*Jonathan’s response, shallow – NEF, CNPP
*President responded well – Afenifere, IYM, others
*They should refrain from evil things – Sagay
*Obasanjo jealous of Jonathan –Ezeife
BY SONI DANIEL, CLIFFORD NDUJIHE, OKEY NDIRIBE, DAPO AKINREFON, PETER DURU,BASHIR ADEFAKA & DAUD OLATUNJI
ABUJA—FORMER President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, yesterday, declined to respond to President Goodluck Jonathan’s reply to his December 2 letter, saying that he stands by the contents of his missive.
Obasanjo who spoke to newsmen at his hilltop mansion in Abeokuta through his media aide, Tunde Oladunjoye, said he would not reply the letter because he has chosen to maintain his serenity.
President Jonathan in a 14-page response to Obasanjo’s 18-page letter, said he only had time to respond to the most serious of the charges which question his sincerity, personal honour and commitment to his oath of office. He said Obasanjo did him grave injustice by accusing him of “deceit, deception, dishonesty, incompetence, clannishness, divisiveness and insincerity,” among others and challenged Obasanjo to substantiate the allegations.
However, Obasanjo indicated that he is not ready to the president’s challenge yesterday. Chief Obasanjo, in the statement read by Oladunjoye, acknowledged receiving President Jonathan’s response, followed by several requests from local and international media for his reaction.
“Baba, as he already indicated in his December 2, 2013 (letter), does not wish to make further comments beyond the contents of his last letter to Mr. President or react to the said letter/response from Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan,” the statement said.
It quoted from page 14 of Obasanjo’s original letter to buttress that position: “I will maintain my serenity, because by this letter I have done my duty to you as I have always done, to your government, to the party, PDP, and to our country, Nigeria.”
He continued: “Two, let me reiterate here that Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR, has tremendous respect for the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Finally, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo sincerely appreciates all of you, my cherished colleagues; gentlemen and women of the media profession, who have been very upright, ethical and robust on the subject matter”.
Obasanjo’s comments came on a day mixed reactions trailed Jonathan’s response to the former president’s letter. While some hailed Jonathan’s response, others said it was shallow and disappointing.
Jonathan’s response pedestrian — NEF
Reacting to the letter, the Northern Elders Forum, NEF, expressed disappointment with Jonathan’s response to the issues raised by the former President.
The NEF said Jonathan adopted what it called ‘pedestrian approach’ in addressing the core issues raised by Obasanjo and ended up creating more tension in Nigeria than what his predecessor’s letter had generated.
“We feel highly disappointed by the tone and contents of Mr. President’s response to Obasanjo’s letter,” Secretary-General of the NEF, Professor Ango Abdullahi, told Vanguard in an interview.
According to the former ABU vice-chancellor, Jonathan missed the point by not taking time to explain to Nigerians whether he had fulfilled the electoral promises he made to the nation and whether in his view, he had made the country better than he met it on assumption of duty.
Abdullahi noted that despite the shortcomings of Obasanjo as a former president of Nigeria, Jonathan should sum up courage as the current leader to address the germane issues raised in the letter so that the country could move forward.
He noted that since the nation was passing through a turbulent period in its political history, it was incumbent on Jonathan to take appropriate steps to arrest the drift rather than pretend that all was well with the polity and the citizenry.
The NEF scribe said that it would have been better for Jonathan to keep quiet over the Obasanjo letter than offer a lame reply, which in the main, shies away from the bone of contention.
He said: “By the response of Jonathan to Obasanjo’s letter, it seems clear to us that the President does not agree that his administration has failed to provide answers to the myriad of challenges facing the nation and its people. By the response given by Jonathan to Obasanjo’s letter, the impression seems to be that Jonathan lacks a clear understanding of the major problems facing the country and does not seem to appreciate the innocuous admonition given him by Obasanjo in his letter.
“Our simple and innocuous advice to Mr. President is to use the remaining part of his tenure to find answers to the raging problems facing Nigeria and desist from acting as if all is well with the nation. If Mr. President does not know or the people around him have shielded him from knowing, the truth remains that Nigeria is drifting and its citizens in dire need of a leadership that can take them to the next level.”
