To fully make sense of Obasanjo’s December 2, 2013 letter to Jonathan, you should follow the key point of my analytical deduction, which I refer to as Obasanjo’s unspoken historical burden. They are, namely, for the three times when he exercised partisan power and influence in Nigeria’s presidential election history, he has faced unpleasant twists, as well as unexpected and unsatisfactory outcomes: in 1979 (he supported Alhaji Shehu Shagari, NPN, removed in a military coup in 1983)
In 2007 (he personally picked an ill Alhaji Umar Yar’Adua, PDP, who died after 3 years of ineffective presidency as the 13th Head of State on May 5, 2010) and he also picked Yar’Adua’s VP, Goodluck Jonathan who became acting President on May 6.
On April 18, 2011, however, he was declared winner of the presidential election with the very active campaign support of Obasanjo, but he now insists that Jonathan is not good enough and deserves the December 2 acidic, public, denunciation of his presidency and worse, of this same man who has been, according to my key sources in the presidency in Abuja, very respectful and deferential toward Obasanjo.
Based on Obasanjo’s military antecedents, power attitude and drawing from my reading of his history as a leader, he will Not — for lack of a better word — “forgive” Jonathan despite his references to God and Christ, and to the great Nelson Mandela the same week as a forgiving leader. To be sure, Obasanjo does not have the forgiving spirit of Mandela. I am not surprised at Obasanjo’s militaristic strategy of maximum assault and attack to severely damage his target.
No matter how finely presented the speeches he makes in the name of democracy, he’s a dyed-in-the-wool soldier for whom the opposition to his set goals no longer require philosophical exegesis and debates but the whiz-bang of ear-shattering confrontation fit for enemy combatants. Hence, I believe that Obasanjo’s caustic, open letter was calibrated to belittle the credibility of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria and severely advertise his lack of personal respect for the same Nigerian leader Dr. Jonathan. And, he makes it clear that he does not have to respect the man or his presidency!
As a student of politics Nigeriana and analyst of the various emanations and power plays by Obasanjo I’m not surprised that he’s going for Jonathan’s jugular. Obasanjo fights to the finish! The good thing about his fighting you in politics is that you will know. But, somehow, Jonathan’s handlers and strategists are yet to show an effective, better, grasp of the unfolding events and, realistically and without sentiments, “engage” Obasanjo & Co.
Otherwise, the man who has the most to lose, the President Jonathan, should, operationally, awaken to the unfolding strategic goal of the letter from former President Obasanjo: a forced, embarrassing, end to the Jonathan presidency!
There are, mainly, three sets of reaction to the harsh, condescending, caustic and in some cases brutally frank letter of December 2, 2013, to Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan from his “political godfather”, former President retired General Olusegun Obasanjo.
The First group of Nigerians dismisses everything said and written by Obasanjo as utter “nonsense”, total “bunkum”, possibly good advice coming from the “wrong source” and, lest we forget, from “a shameless hypocrite.” Worse things and poisonous adjectival arrows have been deployed by the trumpeters for Jonathan to aim at the medulla oblongata of the former army officer who, himself, categorizes politics in the language of war and martial brutality led by garrison commanders!
Obasanjo has since the December 10, 2013, deliberate leak of the letter faced a media barrage and assault by Jonathan’s garrison commanders. To boot, since Obasanjo, they say, “loves to write open letters”, one letter with a truck load of insults was fluently “forged” with his famous daughter Iyabo’s name appended as the author of the most comprehensive and contextual letter of insults from a daughter to her father.
The Second group are the Nigerians who insist that Obasanjo hit the name on the head; they add he has done President Jonathan a wake up favour by running a laundry list of Jonathan’s failings and alleged inadequacies.
These Nigerians add that Obasanjo deserves another level of respect for speaking up and sharing with Nigerians what he now, really, thinks about the man he hand-picked as Nigeria’s vice President and my key sources informed me he affirmed to be elevated as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria.
These Nigerians say that Obasanjo is accurate in assessing Jonathan’s presidency as a failure which should get out of the way for peace and security to emerge.
And, for effect, Obasanjo “cautions” Jonathan that he personally copied some influential retired Generals— especially the crafty power player Ibrahim Babangida.
The extreme elements and beneficiaries of the Obasanjo tenures (1976-1979) and (1999-2007) in this group shout, hoarily and foolishly, that “only Baba Obasanjo knows how to rule this Nigeria” and spread other psycho-political pathologies.
The Third group of Nigerians — who might be the majority — point out there are some reasonable deductions from the two previous groups/positions. They argue that Jonathan is doing his best, yet he is complacent and should do more especially on corruption.
Consequently, I think that Jonathan should digest Obasanjo’s letter and harness the meaningful aspects of his message and discard the boatload of serial insults, unusual condescension to a sitting president and the slap on Ijaw peoples’ right to rally around their first son.
Although, some of the spokespersons for Ijaw interests use the language of power politics in vernacular and without adequate discretion.
Jonathan should call a very small meeting of effective men and women (from within and outside government) with one request: how do I save my presidency to make Nigeria better for all?
He should demand optimal performance from all his ministers, set a firm deadline for verifiable results — in the same way Lagos Governor Fashola’s results are evident — or such minister(s) get sacked before May 2014.
Besides Obasanjo’s open warfare, the opposition is gaining major grounds against Jonathan. Especially, taking cognizance of their December 17, 2013, over-turning of Jonathan’s ruling PDP majority in Nigeria’s House of Representatives into the APC’s advantage via defections.
On balance, the trillion dollar question is simple: is it too late to rescue the Jonathan presidency from the combined onslaught of the Obasanjo squad and the assorted maneuvers of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC)?
The answer is blowing in the wind…
I thought it was designed to be a joke. Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu stood reverently in front of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, pleading with him to come and rescue Nigeria along with the APC. “We’re resolved and determined to rescue Nigeria... we want you to be our navigator,” Tinubu told Obasanjo. Like seriously? All you need to attain sainthood in Nigeria today is to be opposed to President Goodluck Jonathan. If Gen. Sani Abacha were alive and had written Obasanjo’s kind of letter to Jonathan, he would have become an instant hero. Just six years ago, I would have sworn that nobody would ever take Obasanjo’s views seriously again, but this is Nigeria where our memory is so shallow. Misfits get easily rehabilitated. We are told to ignore the messenger, even when the messenger is the eternally manipulative “navigator”.
I would like to remind Tinubu, and other easily excited Nigerians, about the antics of the man called Obasanjo. Lagos State would have been enjoying uninterrupted power supply today but for the petty “navigator” who interrupted Tinubu’s independent power projects. Obasanjo tried to frustrate the Enron-built AES power plant (which today supplies 230mw) until Tinubu reportedly went to prostrate to His Imperial Majesty inside his hallowed chambers at Aso Rock. But the “navigator” still made sure the other phases of the project did not see the light of the day.
