placed over one thousand Nigerians on a political watch list, and that I am training snipers and other militia to assassinate people. Baba, I don’t know where you got that from but you do me grave injustice in not only lending credence to such baseless rumours, but also publicizing it. You mentioned God seventeen times in your letter. Can you as a Christian hold the Bible and say that you truly believe this allegation?
The allegation of training snipers to assassinate political opponents is particularly incomprehensible to me. Since I started my political career as a Deputy Governor, I have never been associated with any form of political violence. I have been a President for over three years now, with a lot of challenges and opposition mainly from the high and mighty. There have certainly been cases of political assassination since the advent of our FourthRepublic, but as you well know, none of them occurred under my leadership.
Regarding the over one thousand people you say are on a political watch list, I urge you to kindly tell Nigerians who they are and what agencies of government are “watching” them. Your allegation that I am using security operatives to harass people is also baseless. Nigerians are waiting for your evidence of proof. That was an accusation made against previous administrations, including yours, but it is certainly not my style and will never be. Again, if you insist on the spurious claim that some of your relatives and friends are being harassed, I urge you to name them and tell Nigerians what agencies of my administration are harassing them.
I also find it difficult to believe that you will accuse me of assisting murderers, or assigning a presidential delegation to welcome a murderer. This is a most unconscionable and untrue allegation. It is incumbent on me to remind you that I am fully conscious of the dictates of my responsibilities to God and our dear nation. It is my hope that devious elements will not take advantage of your baseless allegation to engage in brazen and wanton assassination of high profile politicians as before, hiding under the alibi your “open letter” has provided for them.
Nevertheless, I have directed the security agencies and requested the National Human Rights Commission to carry out a thorough investigation of these criminal allegations and make their findings public.
That corruption is an issue in Nigeria is indisputable. It has been with us for many years. You will recall that your kinsman, the renowned afro-beat maestro, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti famously sang about it during your first stint as Head of State. Sonny Okosun also sang about corruption. And as you may recall, a number of Army Generals were to be retired because of corruption before the Dimka coup. Also, the late General Murtala Mohammed himself wanted to retire some top people in his cabinet on corruption-related issues before he was assassinated. Even in this FourthRepublic, the Siemens and Halliburton scandals are well known.
The seed of corruption in this country was planted a long time ago, but we are doing all that we can to drastically reduce its debilitating effects on national development and progress. I have been strengthening the institutions established to fight corruption. I will not shield any government official or private individual involved in corruption, but I must follow due process in all that I do. And whenever clear cases of corruption or fraud have been established, my administration has always taken prompt action in keeping with the dictates of extant laws and procedures. You cannot claim to be unaware of the fact that several highly placed persons in our country, including sons of some of our party leaders are currently facing trial for their involvement in the celebrated subsidy scam affair. I can hardly be blamed if the wheels of justice still grind very slowly in our country, but we are doing our best to support and encourage the judiciary to quicken the pace of adjudication in cases of corruption.
Baba, I am amazed that with all the knowledge garnered from your many years at the highest level of governance in our country, you could still believe the spurious allegation contained in a letter written to me by the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and surreptitiously obtained by you, alleging that USD49.8 billion, a sum equal to our entire national budget for two years, is “unaccounted for” by the NNPC. Since, as President, you also served for many years as Minister of Petroleum Resources, you very well know the workings of the corporation. It is therefore intriguing that you have made such an assertion. You made a lot of insinuations about oil theft, shady dealings at the NNPC and the NNPC not remitting the full proceeds of oil sales to the CBN. Now that the main source of the allegations which you rehashed has publicly stated that he was “misconstrued”, perhaps you will find it in your heart to apologize for misleading unwary Nigerians and impugning the integrity of my administration on that score.
Your claim of “Atlantic Oil loading about 130, 000 barrels sold by Shell and managed on behalf of NPDC with no sale proceeds paid into the NPDC account” is also disjointed and baseless because no such arrangement as you described exists between Atlantic Oil and the Nigeria Petroleum Development Company. NPDC currently produces about 138, 000 barrels of oil per day from over 7 producing assets. The Crude Oil Marketing Division (COMD) of the NNPC markets all of this production on behalf of NPDC with proceeds paid into NPDC account.
I am really shocked that with all avenues open to you as a former Head of State for the verification of any information you have received about state affairs, you chose to go public with allegations of “high corruption” without offering a shred of supporting evidence. One of your political “sons” similarly alleged recently that he told me of a minister who received a bribe of $250 Million from an oil company and I did nothing about it. He may have been playing from a shared script, but we have not heard from him again since he was challenged to name the minister involved and provide the evidence to back his claim. I urge you, in the same vein, to furnish me with the names, facts and figures of a single verifiable case of the “high corruption” which you say stinks all around my administration and see whether the corrective action you advocate does not follow promptly. And while you are at it, you may also wish to tell Nigerians the true story of questionable waivers of signature bonuses between 2000 and 2007.
While, by the Grace of God Almighty, I am the first President from a minority group, I am never unmindful of the fact that I was elected leader of the whole of Nigeria and I have always acted in the best interest of all Nigerians. You referred to the divisive actions and inflammatory utterances of some individuals from the South-South and asserted that I have done nothing to call them to order or distance myself from their ethnic chauvinism. Again that is very untrue. I am as committed to the unity of this country as any patriot can be and I have publicly declared on many occasions that no person who threatens other Nigerians or parts of the country is acting on my behalf.
