Thursday, 12 December 2013

Part 1 ; Obasanjo writes Jonathan an Open Letter.

 The Thing Long o See it
Before it is too late

•A letter of appeal to President Goodluck Jonathan by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo

I am constrained to make this an open letter to you for a number of reasons.    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  an  acknowledgment  or  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 inadvertently  dividing  the country along  weak 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.

Mr. President, you have on  a  number of  occasions  acknowledged the  role God  enabled  me  to  play  in  your  ascension  to  power.  You  put me  third  after  God  and  your  parents  among  those  that  have  impacted  most  on  your  life.    I  have  always  retorted  that  God  only put  you  where you are and  those  that  could be regarded  as having  played  a  role were only instruments of God to achieve God’s purpose in your life.    For me, I believe  that  politically,  it  was  in  the  best  interest  of  Nigeria  that  you,  a Nigerian  from  minority  group  in  the  South, could  rise  to  the  highest pinnacle  of  political  leadership. If  Obasanjo  could  get  there,  Yar’Adua could get there and Jonathan can get there, any Nigerian can. It is now not a matter  of the  turn  of any section or  geographical area  but the best interest of Nigeria and all  Nigerians.    It has been  proved that no group – ethnic,  linguistic,  religious  or  geographical  location  –  has  monopoly  of materials  for  leadership  of  our  country.  And  no  group  solely  by  itself can crown any  of its members the  Nigerian CEO.    It is  good for  Nigeria.

I  have  also  always  told  you  that  God  has  graciously  been  kind, generous,  merciful  and  compassionate  to  me  and  He  has  done  more than  I  could  have  ever  hoped  for.    I  want  nothing  from  you  personally except that you should run the affairs of Nigeria not only to make Nigeria good,  but  to  make  Nigeria  great  for  which  I  have  always  pleaded  with you and I will  always do so.    And it is  yet to  be  done for  most Nigerians to see. 2

For five capacities in which you find yourself, you must hold yourself most significantly responsible for what happens or fails to happen in Nigeria and in any case, most others will hold you responsible and God who put you there  will  surely  hold  you  responsible  and  accountable.    I  have  had opportunity, in recent times, to interact closely with you and I have come to the conclusion painfully  or happily that  if  you can shun yourself to a great extent  of  personal  and  political  interests  and  dwell  more  on  the  national interest  and  also  draw  the  line  between  advice  from  selfish  and self-centered aides and advice from those who in the interest of the nation may  not  tell  you  what  you  will  want  to  hear,  it  will  be  well.    The  five positions  which  you  share  with nobody  except  with  God  and  which  place great  and  grave  responsibility  on  you  are  leadership  of  the  ruling  party, headship  of  the  Federal  Government  or  national  government, Commander-in-Chief  of  the  Military,  Chief  Security  Officer  of  the  nation, and  the  political leader  of the country.    Those positions go with being  the President of our country and while depending  on your  disposition, you can delegate  or  devolve  responsibility,  but  the  buck  must  stop  on  your  table  whether you like it or not.