Obasanjo doesn’t want Jonathan to surpass his record –Ezeife
Former Governor of Anambra State, Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife said: “President Jonathan’s reply to former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s letter was okay, but I believe he shouldn’t have even bothered himself to reply. One of our problems in this country is that we have very short memories. Otherwise, have we forgotten the days of impunity so soon? Obasanjo believed in riding roughshod over everybody and institutions.
“Those who know Obasanjo very well would tell you that his major reason for opposing President Jonathan’s possible second term bid is to prevent the President from serving a longer period in office than Obasanjo himself.
This is because, if Jonathan should win another term in office and completes it, he would have served over nine years in office as a democratically elected President. This means he would have surpassed Obasanjo’s eight years in office as a democratically elected President.
“Don’t forget that Obasanjo altogether ruled this country for the longest period of time. He was a military Head of State for about four years and also served as a civilian President for eight years. Jonathan would win a second term in office irrespective of what the All Progressives Congress, APC is doing. APC is a major disappointment because it has no ideology. We wanted two strong parties for Nigeria but they have to be different in ideology.
“Obasanjo is guilty of all the allegations he made against Jonathan. First of all, whatever he has said against the President on the issue of corruption are mere allegations. But the case against him was investigated and proven. Which one do we want to talk about? Is it the N50 million naira bribe he (allegedly) gave to members of National Assembly?
“The use of Ghana-must-go bags filled with bribe money was initiated by Obasanjo. I was very close to him as a Special Assistant and I know what happened.
“Obasanjo does not want Jonathan to outshine him as a democratically elected president.”
Jonathan’s response timely – Ikokwu
Second Republic politician and one of the founders of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Chief Guy Ikokwu, said Jonathan was diligent in his response.
His words: “The response of President Jonathan to the vituperations and unstatesman-like public declarations of former president Obasanjo on security and very delicate matters is not only timely but also very cautious in a democracy that is still fragile as that of Nigeria.
“President Jonathan obviously wrote as a diligent and well behaved son would have written a rather belligerent father and even, mentor. Most of us thank him for not escalating the various issues which are deliberately being made to heat up the polity without regard to the very damming and destructive effect it will have on the nation at this point in time.
“It is therefore remarkable that most of our leaders should sheathe their swords and concentrate on the more positive issues on how to build a stronger Nigeria by their positive participation in the oncoming National Conference which many of us and the ethnic nationalities believe should transform this nation from its present militaristic nature to a more democratic and development-oriented perquisite in order to rank among the strong nations of the earth, knowing that the Almighty God has given Nigeria the right population, the right size of territory and a conglomeration of natural resources as few nations on this earth have.”
Obasanjo’s letter vainglorious – Opadokun
However, former Publicity Secretary of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), Mr. Ayo Opadokun, countered that the President tackled the issues that Chief Obasanjo raised.
“President Jonathan responded substantially on all the issues raised by former President Obasanjo in his letter. I would also add that neither of the two camps is entirely satanic or angelic. The two of them are maneuvering to get control of the destiny and commonwealth of the Nigerian people. If the quarrel between the two camps which led to Obasanjo’s letter was based on altruism, it could have commanded respect.
“Obasanjo has always utilized this undue advantage he has had to vilify, demonise and condemn heads of sitting governments since the early 1980s. He did so against former President Shehu Shagari. He did so against Generals Buhari and Babangida. He did same to the late General Sani Abacha. In each case, you could read the mood behind the letter; that he was not acting in the best interest of the people, but for his vain glory.
“The fact that President Jonathan followed Obasanjo’s footsteps should make Nigerians pause before taking positions in support of either of the two men. Obasanjo represents a terrible mouthpiece to call for a change in the system. Even though, Obasanjo raised some critical issues in his letter, he is not credible as a messenger. This is a known fact even in communication theories. It was best captured by the position of a school of thought in the field of communication which states that “the medium is the message”.