It is very regrettable that in your letter, you seem to place sole responsibility for the ongoing intrigues and tensions in the PDP at my doorstep, and going on from that position, you direct all your appeals for a resolution at me. Baba, let us all be truthful to ourselves, God and posterity. At the heart of all the current troubles in our party and the larger polity is the unbridled jostling and positioning for personal or group advantage ahead of the 2015 general elections. The “bitterness, anger, mistrust, fear and deep suspicion” you wrote about all flow from this singular factor.
It is indeed very unfortunate that the seeming crisis in the party was instigated by a few senior members of the party, including you. But, as leader of the party, I will continue to do my best to unite it so that we can move forward with strength and unity of purpose. The PDP has always recovered from previous crises with renewed vigour and vitality. I am very optimistic that that will be the case again this time. The PDP will overcome any temporary setback, remain a strong party and even grow stronger.
Instigating people to cause problems and disaffection within the party is something that you are certainly familiar with. You will recall that founding fathers of the Party were frustrated out of the Party at a time. Late Chief Sunday Awoniyi was pushed out, Late Chief Solomon Lar left and later came back, Chief Audu Ogbeh and Chief Tom Ikimi also left. Chief Okwesilieze Nwodo left and later came back. In 2005/2006, link-men were sent to take over party structures from PDP Governors in an unveiled attempt to undermine the state governors. In spite of that, the governors did not leave the Party because nobody instigated and encouraged them to do so.
The charge that I was involved in anti-party activities in governorship elections in Edo, Ondo, Lagos, and AnambraStates is also very unfortunate. I relate with all Governors irrespective of political party affiliation but I have not worked against the interest of the PDP. What I have not done is to influence the electoral process to favour our Party. You were definitely never so inclined, since you openly boasted in your letter of how you supported Alhaji Shehu Shagari against Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Chief Nnamdi Azikiwe and others in the 1979 presidential elections while serving as a military Head of State. You and I clearly differ in this regard, because as the President of Nigeria, I believe it is my duty and responsibility to create a level playing field for all parties and all candidates.
Recalling how the PDP lost in states where we were very strong in 2003 and 2007 such as Edo, Ondo, Imo, Bauchi, Anambra, and Borno, longstanding members of our great party with good memory will also consider the charge of anti-party activities you made against me as misdirected and hugely hypocritical. It certainly was not Goodluck Jonathan’s “personal ambition or selfish interest” that caused the PDP to lose the governorship of OgunState and all its senatorial seats in the last general elections.
You quoted me as saying that I have not told anybody that I will seek another term in office in 2015. You and your ambitious acolytes within the party have clearly decided to act on your conclusion that “only a fool will believe that statement” and embark on a virulent campaign to harass me out of an undeclared candidature for the 2015 presidential elections so as to pave the way for a successor anointed by you.
You will recall that you serially advised me that we should refrain from discussing the 2015 general elections for now so as not to distract elected public officials from urgent task of governance. While you have apparently moved away from that position, I am still of the considered opinion that it would have been best for us to do all that is necessary to refrain from heating up the polity at this time. Accordingly, I have already informed Nigerians that I will only speak on whether or not I will seek a second term when it is time for such declarations. Your claims about discussions I had with you, Governor Gabriel Suswam and others are wrong, but in keeping with my declared stance, I will reserve further comments until the appropriate time.
Your allegation that I asked half a dozen African Presidents to speak to you about my alleged ambition for 2015, is also untrue. I have never requested any African President to discuss with you on my behalf. In our discussion, I mentioned to you that four Presidents told me that they were concerned about the political situation in Nigeria and intended to talk to you about it. So far, only three of them have confirmed to me that they have had any discussion with you. If I made such a request, why would I deny it?
The issue of Buruji Kashamu is one of those lies that should not be associated with a former President. The allegation that I am imposing Kashamu on the South-West is most unfortunate and regrettable. I do not even impose Party officials in my home state of Bayelsa and there is no zone in this country where I have imposed officials. So why would I do so in the South West? Baba, in the light of Buruji’s detailed public response to your “open letter”, it will be charitable for you to render an apology to Nigerians and I.
On the issue of investors being scared to come to Nigeria, economic dormancy, and stagnation, I will just refer you to FDI statistics from 2000 to 2013. Within the last three years, Nigeria has emerged as the preferred destination for investments in Africa, driven by successful government policies to attract foreign investors. For the second year running, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Investments (UNCTAD) has ranked Nigeria as the number one destination for investments in Africa, and as having the fourth highest returns in the world.
Today, Nigeria is holding 18 percent of all foreign investments in Africa and 60 percent of all foreign investments in the ECOWAS Sub-Region. Kindly note also that in the seven years between 2000 and 2007 when you were President, Nigeria attracted a total of $24.9 Billion in FDI. As a result of our efforts which you disparage, the country has seen an FDI inflow of $25.7 Billion in just three years which is more than double the FDI that has gone to the second highest African destination. We have also maintained an annual national economic growth rate of close to seven per cent since the inception of this administration. What then, is the justification for your allegation of scared investors and economic dormancy?
Although it was not emphasized in your letter of December 2, 2013, you also conveyed, in previous correspondence, the impression that you were ignorant of the very notable achievements of my administration in the area of foreign relations. It is on record that under my leadership, Nigeria has played a key role in resolving the conflicts in Niger, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, Guinea Bissau and others.