The 4th Mainland Bridge would have been completed by now but for Tinubu’s “navigator” who refused to give the necessary Country Guarantee to secure a World Bank loan. (The same Obasanjo is hypocritically accusing Jonathan of stalling the Rivers water project - and Nigerians are clapping for him). In the 2003 elections, the “navigator” did everything to uproot Tinubu as the governor of Lagos State. On INEC’s website, Funsho Williams (PDP) had been announced as the winner, the same way other AD governors were swept out. I still don’t know how Tinubu survived. In 2004,
Tinubu created additional local governments. The “navigator” immediately withheld funds due to Lagos councils, describing Tinubu’s action as unconstitutional. The Supreme Court ruled that Tinubu’s action was in order but that the councils were “inchoate” until listed in the constitution. The court further ruled that Obasanjo had no power whatsoever to withhold funds due to any tier of government. The “navigator” still refused to release the funds, not even to the 20 constitutionally recognised councils. President Umaru Musa Yar’Adau released the funds three years later
I saw General Muhammadu Buhari on the team that went to Abeokuta to plead with Obasanjo to come and rescue Nigeria. My heart sank. I supported and voted for Obasanjo in 1999, but I was so disgusted with his conduct in office that I shifted my loyalty to Buhari in 2003. We all know how Obasanjo won his re-election that year. The presidential poll, conducted on April 19, was for years described as “419” election by Buhari. For instance, Obasanjo won 72,000 votes from 72,000 registered voters in Brass, Bayelsa State. No more, no less. The 2003 presidential poll was called the most fraudulent election in Nigerian history. It is incredible how Obasanjo is now in the forefront of rescuing Nigeria as APC’s “navigator” simply because he criticised Jonathan - and I am very worried that Buhari has descended to this low level of politicking.Buhari told me something four years ago in his hotel room in London. I had been agonizing Just six years ago, I would have sworn that nobody would ever take Obasanjo’s views seriously again, but this is Nigeria where our memory is so shallow. Misfits get easily rehabilitated
that Obasanjo was president for eight years and still failed to address power and refinery issues. I said no matter what Obasanjo achieved as president, those two things would continue to taint him. Buhari then narrated an encounter he had with Obasanjo at a Council of State meeting sometime in 2001. He recalled: “I said Mr. President, when you came into power in 1999, you said our refineries were not working because somebody (Abacha, that is) was awarding fuel import contracts to his family members.
Two years on, Mr. President, who is getting the fuel import contracts? Are the refineries working now? He interjected and tried to stop me... That was the last time I attended Council meeting under Obasanjo’s government.” Well, the meeting has now resumed in Abeokuta! I also saw Rivers Governor Rotimi Amaechi peeping from behind in the APC group photograph with Obasanjo during their expedition to Abeokuta. Was he also trying to pour accolades on Obasanjo? If my memory serves me right, Obasanjo callously denied Amaechi the PDP ticket in the 2007 election, openly describing his candidature as having a “K Leg”. But for the Supreme Court, which bent backwards, Amaechi would not have been governor. He should count himself lucky that the judgment
was delivered when Obasanjo had left power, if not it would never have been implemented. We were all witnesses to Obasanjo’s lawlessness anytime the courts passed judgments. He often refused to obey. His Attorney-General always had his own interpretation, even for matters as simple as “return to status quo ante”. I am waiting for Dr. Chris Ngige to pour his own encomium on the “navigator”. I don’t need to remind anyone what Obasanjo did to Ngige in Anambra State in 2004. If you’re too young to know, please google it. I am also waiting for Chief Audu Ogbeh to take his turn. He was removed as PDP chairman by Obasanjo because of his letter on the Anambra brigandage, in which he passionately pleaded with Obasanjo not to allow “this beautiful edifice of democracy to crumble”. As an APC chieftain now, Ogbeh can follow Tinubu’s footsteps and ask Obasanjo to be the “navigator”. No wonder, some people have given up on Nigeria. With Obasanjo as the “navigator”, a shipwreck is inevitable - as Professor Wole Soyinka has put it. If I may ask: what is Obasanjo’s electoral value? He has never won any election fair and square in his life. He lost woefully in the South-west in 1999, and used state power to corner those states for the PDP in 2003 and 2007. Naked without state power in 2011, his candidate for governorship in his home state, Brig-Gen.
Tunji Olurin, was roundly defeated - and his own daughter, Iyabo, could not win re-election into the Senate. Obasanjo cannot deliver the polling booth in front of his house to APC. His children will not even vote for him. How many Nigerians will vote for a candidate because of Obasanjo’s endorsement? Is this the kind of “navigator” APC needs? Agreed, Obasanjo has his nuisance value and his letters will always make headlines, but APC would be well advised to proceed with caution. I fully understand the disenchantment with President Jonathan. Nevertheless, APC should beware of 419.
And Four Other Things...
THE YEAR 2014 As a matter of personal belief, I don’t value one day or one year above the other. Every day, in my opinion, is filled with similar possibilities and opportunities. There is no difference between December 31 and January 1, as far as I am concerned. Having said that, however, I enter 2014 with baited breath. Normally, a year to general election is the most tense, but our polity was so heated up in 2013 that I am just wondering what worse could not happen in 2014, ahead of the 2015 elections. Expect less governance and more brutal politicking, in any case.
BUDGET BLUES Every budget comes with its oddities and I love the spotlight by the media on the details of Federal Government’s proposed expenditure. Newspapers now highlight what they intend to spend feeding cats and dogs as well as plans for new jets. I’m sure the Executive would not like it, but our job as journalists is not to please those in power but to hold them accountable to citizens. One thing is missing though: how will the National Assembly spend its N250 billion? How much do they really earn? Why is no one coming forward with the details? Is the amount so scandalous?
CHIME’S MOVES Enugu Governor Sullivan Chime is always in the news for the wrong reasons. If it is not the false imprisonment of his wife, it is his paranoid move to truncate the political future of those he considers as rivals. To make sure the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, does not go for governorship (Ekweremadu has consistently denied having a governorship interest), Chime has zoned the position to Enugu North. And to make sure Ekweremadu does not return to the Senate, Chime has zoned the PDP ticket to his own Udi constituency! He is eyeing the Senate, like most governors.
ADESINA’S POEM With the death of the Deji of Akure, Oba Adebiyi Adesida, his deposed predecessor, Prince Oluwadare Adesina, is passionately seeking to be restored to the throne. He had been deposed for alleged wife-battering, but with a vacancy now created, he
“It brings me no joy to have to write this but since you started this trend of open letters I thought I would follow suit since you don’t listen to anyone anyway. The only way to reach you may be to make the public aware of some things. As a child well brought up by my long-suffering mother in Yoruba tradition, I have been reluctant to tell the truth about you but as it seems you still continue to delude yourself about the kind of person you are and I think for posterity’s sake it is time to set the records straight.
