Monthly Archives: December 2013

OBJ writes GEJ: Before it is Too Late!



December 2, 2013

His Excellency,
Dr. Goodluck E. Jonathan, GCFR,
President and Commander-in-Chief
of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,
Presidential Villa,
Asokoro, Abuja.


I am constrained to make this an open letter to you for a number of reasons. One, the current situation and consequent possible outcome dictate that I should, before the door closes on reason and promotion of national interest, alert you to the danger that may be lurking in the corner. Two, none of the four or more letters that I have written to you in the past two years or so has elicited an acknowledgment nor any response. Three, people close to you, if not yourself, have been asking, what does Obasanjo want? Four, I could sense a semblance between the situation that we are gradually getting into and the situation we fell into as a nation during the Abacha era. Five, everything must be done to guard, protect and defend our fledgling democracy, nourish it and prevent bloodshed. Six, we must move away from advertently or inadvertently dividing the country along weak seams of North-South and Christian-Moslem. Seven, nothing should be done to allow the country to degenerate into economic dormancy, stagnation or retrogression.
Eight, some of our international friends and development partners are genuinely worried about signs and signals that are coming out of Nigeria. Nine, Nigeria should be in a position to take advantage of the present favourable international interest to invest in Africa – an opportunity that will not be open for too long. Ten, I am concerned about your legacy and your climb-down which you alone can best be the manager of, whenever you so decide.

Mr. President, you have on a number of occasions acknowledged the role God enabled me to play in your ascension to power. You put me third after God and your parents among those that have impacted most on your life. I have always retorted that God only put you where you are and those that could be regarded as having played a role were only instruments of God to achieve God’s purpose in your life. For me, I believe that politically, it was in the best interest of Nigeria that you, a Nigerian from minority group in the South could rise to the highest pinnacle of political leadership. If Obasanjo could get there, Yar’Adua could get there and Jonathan can get there, any Nigerian can. It is now  not a matter of the turn of any section or geographical area but the best interest of Nigeria and all Nigerians. It has been proved that no group – ethnic, linguistic, religious or geographical location – has monopoly of materials for leadership of our country. And no group solely by itself can crown any of its members the Nigerian CEO. It is good for Nigeria. I have also always told you that God has graciously been kind, generous, merciful and compassionate to me and He has done more than I could have ever hoped for. I want nothing from you personally except that you should run the affairs of Nigeria not only to make Nigeria good, but to make Nigeria great for which I have always pleaded with you and I will always do so. And it is yet to be done for most Nigerians to see.  

For five capacities in which you find yourself, you must hold yourself most significantly responsible for what happens or fails to happen in Nigeria and in any case most others will hold you responsible and God who put you there will surely hold you responsible and accountable. I have had opportunity, in recent times, to interact closely with you and I have come to the conclusion painfully or happily that if you can shun yourself to a great extent of personal and political interests and dwell more on the national interest and also draw the line between advice from selfish and self-centered aides and advice from those  who in the interest of the nation
may not tell you what you will want to hear, it will be well. The five positions which you share with nobody except with God and which place great and grave responsibility on you are leadership of the ruling party, headship of the Federal Government or national government, Commander-in-Chief of the Military, Chief Security Officer of the nation, and the political leader of the country. Those positions go with being the President of our country and while depending on your disposition you can delegate or devolve responsibility, but the buck must stop on your table whether you like it or not.


Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Nigerian President (1999-2007)

Let me start with the leadership of the ruling party. Many of us were puzzled over what was going on in the party. Most party members blamed the National Chairman. I understand that some in the presidency tried to create the impression that some of us were to blame. The situation became clear only when the National Chairman spoke out that he never did anything or acted in any way without the approval or concurrence of the
Party Leader and that where the Party Leader disapproved, he made correction or amendment, that we realised most actions were those of the Chairman but the motivation and direction were those of the Leader. It would be unfair to continue to level full blames on the Chairman for all that goes wrong with the Party. The Chairman is playing the tune dictated by the Paymaster. But the Paymaster is acting for a definitive purpose for which deceit and deception seem to be the major ingredients. Up till two months ago, Mr. President, you told me that you have not told anybody that you would contest in 2015. I quickly pointed out to you that the signs and the measures on the ground do not tally with your statement. You said the
same to one other person who shared his observation with me. And only a fool would believe that statement you made to me judging by what is going on. I must say that it is not ingenious. You may wish to pursue a more credible and more honourable path. Although you have not formally informed me one way or the other, it will be necessary to refresh your memory of what transpired in 2011. I had gone to Benue State for the
marriage of one of my staff, Vitalis Ortese, in the State. Governor Suswam was my hospitable host. He told me that you had accepted a
one-term presidency to allow for ease of getting support across the board
in the North. I decided to cross-check with you. You did not hesitate to
confirm to me that you are a strong believer in a one-term of six years for
the President and that by the time you have used the unexpired time of
your predecessor and the four years of your first term, you would have
almost used up to six years and you would not need any more term or time.
Later, I heard from other sources including sources close to you that you
made the same commitment elsewhere, hence, my inclusion of it in my
Address at the finale of your campaign in 2011 as follows:

“…PDP should be praised for being the only party that enshrines federal
character, zoning and rotation in its Constitution and practises it. PDP has
brought stability and substantial predictability to the polity and to the system. I
do not know who will be President of Nigeria after Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. That
is in the hand of God. But with PDP policy and practice, I can reasonably guess
from where, in term of section of the country, the successor to President
Jonathan will come. And no internal democracy or competition will thereby be
destroyed. The recent resort to sentiments and emotions of religion and
regionalism is self-serving, unpatriotic and mischievous, to say the least. It is
also preying on dangerous emotive issues that can ignite uncontrollable passion
and can distabilise if not destroy our country. This is being oblivious of the
sacrifices others have made in the past for unity, stability and democracy in
Nigeria in giving up their lives, shedding their blood, and in going to prison. I
personally have done two out of those three sacrifices and I am ready to do the
third if it will serve the best interest of Nigerian dream. Let me appeal to those
who have embarked on this dangerous road to reflect and desist from taking us
on a perishable journey. With common identity as Nigerians, there is more that
binds us than separates us. I am a Nigerian, born a Yoruba man, and I am
proud of both identities as they are for me complementary. Our duties,
responsibilities and obligations to our country as citizens and, indeed, as leaders
must go side by side with our rights and demands. There must be certain
values and virtues that must go concomitantly with our dream. Thomas Paine
said “my country is the world”; for me, my country I hold dear.

On two occasions, I have had opportunity to work for my successors to the
government of Nigeria. On both occasions, I never took the easy and
distabilising route of ethnic, regional or religious consideration rather I took the
enduring route of national, uniting and stabilising route. I worked for both
President Shagari and President Yar’Adua to succeed me not just because they
are Moslems, Northerners or Hausa-Fulani, but because they could strengthen
the unity, stability and democracy in Nigeria. We incurred the displeasure of
ethnic chauvinists for doing what was right for the country. That is in the nature
of burden of leadership. A leader must lead, no matter whose ox is gored.

In the present circumstance, let me reiterate what I have said on a number of
occasions. Electing Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, in his own right and on his
own merit, as the President of Nigeria will enhance and strengthen our unity,
stability and democracy. And it will lead us towards the achievement of our
Nigerian dream.

There is press report that Dr. Goodluck Jonathan has already taken a unique and
unprecedented step of declaring that he would only want to be a one-term
President. If so, whether we know it or not, that is a sacrifice and it is
statesmanly. Rather than vilify him and pull him down, we, as a Party, should
applaud and commend him and Nigerians should reward and venerate him. He
has taken the first good step.

Let us encourage him to take more good steps by voting him in with landslide
victory as the fourth elected President of Nigeria on the basis of our common
Nigerian identity and for the purpose of actualising Nigerian dream…”

When you won the election, one of the issues you very early pursued
was that of one term of six years. That convinced me that you meant what
you told me before my Speech at the campaign. Mr. President, whatever
may be your intention or plan, I cannot comment much on the constitutional
aspect of your second term or what some people call third term. That is
for both legal and judicial attention. But if constitutionally you are on a
strong wicket if you so decide, it will be fatally morally flawed. As a leader,
two things you must cherish and hold dear among others are trust and
honour both of which are important ingredients of character. I will want to
see anyone in the Office of the Presidency of Nigeria as a man or woman
who can be trusted, a person of honour in his words and character. I will
respect you for upholding these attributes and for dignifying that Office.
Chinua Achebe said, “One of the truest test of integrity is its blunt refusal to
be compromised.” It is a lesson for all leaders including you and me.
However, Mr. President, let me hope that as you claimed that you have not
told anybody that you are contesting and that what we see and hear is a
rumbling of overzealous aides, you will remain a leader that can be
believed and trusted without unduly passing the buck or engaging in game
of denials.

Maybe you also need to know that many party members feel
disappointed in the double game you were alleged to play in support of
party gubernatorial candidates in some States where you surreptitiously
supported non-PDP candidates against PDP candidates in exchange for
promise or act of those non-PDP Governors supporting you for your
election in the past or for the one that you are yet to formally declare. It
happened in Lagos in 2011 when Bola Tinubu was nocturnally brought to
Abuja to strike a deal for support for your personal election at great price
materially and in the fortune of PDP gubernatorial candidate. As
Chairman of BOT, I spoke to you at that time. It happened in Ondo State
where there was in addition evidence of cover-up and non-prosecution of
fraud of fake security report against the non-PDP candidate and his
collaborators for the purpose of extracting personal electoral advantage for
you. In fact, I have raised with you the story of those in other States in the
South-West where some disgruntled PDP members were going around to
recruit people into the Labour Party for you, because, for electoral purpose
at the national level, Labour Party will have no candidate but you. It also
happened in Edo State and those who know the detail never stopped
talking about it. And you know it. Ditto in Anambra State with the fiasco
coming from undue interference. If you as leader of the Party cannot be
seen to be loyal to the PDP in support of the candidates of the Party and
the interests of such Party candidates have to be sacrificed on the altar of
your personal and political interest, then good luck to the Party and I will
also say as I have had occasions to say in the past, good luck to Goodluck.
If on the altar of the Party you go for broke, the Party may be broken
beyond repairs. And when in a dispute between two sides, they both
stubbornly decide to fight to the last drop of blood, no one knows whose
blood would be the last to drop. In such a situation, Nigeria as a nation
may also be adversely affected, not just the PDP. I wish to see no more
bloodshed occasioned by politics in Nigeria. Please, Mr. President, be
mindful of that. You were exemplary in words when during the campaign
and the 2011 elections, you said, “My election is not worth spilling the blood
of any Nigerian.” From you, it should not be if it has to be, let it be. It
should be from you, let peace, security, harmony, good governance,
development and progress be for Nigeria. That is also your responsibility
and mandate. You can do it and I plead that you do it. We all have to be
mindful of not securing pyrrhic victory on the ashes of great values,
attributes and issues that matter as it would amount to hollow victory
without honour and integrity.