Let me start with the leadership of the ruling party.    Many of us were puzzled over what was going on in the party.    Most party members blamed the  National Chairman.    I understand  that some in  the presidency tried to create the impression that some of us were to blame. The situation became clear  only  when  the  National  Chairman  spoke  out  that  he  never  did anything  or  acted  in  any  way  without  the  approval  or  concurrence  of  the Party  Leader  and  that  where  the  Party  Leader  disapproved,  he  made correction  or amendment, that we realised most actions were  those of the Chairman  but  the  motivation  and  direction  were  those  of  the  Leader.    It would be unfair to continue to level full blames on the Chairman for all that goes wrong with the Party.    The Chairman is playing the tune dictated by the  Paymaster.    But  the  Paymaster  is  acting  for  a  definitive  purpose  for  which deceit  and deception seem to be the major ingredients.    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  by  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:
“…PDP  should  be  praised  for  being  the  only  party  that  enshrines  federal character,  zoning  and  rotation  in  its  Constitution  and practises  it.  PDP  has brought  stability and substantial predictability to the polity and  to the system.    I do not know who will be President of Nigeria after Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.  That is in the hand of God.    But with PDP policy and practice, I can reasonably guess from  where,  in  term  of  section  of  the  country,  the  successor  to  President Jonathan  will come.    And no  internal democracy or competition will  thereby  be destroyed.  The  recent  resort  to  sentiments  and  emotions  of  religion  and regionalism  is  self-serving,  unpatriotic  and  mischievous,  to  say  the  least.    It  is also preying on dangerous emotive issues that can ignite uncontrollable passion and  can  distabilise  if  not  destroy  our  country.   This  is  being  oblivious  to  the sacrifices  others  have  made  in  the  past  for  unity,  stability  and  democracy  in Nigeria  in  giving  up  their  lives,  shedding their blood,  and  in  going to prison.    I personally have done two out of those three sacrifices and I am ready to do the third if it will  serve the best interest  of Nigerian dream.    Let me appeal to those who have embarked on this dangerous road to reflect and desist from taking us on a perishable journey.
With common identity as Nigerians, there is more that binds  us  than  separates  us.    I  am  a  Nigerian,  born  a  Yoruba  man,  and  I  am proud  of  both  identities  as  they  are  for  me  complementary.  Our  duties, responsibilities and obligations to our country as citizens and, indeed, as leaders must  go  side  by  side  with  our  rights  and  demands. There  must  be  certain values and virtues  that  must go  concomitantly with our  dream.  Thomas  Paine said “my country is the world”; for me, my country I hold dear.
On  two  occasions,  I  have  had  opportunity  to  work  for  my  successors  to  the government  of  Nigeria. On  both  occasions,  I  never  took  the  easy  and distabilising route of  ethnic,  regional or religious  consideration,  rather I  took  the enduring  route  of  national,  uniting  and  stabilising  route.    I  worked  for  both President Shagari and President Yar’Adua to succeed me not just because they are  Moslems, Northerners  or  Hausa-Fulani, but  because  they could strengthen the  unity,  stability  and  democracy  in  Nigeria. We  incurred  the  displeasure  of ethnic chauvinists for doing what was right for the country.  That is in the nature of burden of leadership.  A leader must lead, no matter whose ox is gored.
In  the  present  circumstance,  let  me  reiterate  what I have  said  on a  number  of occasions.    Electing Dr. Goodluck Jonathan,  in  his own  right  and on his own  merit,  as  the  President  of  Nigeria  will  enhance  and  strengthen  our  unity, stability  and  democracy.    And  it  will  lead  us  towards  the  achievement  of  our Nigerian dream.

There is a press report that Dr. Goodluck Jonathan has already taken a unique and unprecedented  step  of  declaring  that  he  would  only  want  to  be  a  one-term President.    If  so,  whether  we  know  it  or  not,  that  is  a  sacrifice  and  it  is statesmanly.  Rather than  vilify him  and pull  him down,  we, as a  Party,  should applaud and commend him and Nigerians should reward and venerate him.    He has taken the first good step.

Let  us encourage  him  to  take  more good  steps by voting him  in  with  landslide victory  as  the  fourth  elected  President  of  Nigeria  on  the  basis  of  our  common Nigerian identity and for the purpose of actualising Nigerian dream…”

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.

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 addition  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 State with the  fiasco coming  from undue  interference.    If you  as leader  of  the  Party  cannot  be seen  to  be loyal 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 your  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  altar  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,  no one knows  whose blood  would  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. We all have to be mindful  of  not  securing  pyrrhic  victory  on  the  ashes  of  great  values, attributes  and  issues  that  matter  as  it  would  amount  to  hollow  victory without honour and integrity.

Whatever  may  be  the  feud  in PDP  and  no  matter what  you  or  your aides  may  feel,  you,  as  the  Party  Leader,  have  the  responsibility  to  find solution,  resolve  and  fix  it.    Your  legacy  is  involved.  If  PDP  as  a  ruling Party  collapses,  it  will  be  the  first  time  in  an  independent  Nigeria  that  a ruling political party would collapse not as a result of a military coup.    It is food  for  thought. At  the  prompting  of  Governors  on  both  sides of the divide, and on encouragement from you, I spent two nights to intervene in the dispute of the PDP Governors.    I kept you fully briefed at every stage.

