Former President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday stated that Niger Delta amnesty programme influenced insurgency in the north east, describing the programme is a failure.
Obasanjo also stated that Jonathan’s administration’s approach to curbing the activities of the militants “had taken the form of throwing money at the problem, particularly stuffing the pockets and bank of the militants’ leadership with obscene cash in reckless and unsustainable manner.”
The former president expressed these views in his latest book, My Watch, a three-volume memoir which was launched in Lagos yesterday despite a restraining court order obtained by the leader of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ogun State, Buruji Kashamu, against the publication or launch of the book.
Assuring the gathering that the meeting was legal, the former president asserted that he “will not be party to anything that is illegal.”
He explained that the way and manner in which the militants were enriched by the federal government fuelled the Boko Haram insurgents.
“The idea is that ‘what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.’ After that (Niger Delta amnesty programme) is accomplished, I suppose the Movement for Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) in the south east will make their own demand, which of necessity must heeded. And finally, Odua Peoples Congress (OPC) in the south west will not be left out”, he stated.
Obasanjo also lashed out at the late President Umaru Yar’Adua and the incumbent, President Goodluck Jonathan-led administration on security under their watch, stressing that it was one of the things that “got me worried.”
Commenting on Jonathan’s response to the abduction of female students in Chibok, Borno State, the former president said “the one incident that overtly and graphically exposed the ineptitude, ineffectiveness, inefficiency, carelessness, cluelessness, callousness, insensitivity and selfishness of Goodluck Jonathan was the abduction of about 276 schoolgirls from Chibok in Borno State by Boko Haram.
“The reaction and attitude of our president and his household was that of non-belief, to the extent that 18 days passed before he grudgingly conceded to accept the reality of the abduction. If serious action had been taken within 48 hours, the story could have been different. Seventy-two hours was, for me, too late. After all, there would have been logistics required for moving almost 390 girls through the bush and small settlements by the Boko Haram.”
In the third volume of the book entitled ‘Now and Then’, Obasanjo described President Jonathan as a failure to the country.
He said: “After watching, reaching out to, studying, talking to and listening to the president himself and the people around him, I came, sadly, to a number of conclusions that mark Jonathan out as a man of adequate intelligence to run the affairs of Nigeria but lacking in broad vision, knowledge, confidence, understanding, concentration, capacity, sense of security, courage, moral and ethical principles, character and passion to move the nation forward on a fast trajectory.”
The former president also condemned what he described as the selfish interest of Jonathan, saying the president places his personal interest far above both national and party interests.
Referring to the 2011 general elections, Obasanjo claimed that heavy financial prices were paid to Lagos and Ondo states’ opposition to secure votes for the president against the interest of the PDP at the state levels.
“I had watched Jonathan and stood close to him in picking the national chairman of the party and chairman of board of trustees that succeeded me. What I saw and heard from him disgusted me to no end. Where Jonathan’s interests are concerned, there can be no decorum. Everything can be ‘rofo rofo’ and no party or national interests matter.”
He, however, stated his “unrepentant optimism” that Nigeria will once again remain united and regain its glory.
“When I became president in 1999, some people told me that I will be the last president of Nigeria, but there have been many presidents after me up until now and there will be many more presidents for Nigeria in many years to come. Nigeria has many challenges, but if we are determined we will make right everything that had gone wrong.”
On her own part, former minister of education, and convener of the BringBackOurGirls (BBOG) Group, Dr Oby Ezekwesili, stressed the need for leaders to serve with a sense of duty, stating that “leadership is not by mistake or by chance.”
Speaking on My Watch, Ezekwesili said that it points out many mistakes that had been made in the country, adding that “we should learn from our mistakes because we cannot afford to continue to make mistakes.”
Reviewing the book, principal partner at Nextier Advisory, Patrick Okigbo, stated that the book gives “one side of the story and that side is vicious enough that it should prompt a response from many quarters.”
According to him, Obasanjo did not fail to name and shame those he considered to have worked against the progress of Nigeria.
“Some personalities who have presented themselves as leaders and reformists will have to present counter evidence to defend their reputation,” he said.
Presidency keeps mum
But all efforts to get the presidency to react to Obasanjo’s damning verdict against the president did not yield any fruit by press time.
A text message sent to the special adviser to the president on media and publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, was not replied, even as another presidential aide, Dr Doyin Okupe, was not forthcoming with any response.
Media aide to the senior special assistant to the president, Mr. Bamidele Salam, simply told LEADERSHIP on telephone that Okupe was very busy with preparations for the PDP primaries to react to Obasanjo claims for now.
Kashamu threatens to sue Obasanjo
Meanwhile, the chairman, Organisation and Mobilisation Committee of the PDP, Buruji Kashamu, yesterday threatened to drag Obasanjo to court for contempt of the court.
In a statement yesterday, Kashamu accused Obasanjo of going ahead to launch his memoirs in spite of a court order restraining him.
Kashamu said, “Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s action has again confirmed his knack for lawlessness and arbitrariness. It beats my imagination that this man can be sermonising about the good governance when he shamelessly advertises all the elements of bad governance. In short, he is bad governance personified.He has shown that he does not have respect for the judiciary, and that he is above the law.”
“But I ask my lawyers to press criminal contempt charges against him and all those who assisted him in flouting the orders of the court.”
“I will ensure that they are all dragged before the court, and particularly, Obasanjo, without his cap, to show why he should not punished for criminal contempt.”
Kashamu described Obasanjo as worse than all the presidents elected since he left office in 2007.