Nigeria: Uproar Over Obj’s Letter to Jonathan

Asked for his view, former Governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife said: “Are you asking about the letter where Obasanjo said that about 1000 people have been targeted for elimination? I have read it and I am yet to understand it

Obasanjo’s attack not surprising -Owie Lagos — FORMER President Olusegun Obasanjo’s 18-page letter to President Goodluck Jonathan sparked uproar in the country yesterday with prominent Nigerians at one another’s throat over the missive.

The letter in which Obasanjo accused President Jonathan of ruling as a dictator, training a killer gang, driving the country to the brink by allowing corruption and mutual distrust, did not only raise dust it also unearthed a can of worms yesterday.

Among those who spoke on the matter were former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar; former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Prof Tam David-West; former Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Abubakar Tsav; Senator Rowland Owie, Engr Anthony Sani, Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Professor Itse Sagay (SAN), Chief Ladi Williams (SAN), Yinka Odumakin and the united Action for Democracy (UAD).

Presidency, PDP to meet retired Generals, leaders

The letter also elicited reactions from many prominent Nigerians including the national hierarchy of the ruling PDP.

Barely 24 hours after the December 2 letter became a public document, Vanguard gathered that PDP National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, rushed to the Asokoro residence of Chairman, Board of Trustees, BoT of PDP, Chief Tony Anenih where he had discussions with him on the way forward and how to quickly nip the crisis in the bud.

With Tukur at Anenih’s residence were some members of the National Working Committee, NWC. Sources said Tukur was not comfortable with the quick response of his Special Assistant, Media, Prince Oliver Okpala who responded to former President Obasanjo on Wednesday.

Tukur, as part of his trouble shooting mission, a source said, will also meet some founding members of the party. The PDP national Chairman as gathered will travel with members of the NWC to meet former Vice President Alex Ekwueme, General Theophilus Danjuma; former PDP National Chairmen – Dr. Ahmadu Ali, Senator Barnabas Gemade, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo and Dr. Haliru Bello Mohammed.

Others are Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu; Chief Ebenezer Babatope, Chief Shaiubu Oyedokun; Chief Bode George, Alhaji Adamu Ciroma, Ambassador Aminu Wali; Dapo Sarumi, Shettima Mustapha, Chief Jim Nwobodo, Engr. Abba Gana, Alhaji Adamu Mauzu, Dr. Musa Babayo, Professor Jerry Gana, Senator Ibrahim Mantu and Yekini Adeojo.

There were also feelers that the presidency may set up a very strong Presidential body that will meet those Chief Obasanjo copied his letter. These leaders include former Military President Ibrahim Babangida, former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar; former Vice President Alex Ekwueme and General Danjuma.

Speak up, Atiku urges IBB, Abdulsalami, Ekwueme, Danjuma, others

Speaking on the issue, which he said was making him nervous, former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar yesterday urged Babangida, Abdulsalami Abubakar, Dr Alex Ekwueme and others whom General Obasanjo copied the letter to speak up.

According to Atiku Abubakar, although he was not competent to speak on the letter because he was not privy to the communication, he however said that General Theophilus Danjuma and other leaders who were consulted by the former President before the publication of the letter should intervene and reduce what he termed, the tension created by Obasanjo’s weighty allegations.

In a statement issued by his media office in Abuja, Abubakar said like every other Nigerian, he was nervous about the allegations made by the former President and that those elders mentioned by Obasanjo had a moral duty to add their voices to the issue.

Stressing that the allegations were too disturbing to be treated with apathy by any political stakeholder, he added that at a moment of national anxiety or uncertainty, leaders across the country should rise to the occasion and reassure fellow Nigerians about the future.

He explained that at a time the rest of the world was looking at Nigeria as a beacon of hope for stability, the content of Obasanjo’s letter should be urgently addressed by former leaders and elders.