The unproductive rivalry that existed between Nigeria and some ECOWAS countries has also been ended under my watch and Nigeria now has better relations with all the ECOWAS countries. At the African Union, we now have a Commissioner at the AU Commission after being without one for so long. We were in the United Nations Security Council for the 2010/2011 Session and we have been voted in again for the 2014/2015 Session. From independence to 2010, we were in the U.N. Security Council only three times but from 2010 to 2015, we will be there two times.
This did not happen by chance. My Administration worked hard for it and we continue to maintain the best possible relations with all centres of global political and economic power. I find it hard therefore, to believe your assertions of untoward concern in the international community over the state of governance in Nigeria.
With respect to the Brass and Olokola LNG projects, you may have forgotten that though you started these projects, Final Investment Decisions were never reached. For your information, NNPC has not withdrawn from either the Olokola or the Brass LNG projects.
On the Rivers State Water Project, you were misled by your informant. The Federal Government under my watch has never directed or instructed the Africa Development Bank to put on hold any project to be executed in Rivers state or any other State within the Federation. The Rivers Water Project was not originally in the borrowing plan but it was included in April 2013 and appraised in May. Negotiations are ongoing with the AfDB. I have no doubt that you are familiar with the entire process that prefaces the signing of a Subsidiary Loan Agreement as in this instance.
Let me assure you and all Nigerians that I do not engage in negative political actions and will never, as President, oppress the people of a State or deprive them of much needed public services as a result of political disagreement.
I have noted your comments on the proposed National Conference. Contrary to the insinuation in your letter, the proposed conference is aimed at bringing Nigerians together to resolve contentious national issues in a formal setting. This is a sure way of promoting greater national consensus and unity, and not a recipe for “disunity, confusion and chaos” as you alleged in your letter.
Having twice held the high office of President, Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I trust that you will understand that I cannot possibly find the time to offer a line-by-line response to all the accusations and allegations made in your letter while dealing with other pressing demands of office and more urgent affairs of state.
I have tried, however, to respond to only the most serious of the charges which question my sincerity, personal honour, and commitment to the oath which I have sworn, to always uphold and protect the interests of all Nigerians, and promote their well-being.
In closing, let me state that you have done me grave injustice with your public letter in which you wrongfully accused me of deceit, deception, dishonesty, incompetence, clannishness, divisiveness and insincerity, amongst other ills.
I have not, myself, ever claimed to be all-knowing or infallible, but I have never taken Nigeria or Nigerians for granted as you implied, and I will continue to do my utmost to steer our ship of state towards the brighter future to which we all aspire.
Please accept the assurances of my highest consideration and warm regards.
GOODLUCK EBELE JONATHAN
The controversial letter from Nigerian former Head of State: Obasanjo's 18 page letter entitled "Before it is too late", dated December 2, 2013 to the present Nigerian President Jonathan.
BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE
I am constrained to make this an open letter to you for a number of reasons. One, the current situation and consequent possible outcome dictate that I should, before the door closes on reason and promotion of national interest, alert you to the danger that may be lurking in the corner. Two, none of the four or more letters that I have written to you in the past two years or so has elicited an acknowledgment or any response. Three, people close to you, if not yourself, have been asking, what does Obasanjo want? Four, I could sense a semblance between the situation that we are gradually getting into and the situation we fell into as a nation during the Abacha era. Five, everything must be done to guard, protect and defend our fledgling democracy, nourish it and prevent bloodshed. Six, we must move away from advertently or inadvertently dividing the country along weak seams of North-South and Christian-Moslem. Seven, nothing should be done to allow the country to degenerate into economic dormancy, stagnation or retrogression.
Eight, some of our international friends and development partners are genuinely worried about signs and signals that are coming out of Nigeria. Nine, Nigeria should be in a position to take advantage of the present favourable international interest to invest in Africa - an opportunity that will not be open for too long. Ten, I am concerned about your legacy and your climb-down which you alone can best be the manager of, whenever you so decide.
Mr. President, you have on a number of occasions acknowledged the role God enabled me to play in your ascension to power. You put me third after God and your parents among those that have impacted most on your life. I have always retorted that God only put you where you are and those that could be regarded as having played a role were only instruments of God to achieve God's purpose in your life. For me, I believe that politically, it was in the best interest of Nigeria that you, a Nigerian from minority group in the South, could rise to the highest pinnacle of political leadership. If Obasanjo could get there, Yar'Adua could get there and Jonathan can get there, any Nigerian can. It is now not a matter of the turn of any section or geographical area but the best interest of Nigeria and all Nigerians. It has been proved that no group - ethnic, linguistic, religious or geographical location - has monopoly of materials for leadership of our country. And no group solely by itself can crown any of its members the Nigerian CEO. It is good for Nigeria.
I have also always told you that God has graciously been kind, generous, merciful and compassionate to me and He has done more than I could have ever hoped for. I want nothing from you personally except that you should run the affairs of Nigeria not only to make Nigeria good, but to make Nigeria great for which I have always pleaded with you and I will always do so. And it is yet to be done for most Nigerians to see.
For five capacities in which you find yourself, you must hold yourself most significantly responsible for what happens or fails to happen in Nigeria and in any case, most others will hold you responsible and God who put you there will surely hold you responsible and accountable. 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, it will be well. The five positions which you share with nobody except with God and which place great and grave responsibility on you are leadership of the ruling party, headship of the Federal Government or national government, Commander-in-Chief of the Military, Chief Security Officer of the nation, and the political leader of the country. Those positions go with being the President of our country and while depending on your disposition, you can delegate or devolve responsibility, but the buck must stop on your table whether you like it or not.
