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Published On: Mon, Dec 23rd, 2013

Obasanjo Letter Did Grave Injustice to Me-Jonathan… I have my Facts-Obasanjo

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo and President Goodluck Jonathan

LAGOS DECEMBER 23RD (URHOBOTODAY)-President Goodluck Jonathan has responded to the letter of former President Olusegun Obasanjo asserting that the former President’s letter did him grave injustice by accusing him of “deceit, deception, dishonesty, incompetence, clannishness, divisiveness and insincerity,” amongst others.
Consequently, the President has directed security agencies and requested the National Human Rights Commission to carry out a thorough investigation of the criminal allegations contained in it and make their findings public.
“I have not, myself, ever claimed to be all-knowing or infallible, but I have never taken Nigeria or Nigerians for granted as you implied, and I will continue to do my utmost to steer our ship of state towards the brighter future to which we all aspire,” he said, in the response in which he said noting he had time only to respond to the most serious of the charges which question his sincerity, personal honour, and commitment to his oath of office.
In that regard, he described the allegation of training snipers to assassinate political opponents as being “particularly incomprehensible” to him and that he has never been associated with any form of political violence since he started his political career as a Deputy Governor.
“I have been a President for over three years now, with a lot of challenges and opposition mainly from the high and mighty,” he said. “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.”
He therefore challenged Obasanjo to tell Nigerians the 1000 people he claimed in his letter to be on a political watch list,
“Your allegation that I am using security operatives to harass people is also baseless,” Mr. Jonathan stated. “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. Again, if you insist on the spurious claim that some of your relatives and friends are being harassed, I urge you to name them and tell Nigerians what agencies of my administration are harassing them.”
Jonathan said he found it difficult to believe that Obasanjo would accuse him of assisting murderers, or assigning a presidential delegation to welcome a murderer.
On the insecurity in the country, Mr. Jonathan disclosed, among others, that while Obasanjo was still in office in 2007, he was the target of two assassination attempts by an armed group, the first in Yenagoa.
“Luckily for me, they could not. They again attacked and bombed my country home on a night when I was expected in the village. Fortunately, as God would have it, I did not make the trip.”
He recalled that immediately each incident, he received 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 unraveled the assassination attempt on me.”
Of the crisis in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Jonathan was very blunt. “It is indeed very unfortunate that the seeming crisis in the party was instigated by a few senior members of the party, including you,” he wrote. “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. The PDP has always recovered from previous crises with renewed vigour and vitality. I am very optimistic that that will be the case again this time. The PDP will overcome any temporary setback, remain a strong party and even grow stronger.”
He also accused Obasanjo of being familiar with the subject of instigating people to cause problems and disaffection within the party, recalling that the founding fathers of the party were frustrated out of it at a point.
“Late Chief Sunday Awoniyi was pushed out, Late Chief Solomon Lar left and later came back, Chief Audu Ogbeh and Chief Tom Ikimi also left. Chief Okwesilieze Nwodo left and later came back. In 2005/2006, link-men were sent to take over party structures from PDP Governors in an unveiled attempt to undermine the state governors. In spite of that, the Governors did not leave the Party because nobody instigated and encouraged them to do so.”
He rejected the charge that he was involved in anti-party activities in governorship elections in Edo, Ondo, Lagos, and Anambra States, saying that he relates with all Governors irrespective of political party affiliation but has not worked against the interest of the PDP, and suggesting that Obasanjo was not averse to influencing elections.
“What I have not done is to influence the electoral process to favour our Party,” President Jonathan said. “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.”
With reference to the matter of Buruji Kashamu, he specifically called Obasanjo a liar, saying it is “one of those lies that should not be associated with a former President, and that the allegation he is imposing Kashamu on the South-West is unfortunate and regrettable.
“I do not even impose Party officials in my home state of Bayelsa and there is no zone in this country where I have imposed officials,” he wrote. “So why would I do so in the South West? Baba, in the light of Buruji’s detailed public response to your “open letter”, it will be charitable for you to render an apology to Nigerians and I.”
But Obasanjo in his reaction argued that he stood by his words and ready to provide evidence to some of the accusations if the need arise. He made the assertion yesterday on the visit of All Progressives Congress (APC) leaders to his country home.
Obasanjo, who wrote a critical letter to President Goodluck Jonathan, was said to have insisted that he stood by the issues he raised in his letter.
He said he wrote the letter in the larger interest of the survival of Nigeria and its democracy, contrary to the notion that he was self-seeking, The Nation learnt.
The letter contained many allegations, including that Jonathan was training snipers. The former President, according to sources, said he was ready to prove the allegations.
Obasanjo reportedly opened up to some top leaders of the APC at a closed-door session in Abeokuta.
It was gathered that although the ex-President had warmly received all members of the entourage, he bared his mind to select few on the state of the nation.
A source, who spoke in confidence, said: “After the initial obeisance, banters, and the purpose of the APC mission, the ex-President had audience with a group of six or seven leaders.
“He told the them that he believed in what he wrote and he had no regrets for doing so. He said he was not ‘self-seeking’ in writing President Jonathan.
“The ex-President also told the team that ‘if it is necessary, I will provide evidence on some of the issues. I have my facts.’
Another source said the ex-President’s body language was a “bit stronger on his point on snipers but he did not go into details”.
Responding to a question, the source added: “Obasanjo restated his faith in a united and indivisible Nigeria. He also pleaded with APC leaders to remain committed to one Nigeria, irrespective of the political situation in the country.”
The source quoted Obasanjo as saying: “I did not write the letter to curry favour or seek undue attention but at my age, I should talk when things are going wrong. I am not on a self-seeking mission.”
The source said Obasanjo declared that he would not leave the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
On the mission of APC leaders, a third source said a National Leader of APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu captured it in his interview with reporters that they were not out to woo Obasanjo.
“In fact, the APC leaders told Obasanjo that having consulted with past leaders on the state of the nation; they also owed him a duty to brief him on why they are after a change of leadership in 2015.”

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