And with the attention of Nigerians focused on the 2015 elections, he noted that there was urgent need to reassure Nigerians, adding, “Our priorities for Nigeria are forging lasting solutions to our chronic unemployment, providing safety and security for all, and vastly improving our failing education systems. President Jonathan’s government has consistently failed to address these critical concerns.

“That said, it is on record that I have firmly fought for a democracy where the voters choose their future leaders, not political party bosses. If the incumbent President insists on continuing to destroy his own party with vindictive internal wars and thinks his record of rising youth unemployment, never-ending violence, corruption and scandals is worthy of another term, then he is welcome to run. We are confident Nigerians will exercise their democratic right to choose new leadership in 2015.”

I worked for Obasanjo – Kashamu

Meantime, Prince Buruji Kashamu, a chieftain of the PDP denied Obasanjo’s allegations that he was a drug dealer and alleged that he worked for and hobnobbed with the former president.

Addressing a press conference in Lagos yesterday, Kashamu maintained that Chief Obasanjo used him to reclaim the PDP machinery from former governor of OgunState, Otunba Gbenga Daniel.

Faulting Obasanjo’s claims, he said: “In the 18-page letter, Obasanjo said, ‘how can the presidency be working with me?’ It is not the fault of Obasanjo. Obasanjo was my partner in 2010 and in 2011. It was obvious to everybody that I was working for Obasanjo, he was using me to fight Gbenga Daniel. Daniel had already disgraced Obasanjo in OgunState. I was the one that risked my life for Obasanjo and I spent over N3 billion before I could take over the control of the PDP in OgunState.

I took back the party machinery from Daniel and returned it to Obasanjo. It was also Obasanjo who introduced General Olurin to me and asked me to work with him to win the 2011 governorship elections in OgunState. But I told Obasanjo that Olurin was an old man and that we could not win the elections. He said, ‘my son, my partner, go and work with him.’ Everybody is aware of this. Then, I and Iyabo worked together.”

He said: “I dined with Obasanjo in his house over 30 times, I have entered Obasanjo’s bedroom, living room and also his office. Obasanjo was the one that introduced me during the South-West meeting of the PDP held in his house to the Minister for Police Affairs, Caleb Olubolade, Akala, Segun Oni and many other leaders.

He was telling them to thank me that I assisted him in fighting Gbenga Daniel to a stand still. Obasanjo was my partner. I spent over N3 billion to return the PDP structure in Ogun state to him. It was also Obasanjo that introduced me to the National Working Committee of the PDP then.”

In addition, he disclosed that Obasanjo “introduced me to Baraje. Obasanjo was the one that took me to the Presidency and said I was the one fighting on his behalf in the South-West and that I was the one mobilizing for him in the South-West and that with me, we can deliver the South-West for the PDP. Baraje is alive.

During our crisis, the president instructed the party to resolve the problem between myself and Obasanjo and it was Baraje that called for a meeting at Hilton Hotel between Obasanjo and I. The reconciliation meeting lasted for about two hours and at the end of the meeting, Obasanjo went ahead to create another parallel PDP in OgunState.”

A bitter Kashamu threatened to mention names of members of Obasanjo’s government and associates he alleged were drug dealers.

“So, how can Obasanjo turn around and say that I am a drug dealer? When he was using me, he did not know me as a drug dealer. When Obasanjo was in government, almost 60 percent, including some former governors and former Senators that surrounded Obasanjo were all drug dealers. When the time comes, their names will be mentioned,” he said.

Exonerating himself, he said: “I am a clean businessman. When they said I committed the offence they are talking about, I was the richest person in BeninRepublic. What is my business with dealing in drugs? I have always been a businessman and I have over 800 people working for me both in Nigeria and in BeninRepublic. I do not know anything of this allegation leveled against me.

“I was arrested, I won the case in a London court where they said it was mistaken identity. I returned to Nigeria to continue with my business before I joined politics. I went for interpretation of the judgment I won in London and at the end of the case, I got a clean slate. I am not a drug dealer, I am a business man and so, whatsoever Obasanjo is saying, is cheap blackmail.”