Whatever may be the feud in PDP and no matter what you or your
aides may feel, you, as the Party Leader, have the responsibility to find
solution, resolve and fix it. Your legacy is involved. If PDP as a ruling
Party collapses, it will be the first time in an independent Nigeria that a
ruling political party would collapse not as a result of a military coup. It is
food for thought. At the prompting of Governors on both sides of the
divide, and on encouragement from you, I spent two nights to intervene in
the dispute of the PDP Governors. I kept you fully briefed at every stage.
I deliberately chose Banquet Hall at the Villa to ensure transparency. Your
aides studied all the recordings of the two nights. But I told you at the end
of the exercise that I observed five reactions among the Governors that
required your immediate attention as you are the only one from the vantage
point of your five positions that could deal effectively with the five reactions
which were bitterness, anger, mistrust, fear and deep suspicion. I could
only hope that you made efforts to deal with these unpleasant reactions.
The feud leading to the factionalisation of the Party made me to invite some
select elders of the Party to mediate again. Since I was engaged in
assignment outside the country, I was not able to join the three members of
the elders group that presented the report of our mediation to you. I was
briefed that you agreed to work on the report. It would appear that for
now, the ball is in your court as the Leader of the Party. I can only wish
you every success in your handling of the issue. But time is not your
friend nor that of the Party in this respect. With leadership come not just
power and authority to do and to undo, but also responsibility and
accountability to do and to undo rightly, well and justly. Time and
opportunity are treasure that must be appreciated and shared to enhance
their value and utilitarianism.

It is instructive that after half a dozen African Presidents have spoken
to me to help you with unifying the Party based on your request to them
and I came in company of Senator Amadu Ali to discuss the whole issue
with you again, strangely, you denied ever requesting or authorising any
President to talk to me. I was not surprised because I am used to such a
situation of denial coming from you. Of course, I was not deterred. I have
done and I will continue to do and say what is first, in the best interest of
Nigeria and second, what is in the best interest of the Party. I stand for the
aims, objectives, mission and vision of the founding fathers of the Party, to
use it as a wholesome instrument of unity, good governance, development,
prosperity and progress of Nigeria and all Nigerians. I have contributed to
this goal in the past and no one who has been raised to position on the
platform of the Party should shy away from further contribution to avoid
division and destruction of the Party on any altar whatsoever.

Debates and dialogues are necessary to promote the interest and
work for the progress of any human institution or organisation. In such a
situation, agreements and disagreements will occur but in the final analysis,
leadership will pursue the course of action that benefit the majority and
serve the purpose of the organisation, not the purpose of an individual or a
minority. In that process, unity is sustained and everybody becomes a
winner. The so-called crisis in the PDP can be turned to an opportunity of
unity, mutual understanding and respect with the Party emerging with
enhanced strength and victory. It will be a win-win for all members of the
Party and for the country. By that, PDP would have proved that it could
have internal disagreement and emerge stronger. The calamity of failure
can still be avoided. Please, move away from fringes or the extremes and
move to the centre and carry ALL along. Time is running out.