“I will return to the issue of my long-suffering mother later in this letter.
“Like most Nigerians, I believe there are very enormous issues currently plaguing the country but I was surely surprised that you will be the one to publish such a treatise. I remember clearly as if it was yesterday the day I came over to Abuja from Abeokuta when I was Commissioner of Health in OgunState, specifically to ask you not to continue to pursue the third term issue.
“I had tried to bring it up when your sycophantic aides were present and they brushed my comments aside and as usual you listened to their self-serving counsel. For you to accuse someone else of what you so obviously practiced yourself tells of your narcissistic megalomaniac personality.
Everyone around for even a few minutes knows that the only thing you respond to is praise and worship of you. People have learnt how to manipulate you by giving you what you crave. The only ones that can’t and will not stroke your ego are family members who you universally treat like shit (sic) apart from the few who have learned to manipulate you like others.
“Before I continue, Nigerians are people who see conspiracy and self-service in everything because I think they believe everyone is like them. This letter is not in support of President Jonathan or APC or any other group or person, but an outpouring from my soul to God. I don’t blame you for the many atrocities you have been able to get away with, Nigerians were your enablers every step of the way. People ultimately get leaders that reflect them.
“Getting back to the story, I made sure your aides were not around and brought up the issue, trying to deliver the presentation of the issue as I had practiced it in my head. I started with the fact that we copied the US constitution which has term limits of two terms for a President. As is your usual manner, you didn’t allow me to finish my thought process and listen to my point of view. Once I broached the subject you sat up and said that the US had no term limits in the past but that it had been introduced in the 1940s after the death of President Roosevelt, which is true.
I wanted to say to you: when you copy something you also copy the modifications based on the learning from the original; only a fool starts from scratch and does not base his decisions on the learning of others. In science, we use the modifications found by others long ago to the most recent, as the basis of new findings; not going back to discover and learn what others have learnt. Human knowledge and development and civilization will not have progressed if each new generation and society did not build on the knowledge of others before them.
The American constitution itself is based on several theories and philosophies of governance available in the 18th century. Democracy itself is a governance method started by the ancient Greeks. America’s founding fathers used it with modifications based on what hadn’t worked well for the ancient Greeks and on new theories since then.
“As usual in our conversations, I kept quiet because I know you well. You weren’t going to change your mind based on my intervention as you had already made up your mind on the persuasion of the minions working for you who were ripping the country blind. When I spoke to you, your outward attitude to the people of the country was that you were not interested in the third term and that it was others pushing it. Your statement to me that day proved to me that you were the brain behind the third term debacle. It is therefore outrageous that you accuse the current President of a similar two-facedness that you yourself used against the people of the country.
“I was on a plane trip between Abuja and Lagos around the time of the third term issue and I sat next to one of your sycophants on the plane. He told me: “Only Obasanjo can rule Nigeria”. I replied: “God has not created a country where only one person can rule. If only one person can rule Nigeria then the whole Nigeria project is not a viable one, as it will be a non-sustainable project”
“I don’t know how you came about Yar’Adua as the candidate for your party as it was not my priority or job. Unlike you, I focus on the issues I have been given responsibility over and not on the jobs of others. It was the day of the PDP Presidential Campaign in Abeokuta during the state-by-state tour of 2007 that Yar’Adua got sick and had to be flown abroad. The MKO Abiola Stadium was already filled with people by 9am when I drove by (and) we had told people based on the campaign schedule that the rally would start at noon.
At 11 am I headed for the stadium on foot; it was a short walk as there were so many cars already parked in and out. As I walked on with two other people, we saw crowds of people leaving the stadium. I recognized some of them as politicians and I asked them why people were leaving. They said the Presidential candidate had died. I was alarmed and shocked. I walked back home and received a call from a friend in Lagos who said the same and added that he had died in the plane carrying him abroad for treatment and that the plane was on its way to Katsina to bury him.
I called you, and told you the information and that the stadium was already half-empty. You told me to go to the stadium and tell the people on the podium to announce that the Presidential candidate had taken ill that morning but the rest of the team, including you and the Vice-Presidential candidate would arrive shortly. I did as I was told, but even the people on the podium at first didn’t make the announcement because they thought it was true that Yar’Adua had died. I had to take the microphone and make the announcement myself. It did little good. People kept trooping out of the stadium. Your team didn’t arrive until 4pm and by this time we had just a sprinkling of people left.
That evening after the disaster of a rally, you said you had insisted that the Presidential candidate fly to Germany for a check-up although you said he only had a cold. I asked why would anyone fly to Germany to treat a cold? And you said “I would rather die than have the man die at this time.” I thought of this profound statement as things later unfolded against me. Then I thought it a stupid statement but as usual I kept quiet, little did I know how your machinations for a person would be used against me. When Yar’Adua eventually died, you stayed alive, I would have expected you to jump into his grave.
I left Nigeria in 1989 right after youth service to study in the US and I visited in 1994 for a week and didn’t visit again until your inauguration in 1999. In between, you had been arrested by Abacha and jailed. We, your children, had no one who stood with us. Stella famously went around collecting money on your behalf but we had no one. We survived. I was the only one of the children working then as a post-doctoral fellow when I got the call from a friend informing me of your arrest.
A week before your arrest, you had called me from Denmark and I had told you that you should be careful that the government was very offended by some of your statements and actions and may be planning to arrest or kill you as was occurring to many at the time. The source of my information was my mother who, agitated, had called me, saying I should warn you as this was the rumour in the country. As usual you brushed aside my comments, shouting on the phone that they cannot try anything and you will do and say as you please. The consequence of your bravado is history.
We, your family, have borne the brunt of your direct cruelty and also suffered the consequences of your stupidity but got none of the benefits of your successes. Of course, anyone around you knows how little respect you have for your children.
You think our existence on earth is about you. By the way, how many are we? 19, 20, 21? Do you even know? In the last five years, how many of these children have you spoken to? How many grandchildren do you have and when did you last see each of them? As President you would listen to advice of people that never finished high school who would say anything to keep having access to you so as to make money over your children who loved you and genuinely wished you well.
“At your first inauguration in 1999, I and my brothers and sisters told you we were coming from the US. As is usual with you, you made no arrangements for our trip, instead our mom organized to meet each of us and provided accommodation. At the actual swearing-in at Eagle Square, the others decided to watch it on TV. Instead I went to the square and I was pushed and tossed by the crowd.
