BY LEVINUS NWABUGHIOGU
Does the recent thought-provoking letter of former President Goodluck Jonathan necessary, self-serving or truthful? Does it signal the end father and son relationship? Should it have been made public in the first place? Saturday Vanguard in this special piece documents the views of some Nigerians on the issue.
It was so long a letter, well crafted and strongly worded. From the soft imprints of sentiments to seemingly harsh words of realities, the letter conveyed some pieces of information that could only be passed by someone with an experiential knowledge; someone who fears no friends or foes; someone with deep-seated knowledge and workings of Nigeria; someone who would say the raw truth and damn the consequences; someone who has repented from his own past evil deeds; someone with a renewed patriotic zeal for his country; someone who feel highly disappointed in someone else; someone so absolutely frustrated; someone who was on his kneels calling for a total rebirth. And that was former President Olusegun Okikilolo Mathew Aremu Obansanjo.
Titled: “It is not too late”, the letter which was addressed to the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan touched almost every aspect of Nigeria’s national life: from ethnicity to nationalism; from economy to politics, security, infrastructure, real- estate, in fact, from A of Nigeria’s national life to Z of it; also featuring prominently a resonated appeal to salvage the sinking and diminishing ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). But in all, the letter sold an important point to the people: the secret tales of 2011 elections and the acrimony currently trailing the forthcoming 2015 general election which would have still been in the hush-hush.
But then, that is the sore taste of the letter. It came so raw. It was not meant for public consumption. Ab initio, it was meant for the eyes of President Jonathan’s alone but as the gods of Nigerian politicians would have it; it leaked and became a public item, exposing what appeared like a long-drawn feud between two big elephants that have had the privilege of superintending over the affairs of Nigerians.
To recapitulate, Obasanjo apart from his stint as the Head of State between 1975 and 1979 was also a two-term democratically elected President of the country from 1999 to 2007. Jonathan had also benefited from the civilian regime which returned to the country in 1999. He was first elected Deputy Governor of BayelsaState in 1999, then Governor, Vice President, Acting President and in 2011, President. To a pitiable degree, peace has evidently eluded his regime. Some analysts will be quick to say he is the architect of his own misfortune while some will say; they were masterminded by his political enemies.
But whichever way, what President Jonathan got on Wednesday from ex- president Obasanjo in the reckoning of most people only passed for a bitter pill that shouldn’t be served in the public. But Obasanjo had his reasons, 10 of them:
Hear him: “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 have elicited an acknowledgement nor 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-Muslim. 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.”
To a great extent, the opening reasons for the letter capture, intrinsically, the whole essence of its entirety. The ensuing paragraphs only elaborated and made reference where necessary. It eventually left a strong warning for Jonathan.
“Nigerians are no fools, they can see, they can hear, they can talk amongst themselves, they can think, they can compare and they can act in the interest of their country and in their own self interest. They keenly watch all actions and deeds that are associated with you if they cannot believe your words. I know you have the power to save PDP and the country”, the letter added.
But amidst the many provocative words came a reply from the Presidency. Though a full scale reply was still being awaited from the President as at the time of filing this report, Dr. Rueben Abati, Media handler of the president on getting wind of the damning letter however, put a defense for his boss.
Hear him: “We have noted the publication on several websites today of a letter recently written by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo to President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.
“The Presidency acknowledges that it has indeed received the said letter from Chief Obasanjo.
“We however find it highly unbecoming, mischievous and provocative that a letter written by a former Head of State and respected elder statesman to President Jonathan has been deliberately leaked to the mass media in a deplorable effort to impugn the integrity of the President and denigrate his commitment to giving Nigeria the best possible leadership.
“While many patriotic, objective and well-meaning Nigerians have already condemned the leaked letter as self-serving, hypocritical, malicious, indecent, and very disrespectful of the highest office in the land, President Jonathan has directed that none of his aides or any government official should join issues with Chief Obasanjo over it.
“The President himself will, at the appropriate time, offer a full personal response to the most reckless, baseless, unjustifiable and indecorous charges levied against him and his administration by the former Head of State.
Meanwhile, on the heels of the letter, Saturday Vanguard immediately went to work, sampling the views of some Nigerians. Below were their submissions.
Both Leaders should find a way and resolve the differences—-Hon. Seconte Davies, Member representing Bonny/ Degema Federal Constituency of Rivers State , Hpuse of Representatives
The letter is actually all encompassing. There is virtually no aspect of the national polity and governance that has not been raised on issues in conduct of government policy. For me, it is unfortunate that the former President had to write a letter and it became public. I don’t know who released it but I can also see the frustration of the former President where he said that he had written to the President but no acknowledgement. I think it tells of the type of relationship that has happened. But now that these issues have been raised, unfortunately, it has come to the public domain, it is only necessary for both leaders to find a way to sit down and resolve them. They have advantage of one being a former President and one current President. I said so because Obasanjo has been there. Maybe he has also seen the mistakes that he made while he was in office and the mistakes repeating themselves could give worry. The current President also has the privilege of being President who has the opportunity to see that past mistakes are not repeated.
