This article was first published DECEMBER 14, 2013; 10:08 PM
Prince Buruji Kashamu, the PDP National Vice Chairman in the South-west, was accused of being a drug dealer by former President Olusegun Obasanjo in his letter to President Goodluck Jonathan. Kashamu replies Obasanjo in this piece.
It is not for nothing that leaders rarely join the fray. This disposition is meant to preserve the majesty, respect and dignity of the exalted position that they occupy in the society.
That is why when they do; people listen with a view to drawing useful lessons from such interventions. However, when you have a man who should be a father figure descend into the arena, clutching at every opportunity to play to the gallery, then it behoves all men of good will to stand up to such a person and expose him for who he really is.
For, as Martin Luther King Jnr said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
Following former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s diatribe against the person and office of President Goodluck Jonathan, including my humble self, I have been inundated with calls from family members, friends, business and political associates as to his real intentions. I will situate his vituperations presently.
In the 18-page letter dated 3rd December, 2013, Obasanjo called me a shameless criminal. Pray, why should I be ashamed when I am not a criminal or the one being looked for, and he knows!
They have called all manner of names to silence and sabotage me so as to take over party structure in the South-west in order to work against the government.
If Obasanjo could write this kind of letter against his own people, with a view to inciting Nigerians against the man he introduced to them, then it leaves much to be desired. The was the same man who said Jonathan was the only one fit for the job having been cleared by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
He told Nigerians to vote him as President because of his unimpeachable character and integrity. It is unfair for him to round to insult the President. He used me to fight Gbenga Daniel and I spent over N3billion to fight his cause and took the PDP structure from Daniel and handed it over to him.
He later brought his friend, a 77-year-old Gen. Adetunji Olurin, to be the governorship candidate. Now, he is casting aspersion on the person of the President and my humble self.
Who should be ashamed among us? How many former Presidents and Heads of State would do this? He thinks he is disgracing his people but unknown to him, he is making himself a laughing stock in the eyes of the discerning.
Pray, what is he looking for? Initially, he was given everything he wanted but he was still not pleased. Now that things have changed, he is grumbling.
Chief Obasanjo denied introducing me to the Presidency. But can he deny that we wined and dined together in the past? Can he deny knowledge of my closeness to his daughter, Senator Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello, especially during the events leading to the 2011 general elections?
Can he deny that he introduced me to some leaders of the PDP in the South-west, such as the Minister of Police Affairs, Navy Captain Caleb Olubolade; his Agric counterpart, Dr Adesina Akinwunmi; and Engr. Segun Oni, among others, as his political son in whom he is well pleased?
Can he deny that he did not introduce me to the former acting Chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje, and other officials of the PDP-led Federal Government during the events leading to the 2011 general elections, especially as it relates to Ogun State and my role in the whole scenario?
Can he deny that he openly praised me to high heavens at various public fora and rallies, including during the reception I organised for the former Minister of Commerce and Industry, Senator Jubril Martins-Kuye (JMK)? Why is it that it is now that he is calling me names and blaming the Presidency for condoning me?
What offence have I committed? Is it because I refused to allow him to hijack the party structure so that he can use it to achieve his invidious motive against President Jonathan?
Is it because he has now realised that he has lost the platform which made him relevant in the politics of Ogun State and the South-west?
Isn’t there a sense in the assumption that the reason for this unwarranted attack is to portray the Jonathan administration in bad light and discredit its foot soldiers, particularly in the South-west?
Who am I?
I am not ashamed to say ex-President Obasanjo was my adopted political father and I was also his adopted political godson. I was one of his foot soldiers and partners.
We planned and executed many things together. When it was convenient for him, I was his right hand. I teamed up with him against former Governor Gbenga Daniel; fought the latter to a standstill; took the party structure from him and handed it over to Chief Obasanjo.
I worked with him (Chief Obasanjo) to produce the platform that his anointed candidate for the 2011 general elections in 2011, Gen. Tunji Olurin. It is common knowledge in Ogun State and the South-west that Obasanjo and I were inseparable until recently.
So, if he now turns round to be calling me names, then it should be clear to all that it is all politics. The truth is that I have not committed any offence and nobody has ever requested for my extradition.
If there is anything to the contrary, I challenge Obasanjo and his cronies to produce it or forever remain silent.
I refer them to the Interpol report which exonerated me of any wrongdoing, both locally and internationally. It is dated 4th March, 2008.