I will only state that as far as your responsibility as Chief Security
Officer of the nation is concerned for Nigerians, a lot more needs to be
done to enhance the feeling of security amongst them. Whether one talks
of the issue of militancy in the Niger Delta, the underlying causes of which
have not been adequately addressed, if addressed at all, kidnapping,
piracy, abductions and armed robberies which rather than abate are on the
increase and Boko Haram which requires carrot and stick approach to lay
its ghost to rest, the general security situation cannot be described as
comforting. Knowing the genesis of Boko Haram and the reasons for
escalation of violence from that sector with the widespread and ramification
of the menace of Boko Haram within and outside the Nigerian borders,
conventional military actions based on standard phases of military
operations alone will not permanently and effectively deal with the issue of
Boko Haram. There are many strands or layers of causes that require
different solutions, approaches or antidotes. Drug, indoctrination,
fundamentalism, gun trafficking, hate culture, human trafficking, money
laundering, religion, poverty, unemployment, poor education, revenge and
international terrorism are among factors that have effect on Boko Haram.
One single prescription cannot cure all these ailments that combine in Boko
Haram. Should we pursue war against violence without understanding the
root causes of the violence and applying solutions to deal with all
underlying factors – root, stem and branches? Nigeria is bleeding and the
hemorrhage must be stopped. I am convinced that you can initiate
measures that will bring all hands on deck to deal effectively with this great
Mr. President, the most important qualification for your present
position is your being a Nigerian. Whatever else you may be besides
being a Nigerian is only secondary for this purpose. And if majority of
Nigerians who voted had not cast their votes for you, you could not have
been there. For you to allow yourself to be “possessed”, so to say, to the
exclusion of most of the rest of Nigerians as an ‘Ijaw man’ is a mistake that
should never have been allowed to happen. Yes, you have to be born in
one part of Nigeria to be a Nigerian if not naturalised but the Nigerian
President must be above ethnic factionalism. And those who prop you up
as of, and for ‘Ijaw nation’ are not your friends genuinely, not friends of
Nigeria nor friends of ‘Ijaw nation’, they tout about. To allow or tacitly
encourage people of ‘Ijaw nation’ to throw insults on other Nigerians from
other parts of the country and threaten fire and brimstone to protect your
interest as an Ijaw man is myopic and your not openly quieting them is
even more unfortunate. You know that I have expressed my views and
feelings to you on this issue in the past but I have come to realise that
many others feel the way I have earlier expressed to you. It is not the best
way of making friendship among all sections of Nigeria. You don’t have
shared and wholesome society without inclusive political, economic and
social sustainable development and good governance. Also declaring
that one section of the country voted for you as if you got no votes from
other sections can only be an unnecessary talk, to put it mildly. After all
and at the end of the day, democracy is a game of number. Even, if you
would not need people’s vote across the country again, your political Party

Allegation of keeping over 1000 people on political watch list rather
than criminal or security watch list and training snipers and other armed
personnel secretly and clandestinely acquiring weapons to match for
political purposes like Abacha and training them where Abacha trained his
own killers, if it is true, it cannot augur well for the initiator, the government
and the people of Nigeria. Here again, there is the lesson of history to
learn from for anybody who cares to learn from history. Mr. President
would always remember that he was elected to maintain security for all
Nigerians and protect them. And no one should prepare to kill or maim
Nigerians for personal or political ambition or interest of anyone. The
Yoruba adage says, “The man with whose head coconut is broken may not
live to savour the taste of the succulent fruit.” Those who advise you to go
hard on those who oppose you are your worst enemies. Democratic
politics admits and is permissive of supporters and opponents. When the
consequences come, those who have wrongly advised you will not be there
to help carry the can. Egypt must teach some lesson.

Presidential assistance for a murderer to evade justice and
presidential delegation to welcome him home can only be in bad taste
generally but particularly to the family of his victim. Assisting criminals to
evade justice cannot be part of the job of the presidency. Or, as it is
viewed in some quarters, is he being recruited to do for you what he had
done for Abacha in the past? Hopefully, he should have learned his
lesson. Let us continue to watch.

As Head of Government, the buck of the performance and
non-performance stops on your table and let nobody tell you anything to
the contrary. Most of our friends and development partners are worried
and they see what we pretend to cover up. They are worried about issue
of security internally and on our coastal waters including heavy oil theft,
alias bunkering and piracy. They are worried about corruption and what
we are doing or not doing about it. Corruption has reached the level of
impunity. It is also necessary to be mindful that corruption and injustice
are fertile breeding ground for terrorism and political instability. And if you
are not ready to name, shame, prosecute and stoutly fight against
corruption, whatever you do will be hollow. It will be a laughing matter.
They are worried about how we play our role in our region and indeed in
the world. In a way, I share some of their concerns because there are
notable areas we can do more or do better than we are doing. Some of
our development partners were politically frustrated to withdraw from
Olokola LNG project, which happily was not yet the same with Brass. I
initiated them both. They were viable and would have taken us close to
Qatar as LNG producing country. Please do not frustrate Brass LNG and
in the interest of what is best for Nigerian economy, bring back OK LNG
into active implementation. The major international oil companies have
withheld investment in projects in Nigeria. If they have not completely
moved out, they are disinvesting. Nigeria which is the Saudi of Africa in oil
and gas terms is being overtaken by Angola only because necessary
decisions are not made timely and appropriately. Mr. President, let me
again plead with you to be decisive on the oil and gas sector so that Nigeria
may not lag behind. Oil with gas is being discovered all over Africa. New
technology is producing oil from shale elsewhere. We should make hay
while the sun shines. I hope we can still save OK and Brass LNG projects.
Three things are imperative in the oil and gas sector – stop oil stealing,
encourage investment especially by the IOC’s and improve the present
poor management of the industry. On the economy generally, it suffices to
say that we could do better than we are doing. The signs are there and
the expectations are high. The most dangerous ticking bomb is youth
unemployment particularly in the face of unbridled corruption and obscene
rulers’ opulence.

Let me repeat that as far as the issue of corruption, security and oil
stealing is concerned, it is only apt to say that when the guard becomes the
thief, nothing is safe, secure nor protected in the house. We must all
remember that corruption, inequity and injustice breed poverty,
unemployment, conflict, violence and wittingly or unwittingly create
terrorists because the opulence of the governor can only lead to the
leanness of the governed. But God never sleeps, He is watching, waiting
and bidding His time to dispense justice.