It is unfortunate but there is still hope for Nigeria under Jonathan’s administration —Dan Abia, member representing Eket/Onna/Esit Eket/Iben, Akwa Ibom, House of Representatives, Abuja
These are two Presidents, one served before the other at different times. I want to believe that President Jonathan is also facing challenges that are quite different from the ones and types former President Obasanjo encountered. Be it as it may, it would have been better said than being made public as it were because it gives a wrong notion and impression that both of them are not in sync which is not so good. But the bottom line is even in the words of Obansanjo that it is not too late. There is still an opportunity for these issues expressly mentioned here to be corrected for the interest of the masses more than any thing else. Personal issues and ego should be buried. Let’s focus on those things that will bring benefits to the people. I also believe that President Goodluck Jonathan has done sufficiently well and still has time to prove himself. I believe the good aspects of this letter would be applied by him. I believe that in no distant time, we will have cause to jubilate. There is still hope for Nigeria under this administration.
Obansanjo said the truth—-Dr. Junaid Mohammed, Second Republic lawmaker and National Coordinator of the Coalition of Northern Politicians, Academics, Professionals and Businessmen
I have had a very tumultuous relationship with Obasanjo. But I am not one of those congenital haters of Obasanjo.
In the words of former Prime Minister, Tafawa Balewa, no man is entirely evil. So, I certainly don’t believe that Obasanjo is irredeemably evil. I don’t believe that. And I am not one those who simply hate Obasanjo for the fun of it. Throughout my public service career and his own public service career, we managed and disagreed. But where I found him telling the truth, I have never missed admitting that what he said will be true because even the devil can say the truth. What you will do is keep him aside and work with the truth. As far as I am concerned, there were areas that one could say are self-serving in the letter. But by and large, over 90 percent of what Obasanjo said and his own interpretations of the governance style and the record of Goodluck Jonathan have been truthful and it is truthful. As far as I am concerned, I am prepared, based on fact, to accept Obasanjo’s interpretation of the event while being cautious not to accept those areas where I suspect he is being self-serving. So, the letter is true and it is a damning indictment of everything; the PDP and what Jonathan stands for.
It is all lies —-Hon. Arua Arunsi, Member representing Ohafia/Arochukwu Federal Constituency, Abia State , House of Representatives
I spent some hours reading that letter. It is about 18 pages. In the first place, there are two things he said there that are terribly lies and besides, a person of that nature writing such a thing; he is being mischievous because he is in a position to advise that man personally, not even writing it. So, for me, he is being mischievous, I can say that. I can now understand his anger. It is because Uba could not get the governorship ticket of the PDP in for Anambra election. That is just his anger. People should know where he is coming from. Why are you saying all these things now? It is about 3 years into the government, why did you not say these things before now? Why saying it after Anambra governorship election? It means that it is not done in good faith. Ok, he talked about corruption? What happened in his own tenure? The economy was growing at 3 percent in his own tenure but now, it is growing at 7 percent. So, who is managing the economy better?
Letter should not be ignored—-Barrister Teddy Eruba, Principal Legal Officer, Enyerenwgwa Chambers, Garki Abuja
Obasanjo is one of Nigeria ’s Presidents with enviable records, his minuses not withstanding. Apart from that, he is an international personality in his own right. He has octupus-like contacts even deep into international security networks. He is not a man that will speak and his comment will be treated with ignominy. I will think that his letter to President Jonathan should be taken seriously. Comments so far berate him for leaking his letter to the Press thereby lambasting a sitting President in the open media. But I will think that before anybody can take this position against Obasanjo, such a person should first show evidence that Obasanjo’s previous advice to President Jonathan in privacy was heeded otherwise we must understand the publication of this letter as Obasanjo’s own way of acting like the proverbial hen that whirls at the hawk that carried her chicken, not that the hawk will return the chicken but for all the inhabitants of heaven an earth to hear and bear him witness.
It is the naked truth--Shehu Sani, President, Civil Rights Congress of Nigeria
The Obasanjo’s letter to President Jonathan is nothing but the naked truth in its purest form. The ink of that letter is extracted from the tears and blood of suffering Nigerians. The Jonathan administration had long lost the goodwill of ordinary Nigerians. Now, it has lost the patience of it’s architects.Obasanjo’s letter echoes the wailing of widows and orphans and the cries of all oppressed Nigerians.
Chief Obasanjo cannot be exculpated from the vices of the Nigerian state but his letter spoke the truth to power.President Jonathan presides over a thieving government; lacking in ideas,wisdom and honour to transform Nigeria.We are stuck with an incompetent, venal and inept leadership. The government of Jonathan is the lowest depth Nigeria has ever sunk in. Ex-president Obasanjo’s letter is a mirror that reflected the bewildered and the belligured state of the nation.
The enthusiasm and goodwill that heralded the emergence of President Jonathan has since evaporated under the heat of his incompetence and the flaming fire of corruption and ethnicity that characterize his administration. President Jonathan’s government is peopled by vultures and hyenas who feed fat on the national treasury and dogs who bark at those who tell the truth. Chief Obasanjo’s letter is a true reflection of the disappointments and the discontents in the Nigerian state and a dissertation on the reality of the Jonathan regime.The very fact that Obasanjo disregarded the elitist decorum of behind the camera advices and made his views through a letter demonstrate the degree of deafness of the regime and it’s allergy to reason.
President Jonathan has destroyed his party and must go, so he doesn’t destroy Nigeria.Chief Obasanjo’s letter was long overdue.
Believe it or not, most analysts are of the view that these are not the best of good days for President Jonathan. For a man who has got so much bashing from people who have either served in government or still serving, it leaves much to be desired. Recall that at a function in Abuja on Monday, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal also lashed out on the President saying his body language encourages corruption. Which ever way one thinks about it, it is the soul of the country and the common man on the street that suffer the effect. The situation therefore calls for a cautious move by all actors to prevent it from further escalation.