I managed to get in front of the crowd where I waved and shouted at you as you and General Abdulsalam Abubakar walked past to go back to the VIP seating area. I saw you mouth ‘my daughter’ to General Abdullahi who was the one who pulled me out of the crowd and gave me a seat. As I looked around I saw Stella and Stella’s family prominently seated but none of your children. I am sure General Abdullahi would remember this incident and I am eternally grateful to him.
Getting back to my mother, I still remember your beating her up continually when we were kids. What kids can forget that kind of violence against their mother? Your maltreatment of women is legendary. Many of your women have come out to denounce you in public but since your madness is also part of the madness of the society, it is the women that are usually ignored and mistreated. Of course, you are the great pretender, making people believe you have a good family life and a good relationship with your children but once in a while your pretence gets cracked.
When Gbenga gave a ride to help someone he didn’t know but saw was in need and the person betrayed his trust by tapping his candid response on the issues going on between you and your then vice-president, Atiku Abubakar, you had your aides go on air and denounce the boy before you even spoke to him to find out what happened. What kind of father does that? Your atrocities to some of my other siblings I will let them tell in their own due time or never if they choose.
Some of the details of our life are public but the people choose to ignore it and pretended we enjoyed some largesse when you were President.
This punishing the innocent is part of Nigeria’s continuing sins against God. While you were military head of state and lived in Dodan Barracks, we stayed either with our mum in the two-bedroom apartment provided for her by General Murtala Mohammed or with your relatives, Bose, Yemisi and your sisters’ kids in the Boys Quarters of Dodan Barracks. At QueensCollege, I remember being too ashamed to tell my wealthy classmates from Queen’s College, Lagos we lived in the two room Boys Quarters or in the two room flat on Lawrence Street.
No, we did not have privileged upbringing but our mother emphasized education and that has been our salvation. Of my mother’s 6 children 4 have PhDs. Of the two without PhD, one has a Master’s and the other is an engineer. They are no slouches. Education provided a way to make our way in the world.
You are one of those petty people who think the progress and success of another takes from you. You try to overshadow everyone around you, before you and after you. You are the prototypical “Mr. Know it all”. You’ve never said “I don’t know” on any topic, ever. Of course this means you surround yourself with idiots who will agree with you on anything and need you for financial gain and you need them for your insatiable ego. This your attitude is a reflection of the country. It is not certain which came first, your attitude seeping into the country’s psyche or the country accepting your irresponsible behavior for so long.
Like you and your minions, it’s a symbiotic relationship. Nigeria has descended into a hellish reality where smart, capable people to “survive” and have their daily bread prostrate to imbeciles. Everybody trying to pull everybody else down with greed and selfishness — the only traits that gets you anywhere. Money must be had and money and power is king. Even the supposed down-trodden agree with this.
Nigeria accused me of fraud with the Ministry of Health. As you yourself know, both in Abeokuta and Abuja I lived in your houses as a Senator. In Lagos, I stayed in my mum’s bungalow which she succeeded in getting from you when you abandoned her with six children to live in Abeokuta with Stella.
I borrowed against my four-year Senate salary to build the only house I have anywhere in the world in Lagos. I rent out the house for income. I don’t have much in terms of money but I am extremely happy. I tried to contribute my part to the development of my country but the country decided it didn’t need me. Like many educated Nigerians my age, there are countries that actually value people doing their best to contribute to society and as many of them have scattered all over the world so have many of your children.
I can speak for myself and many of them; what they are running away from is that they can’t even contribute effectively at the same time as they have to deal with constant threats to their lives by miscreants the society failed to educate; deal with lack of electricity and air pollution resulting from each household generating its own electricity, and the lack of quality healthcare or education and a total lack of sense of responsibility of almost every person you meet. Your contribution to this scenario cannot be overestimated.
You and your cronies mentioned in your letter have left the country worse than you met it at your births in the 1930’s and 1940’s. Nigeria is not the creation of any of you, and although you feel you own it and are “Mr Nigeria” deciding whether the country stays together or not, and who rules it; you don’t. Nigeria is solely the creation of the British. My dear gone Grandmother whose burial you told people not to attend, was not born a Nigerian but a proud Ijebu-Yoruba woman. Togetherness is a choice and it must serve a purpose.
As for Nigerians thinking I have their money, when it was obvious I was part of the Yar’Adua (government’s) anti-Obasanjo phenomenon that was going on at the time. The Ministry of Health and international NGOs paid for a retreat for the Senate Committee on Health. The House Committee on Health was treated exactly the same way. The monies were given to members as estacode and the rest used for accommodation, flights and feeding. While the Senate was on the retreat in Ghana, the EFCC asked the House Committee to return the monies they received for their retreat and asked us in the Senate to return ours on our return which I refused, as it was already used for the purpose it was earmarked for in the budget that year which was to work on the National Health Bill.
The House Committee had not gone on their retreat. I did nothing wrong and my colleagues and I on the retreat did our work conscientiously. I asked the EFCC not to drag my colleagues into it and I am proud I suffered alone. As is usual in a society where people who are not progressive but take pleasure in the pain of others, most Nigerians were happy, not looking at the facts of the matter, just the suffering of an Obasanjo.
As the people that stole their millions are hailed by them the innocent is punished. When the court case was thrown out because it lacked merit even against the Minister, no newspaper carried the news. The wrongful malicious prosecution of an Obasanjo was not something they wanted to report; just her downfall. But it really wasn’t about me, it was about right and wrong in society and every society gets the fruit of the seeds it sows.
How do you think God will provide good leaders to such a people? God helps those who help themselves. I have realized that as an Obasanjo I am not entitled to work in Nigeria in any capacity. I am not entitled to work in health which is my training, or in any field or anywhere in the country or participate in any business. I have learnt this lesson well and there are societies that actually think capable, well-educated people are important to their society’s progress. Apparently, unless I am eating from the dustbin, Nigerians and possibly you will not be satisfied. I thank God it has not come to that based on God-given brains and brawn.
When I left Nigeria in 1989 for graduate studies in America, you promised to pay my school fees and no living expenses. This you did and I am grateful for because, working in the kitchen and then the library at University of California, Davis and later, working on the IT desk and later as a Teaching Assistant at Cornell gave me valuable work ethics for life. I wouldn’t have it any other way. As a black woman in the early 21st century, I have achieved much and done more than most. My wish is that black girls all over the world will have the capacity to create their lives, make mistakes, learn from it and move ahead.
Moving back to Nigeria, thinking I wanted to serve was obviously a grave mistake but one brought about by the tragic incident of April 20, 2003. This was the day five people were shot dead in my car. The mother of the children was an acquaintance I had met only one day before the incident.
