You’re a threat to national security, Jonathan replies Obasanjo
Nearly two weeks after former President Olusegun Obasanjo wrote a damning letter to President Goodluck Jonathan, accusing him of not only aiding and abetting corruption, but also polarising Nigeria along ethnic and religious lines, the President fired a reply last night in which he described his benefactor (Obasanjo) as a threat to national security.
Not only that Jonathan said Obasanjo is serially lying against his (Jonathan's) administration and intentionally inciting Nigerians against him.
Jonathan gave several reasons why he had to give a public reply to Obasanjo's letter.
Apart from the fact that the initial letter being a threat to national security, it was designed to incite Nigerians from other geopolitical zones and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members against the Presidency.
He also said he was giving a public reply because Nigerians demand a response, and since people know the role Obasanjo played in his (Jonathan's) political life, it was necessary to acknowledge that “the grapes have gone sour and my side of the story also needs to be told”.
The President equally noted that Obasanjo had a habit of writing letters to virtually all his successors, starting from ex-President Shehu Shagari, and then the need to set the records straight.
“Your letter conveys to me the feeling that landmines have been laid for me. Therefore, Nigerians need to have my response to the issues raised before the mines explode,” Jonathan told Obasanjo.
On the issue of insecurity raised by Obasanjo in his letter, Jonathan said: “My administration has since brought that very unacceptable situation under significant control”.
“We have overhauled our entire national security architecture, improved intelligence gathering, training, funding, logistical support to our armed forces and security agencies, and security collaboration with friendly countries with very visible and positive results.
“Your suggestion that we are pursuing a 'war against violence without understanding the root causes of the violence and applying solutions to deal with all the underlying factors' is definitely misplaced because from the onset of this administration, we have been implementing a multifaceted strategy against militancy, insurgency and terrorism that includes poverty alleviation, economic development, education and social reforms.
“More uncharitable persons may even see a touch of sanctimoniousness in your new belief in the carrot and stick approach to overcoming militancy and insurgency. You have always referred to how you hit Odi in Bayelsa State to curb militancy in the Niger Delta.
“If the invasion of Odi by the Army was the stick, I did not see the corresponding carrot. I was the Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State then, and as I have always told you, the invasion of Odi did not solve any militancy problem but, to some extent, escalated it.
“If it had solved it, late President (Umaru) Yar'Adua would not have had to come up with the amnesty programme.”
The President also recalled Obasanjo's indifference, if not complicity, in attempts to truncate the 2007 election that brought him and Yar'Adua to power.
These included the attempted bombing of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) headquarters and the attempted assassination of him as the Vice-Presidential candidate, and subsequent attack on his father's compound in Yenagoa, Bayesla State.
“I recall that immediately after both incidents, I got calls expressing the concern of Abuja. But 'Baba', you know that despite the apparent concern of Abuja, no single arrest was ever made.
I was then the Governor of Bayelsa State and the PDP Vice-Presidential candidate.
“The security people ordinarily should have unravelled the assassination attempt on me,” Jonathan stated.
On alleged training of snipers and putting 1,000 Nigerians on a watch-list, Jonathan said: “Baba, I don't know where you got that from but you do me grave injustice in not only lending credence to such baseless rumours, but also publicising it.
“You mentioned God 17 times in your letter. Can you as a Christian hold the Bible and say that you truly believe this allegation?
“The allegation of training snipers to assassinate political opponents is particularly incomprehensible to me. Since I started my political career as a Deputy Governor, I have never been associated with any form of political violence.
“I have been a President for over three years now, with a lot of challenges and opposition mainly from the high and mighty. There have certainly been cases of political assassination since the advent of our Fourth Republic, but as you well know, none of them occurred under my leadership.
“Regarding the over one thousand people you say are on a political watch list, I urge you to kindly tell Nigerians who they are and what agencies of government are 'watching' them.
“Your allegation that I am using security operatives to harass people is also baseless. Nigerians are waiting for your evidence of proof.
“That was an accusation made against previous administrations, including yours, but it is certainly not my style and will never be,” Jonathan added.
He said he also found it difficult to believe that Obasanjo will accuse him of assisting murderers, or assigning a Presidential delegation to welcome a murderer.
“This is a most unconscionable and untrue allegation. It is incumbent on me to remind you that I am fully conscious of the dictates of my responsibilities to God and our dear nation.