The serious and strong allegation of non-remitting of about $7 billion
from NNPC to Central Bank occurring from export of some 300,000 barrels
per day, amounting to $900 million a month, to be refined and with refined
products of only $400 million returned and Atlantic Oil loading about
130,000 barrels sold by Shell and managed on behalf of NPDC with no
sale proceeds paid into NPDC account is incredible. The allegation was
buttressed by the letter of Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria to you on
non-remittance to Central Bank. This allegation will not fly away by
non-action, cover-up, denial or bribing possible investigators. Please deal
with this allegation transparently and let the truth be known.

The dramatis personae in this allegation and who they are working for
will one day be public-knowledge. Those who know are watching if the
National Assembly will not be accomplice in the heinous crime and naked
grand corruption. May God grant you the grace for at least one effective
corrective action against high corruption which seems to stink all around
you in your government.

The international community knows us as we are and maybe more
than we claim to know ourselves. And a good friend will tell you the truth
no matter how bitter. Denials and cover-up of what is obvious, true and
factual can detract from honour, dignity and respect. Truth and
transparency dignify and earn respect. And life without passion for
something can only achieve little. I was taken aback when an African
Development Bank Director informed me that the water project for
Port-Harcourt, originally initiated by the Federal Government to be financed
by the bank, is being put in the cooler by the Federal Government since the
Amaechi-Jonathan face-off. Amaechi, whether he likes it or not, will cease
to be Governor over Rivers State which Port-Harcourt is part by the end of
May 2015 but residents of Port-Harcourt will continue to need improvement
of their water supply. President Jonathan should rise above such
pettiness and unpresidential act, if it is coming from him. But if not, and it
is the action of overzealous officials reading the situation, he should give
appropriate instruction for the project to be pursued. And if there are other
projects anywhere suffering the same coolness as a result of similar
situation, let national interest supercede personal or political feud and the
machinations of satanic officials.

Mr. President, let me plead with you for a few things that will stand
you in good stead for the rest of your life. Don’t always consider critics on
national issues as enemies. Some of them may be as patriotic and
nationalistic as you and I who had been in government. Some of them
have as much passion for Nigeria as we have. I saw that among
Nigerians living abroad, hence, I initiated Nigerians in Diaspora
Organisation, NIDO. You must also differentiate between malevolent,
mischievous and objective criticism. Analyses, criticisms and
commentaries on government actions and policies are sinew of democracy.
Please, Mr. President, be very wary of assistants, aides and collaborators
who look for enemies for you. I have seen them with you and some were
around me when I was in your position. I knew how not to allow them
create enemies for me. If you allow them, everybody except them will be
your enemy. They are more dangerous than identified adversaries. May
God save leaders from sycophants. They know what you want to hear
and they feed you with it essentially for their own selfish interest. As far as
you and Nigeria are concerned, they are wreckers. Where were they
when God used others to achieve God’s will in your life. They possess
you now for their interest. No interest should be higher or more important
than Nigerian interest to you. You have already made history and please
do nothing to mar history. I supported you as I supported Yar’Adua. For
me, there is neither North-South divide nor Christian-Moslem divide but one

Let me put it, that talks, loose and serious, abound about possible
abuse and misuse of the military and the legitimate security apparatus for
unwholesome personal and political interest to the detriment of the honour,
dignity, oath and professionalism of these honourable and patriotic forces.
Let me urge the authorities not to embark on such destructive path for an
important element of our national make-up. The roles of the military and
the security agencies should be held sacrosanct in the best interest of the
nation. Again, let not history repeat itself here.

I believe that with what Nigeria has gone through in the past, the
worst should have already happened. It must be your responsibility as the
captain of the ship to prevent the ship from going aground or from a
shipwreck. For anybody close to you saying that if the worst happens, he
or she would not be involved is an idle and loose talk. If we leave God to
do His will and we don’t rely only on our own efforts, plans and wisdom,
God will always do His best. And the power of money and belief in it is
satanically tempting. As I go around Nigeria and the world, I always come
across Nigerians who are first-class citizens of the world and who are doing
well where they are and who are passionate to do well for Nigeria. My
hope for our country lies in these people. They abound and I hope that all
of us will realise that they are the jewels of Nigeria wherever they may be
and not those who arrogate to themselves eternal for ephemeral.

Also to my embarrassment at times, I learned more about what is
going on in the public and private sectors of Nigeria from our development
partners, international institutions and those transacting business in Nigeria
most times I was abroad. On returning home to verify the veracity of these
stories, I found some of them not only to be true but more horrifying than
they were presented abroad. Other countries look up to Nigeria for
regional leadership. Failure on the part of Nigeria will create a schism that
will be bad for the region.