Obasanjo, Presidency were indecorous – ACF

Reacting to the issue yesterday, National Publicity Secretary of the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, Anthony Sani, said while it may be indecorous for the former president to leak altercations between him and a sitting president, well known to be his political vassal, it is more indecorous for the presidency to resort to uncouth language for replies.

“That is why I plead with the media and the public to concentrate on the issues raised and not on how they have been presented,” he appealed.

I congratulate Obasanjo for speaking out–David-West

Also speaking, former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Prof Tam David-West, said: “I congratulate Obasanjo on that and I give him kudos for doing that. In fact, I identify myself with Obasanjo. I have been vindicated on my views on how Jonathan is ruling the country. I have been saying it but some people were abusing me especially E.K Clark. I cannot support Jonathan because he is an Ijaw man, I will support him if he is a good President but Jonathan is a bad President and a disgrace to the Ijaw people. He has been a colossal disaster and Obasanjo is right on his letter.”

I don’t understand Obasanjo’s letter–Ezeife


Senator Rowland Owie said he was not surprised by Obasanjo’s letter, saying: “Fortunately Nigerians now know him as a political double dealer and the person that destroyed the foundation of politics in Nigeria. In 1979, OBJ because of envy of late Chief Obafemi Awolowo expunged the provision for electoral college in the 1978 transition decree when as head of state he knew that majority of members of UPN, NPP, PRP and GNPP, in the National Assembly then had made up their minds to vote for Chief Awolowo at the electoral college. That was when Obasanjo destroyed the Nigerian nation. If Awolowo had been president, he would have turned this country to Japan of Africa.

“What did we get in his second coming as president? Corruption of the highest level, shielding of corrupt officials, who are his cronies, fighting perceived enemy governors and public officials. Destruction of national assets, like toll gates, fraudulent privatization of public assets like NITEL, Aladja, Ajaokuta, Bacita Sugar, Iwopin, Aluminum Smelting plant, Itakpe, Volkswagen of Nigeria, to mention a few, destruction and destabilization of the National Assembly, election rigging, wasted tax payers money on illegal third term bid. In addition, he wasted 16 billion dollars on power that was never real. What of his shares in Transcorp or the OBJ library? The Code of conduct bureau should publish OBJ’s assets from 1999 and what he had by the end of his tenure in 2007. I call EFCC to commence investigation on OBJ now. He is not a saint.”

Letter timely and appropriate – Tsav

However, former Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Alhaji Abubakar Tsav, described Obasanjo’s letter as ‘timely and appropriate.’

He agreed with the issues raised by the former President stressing that “the nation is drifting backward and the quality of governance is actually deteriorating.”

His words: “The letter by Obasanjo is timely and appropriate considering the deterioration of the quality of governance in the country and astronomical rise in corruption and the enhancement of the culture of impunity.

“It is not malicious, self serving or hypocritical, Obasanjo has spoken the truth, he brought in Jonathan and has the right to advice and correct him if he veers off the path of honour as he is now doing.”

“Those defending the president know the truth but simply want to remain sycophants to get ‘chop money’. Jonathan is selfish and self centered”, he said.

The socio- critic also berated President Jonathan for not leading a delegation of former Nigeria heads of state to late Nelson Mandela’s memorial service like President Obama of the USA did, “because he was not properly advised.”

Tsav noted that with the manner the president was running the government, he feared for the future of the country if urgent steps were not taken by the National Assembly.

It’s frightening -Sagay

Legal icon, Prof. Itse Sagay, SAN, yesterday feared the future of the country on account of the controversial letter.

His words: “They are very serious allegations and the letter could set the whole country on a state of alert and anxiety. Because for somebody at the level of Obasanjo, a former Head of State and I will say, the mentor of the current president to have made these very serious accusations, it sends an alarm bell ringing which could be troubling to every rational citizen. I am indeed very troubled.

