A weakening Cord

On December 12, 2013,  Daily Trust published the full text of a letter former President Olusegun Obasanjo wrote to President Goodluck Jonathan, as lifted from Premium Times. In it, the former President made some serious allegations against the Jonathan administration.

Several publications, including the Vanguard of December 23, 2013 carried President Jonathan’s response to some of the allegations. In several instances, the President hiriged his reply by, largely, drawing Obasanjo’s attention to similar happenings when Nigeria was under his watch, between 1999 to 2007.

On the issue of kidnapping, for stample, he alludes that the phenomenon did not start during his time but when Obasanjo was in-charge. He further asserts that there was an attack on his residence in Yenagua for which no arrest was made, alluding, therefore that Obasanjo, who was President then, failed to take appropriate action to get the suspects arrested.

Several instances of this native dominate the Jonathan response most of which hardly wash off the allegations. The ugly occurrences of the past cannot be a plausible excuse for the nasty happenings of the present, nor a justification to continue along same route.

Tracing the recent history of corruption, the President reminded Obasanjo of the Siemens and Halliburton scandals, all of which occurred during Obasanjo, adding that he would never shield any corrupt official. This statement may be taken with a pinch of salt. After thorough investigation, the National Assembly found Ms Ateh guilty of some wrong doing and asked the President to remove her from office. This is about a year ago and so far nothing has happened even as NASS stopped any budgetary allocation to her department. Jonathan set up a counter committee which quickly cleared her.

He ignored the more authentic NASS findings NASS as a ploy to keep her in office at all costs. The case of the aviation Minister is still fresh in memory. While NASS was looking into the matter , he quickly set up his own committee, a familiar pattern with the administration, which he uses to clear his favourites. By and large, there is no movement on this front. It is not therefore true that he does not shield selected officials accused of corruption. He does and openly too without qualms. This is why some people believe that if you are in his good books, you could get away with wrong doings.

Meanwhile, he denies the allegations that he never rebuked some elements in the Niger Delta who were constantly threatening the North with deadly war, claiming that he had variously done so. What is known as a fact, however, was that  when Asari Dokubo made several such threats and was invited by the police, he refused to go. Same Dokubo was given official Presidential order when he was arrested in Benin Republic for alleged arms smuggling. The Presidency was reported to have intervened personally. Nigerians are not, therefore, in the know of any time Mr. President rebuked those threatening the country from the Niger Delta. As at today, nobody knows why he took personal interest in the matter.

He asserts that he has never harassed political opponents. Yet, the public is aware of numerous cases of undue harassment by the Presidency, the River State Governor, Amaechi, has been going through with Mr. Wike now behaving as the alternative governor of the state. The public is also in the know of how G.7 governors were denied the use of their office in Abuja and how policemen were sent to chase them out of the Kano State Government House in the federal capital. The claim, therefore that he has never harassed political opponents does not bear relevance to the fact of the matter.

In dismissing the charge of recruiting snipers and other military personnel for training, he directs the Human Rights Commission and the police to investigate the matter. It is our view however that the most competent organ to investigate this is an independent judicial commission of inquiry.

There are very weighty issues involved in the Obasanjo letter that they should not be swept under the carpet.

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