I deliberately chose Banquet Hall at the Villa to ensure transparency.    Your aides studied all the recordings of the two nights.    But I told you at the end of  the  exercise  that  I  observed  five  reactions  among  the  Governors  that required your immediate attention as you are the only one from the vantage point of your five positions that could deal effectively with the five reactions which  were  bitterness,  anger,  mistrust,  fear  and  deep  suspicion.    I  could only  hope  that  you  made  efforts  to  deal  with  these  unpleasant  reactions.

The feud leading to the factionalisation of the Party made me to invite some select  elders  of  the  Party  to  mediate  again.  Since I  was  engaged  in assignment outside the country, I was not able to join the three members of the elders group that presented the report of  our mediation  to you. I was briefed  that  you  agreed  to  work  on  the  report.  It  would  appear  that  for now, the  ball  is in your court  as  the Leader of the Party.  I can only wish you  every  success  in  your  handling  of  the  issue.  But  time  is  not  your friend or that of the Party in this respect. With leadership come  not just power  and  authority  to  do  and  to  undo,  but  also  responsibility  and accountability  to  do  and  to  undo  rightly,  well  and  justly.    Time  and  opportunity  are treasure that  must be appreciated  and shared to enhance their value and utilitarianism.
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  the  Party  should  shy  away  from  further  contribution  to  avoid division and destruction of the Party on any altar whatsoever.
Debates  and  dialogues  are  necessary  to  promote  the  interest  and work for  the progress of any  human institution or organisation.    In such a situation, agreements and disagreements will occur but in the final analysis, leadership  will  pursue  the  course  of  action  that  benefit  the  majority  and serve the purpose of the organisation, not the purpose of an individual or a minority.    In  that  process,  unity  is  sustained  and  everybody  becomes  a winner.    The so-called crisis in the PDP can be turned to an opportunity of unity,  mutual  understanding  and  respect  with  the  Party  emerging  with enhanced strength and victory.    It will be a win-win for all members of the Party and for the  country.    By  that,  PDP  would have  proved  that  it  could have  internal disagreement and emerge stronger.    The calamity  of  failure can still be avoided.    Please, move away from fringes or the extremes and move to the centre and carry ALL along.    Time is running out.
I  will  only  state  that  as  far  as  your  responsibility  as  Chief  Security Officer  of  the  nation  is  concerned  for  Nigerians,  a  lot  more  needs  to  be done to enhance the feeling of security amongst them.    Whether one talks of the issue of militancy in the Niger Delta, the underlying causes of which have  not  been  adequately  addressed,  if  addressed  at  all,  kidnapping, piracy, abductions and armed robberies which rather than abate are on the increase and  Boko  Haram which requires carrot and stick approach to lay its  ghost  to  rest,  the  general  security  situation  cannot  be  described  as comforting.    Knowing  the  genesis  of  Boko  Haram  and  the  reasons  for escalation of violence from that sector with the widespread and ramification of  the  menace    of  Boko  Haram  within  and  outside  the  Nigerian  borders, conventional  military  actions  based  on  standard  phases  of  military operations alone will not permanently and effectively deal with the issue of Boko  Haram.    There  are  many  strands  or  layers  of  causes  that  require different  solutions,  approaches  or  antidotes.    Drug,  indoctrination, fundamentalism,  gun  trafficking,  hate  culture,  human  trafficking,  money laundering,  religion, poverty, unemployment, poor  education,  revenge  and  international terrorism are among factors that have effect on Boko Haram.
One single prescription cannot cure all these ailments that combine in Boko Haram.    Should we pursue war against violence without understanding the root  causes  of  the  violence  and  applying  solutions  to  deal  with  all underlying factors – root, stem and branches?  Nigeria is bleeding and the hemorrhage  must  be  stopped.  I  am  convinced  that  you  can  initiate measures that will bring all hands on deck to deal effectively with this great  menace.
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  to 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  votes  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 numbers.  Even, if you would not need people’s vote across the country again.

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