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 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. But the Paymaster is acting for a definitive purpose for which deceit and deception seem to be the major ingredients. 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 that it is not ingenious. You may wish to pursue a more credible and more honourable path. Although you have not formally informed me one way or the other, it will be necessary to refresh your memory of what transpired in 2011. I had gone to Benue State for the marriage of one of my staff, Vitalis Ortese, in the State. Governor Suswam was my hospitable host. He 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.
Later, I heard from other sources including sources close to you that you made the same commitment elsewhere, hence, my inclusion of it in my address at the finale of your campaign in 2011 as follows:
"... PDP should be praised for being the only party that enshrines federal character, zoning and rotation in its Constitution and practises it. PDP has brought stability and substantial predictability to the polity and to the system. I do not know who will be President of Nigeria after Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. That is in the hand of God. But with PDP policy and practice, I can reasonably guess from where, in term of section of the country, the successor to President Jonathan will come. And no internal democracy or competition will thereby be destroyed. The recent resort to sentiments and emotions of religion and regionalism is self-serving, unpatriotic and mischievous, to say the least. It is also preying on dangerous emotive issues that can ignite uncontrollable passion and can distabilise if not destroy our country. This is being oblivious to the sacrifices others have made in the past for unity, stability and democracy in Nigeria in giving up their lives, shedding their blood, and in going to prison. I personally have done two out of those three sacrifices and I am ready to do the third if it will serve the best interest of Nigerian dream. Let me appeal to those who have embarked on this dangerous road to reflect and desist from taking us on a perishable journey.
With common identity as Nigerians, there is more that binds us than separates us. I am a Nigerian, born a Yoruba man, and I am proud of both identities as they are for me complementary. Our duties, responsibilities and obligations to our country as citizens and, indeed, as leaders must go side by side with our rights and demands. There must be certain values and virtues that must go concomitantly with our dream. Thomas Paine said "my country is the world"; for me, my country I hold dear.
On two occasions, I have had opportunity to work for my successors to the government of Nigeria. On both occasions, I never took the easy and distabilising route of ethnic, regional or religious consideration, rather I took the enduring route of national, uniting and stabilising route. I worked for both President Shagari and President Yar'Adua to succeed me not just because they are Moslems, Northerners or Hausa-Fulani, but because they could strengthen the unity, stability and democracy in Nigeria. We incurred the displeasure of ethnic chauvinists for doing what was right for the country. That is in the nature of burden of leadership. A leader must lead, no matter whose ox is gored.
In the present circumstance, let me reiterate what I have said on a number of occasions. Electing Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, in his own right and on his own merit, as the President of Nigeria will enhance and strengthen our unity, stability and democracy. And it will lead us towards the achievement of our Nigerian dream.
There is a press report that Dr. Goodluck Jonathan has already taken a unique and unprecedented step of declaring that he would only want to be a one-term President. If so, whether we know it or not, that is a sacrifice and it is statesmanly. Rather than vilify him and pull him down, we, as a Party, should applaud and commend him and Nigerians should reward and venerate him. He has taken the first good step.
Let us encourage him to take more good steps by voting him in with landslide victory as the fourth elected President of Nigeria on the basis of our common Nigerian identity and for the purpose of actualising Nigerian dream... "
When you won the election, one of the issues you very early pursued was that of one term of six years. That convinced me that you meant what you told me before my Speech at the campaign. Mr. President, whatever may be your intention or plan, I cannot comment much on the constitutional aspect of your second term or what some people call third term. That is for both legal and judicial attention. But if constitutionally you are on a strong wicket if you so decide, it will be fatally and morally flawed. 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 of Nigeria as a man or woman who can be trusted, a person of honour in his words and character. I will respect you for upholding these attributes and for dignifying that Office.
Chinua Achebe said, "One of the truest test of integrity is its blunt refusal to be compromised." It is a lesson for all leaders including you and me.
However, Mr. President, let me hope that as you claimed that you have not told anybody that you are contesting and that what we see and hear is a rumbling of overzealous aides, you will remain a leader that can be believed and trusted without unduly passing the buck or engaging in game of denials.
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 gubernatorial 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. It happened in Lagos in 2011 when Bola Tinubu was nocturnally brought to Abuja to strike a deal for support for your personal election at great price materially and in the fortune of PDP gubernatorial candidate.
As Chairman of BOT, I spoke to you at that time. It happened in Ondo State where there was in addition evidence of cover-up and non-prosecution of fraud of fake security report against the non-PDP candidate and his collaborators for the purpose of extracting personal electoral advantage for you. In fact, I have raised with you the story of those in other States in the South-West where some disgruntled PDP members were going around to recruit people into the Labour Party for you, because, for electoral purpose at the national level, Labour Party will have no candidate but you. It also happened in Edo State and those who know the detail never stopped talking about it. And you know it. Ditto in Anambra State with the fiasco coming from undue interference. 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.
If on the altar of the Party you go for broke, the Party may be broken beyond repairs. And when in a dispute between two sides, they both stubbornly decide to fight to the last drop of blood, no one knows whose blood would be the last to drop. In such a situation, Nigeria as a nation may also be adversely affected, not just the PDP. I wish to see no more bloodshed occasioned by politics in Nigeria. Please, Mr. President, be mindful of that. You were exemplary in words when during the campaign and the 2011 elections, you said, "My election is not worth spilling the blood of any Nigerian." From you, it should not be if it has to be, let it be. It should be from you, let peace, security, harmony, good governance, development and progress be for Nigeria. That is also your responsibility and mandate. You can do it and I plead that you do it. We all have to be mindful of not securing pyrrhic victory on the ashes of great values, attributes and issues that matter as it would amount to hollow victory without honour and integrity.