We had attended the same high school and university but she was there ten years earlier than I. She had also studied public health in the UK as I had in the US. It was these coincidences that made us connect on our first meeting and then she decided to visit on the Saturday of the election of 2003 when the incident occurred. I am scarred for life by that incident and I know the mother was too as we both looked back to see two men on each side of my car shooting.
I understand her trauma and her behaviour since then can be judged from that. Nigeria is a nasty place that pushes people to lose their compass. I participated in the campaigns leading to the elections that day, more because this was my first experience of electoral process in Nigeria. Growing up there were no elections and I was too young in the 1979 and 1983 elections. It was interesting to see democracy at work. When Gbenga Daniel who I campaigned for offered me a job, I probably would have declined it, if not for the memory of the dead.
I felt I had to engage in making the country progress and to avoid such incidences in the future. I don’t need to tell you or anyone what kind of governor and person Gbenga Daniel is. As usual when I found out, you would not listen to my opinion but found out for yourself. I also campaigned for Amosun for the Senate in 2003. I have had some wonderful Nigerians do good to me, I will never forget the then Minister of Women Affairs, who saw me talking in the crowd at a campaign event and was alarmed and said “bad things can happen to you out there, I will give you one of the orderlies assigned to my office to follow you”. This was the police man that died in my car that day. I never really thought bad things would happen to me, I moved around freely in society until that shooting scarred me and I accepted a police detail. I was constantly scared for my life after that.
You called me after your vengeful letter as usual, looking out for yourself and thinking you will bribe me by saying the APC will use me for the Senate. Do you really know me and what I want out of life?
Anyone that knows me knows I am done with anything political or otherwise in Nigeria. I have so much to do and think to make this world a better place than to waste it on fighting with idiots over a political post that does no good to society. That letter you wrote to the President, would you have tolerated such a letter as a sitting President? Don’t do to others what you will not allow to be done to you. The only thing I was using that was yours was the house in Abuja where I left my things when I left the country. I eventually rented it out so that the place would not fall apart but as usual you want to take that as well. You can’t have it without explaining to Nigerians how you came about the house?
As I said earlier, this is not about politics but my frustration with you as a father and a human being. I am not involved with what is currently going on in Nigeria, I don’t talk to any Nigerian other than friends on social basis. I am not involved with any political groups or affiliation. You mentioned Governor Osoba when you spoke to me, yes I was walking down the street of Cambridge, Massachussets a few months ago, when I looked up and saw him reading a map trying to cross the street.
I greeted him warmly and offered to give him a ride to where he was going. This I did not do because I wanted anything from him politically but because that is how I was raised by my mother to treat an adult who I really had no ill-will towards. Some said he was part of the people that manipulated the elections for me to lose in 2011. I don’t have any ill-will to him for that because I think they did me a favour and someone has to win and lose.
I had told you I wasn’t going to run in 2011 but you manipulated me to run; that was my mistake. Losing was a blessing. As usual you wanted me to run for your self-serving purpose to perpetuate your name in the political realm and as the liar that you are, you later denied that it was you who wanted me to run in 2011.
In 2003 I ran because I wanted to and I thought getting to the central government I will be able to contribute more to improving lives and working on legislation that impacts the country. I found that nothing gets done; every public official in Nigeria is working for himself and no one really is serving the public or the country.
The whole system, including the public themselves want oppressors, not people working for their collective progress. When no one is planning the future of a country, such a country can have no future. I won’t be your legacy, let your legacy be Nigeria in the fractured state you created because, it was always your way or the highway.
This is the end of my communication with you for life. I pray Nigeria survives your continual intervention in its affairs.
Iyabo Obasanjo, DVM, PhD
Former Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Alani Akinrinade (retd.), and Brig.-Gen. Godwin Alabi-Isama (retd.), on Thursday faulted former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s Nigerian Civil War account.
Obasanjo’s story in his war memoirs, My Command, Akinrinade and Alabi-Isama said, was full of “serious and historical errors” and constituted a “self-glorification.”
The former President’s account, the retired military officers added, amounted to denying others, who helped to achieve Nigeria’s victory, the credit they deserved.
The civil war took place between 1967 and 1970.
The generals, who participated in the war, spoke in Lagos at the public presentation of Alabi-Isama’s book, Tragedy of Victory: on the spot account of Nigeria-Biafra Civil War in the Atlantic Theatre.
The author, in his book, claimed that Obasanjo, who was the last Commander of the Third Marine Commando that led the military campaigns against Biafra, did not participate in the real battle even as he committed many strategic blunders.
Alabi-Isama added that Obasanjo, in My Command, claimed glory for the victory even when he was not present to receive the instrument of surrender from Biafra when the war ended in 1970.
Alabi-Isama, who narrated how he faced persecution in the army, said his book was to celebrate others whose contributions during the war Obasanjo and others failed to acknowledge.
He said, “We neglected those who fought the Civil War and we have a glorified brother, who was as at the time Col. Obasanjo. He wrote a book entitled, My Command. In that book, he wrote about himself and every other person was demonised. That is why I have the Part 3 of this book as the expose.”
Commending Alabi-Isama’s work, Akinrinade said the author had “put the record straight”, particularly with documents and photographs.
The 601-page book has 36 maps, 20 documents and 450 photographs, which Alabi-Isama reportedly took during the war.
Akinrinade added that My Command failed “to do justice to all the good people who fought that war.”
The Executive Editor of The NEWS magazine, Mr. Kunle Ajibade, who reviewed the new book, said My Command was unlike Long Walk to Freedom, in which former South African President Nelson Mandela was full of praises for those who fought the anti-apartheid struggle with him.
Ajibade said, “The total lack of this kind of generous spirit in Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo” spurred Alabi-Isama to write The Tragedy of Victory, which “offers a ferocious and damning critique of Obasanjo’s vainglorious claims of his gallantry.”
Gen. Yakubu Gowon, who was the Head of State during the war, said Obasanjo, “as the Commanding Officer assigned to command the division, “was rightfully positioned to claim victory on behalf of the Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces.”
Gowon, who was unable to attend the event, stated in his foreword to the book.
According to him, Isama-Alabi’s book has made an “invaluable” contribution to understanding our nation’s history.
A former Minister of Defence, Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (retd.), who chaired the book presentation, denied the allegation that he conspired with Obasanjo to force the author out of the army.
Source: PUNCH NEWS
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has identified corruption, insecurity, and infrastructure decay as major problems confronting the Africa.
Obasanjo said this at the inauguration of newly-established Africa Institute at the Valparaiso University, Indiana, U.S.A, in his honour on Saturday.
The North America Correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the institute would serve as a cultural exchange centre between it and Nigeria in particular and Africa at large.
It will also serve as an exchange and resource centre for professional studies of West Nigerian/African commerce and culture among students, artists, writers, educators and politicians.