Knowing what happens around you most of which you know of and
condone or deny, this letter will provoke cacophony from hired and unhired
attackers but 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. If I stuck out my neck and God used me
and others as instrument to work hard for you to reach where you are today
in what I considered the best political interest of Nigeria, tagging me as
your enemy or the enemy of your administration by you, your kin or your
aides can only be regarded as ridiculous to extreme. If I see any danger
to your life, I will point it out to you or ward it off as I have done in the past.
But I will not support what I believe is not in the best interest of Nigeria, no
matter who is putting it forward or who is behind it. Mr. President, I have
passed the stage of being flattered, intimidated, threatened, frightened,
induced or bought. I am never afraid to agree or disagree but it will always
be on principles, and if on politics, in the national interest. After my prison
experience in the close proximity of and sharing facilities with an asylum in
Yola, there is nothing worse for anyone alive and well. And that was for a
military dictator to perpetuate himself in power. Death is the end of all
human beings and may it come when God wills it to come. The
harassment of my relations and friends and innuendo that are coming from
the Government security apparatus on whether they belong to new PDP or
supporters of defected Governors and which are possibly authorised or are
the work of overzealous aides and those reading your lips to act in your
interest will be counter-productive. It is abuse of security apparatus. Such
abuse took place last in the time of Abacha. Lies and untruths about me
emanating from the presidency is too absurd to contemplate. Saying that I
recommended a wanted criminal by UK and USA authorities to you or your
aides to supplant legitimately elected PDP leader in South-West is not only
unwise and crude but also disingenuous. Nobody in his or her right
senses will believe such a story and surely nobody in Ogun State or
South-West zone will believe such nonsense. It is a clear indication of how
unscrupulous and unethical the presidency can go to pursue your personal
and political interest. Nothing else matters. What a pity! Nothing at this
stage of my life would prevent me from standing for whatever I consider to
be in the best interest of Nigeria – all Nigeria, Africa and the world in that
order. I believe strongly that a united and strong PDP at all costs is in the
best interest of Nigeria. In these respects, if our interests and views
coincide, together we will march. Putting a certified unashamed criminal
wanted abroad to face justice and who has greatly contributed to corruption
within the judiciary on a high profile of politics as you and your aides have
done with the man you enthrone as PDP Zonal leader in the South-West is
the height of disservice to this country politically and height of insult to the
people of South-West in general and members of PDP in that zone in
particular. For me, my politics goes with principles and morality and I will
not be a party to highly profiling criminals in politics, not to say one would
be my zonal leader. It destroys what PDP stands for from its inception.
By the government not acting positively and promptly in the case of
Kashamu wanted in the US for drug trafficking and money laundering
crimes, it is only confirming the persistent reports of complicity or
involvement of high-level political figures in drug trafficking and
condonation of the crime for political benefit. Whichever way, it is a very
dangerous development for Nigeria. Sooner than later, drug barons will be
in control of large real estates, banks and other seemingly legitimate
businesses; in elections, they will buy candidates, parties and eventually
buy power or be in power themselves. It may be instructive if I quote fairly
extensively from Lansana Gberie’s recent paper titled, ‘State Officials and
Their Involvement in Drug Trafficking in West Africa’:

“…The controversial and puzzling case of Buruji Kashamu, a powerful figure in
the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), suggests that a successful and
wealthy politician’s association with drug trafficking is hardly disabling.
Kashamu was indicted by a grand jury in the Northern District of Illinois in 1998
for conspiracy to import and distribute heroin to the United States. The
indictment named him under his own name as well as two supposed aliases:
‘Alaji’ and ‘Kasmal’. His whereabouts were unknown at the time, however, and
his co-accused were tried and convicted. Later that year, he was found living
comfortably in England, and, on receipt of an extradition request from the US, the
UK authorities arrested Kashamu. After a very protracted proceeding lasting
until 2003, however, an English Judge refused to extradite Kashamu on grounds
of uncertainty about his true identity. Kashamu triumphantly returned to Nigeria
and soon after became a key political figure. He is now believed to be very
close to President Goodluck Jonathan, because of his ability to mobilise votes in
key States in Western Nigeria. The US government reviewed Kashamu’s case,
with the famous Judge Richard Posner presiding. Posner concluded that while
Kashamu’s identity remains murky, there is little doubt that the figure now
exercising authority in Nigeria’s PDP is the same as Kashamu the ‘Alaji’ who was
indicted for conspiracy to smuggle illicit drugs into the United States. Despite
this, the Nigerian government has persistently ignored calls by civil society
groups to investigate Kashamu and extradite him to the US. On 2 July 2013, the
Federal Court in Lagos determined that Kashamu should be extradited to the US.
Kashamu immediately appealed against this decision, yet in November 2013, a
new Panel of Judges constituted by the President of the Court of Appeal
unanimously held that his appeal lacked merit, and that Kashamu should be
extradited. His extradition to the United States will certainly set an important
precedent… unless, of course, he uses his political skills and contacts to continue
avoiding it…”

God is never a supporter of evil and will surely save PDP and Nigeria
from the hands of destroyers. If everything fails and the Party cannot be
retrieved from the hands of criminals and commercial jobbers and
discredited touts, men and women of honour, principles, morality and
integrity must step aside to rethink.

