President, General Olusegun Obasanjo, has attacked President Goodluck Jonathan over the state of the nation
and the political landscape of the country in an 18-page letter entitled ‘Before it is too late.’
The letter, dated December 2, 2013, which found its way into public domain on Wednesday, raised many issues and tackled President Jonathan on many fronts, including the 2015 presidency and the moral burden on his ambition for a second term, the crises within the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and failure to address the Boko Haram insurgency.
Meanwhile, the Presidency, on Wednesday, confirmed that it was in receipt of the letter by former President Olusegun Obasanjo lambasting President Jonathan over sundry issues with the presidency, saying that the letter was unbecoming and self-serving.
A statement issued by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr Reuben Abati, which noted had been deliberately leaked to the media, also said that it was mischievous and provocative.
The statement read: “We have noted the publication on several websites today of a letter recently written by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo to President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.
“The Presidency acknowledges that it has indeed received the said letter from Chief Obasanjo.
“We, however, find it highly unbecoming, mischievous and provocative that a letter written by a former Head of State and respected elder statesman to President Jonathan has been deliberately leaked to the mass media in a deplorable effort to impugn the integrity of the President and denigrate his commitment to giving Nigeria the best possible leadership.
“While many patriotic, objective and well-meaning Nigerians have already condemned the leaked letter as self-serving, hypocritical, malicious, indecent, and very disrespectful of the highest office in the land, President Jonathan has directed that none of his aides or any government official should join issues with Chief Obasanjo over it.
“The President himself will, at the appropriate time, offer a full personal response to the most reckless, baseless, unjustifiable and indecorous charges levied against him and his administration by the former Head of State,” the Presidency declared.
The open letter accused President Jonathan of reneging on agreements over 2015, striking agreement with the opposition and helping them to win elections, encouraging criminality, corruption, subversion of justice and becoming clannish by allowing himself to be ”possessed” by the Ijaw nation.
Urging Jonathan to be honourable and trustworthy, he said if he decided to contest the presidency in 2015, it would be fatally and morally flawed, saying ”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 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.
”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.”
Obasanjo cried out to Jonathan to prevent the ship of the nation from going aground or from a shipwreck, stating that “I believe that with what Nigeria has gone 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 an 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.”
On the allegation that the president has become clannish, General Obasanjo said “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 must 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 vote 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 number. Even, if you would not need people’s vote across the country again, your political party will.”
Advising Jonathan to resist pettiness, he said, “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 had 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 that 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 God’s will in your life? They possess you now for their interest. No interest should be higher or more important than 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-Muslim divide but one Nigeria.”
On the issue of corruption, security and oil stealing, Obasanjo said, “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 or 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-remitting of about $7 billion from 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 projects of only $400 million 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 Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria to you on non-remittance to 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 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 to be financed by the bank, is being put in the cooler by the Federal Government since 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.”
Saying he was used to Jonathan denying situations, he said “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 he party should shy away from further contribution to avoid division and destruction of the party on any altar whatsoever.
Accusing Jonathan of double dealing and helping opposition candidates to win elections, Obasanjo said “Maybe you also need to know that many party members feel disappointed in the double game you were alleged to play in support of party 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 adition 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 Stte with the fiasco coming from undue interference. If you as leader of the party cannot be seen to be loy al 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 y our 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 latar 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, non one knows whose blood woud 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.”
Obasanjo listed 10 reasons why he had to make the letter open “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 and acknowledgment nor 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 inadvertenly dividing the country along weal 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.”
The former president who declared that he cared less the provocations that could arise from this letter said, “Knowing what happens around you must 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, tagged 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 be on principles, and if no 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 harrassement 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.”
General Obasanjo lamenting the positioning of Buruji Kashamu in South west as leader, Obasanjo said for me,the man you enthrone as PDP Zonal leader in the South-West is the height of disservice to this country political and height of insult to the people of South-East in general and members of PDP in that zone in particular. For me, my politics goes with principles and mortality.
Advising Jonathan, Obasanjo said “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 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.”
He urged President Jonathan to “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 and D.r 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.”