Obasanjo said that almost every country in Africa had one form of security problem or the other, pointing out that insecurity would not allow development to thrive.
On the security challenges facing Nigeria, Obasanjo said that government must properly identify the remote causes of the activities of the Boko Haram sect.
Obasanjo stressed the need for more attention to be placed on the improvement of infrastructure within the continent.
He said the issue of human development should not be such that the individuals were allowed to leave the continent and be servicing other land.
The former president, however, called on Nigerians living abroad to return home where their knowledge would best be utilised.
``We must develop people and retain them, we must encourage most of them that are in Diaspora, to move back home,’’ Obasanjo said.
On corruption, the former Nigerian leader said that the issue of corruption was very serious that should not be undermined, adding that it was virtually in every aspect of life.
"If you pretend that there is no corruption, the world already knows there is corruption,’’ he said.
While commending the efforts of some African leaders in carrying out reforms that had made the continent an emerging economy in the 21st century, Obasanjo said Western economists earlier ruled out Africa as a living continent about 10 years ago.
He explained that some of the economists had even described the 21st century as the best for Africa.
As part of reforms to Nigeria's economy while in office, Obasanjo disclosed that when he took over in 1999, the country owed close to 35 billion dollars.
He also said that the country was spending about 3 billion dollars annually to service debts.
"I decided that we should seek debts relief. I also decided that we would go for deep reforms. Our creditors took us very serious and granted us debts relief.
"The reserve of 3.7 billion dollars that I met in 1999 grow to well over 45 billion dollars by the time I left office.
"After we paid over 12 billion dollars, we cleared the debts slate. Nigeria was not the only country moving in that direction,’’ he said.
Obasanjo commended the university for honouring him, saying that the establishment of the institute was quite timely in view of global development.
He also said that the situation around the globe called for nations to work together.
Earlier, the President of the university, Dr. Mark Heckler, said the exemplary leadership of Obasanjo in Africa and in Nigeria was a driving force for the choice of honouring him.
Heckler said that the university was established in 1859, stressing that the establishment of the Africa Institute was a dream fulfilled.
Prof. Ade Adefuye, the Nigeria Ambassador to the U.S, also commended the University "for giving honour to whom honour is due’’.
Adefuye described Obasanjo as someone who had contributed greatly to the development of Nigeria.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s multi-billion naira hill-top mansion in Abeokuta, Ogun State capital was Thursday evening gutted by fire.
The mysterious fire was reported to have started from the kitchen section of the mansion at about 5 pm which later spread to other sections within the premises.
photo: African spotlight
An eye witness disclosed that Ogun State Fire Service truck marked OG 122 AO9 was seen at the compound even as men Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, the Nigeria Police Force, State Security Service have joined the fire fighters to contain the fire from spreading to other parts of the sprawling estate.
Obasanjo who expressed appreciation to God said that, ” You have seen that it is only the office of my secretary that is burnt.” He added in Yoruba, “Ile Obasanjo to jo Ewa lobu kun,ile Obasanjo to jo ewa lobu kun. This is translated, ” A king’s house gutted by fire can only add beauty to it.
Henry Kissinger, the global geo-political icon furthered the thesis on what was called "Big Talk" and with Nigeria's growing insecurity the joint statement by former presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Ibrahim Babangida can be rated in that important category.
Big talks can be consequential and when managed properly with necessary implementation it can bear fruit. Henry Kissinger's big talks pioneered the policy on Détente with fruitful results on SALT (strategic arms limitation talks) and the Helsinki Accords. It even gave birth to the President Nixon's opening of China and Henry Kissinger as the United States Secretary of States and the chief facilitating strategist.
It is important to give these instances to buttress that words can have consequential meaning when executed properly and given the opportunity to germinate on a fertile ground.
Nigeria is in a delicate trajectory point but has not reached what physicist calls an "Escape velocity" which literally means a point of no return. Not yet! Nigeria can be salvaged even make whole again when patriots and lovers of stability vow to restore the country to her lost glory of 1970s and early 80s.
The former leaders of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo and Ibrahim Babangida may be up to something that maybe the beginning of the solution to the eradication of the ills of insecurity and terrorism engulfing Nigeria. But only time will measure the efficacy and effectiveness of their commitments to their words.
Words are powerful and initiation of any viable project starts with words and in this case "big talk" that could produce big result. The joint statement highlighted an important statement below that cannot be divorced from a nation in quest for progress and development:
"We need to reiterate that no meaningful development can ever occur in an atmosphere of violence and hatred. History has shown that any society that is built on the structures of violence and intolerance cannot prosper. We need to appreciate that, God in His infinite mercy, has blessed our country with abundant resources and talents, but we need peace and harmony to harness them not just for our own well being but also that of our children and grandchildren. We owe this future generations of Nigerians this much."
This is the truth about nature and on the progress of a nation: without peace and stability no nation can rise to become a developed entity. Without doubt, Nigeria is resources rich including natural and human capitals but without stability her quest of joining the family of industrial nations will become a mirage.
Truth must be told, the most important function of government is the protection of life and property and when those are found wanting the potential of a nation cannot be realized.
Nigeria has formed the habit of begging foreign investors to send their capitals especially in the non-oil sector of the economy. Inspite of the public relation and campaigning which is anchored on rebranding by Federal government of Nigeria, investors do their feasibility studies before sending their precious capital to the country.
Nigeria must deal with this perception that the country is unstable, for it is not good for business. Nigeria is losing billions of dollars to tourists who have the desire to visit Nigeria but are deter by the insecurity and fear that is checkmating the country's progress and development.
Obsanjo and Babangida are right on the money to re-engage citizens of Nigeria on this emerging trend: "A deeply worrying trend that is emerging from this terrible situation is that a pervasive cynicism is beginning to set in, so much so that millions of true Nigerian patriots are starting to question the platform upon which the unity of this country rests. This is simply untenable. The people of this country must not allow whatever sense of frustration, fear and despair we are experiencing now to supersede our hopes for a collective destiny which lies in our continued existence as a nation. For us, and we believe for millions of other Nigerians, the continued unity of this nation is not only priceless but non-negotiable."
Nigerians as citizens should and be able to live in any part of country without fear of being look as an intruder and unacceptable. When we lose that bond and glue that hold us together the saltiness will lose its taste.
It is imperative that men and women of goodwill must come together and take a stand on the state of the nation. By this joint statement, former presidents Obsanjo and Babangida have started the "big talk" and the rest is on Nigerians to listen without being cynical and produce affirmative results.
Emeka Chiakwelu, Analyst and Strategist at Afripol.
Is it right to claim that corruption, massive looting of public funds, armed robbery, youth banditry and gangsterism as well as militancy are queer attitudes that have crept into our lives? I remember my old mother used to tell me that the worst crime a family feared for its members was stealing peoples’ property which was likened to armed robbery.