Let me also appeal to and urge defected, dissatisfied, disgruntled and
in any way displeased PDP Governors, legislators, party officials and party
members to respond positively if the President seriously takes the initiative
to find mutually agreeable solution to the current problems for which he
alone has the key and the initiative. I have heard it said particularly within
the presidency circle that the disaffected Governors and members of PDP
are my children. I begin to wonder if, from top to bottom, any PDP
member in elective office today is not directly or indirectly a beneficiary
and, so to say, my political child. Anyone who may claim otherwise will be
like a river that has forgotten its source. But like a good father, all I seek is
peaceful and amicable solution that will re-unite the family for victory and
progress of the family and the nation and nothing else.

In a democracy, leaders are elected to lighten the burden of the
people, give them freedom, choice and equity and ensure good
governance and not to deceive them, burden them, oppress them, render
them hopeless and helpless. Nothing should be done to undermine the
tenets, and values of democratic principles and practice. Tyranny in all its
manifestation may be appealing to a leader in trying times of political feud
or disagreement. Democracy must, however, prevail and be held as
sacrosanct. Today, you are the President of Nigeria, I acknowledge you
and respect you as such.

The act of an individual has a way of rubbing off on the generality.
May it never be the wish of majority of Nigerians that Goodluck Jonathan,
by his acts of omission or commission, would be the first and the last
Nigerian President ever to come from Ijaw tribe. The idea and the
possibility must give all of us food for thought. That was never what I
worked for and that would never be what I will work for. But legacy is
made of such or the opposite.

My last piece of advice, Mr. President, is that you should learn the
lesson of history and please do not take Nigeria and Nigerians for granted. 

Move away from culture of denials, cover-ups and proxies and deal
honesty, sincerely and transparently with Nigerians to regain their trust and
confidence. Nigerians are no fools, they can see, they can hear, they can
talk among themselves, they can think, they can compare and they can act
in the interest of their country and in their own self-interest. They keenly
watch all actions and deeds that are associated with you if they cannot
believe your words. I know you have the power to save PDP and the
country. I beg you to have the courage and the will with patriotism to use
the power for the good of the country. Please uphold some form of
national core values. I will appeal to all Nigerians particularly all members
of PDP to respect and dignify the Office of the President. We must all
know that individuals will come and go but the Office will remain.

Once again, time is of the essence. Investors are already retreating
from Nigeria, adopting ‘wait and see attitude’ and knowing what we are
deficient of, it will take time to reverse the trend and we may miss some
golden opportunities.

Finally, your later-day conversion into National Conference is fraught
with danger of disunity, confusion and chaos if not well handled. I believe
in debate and dialogue but it must be purposeful, directed and managed
well without ulterior motives. The ovation has not died out yet and there is
always life after a decent descent.

Accept, Dear Mr. President, the assurances of my highest consideration.

I crave your indulgence to share the contents of this letter, in the first
instance, with General Ibrahim Babangida and General Abdulsalami Abubakar,
who, on a number of occasions in recent times, have shared with me their
agonising thoughts, concerns and expressions on most of the issues I have
raised in this letter concerning the situation and future of our country. I also
crave your indulgence to share the contents with General Yakubu Danjuma and
Dr. Alex Ekwueme, whose concerns for and commitments to the good of Nigeria
have been known to be strong. The limit of sharing of the contents may be
extended as time goes on.


Source: Daily Post

OBJ’s Letter to IBB: We are in the Grip of a Grave National Crisis


In 1992, military president, General Ibrahim Babangida was widely accused of implementing a transition program that may keep him in power indefinitely. Below is the full text of a speech General Olusegun Obasanjo had reportedly wanted to read at a National Executive Council Meeting, in Abuja. 
“We are in the grip of a grave national crisis. There are very many dimensions to this crisis. The aspect that has been the talking point lately is the crisis of succession that has arisen from the botched presidential primaries and the lackluster effort to manage it. Then there is the economic crisis, which has received little or no attention in recent times and has been growing steadily worse. In the social sphere the story is the same: social services and infrastructures are crumbling and the human condition, the quality of life is deteriorating. Nigeria is on the verge of total paralysis.
Most of those who can with some respect and credibility speak out against the ills of the present have become victims of the practice that has come to be called “settlement”.

Choosing a moment when they are most vulnerable, the government steps in with generous assistance, to fly them or their dependants abroad for life-saving medical treatment or favors of lifting oil or supplying fertilizer-patrimonial governance. From that point, their silence is assured. With the nation’s health care delivery system on the brink of collapse, only very few would not yield to such blandishments. But can such blandishments be offered to the retired schoolteacher, the retired railway worker, and the retired postal clerk? Or to the farmer, the peasant or the Nigerian market women who constitute the majority of our people? Are they too not citizens, entitled as of right to all the good things that their nation can provide? Won’t the high and the low be better of, if we improve the national health care delivery system?

The silence and acquiescence of those who have been co-opted into the system is thus assured. Many of them have acquired wealth beyond their wildest dreams, and will not now threaten it by principled dissent. For all such people, engagement with power has been a kiss of intellectual death, an abandonment of independent thought.