“And not only that, the one that even frightens me most is the allegation that snipers are being trained in the same school where the Abacha killer squads were trained and there are some Nigerians under political watch list. That is very frightening because it is not something you expect under a civilian democratic regime except under a military dictatorship. So, it is very frightening and I am very unsettled about it particularly given what happened to Professor Iyayi whose cause of death has not yet been resolved. It is very disturbing.”

Williams, Ubani speak

On his part, Chief Ladi Rotimi-Williams, SAN, commented: “The president is like a son to former President Obasanjo. A father from time to time may deem it necessary to tongue-lash his son when in his view, the son is going in the wrong direction. And this is what the former president has done. If I were privileged to advise President Jonathan, I will tell him to take it in good faith.

“The criticisms are very powerful but I believe it is because of the love Obasanjo has for the country. He should not be misled by people, who in the first place did not even have a hand in how he became the president of Africa’s most populous nation. He should read the letter and act on it rather than consider it insulting. There is no doubt that a whole lot is going wrong in the country.”

Mr. Monday Ubani, Chairman, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Ikeja branch said, “It is a very grievous allegation. And if those allegations are true, then something needs to be done very fast in order to nip all those things in the bud. Clearly, Nigeria is on the verge of liquidation and if you place over 1,000 people on watch-list and you are going to use snipers to eliminate them as the president of the country, then that is very grave for this country. And then, given the fact this allegation is coming from Obasanjo, a top notch of the PDP tells you that there is more to it than meets the eye.”

46 CSOs call for probe

.Also, a coalition of 46 pro- democratic organisations under the aegis of the United Action for Democracy, UAD, yesterday called for a holistic probe of Obasanjo’s allegations that President Jonathan was hiring and training snipers and other armed personnel secretly and clandestinely and placing over 1000 Nigerians because it centres on credibility and tendency of taking Nigeria back to the dark days of late former Head of State, General Sani Abacha.

Addressing Journalists yesterday on the theme, “A period of deepening Turmoil” in Abuja, National Convener of UAD, Comrade Baba Aye also lampooned the Speaker, Federal House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal over recent statements credited to him where he accused President Jonathan of promoting corruption, saying that Tambuwal was hypocritical, alleging that the National Assembly was itself a haven of corruption like virtually all the institutions of elite governance.

Flanked by the General Secretary, Comrade Zulu Ofoelue and National Publicity Secretary, Comrade Steve Obodoekwe, the National Convener noted that Nigeria was drifting towards what might very well be a precipice in a period of global crisis, adding that Obasanjo cannot be exonerated from the country’s problems.

“What needs to be added is that the pursuit of “selfish personal and political interests”, which is brewing a crisis of gargantuan proportions, is not limited to President Jonathan and his own clique, but is a general nature of the band of brigands that are the country’s leaders, and the neo-liberal capitalist system which they run..

“The allegation recently made by former President Obasanjo that President Goodluck Jonathan has been training killer squads of snipers gives credence to our suspicion… The UAD regards these allegations with utmost seriousness, and demand an urgent verifiable response from the presidency. We make bold to say that nothing can stop an idea whose time has come. The poor masses and other patriotic citizens in Nigeria rose against General Abacha and his military regime despite its arms and ammunition and triumphed. We will defend the democratic rights we have won, and not be cowed by cowardly militaristic machinations of the Nigerian state, supposedly in a civilian garb.”

Niger Delta blasts Obasanjo

Relatedly, the Niger Delta Indigenous Movement for Radical Change (NDIMRC) lambasted Obasanjo over his call on President Jonathan to forget about 2015, saying only God can stop the re-election bid of the President.

In a press statement by its President, Nelly Emma; Secretary, John Sailor and Public Relations officer, Mukoro Stanley, the group alleged that the former President was responsible for the woes of the country.

“President Jonathan cannot forget about the 2015 general elections; he has the right to contest. All Nigerians should encourage the President to seek re-election in 2015 to fix the many woes of the country caused by former President Obasanjo who is today asking President Jonathan to forget 2015. We know very well that the former President and his likes are responsible for the current crisis in the PDP just to distract President Jonathan but we are urging the President to be courageous and seek re-election in 2015,” it said.