So any family whose member was identified as a thief was cursed by the whole village and no one would marry from or be married to the family. Such thieving family would never be trusted or entrusted in the society until they repented and displayed otherwise openly for a long time. Because of the gravity of similar social vices, culprits were buried alive in big mould of sand or forced to drown in the river by tying heavy stones to them. This was in the good olden days.
“You be thief. I no be thief…” the famous Nigerian musician Fela Kuti, inferring the political characteristics of Nigerian leadership at a time not any better than the recent.
But now some Nigerians openly parade themselves as corruption agents, militants and bandits massively looting public funds and causing mayhem to the society that they are supposed to assist in building. They easily forget that some people genuinely put in their lives for the victory they claim in elections. What have the governments made up of these politicians at the three levels done for the families of those who died while ensuring that the politicians won their elections or relections, or putting it rightly, in defence of the nation’s democracy?
It is not new the statement accredited to former president of Nigeria, Chief Matthew Olusegun Obasanjo, popularly called Baba where he described the National Assembly as being made up of rogues. Obasanjo is such a leader that can be seen to possess faceless, fearless and considerably unassuming costume when corruption is talked about in Nigeria. At least, even if the other four of his fingers may be pointing towards his direction, he could be sure of what he says.
Whether it is accepted or not, Obasanjo is the pioneer in the making of NIGERIA TODAY. He is, and even while gradually losing grip of the rope hanging down from the Aso Rock, the godfather of many of those in power today. So, it is to be doubted that he may have put up a total falsehood for mere relevance – such relevance that he has maintained since Nigeria returned to democratic governance in 1999. After all, he can claim untouchability!
Obasanjo cannot be unaware of all the probes conducted and being conducted by the assemblymen. He cannot be unaware of the executive bills which are often imposed on the people through the national chambers and the financial efforts it takes to make such bills sail through the chambers. He had practically experienced and successfully enforced such in the past. Obasanjo cannot be unaware of the current bribery allegation of N44 million involving an assemblyman and the director general of Security and Exchange Commission (SEC). Obasanjo, having been too long in government at that highest level, remains an insider in government and therefore cannot just open his mouth to make frivolous accusations. After all, he also accused the judiciary and the police. He even acknowledged that some justices were sacked on bribery and corruption related matters during the hard democratic experiment of his tenures.
For the national chambers to find a soft landing for themselves and for Obasanjo is an attempt to cover the fawning ass of the foul. It is either they accept what Obasanjo has said and then swallow the shame or challenge the relevance Obasanjo is searching for and vindicate themselves.
What does the House Committee on Information, Hon. Zakari Mohammed imply by proclaiming not to join issues with former President Obasanjo who accused them of being rogues? Accused of being rogues! Is this accusation not enough – even if it is believed to be mere allegation – to sue the accuser to court for character assassination of the distinguished and honourable assemblymen? A whole assembly accused!
Zakari, in playing down this great accusation, could only find such words as, “…I think it is wrong for an elder to stand outside and pee into the house”. There are two sided revelations from this. It is either that the elder has become mentally weak that he can no more differentiate his position of being outside the house or he is sure that it makes no difference peeing into the house because the house has the similitude of a urinary. It is really a confusing scenario. The assemblymen should go further to clarify and reclaim their dignity within this context and challenge Obasanjo on this.
One startling revelation from Zakari’s defence was, “Since I came here as a legislator, I have not heard stories of Ghana-must-go bags but when former President Obasanjo was in charge, nocturnal visits of Ghana-must-go bags were a routine in an attempt to buy over the legislature and having failed especially with the last one over his third term agenda during which several MILLIONS OF DOLLARS were involved, I don’t think it is right for anybody to have headache over whatever he says”.
For the avoidance of doubt, it has been established by the assemblymen themselves that Obasanjo squandered public funds (millions of dollars) in pursuit of his then pet project codenamed ‘tenure elongation’. Has any action been taken by the assemblymen to unveil and punish the originators, proponents, distributors and collectors of the acknowledged millions of dollars? Obasanjo surely knows those who collected the money in full but refused to deliver their promises to him. Are there no more nocturnal visits within the political sphere?
Can Hon. Zakari patriotically and religiously authenticate his claim that since 2007 when Obasanjo left office as the President of Nigeria or at least from May 2011, that Ghana-must-go bags have ceased to come the ways of politicians, including the assemblymen? Why has Obasanjo not been investigated despite all the glaring indices that his regime was believed to be administratively corrupt? A regime of unequalled squandermania, power-throttling force, socio-economic vandalization and religio-political victimization!!
In the same vein, the Deputy Minority leader of the House, Hon. Suleiman Kawu postulates, “Obasanjo does not have credibility in Nigeria. Remember he was dragged to court by his own son accusing him of sleeping with his wife”
The Senate also swiftly responded to Obasanjo’s claims, however, urging Obasanjo to move a step further and name the “rogues and robbers” that are members of the National Assembly.
Chairman, Senate Committee on Information, Media and Public Affairs, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, while at a press conference in Abuja challenged Obasanjo, “in the new spirit of transparency and openness Obasanjo should assist the National Assembly by naming those that he knows in the National Assembly as either rogues or criminals. That would help us to be able to sanitize the polity and we sincerely thank him for his role in Nigeria, someone who cares very deeply about the Nigerian State and how it is at the moment”, adding, “the National Assembly can never engage in any talk back to the president.”
Is Obasanjo a Rock that he cannot be summoned to the National Assembly for interrogations? Remember that harmless Muhammadu Buhari has severally been verbally drilled over his misquoted statement on the 2015 elections. Buhari has been subjected to merciless tongue-lashings by Nigerians most of whom he is capable of fathering even in the political sphere. Poor Buhari!
Nonetheless, we should not forget that Obasanjo started behaving like a born-again Christian after leaving office as the president of Nigeria. Those who watch African Independent Television (AIT) may have seen when he appears to sing a gospel song saying, “I have decided to follow Jesus…” To this, one of my nieghbours burst into a wild laughter saying, “Is it our Lord Jesus whom we Christians worship that Obasanjo means?”
Recently addressing a group of Christian youths in Lagos at an event themed “The Building Blocks of Effective Leadership”, Professor Pat Utomi revealed some dysfunctions he had witnessed in the Nigerian system and x-rayed the difficulties of changing the system. Speaking under a topic, “Towards Creating a Network of Corruption-Intolerant Youth Leaders”, he narrated several instances of corruption involving government officials and the aftermath of underdevelopment and disclosed that a man who once duped him was now a senator.