“It is my hope that devious elements will not take advantage of your baseless allegation to engage in brazen and wanton assassination of high profile politicians as before, hiding under the alibi your 'open letter' has provided for them.
“Nevertheless, I have directed the security agencies and requested the National Human Rights Commission to carry out a thorough investigation of these criminal allegations and make their findings public.”
On Obasanjo's allegation that the President was deepening corruption in government, Jonathan said it didn't start with his administration although he was doing all within his powers to stem the tide.
Recalling attempts by previous governments like that of late Murtala Muhammed to tackle corruption, Jonathan in a veiled reference to the international bribery scandal involving the Obasanjo government, said “in this Fourth Republic, the Siemens and Halliburton scandals are well known”.
“You made a lot of insinuations about oil theft, shady dealings at the NNPC and the NNPC not remitting the full proceeds of oil sales to the CBN.
“Now that the main source of the allegation which you rehashed has publicly stated that he was 'misconstrued', perhaps you will find it in your heart to apologise for misleading unwary Nigerians and impugning the integrity of my administration on that score.
“I am really shocked that with all avenues open to you as a former Head of State for the verification of any information you have received about state affairs, you chose to go public with allegations of 'high corruption' without offering a shred of supporting evidence.
“I urge you to furnish me with the names, facts and figures of a single verifiable case of the 'high corruption' which you say stinks all around my administration and see whether the corrective action you advocate does not follow promptly.
“And while you are at it, you may also wish to tell Nigerians the true story of questionable waivers of signature bonuses between 2000 and 2007.”
On ethnicism and clannishness, Jonathan said he was never unmindful of the fact that he was elected leader of the whole of Nigeria and that he has always acted in the best interest of all Nigerians.
“You referred to the divisive actions and inflammatory utterances of some individuals from the South-South and asserted that I have done nothing to call them to order or distance myself from their ethnic chauvinism.
“Again that is very untrue. I am as committed to the unity of this country as any patriot can be and I have publicly declared on many occasions that no person who threatens other Nigerians or parts of the country is acting on my behalf.”
On PDP crisis the President said: “Baba, let us all be truthful to ourselves, God and posterity. At the heart of all the current troubles in our party and the larger polity is the unbridled jostling and positioning for personal or group advantage ahead of the 2015 general elections.
“The 'bitterness, anger, mistrust, fear and deep suspicion' you wrote about all flow from this singular factor.
“It is indeed very unfortunate that the seeming crisis in the party was instigated by a few senior members of the party, including you.
“But, as leader of the party, I will continue to do my best to unite it so that we can move forward with strength and unity of purpose.
“Instigating people to cause problems and disaffection within the party is something that you are certainly familiar with. You will recall that founding fathers of the party were frustrated out of the party at a time.”
Jonathan also denied involvement in anti-party activities in governorship elections in Edo, Ondo, Lagos, and Anambra states, explaining that he merely allowed the electoral process to go unhindered in states which Obasanjo had already allowed the PDP to lose under his watch.
“What I have not done is to influence the electoral process to favour our party. You were definitely never so inclined, since you openly boasted in your letter of how you supported Alhaji Shehu Shagari against Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Chief Nnamdi Azikiwe and others in the 1979 Presidential elections while serving as a military Head of State.
“You and I clearly differ in this regard, because as the President of Nigeria, I believe it is my duty and responsibility to create a level playing field for all parties and all candidates,” he stated.
“Recalling how the PDP lost in states where we were very strong in 2003 and 2007 such as Edo, Ondo, Imo, Bauchi, Anambra, and Borno, longstanding members of our great party with good memory will also consider the charge of anti-party activities you made against me as misdirected and hugely hypocritical.
“It certainly was not Goodluck Jonathan's 'personal ambition or selfish interest' that caused the PDP to lose the governorship of Ogun State and all its senatorial seats in the last general elections,” the President added.
On 2015 general elections, Jonathan insisted that Obasanjo and his acolytes have decided to “embark on a virulent campaign to harass me out of an undeclared candidature for the 2015 Presidential elections so as to pave the way for a successor anointed by you”.
“I am still of the considered opinion that it would have been best for us to do all that is necessary to refrain from heating up the polity at this time.
“Accordingly, I have already informed Nigerians that I will only speak on whether or not I will seek a second term when it is time for such declarations.
“Your claims about discussions I had with you, Governor Gabriel Suswam and others are wrong, but in keeping with my declared stance, I will reserve further comments until the appropriate time,” Jonathan said.