Whatever may be the feud in PDP and no matter what you or your aides may feel, you, as the Party Leader, have the responsibility to find solution, resolve and fix it. Your legacy is involved. If PDP as a ruling Party collapses, it will be the first time in an independent Nigeria that a ruling political party would collapse not as a result of a military coup. It is food for thought. At the prompting of Governors on both sides of the divide, and on encouragement from you, I spent two nights to intervene in the dispute of the PDP Governors. I kept you fully briefed at every stage.
I deliberately chose Banquet Hall at the Villa to ensure transparency. Your aides studied all the recordings of the two nights. But I told you at the end of the exercise that I observed five reactions among the Governors that required your immediate attention as you are the only one from the vantage point of your five positions that could deal effectively with the five reactions which were bitterness, anger, mistrust, fear and deep suspicion. I could only hope that you made efforts to deal with these unpleasant reactions.
The feud leading to the factionalisation of the Party made me to invite some select elders of the Party to mediate again. Since I was engaged in assignment outside the country, I was not able to join the three members of the elders group that presented the report of our mediation to you. I was briefed that you agreed to work on the report. It would appear that for now, the ball is in your court as the Leader of the Party. I can only wish you every success in your handling of the issue. But time is not your friend or that of the Party in this respect. With leadership come not just power and authority to do and to undo, but also responsibility and accountability to do and to undo rightly, well and justly. Time and opportunity are treasure that must be appreciated and shared to enhance their value and utilitarianism.
It is instructive that after half a dozen African Presidents have spoken to me to help you with unifying the Party based on your request to them and I came in company of Senator Amadu Ali to discuss the whole issue with you again, strangely, you denied ever requesting or authorising any President to talk to me. I was not surprised because I am used to such a situation of denial coming from you. Of course, I was not deterred. I have done and I will continue to do and say what is first, in the best interest of Nigeria and second, what is in the best interest of the Party. I stand for the aims, objectives, mission and vision of the founding fathers of the Party, to use it as a wholesome instrument of unity, good governance, development, prosperity and progress of Nigeria and all Nigerians. I have contributed to this goal in the past and no one who has been raised to position on the platform of the Party should shy away from further contribution to avoid division and destruction of the Party on any altar whatsoever.
Debates and dialogues are necessary to promote the interest and work for the progress of any human institution or organisation. In such a situation, agreements and disagreements will occur but in the final analysis, leadership will pursue the course of action that benefit the majority and serve the purpose of the organisation, not the purpose of an individual or a minority. In that process, unity is sustained and everybody becomes a winner. The so-called crisis in the PDP can be turned to an opportunity of unity, mutual understanding and respect with the Party emerging with enhanced strength and victory. It will be a win-win for all members of the Party and for the country. By that, PDP would have proved that it could have internal disagreement and emerge stronger. The calamity of failure can still be avoided. Please, move away from fringes or the extremes and move to the centre and carry ALL along. Time is running out.
I will only state that as far as your responsibility as Chief Security Officer of the nation is concerned for Nigerians, a lot more needs to be done to enhance the feeling of security amongst them. Whether one talks of the issue of militancy in the Niger Delta, the underlying causes of which have not been adequately addressed, if addressed at all, kidnapping, piracy, abductions and armed robberies which rather than abate are on the increase and Boko Haram which requires carrot and stick approach to lay its ghost to rest, the general security situation cannot be described as comforting. Knowing the genesis of Boko Haram and the reasons for escalation of violence from that sector with the widespread and ramification of the menace of Boko Haram within and outside the Nigerian borders, conventional military actions based on standard phases of military operations alone will not permanently and effectively deal with the issue of Boko Haram. There are many strands or layers of causes that require different solutions, approaches or antidotes. Drug, indoctrination, fundamentalism, gun trafficking, hate culture, human trafficking, money laundering, religion, poverty, unemployment, poor education, revenge and international terrorism are among factors that have effect on Boko Haram.
One single prescription cannot cure all these ailments that combine in Boko Haram. Should we pursue war against violence without understanding the root causes of the violence and applying solutions to deal with all underlying factors - root, stem and branches? Nigeria is bleeding and the hemorrhage must be stopped. I am convinced that you can initiate measures that will bring all hands on deck to deal effectively with this great menace.
Mr. President, the most important qualification for your present position is your being a Nigerian. Whatever else you may be besides being a Nigerian is only secondary for this purpose. And if majority of Nigerians who voted had not cast their votes for you, you could not have been there. 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 a 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 '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. You know that I have expressed my views and feelings to you on this issue in the past but I have come to realise that many others feel the way I have earlier expressed to you. It is not the best way of making friendship among all sections of Nigeria. You don't have shared and wholesome society without inclusive political, economic and social sustainable development and good governance. Also declaring that one section of the country voted for you as if you got no votes from other sections can only be an unnecessary talk, to put it mildly. After all and at the end of the day, democracy is a game of numbers. Even, if you would not need people's vote across the country again, your political Party will.