The Interpol in the six-page report, signed by ACP Haruna H. Mshelia for the Commissioner of Police (Interpol), particularly at Clause XI, says: “Contrary to the allegation, the suspect was not found to have engaged in fraudulent/clandestine activities as all records were checked both locally and internationally and all our probes were returned negative.
“The suspect was never declared wanted or convicted either in Nigeria or anywhere in the world.”
The NDLEA, in a counter-affidavit in one of the cases I filed in the courts to clear my name, said, from their records, I have never been involved in any crime.
Again, in an 11-paragraph filed by the Office of AGF and dated 16th September, 2010, in the suit I filed against it at the Federal High Court, it stated: “No request for the extradition of the Applicant was made on the 20th day of July, 2010 or on any date to the Respondent or to any Federal Agency by the United States Government or any other country…The Respondent or any of its officers or any agency of the Federal Government has not received any request from any country for the extradition of the Applicant for any offence whatsoever.”
WAR AGAINST CORRUPTION
Obasanjo seizes every opportunity to pretend that he is opposed to corruption, whereas this same man used his office to railroad contractors into building an expansive presidential library and other edifices, including an imposing hilltop mansion for him while in office.
We all know that most of the nouveau riche billionaires that his administration produced are neck-deep in one economic crime or the other, and for which some are facing trial.
OBASANJO & JONATHAN
The fact of history, which Obasanjo seeks to obfuscate with his latest attempt to distance himself from the present administration, is that he is the least qualified to accuse anyone of lacking in honour and integrity.
When President Jonathan got into office, Chief Obasanjo was always going to Aso Rock to eat breakfast and take tea and coffee at the expense of the Yoruba nation.
When he saw that President Jonathan is insisting on the rule of law and allowing the institutions of state to function without let or hindrance unlike what obtained in the past, he is now criticizing him.
Under him, Nigeria recorded many high profile political killings that could only be compared to the Abacha years. I recall that people like the then serving Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Chief Bola Ige; Chief Marshal Harry and Alfred Aminasaori Dikibo, among others, were killed under his watch.
He, more than any other Nigerian, had the most opportunity to turn the fortunes of Nigerian around, but he bungled it.
PARTY POLITICS & DEMOCRACY
This was a man under whose watch the majority had their say and the minority had their way. From Plateau to Ekiti, Anambra to Oyo, minority lawmakers impeached governors.
He destabilised the National Assembly so much so that senators and members of the House of Representatives were always changing their leadership.
He removed party officials at will and, some say, at gun point. He disqualifies people after winning party primaries. Under his watch, the country witnessed the highest number of election petitions and reversal of mandates, occasioned by his corruption of the electoral system and the political space.
Pray, what democratic credentials qualify such a person to be sermonising on democracy and party politics?
2015 & SOUTH-WEST
In the South-west, we believe that the ACN has lost its identity as the traditional party of the zone by going into the merger with other less popular parties.
Now, our people no longer see the All Progressive Congress (APC) as theirs. With the air of uncertainty about the leadership, sharing ratio and the vaulting ambition of some of its leading lights, our people see the PDP as the alternative.
In the South-west, we know ourselves. It is the irony of our democratic space that those who have never been able to deliver their polling booths since the beginning of the present democratic dispensation in 1999 are still parading themselves as the Alpha and Omega of Nigerian politics.
Now, the good people of the Ogun State, in particular and the South-west, in general, have seen through their scheming and shibboleth, and are wiser for it.
They would no longer allow anyone to lead them by the nose. They are irrevocably committed to uprooting the opposition from within and without.
Just as I was about rounding off this letter, I read newspaper reports that Obasanjo had breakfast with President Jonathan in Kenya, some 24 hours after his hypocritical letter went public.
Although I know that our President was not fooled by the gesture, I recall how he ate pounded yam with former Senate President Chuba Okadigbo and erstwhile National Chairman of PDP, Chief Audu Ogbeh, and still moved against them.
The old man executes good and evil acts with equal ferocity. No one should be deceived. For, as it is said, “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty”.
Perhaps the point should be made – and poignantly too – that the earlier Obasanjo purges himself of his messianic postures the better it would be for him and the nation at large.
He is quick to recount his “exploits” while in office. But the truth is: the foundation of some of the challenges that we are grappling with today were laid during his years in office.