Jonathan responded in a dignified manner – Annkio Briggs
Also, pro-democracy activist and Ijaw leader, Ms Annkio Briggs, said President Jonathan dealt with the issues Obasanjo raised. She picked holes in Obasanjo’s hobnobbing with leaders of the APC, who said they want to rescue Nigeria.
Her words: “Jonathan’s response to Obasanjo is very dignified. It shows that he is indeed a leader and a man Nigerians will one day look back upon and give his dues. Obasanjo raised a lot of issues and he has responded to them. He handled Obasanjo’s letter very well. Obasanjo has been exposed for what he is; even his daughter, Iyabo, has exposed him. Nigerians should see clearly why they should continue to support Jonathan to complete his tenure in 2015 and vote him in for a second term.
Obasanjo and leaders of the APC are no longer going to deceive Nigerians. They said they want to save Nigeria; it will be better they save Nigeria from people like them because they are the people who have destroyed Nigeria. They should not bother about saving Niger Delta because Niger Delta people will save themselves.”
Obasanjo should leave Jonathan alone –Uwazurike
President of Aka-Ikenga, the Igbo intellectual think-tank group, Dr Godwin Uwazurike, advised General Obasanjo not to distract President Jonathan from leading the country.
His words: “Letters have been written, that is what Obasanjo did to his successors in office. He should leave Jonathan alone to govern this country. He was in power for almost 12 years and had the chance to fix all he is complaining about but did not do so.”
Jonathan deserves praise for choosing civil words – IYM
Chairman of the Igbo Youths Movement (IYM), Evangelist Elliot Uko commended President Jonathan for being presidential in his response to Obasanjo, whom he alleged had unleashed calamity on Nigerians.
He said: “I praise President Jonathan for his modesty in choosing civil words to respond to the apparent provocation by Obasanjo. He displayed godliness and good upbringing; Nigerians are very proud of the president at this time. Obasanjo has proven to be a disaster to himself and to his country. General Obasanjo displayed grave ignorance when he failed to congratulate President Jonathan on the convening of a national conference. He is one of the few disgruntled Nigerians who do not know that without urgent restructuring of the polity the Nigerian ship will capsize.”
Jonathan’s response is vague, laughable – CNPP
Also reacting, the Benue State chapter of the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties, CNPP, described Jonathan’s letter as vague, empty and laughable.
Benue State Chairman of the CNPP, Mr. Baba Agan, said: “Honestly, the reply that I saw in the papers is far from explicit and lacking in real content. One begins to wonder why the President would ascribe the ills in the country to past administrations when he was voted into power to improve on whatever he met on ground.
“Instead of making deliberate efforts to tackling the problems, the President was shifting blames; he should know that Nigerians are no fools and there is no gainsaying that we are all worse off today than when Obasanjo was in government.
“This means that instead of making progress, Nigeria is nose-diving with its attendant consequences on the lives of the ordinary people and nobody seems to care.
“Today, Nigeria is corruption and corruption is Nigeria and our dear President is pretending that there is nothing of such in the country thereby giving credence to the obvious fact that the authorities are encouraging the near rape of this country.”
My advice to Jonathan and Obasanjo —Sagay
Constitutional lawyer, Professor Itse Sagay (SAN) said: “Obasanjo has written what he has written, Jonathan has written what he has written. I think the important point is that Jonathan should adhere to what he has written and also take heed from what Obasanjo has written.”
Sagay advised that “in other words, they should abide by the good things that have been proposed and definitely refrain from the terrible things that were suggested which they denied. They should make sure that denial should be put in practice. That is all I want to say.”
Nigerians should judge—Odumakin
Spokesperson of the Pan-Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere, Mr Yinka Odumakin, said: “It is a good thing that President Jonathan has responded to Obasanjo’s letter and Nigerians will be the ones to judge between the two. For instance Jonathan has denied the allegations of training snipers, it is now left for Obasanjo to substantiate this so that Nigerians will not see him (Obasanjo) as a frivolous person. If he is able to substantiate it, it means there is trouble, but if he is not able to substantiate it, I think there are appropriate laws to deal with such a person.”