Allegation of keeping over 1,000 people on political watch list rather than criminal or security watch list and training snipers and other armed personnel secretly and clandestinely acquiring weapons to match for political purposes like Abacha, and training them where Abacha trained his own killers, if it is true, cannot augur well for the initiator, the government and the people of Nigeria. Here again, there is the lesson of history to learn from for anybody who cares to learn from history. Mr. President would always remember that he was elected to maintain security for all Nigerians and protect them. And no one should prepare to kill or maim Nigerians for personal or political ambition or interest of anyone. The Yoruba adage says, "The man with whose head the coconut is broken may not live to savour the taste of the succulent fruit." Those who advise you to go hard on those who oppose you are your worst enemies. Democratic politics admits and is permissive of supporters and opponents. When the consequences come, those who have wrongly advised you will not be there to help carry the can. Egypt must teach some lesson.
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.
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. Most of our friends and development partners are worried and they see what we pretend to cover up. They are worried about issue of security internally and on our coastal waters, including heavy oil theft, alias bunkering and piracy. They are worried about corruption and what we are doing or not doing about it. Corruption has reached the level of impunity. It is also necessary to be mindful that corruption and injustice are fertile breeding ground for terrorism and political instability. And if you are not ready to name, shame, prosecute and stoutly fight against corruption, whatever you do will be hollow. It will be a laughing matter.
They are worried about how we play our role in our region and, indeed, in the world. In a way, I share some of their concerns because there are notable areas we can do more or do better than we are doing. Some of our development partners were politically frustrated to withdraw from the Olokola LNG project, which happily was not yet the same with the Brass. I initiated them both. They were viable and would have taken us close to Qatar as LNG producing country. Please do not frustrate Brass LNG and in the interest of what is best for Nigerian economy, bring back the OK LNG into active implementation. The major international oil companies have withheld investment in projects in Nigeria. If they have not completely moved out, they are divesting. Nigeria, which is the Saudi of Africa in oil and gas terms, is being overtaken by Angola only because necessary decisions are not made timely and appropriately. Mr. President, let me again plead with you to be decisive on the oil and gas sector so that Nigeria may not lag behind. Oil with gas is being discovered all over Africa. New technology is producing oil from shale elsewhere. We should make hay while the sun shines. I hope we can still save the OK and Brass LNG projects.
Three things are imperative in the oil and gas sector - stop oil stealing, encourage investment, especially by the IOCs and improve the present poor management of the industry. On the economy generally, it suffices to say that we could do better than we are doing. The signs are there and the expectations are high. The most dangerous ticking bomb is youth unemployment, particularly in the face of unbridled corruption and obscene rulers' opulence.
Let me repeat that as far as the issue of corruption, security and oil stealing is concerned, it is only apt to say that when the guard becomes the thief, nothing is safe, secure nor protected in the house. We must all remember that corruption, inequity and injustice breed poverty, unemployment, conflict, violence and wittingly or unwittingly create terrorists because the opulence of the governor can only lead to the leanness of the governed. But God never sleeps, He is watching, waiting and bidding His time to dispense justice.
The serious and strong allegation of non-remittance of about $7bn from the NNPC to central bank occurring from export of some 300,000 barrels per day, amounting to $900 million a month, to be refined and with refined products of only $400m returned and Atlantic Oil loading about 130,000 barrels sold by Shell and managed on behalf of NPDC with no sale proceeds paid into NPDC account is incredible. The allegation was buttressed by the letter of the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria to you on non-remittance to the central bank. This allegation will not fly away by non-action, cover-up, denial or bribing possible investigators. 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. May God grant you the grace for at least one effective corrective action against high corruption, which seems to stink all around you in your government.
The international community knows us as we are and maybe more than we claim to know ourselves. And a good friend will tell you the truth no matter how bitter. Denials and cover-up of what is obvious, true and factual can detract from honour, dignity and respect. Truth and transparency dignify and earn respect. And life without passion for something can only achieve little. I was taken aback when an African Development Bank Director informed me that the water project for Port Harcourt, originally initiated by the Federal Government and to be financed by the bank, is being put in the cooler by the Federal Government because of the Amaechi-Jonathan face-off. Amaechi, whether he likes it or not, will cease to be governor over Rivers State, which Port Harcourt is part by the end of May 2015, but residents of Port Harcourt will continue to need improvement of their water supply. President Jonathan should rise above such pettiness and unpresidential act, if it is coming from him. But if not, and it is the action of overzealous officials reading the situation, he should give appropriate instruction for the project to be pursued. And there are other projects anywhere suffering the same coolness as a result of similar situation, let national interest supercede personal or political feud and the machinations of satanic officials.
Mr. President, let me plead with you for a few things that will stand you in good stead for the rest of your life. Don't always consider critics on national issues as enemies. Some of them may be as patriotic and nationalistic as you and I who have been in government. Some of them have as much passion for Nigeria as we have. I saw that among Nigerians living abroad, hence, I initiated Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation, NIDO. You must also differentiate between malevolent, mischievous and objective criticism. Analyses, criticisms and commentaries on government actions and policies are sinew of democracy.
Please, Mr. President, be very wary of assistants, aides and collaborators who look for enemies for you. I have seen them with you and some were around me when I was in your position. I knew how not to allow them create enemies for me. If you allow them, everybody except them will be your enemy. They are more dangerous than identified adversaries. May God save leaders from sycophants. They know what you want to hear and they feed you with it essentially for their own selfish interest. As far as you and Nigeria are concerned, they are wreckers. Where were they when God used others to achieve His will in your life. They possess you now for their interest. No interest should be higher or more important than the Nigerian interest to you. You have already made history and please do nothing to mar history. I supported you as I supported Yar'Adua. For me, there is neither North-South divide nor Christian-Moslem divide but one Nigeria.
