A former minister of aviation, Mr Femi Fani-Kayode, has asked President Goodluck Jonathan to take some lessons from the decisive actions ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo applied in the Odi and Zaki-Biam killings of Nigerian soldiers.
In a press statement he issued following Jonathan's media chat criticism of Odi military action, Fani-Kayode said Obasanjo's decisive steps saved the lives of the military and the civilian population.
He said Jonathan's lacklustre attitude has led to the killing of 3,000 Nigerians and foreigners within two years by the Boko Haram Islamic sect.
During a live broadcast of the "Presidential Media Chat" to the nation this Sunday evening, Jonathan said that the military operation in Odi by the Nigerian armed forces in 1999, which was ordered by Obasanjo, did not solve the problem or stop the killing of soldiers, policemen and innocent civilians in the Niger Delta area by the terrorists and militants.
He also said that all he saw in Odi after he went there on an official visit as deputy governor were the dead bodies of old people.
Jonathan stated this ostensibly to react to Obasanjo's comment on Boko Haram insurgency that has defied solutions offered by the federal government in the last two years.
According to Obasanjo, the inability of Jonathan's administration to appreciate the gravity of threat posed by the sect and thereby apply decisive and appropriate measures allowed the menace to get out of hand.
While reacting to Jonathan's comment, Fani-Kayode said that after the Odi and Zaki-Biam military exercises, there were hardly any more attacks on or killing of soldiers and security personnel by the terrorists and militants because they knew that to do that would attract a swift and forceful reaction and terrible retribution from the Nigerian military.
"To stop and deter those attacks and killings was the objective of Obasanjo and that objective was achieved. Jonathan was therefore in error when he said that Odi did not solve the problem of killings in the Niger Delta area by the Niger Delta militants. "Not only did it stop the killings but it is also an eloquent testimony of how to deal with terrorists, how to handle those that kill our security personnel with impunity and how to deter militants from killing members of our civilian population and thinking that they can get away with it.
" If Obasanjo had not taken that strong action at that time many more of our civilian population and security personnel would have been killed by the Niger Delta militants between 1999 and 2007.
"By doing what he did at Odi and Zaki-Biam Obasanjo saved the lives of many and put a stop to the killings and terrorism that had taken root in the Niger Delta area previous to that time."
Five policemen and four soldiers were killed by a group of Niger Delta militants when they tried to enter the town of Odi in Bayelsa state in order to effect their arrest. This happened in 1999. After the brutal killing of these security personnel, President Olusegun Obasanjo asked the then governor of Bayelsa State, DSP Alamieyeseigha, to identify, locate, apprehend and hand over the perpetrators of that crime. The governor said that he was unable to do so and President Obasanjo, as the commander-in-chief of the Nigerian armed forces, took the position that security personnel could not be killed with impunity under his watch without a strong and appropriate response from the federal government. Consequently, he sent the military in to uproot and kill the terrorists and to destroy their operational base which was the town of Odi.