Benue CNPP asks Jonathan to resign

The Conference of Nigerian Political Parties, CNPP, has asked President Jonathan to resign “because Obasanjo has clearly spoken the minds of all Nigerian and it is clear that Nigerians have lost faith in this administration.”

BenueState chairman of the CNPP, Mr. Baba Agan said “the letter was explicit enough and it has actually opened the eyes of all Nigerians to how this administration is under-developing our country.”

Obasanjo lacks moral right to blame Jonathan -Odumakin

Publicity Secretary of the Pan Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, however, cautioned Nigerians to be weary of Obasanjo’s letter to President Goodluck Jonathan because the letter does meant well for the nation.

Odumakin alleged the possibility of ulterior motives, which might be dangerous for the country’s democracy. How? “If Obasanjo, who happens to be a retired general is now beckoning on fellow retired generals and at the same time inciting Nigerians against a sitting president, something untoward must be going on.”

Dissecting the letter, Odumakin referred to the issue of corruption, saying: “The former president has no moral justification to accuse the president because corruption was at its peak under his (Obasanjo’s) regime. Political murder was not as bad or rampant ever in the history of this nation like we all witnessed under the former president regime, while as a matter of fact cases of rigging of elections were unprecedented during Obasanjo’s regime.

“On the issues of Jonathan body language for second term, I think the former president is also wrong because he did not only spend two terms in the office, he attempted third term of office, which was truncated.”

Groups react

A civil rights activist and Director of the Christian Foundation for Social Justice and Equity, Mr. Jide Afolabi, said the letter was revealing but from a wrong messenger.

“If Obasanjo who was widely believed to have installed Jonathan can talk of him betraying the masses, then the nation is doomed. The most damning aspect is the placement of over 1000 Nigerians under watch and training snipers just as Abacha did.

“It further affirms our position that Nigeria is on the brink of collapse with the way the bourgeoisie and the political hawks are running it. It is a wake up call that Nigerians must be alert so as not to allow the 2015 elections to threaten the country’s unity.”

On his part, Director of the Centre for the Advocacy of Justice and Rights, Mr. Gad Peter viewed the former president’s letter as self-serving “even though there are a few elements of truth in it. Obasanjo was not any better when he was in power. He abused his office severally and even attempted to become a life president.”

Leave Jonathan alone – Orjiakor

FormerAnambraState Chairman of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, Chief Pat Orjiakor advised Obasanjo not to distract the present administration, saying it was funny for the former president to say that he signed an agreement with Jonathan that he would do a single term, noting that the statement was only aimed at causing confusion in the country.

He said: “This is somebody who ruled for eight years and spent billions of the nation’s funds to bribe lawmakers to approve third term for him. Obasanjo was also the person that threw up Jonathan at a time he was not even in the picture among those wanting to succeed Obasanjo and he is turning around to castigate him.”

He also said that by leaking his letter to the media showed that he has ulterior motive and argued that the former president’s motive, whatever it is, would definitely fail.

OBJ meets Jonathan in Kenya

Meanwhile, barely 24 hours after Obasanjo’s letter was made public, which elicited divergent reactions from across the country, both former president and the incumbent met in Kenya where they both had breakfast together.

According to report monitored on Channels Television, the unexpected meeting held prior to the anniversary event which was held at the Safaricom Stadium in Kasarani, Nairobi with former president, Obasanjo paying a surprise visit to President Jonathan at the Intercontinental Hotel, Nairobi where they had a private breakfast together.

Both men were among other African leaders that graced the 50th Independence Anniversary celebration of Kenya, yesterday.

Obasanjo’s visit was said to have taken everybody by surprise as it contradicts the expected nature of the relationship between them, owing to recent public criticisms of the President by Obasanjo.

Posted by on Dec 16 2013. Filed under African News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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