Let me put it, that talks, loose and serious, abound about possible abuse and misuse of the military and the legitimate security apparatus for unwholesome personal and political interest to the detriment of the honour, dignity, oath and professionalism of these honourable and patriotic forces.
Let me urge the authorities not to embark on such destructive path for an important element of our national make-up. The roles of the military and the security agencies should be held sacrosanct in the best interest of the nation. Again, let not history repeat itself here.
I believe that with what Nigeria went through in the past, the worst should have already happened. It must be your responsibility as the captain of the ship to prevent the ship from going aground or from a shipwreck. For anybody close to you saying that if the worst happens, he or she would not be involved is idle and loose talk. If we leave God to do His will and we don't rely only on our own efforts, plans and wisdom, God will always do His best. And the power of money and belief in it is satanically tempting. As I go around Nigeria and the world, I always come across Nigerians who are first-class citizens of the world and who are doing well where they are and who are passionate to do well for Nigeria. My hope for our country lies in these people. They abound and I hope that all of us will realise that they are the jewels of Nigeria wherever they may be and not those who arrogate to themselves eternal for ephemeral.
Also, to my embarrassment at times, I learned more about what is going on in the public and private sectors of Nigeria from our development partners, international institutions and those transacting business in Nigeria most times I was abroad. On returning home to verify the veracity of these stories, I found some of them not only to be true but more horrifying than they were presented abroad. Other countries look up to Nigeria for regional leadership. Failure on the part of Nigeria will create a schism that will be bad for the region.
Knowing what happens around you, most of which you know of and condone or deny, this letter will provoke 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 Party, PDP, and to our country, Nigeria. If I stuck out my neck and God used me and others as instrument to work hard for you to reach where you are today in what I considered the best political interest of Nigeria, tagging me as your enemy or the enemy of your administration by you, your kin or your aides can only be regarded as ridiculous to extreme. If I see any danger to your life, I will point it out to you or ward it off as I have done in the past.
But I will not support what I believe is not in the best interest of Nigeria, no matter who is putting it forward or who is behind it. Mr. President, I have passed the stage of being flattered, intimidated, threatened, frightened, induced or bought. I am never afraid to agree or disagree but it will always 13 be on principles, and if on politics, in the national interest. After my prison experience in the close proximity of and sharing facilities with an asylum in Yola, there is nothing worse for anyone alive and well. And that was for a military dictator to perpetuate himself in power. 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 innuendo 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 UK and USA authorities to you or your aides to supplant legitimately elected PDP leader in South-West is not only unwise and crude but also disingenuous. Nobody in his or her right senses will believe such a story and surely nobody in Ogun State or South-West zone will believe such nonsense. It is a clear indication of how unscrupulous and unethical the presidency can go to pursue your personal and political interest. Nothing else matters. What a pity! Nothing at this stage of my life would prevent me from standing for whatever I consider to be in the best interest of Nigeria - all Nigeria, Africa and the world in that order. I believe strongly that a united and strong PDP at all costs is in the best interest of Nigeria. In these respects, if our interests and views coincide, together we will march. Putting a certified unashamed criminal wanted abroad to face justice and who has greatly contributed to corruption within the judiciary on a high profile of politics as you and your aides have done with the man you enthrone as PDP Zonal leader in the South-West is the height of disservice to this country politically and height of insult to the people of South-West in general and members of PDP in that zone in particular.
For me, my politics goes with principles and morality and I will not be a party to highly profiling criminals in politics, not to say one would be my zonal leader. It destroys what PDP stands for from its inception...
God is never a supporter of evil and will surely save PDP and Nigeria from the hands of destroyers. If everything fails and the Party cannot be retrieved from the hands of criminals and commercial jobbers and discredited touts, men and women of honour, principles, morality and integrity must step aside to rethink.
Let me also appeal to and urge defected, dissatisfied, disgruntled and in any way displeased PDP Governors, legislators, party officials and party members to respond positively if the President seriously takes the initiative to find mutually agreeable solution to the current problems for which he alone has the key and the initiative. I have heard it said particularly within the presidency circle that the disaffected Governors and members of PDP are my children. I begin to wonder if, from top to bottom, any PDP 15 member in elective office today is not directly or indirectly a beneficiary and, so to say, my political child. Anyone who may claim otherwise will be like a river that has forgotten its source. But like a good father, all I seek is peaceful and amicable solution that will re-unite the family for victory and progress of the family and the nation and nothing else.
In a democracy, leaders are elected to lighten the burden of the people, give them freedom, choice and equity and ensure good governance and not to deceive them, burden them, oppress them, render them hopeless and helpless. Nothing should be done to undermine the tenets, and values of democratic principles and practice. Tyranny in all its manifestation may be appealing to a leader in trying times of political feud or disagreement. Democracy must, however, prevail and be held as sacrosanct. Today, you are the President of Nigeria, I acknowledge you and respect you as such.
The act of an individual has a way of rubbing off on the generality.
May it never be the wish of majority of Nigerians that Goodluck Jonathan, by his acts of omission or commission, would be the first and the last Nigerian President ever to come from Ijaw tribe. The idea and the possibility must give all of us food for thought. That was never what I worked for and that would never be what I will work for. But legacy is made of such or the opposite.
My last piece of advice, Mr. President, is that you should learn the lesson of history and please do not take Nigeria and Nigerians for granted.
