This Day (Lagos)

21 December 2013

Nigeria: Jonathan's Reply to Obasanjo

Photo: Leadership
A Nigerian cartoonist views former President Olusegun Obasanjo's letter as explosive.

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For over ten days now the polity has been suffused with the verbiage of the letter written by former President Olusegun Obasanjo to President Goodluck Jonathan. The latter has been under pressure to respond to the issues Obasanjo raised in his letter. And for a while, it seemed the silence from the presidency implied consent, or that the President was too dazed by the vitriolic content of the letter to respond.

But yesterday, the President broke his worrisome silence, when he called a press conference and read out a lengthy reply to the Ota farmer. To be fair to President Jonathan, he tried to clear the fog on some of the issues, but not without throwing some jabs here and there at the former president.

I captured some, yes, some of the details in the response of the President. He started like this:

"His Excellency Chief Olusegun Okikiola Matthew Obasanjo, former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

You must have wondered if I did not know what to reply you after you published what has become your latest act of infamy, in the name of a letter titled "Before it is Too Late" which you wrote to me.

Sir, I must confess that your letter took me unawares. As a respected Statesman, I did not expect this unbecoming means of communicating with me, if the essence was not to play to the gallery.

The other confession I must make is that some of the issues and accusations you made against me, were complete news to me. I have long set up committees to investigate the accusations and the reports are already coming in.

Before I deal on the specifics of your letter, permit me to say that, Sir, you must purge yourself of the overflowing messianic complex you have always operated in. Yes, I had said that after God and my parents, you are the next most important person in my life. But that did not mean you are my God or the provider of my oxygen. When goats are sold, the owner releases the rope. But you have chosen to hold on to the rope most tenaciously. That is the problem.

Indeed, we would have ignored you completely after your dear daughter, Dr Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello, helped to put most of the issue in the right political perspectives in her own letter to you. But we needed to do this for the records.

I am somewhat disappointed that you are lamenting my performance in government. His Excellency, I am sure we would have moved at a faster pace if the right foundation was laid while you were in charge.

As for the issue of whether or not I will seek re-election in 2015, I am bemused that you are making a huge drama out of this even when you know I am constitutionally permitted to seek re-election. I cannot remember the incidents of my said promise not to seek re-election. But even if I did sir, am I not entitled to change of mind on any issue depending on the currency of information available to me? I do not expect you to be basing your conclusions, at your level, on the so-called fantasy of Body language.

And pray, were we not all witnesses of how you tried to manipulate the National Assembly to offer you the illegal third term chance? Senator Ken Nnamani is still alive.

It is pure mischief powered by uncharitable inclinations to accuse me of "double game' in the support of gubernatorial candidates in some states. I personally participated in the campaigns of all our candidates. If they lost the elections, I cannot be blamed for that, as I am resolved to distance myself from manipulating electoral outcomes as it used to be in the past... you know what I mean

You made me look like the prince of corruption because of the ancient malaise of crude oil theft. Sir, it did not start with me. I have tried to combat it. There are many committees and task forces in place to check the roguery. Besides, it is even exaggerated under me. Did you not hear that the garrulous CBN governor, who raised the false alarm of missing $49.8 Billion has eaten the humble pie by recanting?

But sir, with all sense of modesty, this does not compare with the degree of sleaze that characterized the PTDF scam between you and your former Vice, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. We did not forget. We have reformed the EFCC to be an indiscriminate fierce attack dog, unlike when it was reduced to a weapon against enemies.

As for the crisis in the PDP, we know of supposed elders who have been fraternizing with the renegade governors, the reason they were recalcitrant and irreconciliable. You can only force a horse to the river, you cannot force it to drink water. These renegade governors simply refused to drink water at the bank of reconciliation.

I am a Knight of the Anglican Church. I have never plotted to shed blood for any reason. No I have never. Therefore, the phantom alarm of training of killers are nothing but a tale from the mountains. Only the naïve are taken in by them. God will judge such accusers harshly.

By the Grace of Almighty God, I will finish well and strong. My good people of Nigeria are behind me, contrary to what you may wish to think. I have told the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and Jama'atu Nasril Islam (JNI) to ensure that they announce national fasting of forty days and forty nights to thwart all the plans of the enemies of Nigeria, no matter who they are.

That they must declare that no weapon fashioned against Nigeria, be it from Boko Haram or whoever, will prosper.

Finally, let me assure you that the transformation agenda of my government has been attracting international investors and in no time, the entire nation will soon become one large construction and industrial yard. We shall all be witnesses.

Please accept my best assurances of ... "

Just as the President finished reading the letter to pressmen, his spokesman, Dr Rueben Abati , looking agitated with creases on his forehead, stepped out to co-ordinate the question and answer session, as over a dozen hands were already up, desirous to fire follow-up questions at Mr President.

Abati was just announcing the modality of the question and answer session, when the loud blast of a heavy duty truck woke me from my deep sleep, as my house is by the roadside. As I sprung up, I was looking for President Jonathan, asking breathlessly, "where is he, where is the president?", and my children began to ask if I was alright. It was only then I realized I have been dreaming. Hmmmmm.

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InFocus

Nigeria's Jonathan Responds to Obasanjo

A Nigerian cartoonist views former President Olusegun Obasanjo's letter as explosive.

President Goodluck Jonathan has responded to former president Olusegun Obasanjo's letter advising him on various issues, including national security, governance and the general ... Read more »