By Mustapha Abdullahi
Baba Obasanjo, sir, I read your love letter to President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan with delight; at times with sobriety; and at other times with disgust. I am sure when you read to the end of my love letter to you, you will understand why.
Your Excellency, in your usual characteristic manner, you brought heaven into the “fray” of your letter to the President. That is good, because in the matter between you and the President, the other arbiters like Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, Abdulsalami Alhaji Abubakar, Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma are inconsequential.
What exactly, sir, did your reading of the Bible teach you? Or, if I may ask, did your training at the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) not tell you that you do not speak ill of your leaders the way you did in the open market?
As an elder, I leave you to determine whether the way you de-robed a king in public was wise. And in de-robing the king, you brought in heaven, which has taught that we be taciturn and refrain from speaking ill of leaders.
There is no doubt that you got some points right. Very right! And it could only come from you, but I shudder when a man of your calibre would repeat an allegation, especially that of snipers and 1,000 Nigerians on political watch list. Are you not in a position to confirm this before throwing that information out there?
My former President, I like that aspect where you said no one is born to rule. But what rankles is where you stated: “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 could get there, any Nigerian can. It is now not a matter of the turn of any section. 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 Nigeria CEO. It is good for Nigeria.”
Sir, if you had the opportunity for eight years and Yar’Adua could not go eight years on account of his untimely demise, which many of us in the North believe you foreknew and mischievously exploited, why do you think that a minority from the South (unlike the majority that had ruled for upward of eight or more years) should get one term? So it is only minorities from the South that should get “minority years?”
Somewhere else, you claimed that Jonathan told you he was going to serve only one term. We are happy that you did not say there is a pact, just like we the northerners did not say there was one between you and us when we, or our elders in uniform, agreed with you over “pepper soup in an officers’ mess” of a prison to do one term.
Thank you, sir, for reminding Jonathan that he will answer to God. So also will many others in positions of authority, past and present.
I do not wish to comment on some issues because I agree with you, but what I cannot understand is why you made this an open letter when almost all through the letter you talked about instances, and there are many, where you met the President and discussed with him.
Are you angry he did not take advice coming from a larger than life statesman like you? Are you playing the script you agreed to with some of your G-5 boys and some of those generals you copied this letter to (please note that almost all the men they visited were the ones you also copied)? Or, is it because Al-Mustapha, loose cannon in all rights, is on the loose with all the files he allegedly stole from the Villa? Is it pure, plain busybody attitude that you are telling all of us what you already discussed behind closed-doors? Do you remember what happened to a man called Audu Ogbeh because he dared to do what you are doing? Going back to the Bible that you are very conversant with, why do unto Jonathan what you did not want done unto you? And I am sadly forced to remember one of the generals you copied this letter. Whenever he was/is asked to comment on some state issues, he would decline because, according to him, he has ways of reaching the number one. Why have you refused to toe this path of honour and yet you talk about honour? Anyway, thank you for making some of these issues public, because we now know how some of you fiddle with our destiny. And like you said earlier, there is a day of reckoning with Him to whom we must all give account.
It is interesting what you wrote regarding the manner in which the President is seeking to go for another term, even after he assured you that he was not interested. I can only say that Jonathan is learning from a master; a son learning from his father. Sir, I think your boy learnt a few tricks from you.
Passionately, I noted that you wrote: “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 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 tests 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.”
Baba, I agree totally with you that a man who is quick to give his word must abide by it. The other alternative is to keep quiet and be very slow to speak; that way, you will not be accused of lacking integrity. That is why I doff my hat to you for not openly conceding to the Third Term agenda when, in actual fact, there were surreptitious moves to the contrary. That way, also, your integrity did not suffer any bashing when the Senate rode roughshod on the inclusion of that item in the new constitution we were planning. You see why I say Jonathan in some ways looks like his political father who now appears disgruntled that the rug he has under his feet in the PDP is being pulled off.
It is amazing, sir, that you are today declassifying information on how Asiwaju Bola Tinubu was bought over to deliver political dividends years after it happened, even when it happened when you held the fort as the PDP BoT chair. For what reason(s), are you now divulging this information? Is it because it is the right time or you are pained by a recent occurrence? May be you should also pen another letter to General Muhammadu Buhari to tell him what awaits him if the right price is paid to the Asiwaju, again. Remember those five governors who left your party? They deserve an open letter to tell them the stuff the leader of the Asiwaju Progressives Congress (APC) is made of.
If President Jonathan indeed sold out Edo, Anambra, and Ondo States to the opposition as you claimed, then it was very rotten of him. I beg to side with you here and tell those who say Jonathan is more politically suave than you to shut up. How could the President be accused of selling out these three states like you were said to have sold out Borno, Yobe, and Kebbi states when you were in the saddle as president?
I am sure that there are certain things he did not learn from you as a political child. You aptly put it when you said: “I have heard it said particularly within the presidency circle that the disaffected Governors and members of PDP are my children. I begin to wonder if, from top to bottom, any PDP member in elective office today is not directly or indirectly a beneficiary and, so to say, my political child. Anyone who may claim otherwise will be like a river that has forgotten its source. But like a good father, all I seek is peaceful and amicable solution that will re-unite the family for victory and progress of the family and the nation and nothing else.”
When you were writing about that overnight leader of the South-west PDP, I was moved, because if we all keep mute when such a character is thrown up, then we and all our children are in trouble. That is what we all thought, too, when a governor was kidnapped in this country and support came from Abuja for such an act. In fact, a friend of mine in the security services noted that it was the beginning of the kind of impunity that we all now complain about.
But you summed it up when you said, “God is never a supporter of evil and will surely save PDP and Nigeria from the hands of destroyers. If everything fails and the party cannot be retrieved from the hands of criminals and commercial jobbers and discredited touts, men and women of honour, principles, morality and integrity must step aside to rethink.”
In conclusion, I believe that all that you have written is food for thought for all of us that when we take certain actions and encourage certain tendencies that are unholy, we may reap the benefits of such ventures. The ball, like you said, sir, is in the court of Jonathan. He can become the Nigerian hero, if he so wishes; but he should note that no matter what an elder says, you may not like his tone or method, but you do well to take the kernels of his speech and deal as appropriate.
We have heard that he has told his aides not to react, so we are waiting for his personal response, hoping that as a true Ijaw man, as opposed to those ones who think every other person is an enemy, he will be decorous in putting it all in the public domain the way the elder statesman has done. This is because if he does not put it in the public domain and chooses the private method, we are still going to continue to get letters like this where people divulge private discussions in a way that makes them look good, and the other party less than good. Mr. President, over to you!
* Abdullahi, a graduate of literature, can be reached via Mustaphabdullahi66@yahoo.com