Move away from culture of denials, cover-ups and proxies and deal honesty, sincerely and transparently with Nigerians to regain their trust and confidence. Nigerians are no fools, they can see, they can hear, they can talk among themselves, they can think, they can compare and they can act in the interest of their country and in their own self-interest. They keenly watch all actions and deeds that are associated with you if they cannot believe your words. I know you have the power to save PDP and the country. I beg you to have the courage and the will with patriotism to use the power for the good of the country. Please uphold some form of national core values. I will appeal to all Nigerians particularly all members of PDP to respect and dignify the Office of the President. We must all know that individuals will come and go but the Office will remain.
Once again, time is of the essence. Investors are already retreating 16 from Nigeria, adopting 'wait and see attitude' and knowing what we are deficient of, it will take time to reverse the trend and we may miss some golden opportunities.
Finally, your later-day conversion into National Conference is fraught with danger of disunity, confusion and chaos if not well handled. I believe in debate and dialogue but it must be purposeful, directed and managed well without ulterior motives. The ovation has not died out yet and there is always life after a decent descent.
Accept, Dear Mr. President, the assurances of my highest consideration.
I crave your indulgence to share the contents of this letter, in the first instance, with General Ibrahim Babangida and General Abdulsalami 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 General Yakubu Danjuma and Dr. Alex Ekwueme, whose concerns for and commitments to the good of Nigeria have been known to be strong.
The limit of sharing of the contents may be extended as time goes on.
Olusegun Obasanjo’s damning letter to President Goodluck Jonathan must rank as the most narcissistic (and the narcissism of our rulers is legendary) action of any Nigerian ruler in recent times.
In the 18-page diatribe, Obasanjo took President Jonathan to task for his handling of corruption, insecurity, and the crisis in the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) among other issues.
Like most Nigerians, the former president expressed deep concern about the tragic consequences of the current crisis. Unlike most Nigerians, however, Obasanjo has had two glorious opportunities to help turn around the fortune of Nigeria and he squandered both. Of course, it is easy to say we should focus on the message rather than the messenger. But this is one instance in which the messenger can’t be divorced from the message.
Obasanjo’s letter dated December 2, 2013, and titled, “Before it is too late” had all the telltale signs of a deeply troubled man. Rather than writing this particular letter, Obasanjo should have committed hara-kiri for his many crimes against Nigeria and Nigerians.
It was bad enough that his eight years as president were a tragedy; to have imposed Umaru Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan on the nation as a farewell gift is unpardonable. Perhaps, it was payback for the trenchant opposition to his third term agenda.
In his warped thinking, Obasanjo must have reasoned that his only option was to foist on Nigerians the very worst amongst us; people so inept and incapable that after a while we’ll be hankering after Obasanjo. Looking back now, that theory has worked well as Nigerians now look with nostalgia at the Obasanjo era.
All the things Obasanjo said about President Jonathan and his administration may be true. But we can say the same and even more about the two Obasanjo’s administrations, 1976-1979 and 1999-2007. Obasanjo seems to have forgotten too soon his squabble with his deputy, Atiku Abubakar, that made nonsense of governance, the political assassinations (including that of Bola Ige, his attorney general and minister of justice) during his macabre rule, the massacres in Odi and Zaki Biam. The less said about corruption (who could forget the wholesale pillage of our patrimony in the name of privatization) the better. Obasanjo laid the foundation on which President Jonathan is building and consolidating. He is acting out the PDP playbook.
Obasanjo’s latest intervention is no doubt anchored on the politics of 2015. In his messianic posturing, he feels he has a divine right to determine or at least have a say on who emerges as president in the 2015 election, an election that may sound the death knell of Nigeria if we go by the postulations of Mujahid Dokubo-Asari, Junaid Mohammed and Farouk Adamu Aliyu for whom the election is a “do or die” affair, à la Obasanjo.
A few months ago, rather than participating in activities marking Democracy Day (May 29) that he and his military collaborators foisted on us, Obasanjo was in Jigawa State as guest of Governor Sule Lamido. He literally made a case for Lamido as the next president of Nigeria, the same Lamido whose sons have been indicted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for laundering billions of Jigawa State fund through companies owned by the governor.
That is the problem with Nigeria: the feeling of entitlement which the likes of Obasanjo and Ibrahim Babangida survive on. Obasanjo should realize that his “ethnic balancing” theory is not the solution to “strengthening the unity and stability of Nigeria.”
In the postscript to his letter, Obasanjo referenced Generals Ibrahim Babangida and Abdulsalami Abubakar as those “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.” This simply shows that Nigeria and we (the 99 percent who ought to decide the future of the country) are in big trouble. It’s like asking cats to help improve the conditions of rats.
Suddenly, President Jonathan has become the alibi of a ruling class fearful of its imminent implosion. Earlier in the week, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, who superintends over a house that reeks of corruption accused President Jonathan of paying lip service to the fight against corruption.
Many Nigerians know the problems of the country, and if the likes of Obasanjo and Babangida will allow, perhaps they can seriously begin the long and arduous task of fixing the mess created by these rulers.
Obasanjo has outlived his usefulness, if ever anyone found him useful. Now that he has confirmed that the man he imposed on the country is not fit to rule, we shouldn’t grant him the opportunity to decide the person to replace him. It is time we the people rose in unison to decide that.
Let no one be in doubt where I stand on the PDP, the Jonathan administration and our so-called democracy. “This house has fallen.” There is no amount of letter writing or patchwork that can fix it.
Obasanjo should know that the train has left the station; that the problem he and his cohorts caused can’t be solved by letter writing but by a complete restructuring of the country.
Obasanjo, Babangida and company have lost all moral right to dictate how to define the new Nigeria we envisage.