He said, “A man who had 419ed [duped] me in the past is now in the Senate. And I called the attention of a senior senator who is from the same state with the dupe, and who also knew about my dupe story with the man before, that this man is a thief and he was aware. The senior senator wanted me to keep quiet, and he said that is the problem with me, and that after all, seventy percent of government people are 419ers”. Unbelievable!!
In somewhat affirmation of Obasanjo’s claims, Leadership Newspapers of Monday, May 28 2012 reported Sani Shu’aibu Teidi, one of the suspects standing trial before the Federal High Court, Abuja, for massively looting the pension treasury to have alleged that he and his accomplices paid Senator Aloysius Etuk-led Senate Committee a 3 billion Naira bribe in dollars. Akwu achaa n’ike mbe!!
According to Teidi, the huge bribe was to stall the prosecution of the accused persons. He alleged that the Senator Aloysius Etuk-led committee failed to fulfill an earlier promise of helping to stall their prosecution after collecting the 3 billion Naira contributory bribes. Trouble burst out over the sharing of the bribe. Teidi said Senator Etuk attempted to outsmart his colleagues by declaring 500 million Naira only i.e. a one-sixth of the actual bribe.
Feeling betrayed by the Senate committee leadership’s greed and inability to properly handle the corruption matter, Teidi resolved to make public all information on the botched agreement. “In fact, the N3bn bribe offered the senate committee was contributed by all the accused persons, each with the amount of 500 million Naira. The committee made us believe that when we give the money being demanded, it will give us a safe landing, thereby escaping prosecution, but, to our greatest dismay, they only succeeded in cutting their own share,” Teidi claimed.
All in all, this is a case that should not be ignored. It is either Obasanjo is right or he is openly summoned to explain if he spoke in rhetoric or was misquoted. This theory of allegation and denial in Nigeria should stop henceforth. On the other hand, what joy and results have the several probes carried out by the assemblymen brought us? Are these exposures just a tip in the iceberg?
He also accused African leaders of conniving with international agencies to impoverish their peoples.
Obasanjo said this at the public presentation of the Africa Human Development Report 2012 in Abuja.
He said, “I don’t like that word, Structural Adjustment, because it was one of the things that killed our agriculture, when the World Bank said we should be structurally adjusted even when we had no structure to adjust.”
He also explained that the report re-echoed what was already public knowledge among Africans.
Obasanjo said, “This report is a damning condemnation of decades of governance in sub-Saharan Africa.
“It tells us what we know that the poverty of Africa is the making of African leaders over the years.
“African leaders have made the option of taking us along the route or path of poverty; we don’t need to be told.”
The former President added, “It also repeats what many of us have said over and over again that the prescription given to us by the International Community is like force feeding a diabetic patient in coma with concentrated liquid sugar.
“I know that because I am a diabetic patient and I run away from sugar.
“In short, this report is an indictment of African and International leadership in the area of African economic development generally but particularly in the area of food production and food and nutrition security in Africa.”
He said for too long, Africa seemed to have encouraged laziness, inefficiency, waste, corruption and leaders at all levels “have got away with murder through poor, inadequate and incompetent performance, what this report is saying is enough is enough Africa”.
Earlier, in his address of welcome, the UN Resident Coordinator/UNDP Resident Representative, Mr. Daouda Toure, said the report pointed out two disturbing paradoxes in sub-saharan Africa.
He said, “The paradox is that Africa is not predestined to hunger and malnutrition. Our continent has the lowest occupation of arable land, yet one quarter of the African population is affected by hunger.”
Obasanjo wearing two caps as ECOWAS and African Union peace envoy believes the proposal will ease tension in Senegal. Under the country’s amended constitution, the elected president has a term of seven years, but Obasanjo now wants Wade, 86 years old, to step down after two years. He is expected to win tomorrow’s contentious poll, as he is seeking to earn a third term in office. He had already spent 12 years.
Wade’s bid for third term after manipulating the nation’s constitution has sparked weeks of protests that left six people dead.Speaking in Zambia, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he was “concerned” by the pre-poll violence and urged “peaceful and transparent” elections.Nigeria’s ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo “introduced a new element, a roadmap which states Abdoulaye Wade will only stay in power for two years if he wins,” said Abdoul Aziz Diop, spokesman for the opposition June 23 Movement (M23).
“Our wish remains that Abdoulaye Wade loses the election,” he said, noting that Wade has not promised to resign after two years.”It is these guarantees which will carry the coming negotiations with Obasanjo.”Obasanjo’s deal also calls for creating a new constitutional court and independent electoral commission, M23 co-ordinator Alioune Tine told RFM radio, saying the opposition movement was “open to negotiations…to conserve peace.”
Obasanjo arrived in Dakar on Tuesday as head of a joint mission launched by the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and has met with Wade, the opposition and diplomats.His arrival came after days of riots over Wade’s candidacy that turned parts of Dakar into a no-go zone as police fired teargas at rock-throwing protesters who had set up flaming barricades.
With polls set to open, the rapper-led youth movement “Fed Up” urged voters against boycotting, encouraging them to get their voter cards and vote massively against the incumbent.”The struggle must continue and will continue at the ballot box. We have been sharpening our weapons, your voters cards. The time has come to use them,” the movement said in a statement late Friday.Wade has already served two terms in office, but argues the changes to the constitution in 2008 extending term lengths to seven years allow him to serve two more mandates.
Music star and political activist Youssou Ndour attended an opposition protest in Dakar on Tuesday. The opposition condemned Wade but still failed to unite behind one candidate to challenge the incumbent [EPA]
The country’s top legal body validated his candidacy on January 27, sparking riots around the country and clashes in downtown Dakar.Observers say Wade needs to secure a first-round victory because he would fare badly in the second-round when the field contracts to two candidates.Thirteen opposition candidates are on the first round ballot, including three former prime ministers, but no clear front-runner has emerged.Foreign partners have voiced concern over the unsettled campaign — uncharacteristic for Senegal, which boasts an unbroken series of elections since independence in 1960 and has never suffered a coup.
The United States has sent its top Africa diplomat Johnnie Carson to Senegal to underline its “desire to see calm, free, fair elections,” the State Department said Friday.Some worry that more than 450,000 unclaimed voter cards boost the prospect of fraud, but the elections body insists it is ready to manage the polls.Roughly 5.3 million people are registered to vote.Paul Melly, an analyst with London-based Chatham House, told AFP that a Wade first-round win could “could produce a further upsurge in protest and anger on the streets.”Wade was first elected in 2000 to great euphoria after unseating the Socialist Party that had been in power for 40 years.His supporters praise him for an infrastructure boom, but his detractors say he has focused on prestige projects while the average Senegalese battles rising food prices and crippling power cuts.Infuriating the opposition are signs he is lining up his son Karim Wade to succeed him.