All the values we hold dear are under assault. The nation is wracked by tension and despair. Hope has become a scare commodity, and fear a constant compassion.
I believe that the immediate context in which this meeting of the National Council of States has been convened is the crisis of succession arising from the unsuccessful presidential primaries. But this meeting cannot resolve anything, for the council itself is of dubious constitutional validity. Under the constitution, the Council should be presided over by an elected president of the Federal Republic, and should include the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the National Assembly. A president can of course invite people to advise him or by law set up an Advisor or Consultative Council, but that Council cannot have the status of the National Council of States prescribed by the Constitution. As far as I am concerned, this is not a meeting of the National Council of States. I chose to attend primarily because of the opportunity it will afford me to put my views across on the number of fundamental national issues. Mr. President, I have on few occasions in recent times sought this opportunity to meet you privately and discuss these issues. But the chance never came. So, despite my strong doubts about the constitutional validity of this forum, I intend to speak for the record as an invited adviser. I shall be blunt, Mr. President.
For the crisis we face requires blunt, forthright talk, not empty platitudes.

The primary elections for the presidency, it now seems in retrospect, were designed to fail. As it became clearer and clearer that they would fail, many in Nigeria and Abroad were expressing doubts about the credibility of the transition program and about the good faith of the administration in the entire process. Though believing that the law and the process were being manipulated and that the result could only be a deformed baby, I nevertheless held that men and women of goodwill in Nigeria would have to come together in a spirit of community to nurture the deformed baby to normality. Little did I know that we have on our hands not even a stillborn baby but a permanent pregnancy, an abnormal situation fraught with great danger for both mother and child with agonizing state of anxiety for the father and the family?

The crisis was preventable. All that was required was honesty of purpose, and diligent implementation of the transition schedule in a manner that would not raise questions about the integrity of the managers of the transition. What we have had instead is manipulation on a scale almost beyond belief, and rationalization of the most absurd kind. In the name of political engineering, the country has been converted to a political laboratory for trying out all kinds of silly experiments and gimmicks. Principle has been abandoned for expediency. All kinds of booby-traps were instituted into the transition process. The result is the crisis we now face.

There is a growing feeling that some (not all, I must add) Executive governors have forgotten that they are the products of the transitional process and have been elected to further foster it until full civilian democratic rule has become a reality in Nigeria. They have not been elected to subvert the process. Anyone of them, individually or collectively, who advises you (for whatever personal benefits) to extend the life of your administration even by one day betrays the trust of his people and is therefore a traitor to the country’s democratic process.

In any case, the alleged electoral malpractice’s that are now the subject of concern and shock have not been absent from both local and state elections (including gubernatorial elections). Only the scope and magnitude of the manipulations are bigger and larger. Our
Executive Governors who participated fully in the process should not give the impressions that they are saints. This will impress neither one nor Nigerians. They must not destroy the very ladder, which they have climbed to where they are now.

The transition was aimed originally to terminate in 1990. For reasons that were never convincing, it was shifted to 1992. It was claimed that the transition that led to the Second Republic was “rushed”, and that that was why the Second Republic came to grief. By stretching out the transition this time around, it was said, the outcome would be stable and durable. I am sure those who made this claim know better. The public is certainly wiser about their motivations. As I pointed out then, a transition can be made to occupy whatever space anyone choose. What counts is the result. If the outcome of the transition over which I had the honor to preside with your support did not endure, it certainly cannot be because it was “rushed’.
The government decreed two parties into existence, claiming that the five parties of the Second Republic did not make for national cohesion. Yet the said truth is that, even with two parties, the nation is more polarized, more deeply divided, than it was during the Second Republic. The situation was different for that matter during the First Republic when regional, largely ethnically based parties, held sway. In both periods, persons whose authority was recognised and accepted by the rank and file led the political parties. You could speak to the leader or leaders of the party and be sure that you had spoken to the entire party membership. Not anymore.

Those who call the government-created parties parastatals are even being generous.
Parastatals at least have effective and accountable chief executives, who can enforce order and discipline. The same cannot be said about the government-created parties. And yet they are the vehicles through which it is hoped that a stable democracy will be built and nurtured.
We delude ourselves.
The good manipulation we have witnessed these past years are all the more disturbing because they do not even go to the heart of the matter, which is to institute an enduring democratic order in Nigeria. The concern has been with the rules and methods of selection, not with the building and sustenance of democratic institutions and traditions. The managers of the transition are furiously refining the means, long after they have forgotten the end. Our country deserves much better.

Last March, at the University of Ibadan, I gave a lecture reviewing the Nigerian situation. The interesting thing, Mr. President, is those three months after that lecture at Ibadan I was stopped by armed robbers and my car stolen. If I had been killed in that encounter, many Nigerians would have found it difficult to exculpate the authorities from responsibility in the matter. I was grateful to you for your prompt action in visiting me and helping with security vehicles. I had to bear testimony that it was the act of pure criminals who could not even recognize me. I state this to underline the deep-rooted suspicion and unbelief of Nigerians and the credibility gulf between the government and the general public. That is why the fragmentation of power and authority that now characterizes your administration is dangerous.

So also is the existence of all kinds of shadowy, government-funded associations, which make it their business to speak authoritatively for the government, attack decent citizens in the most uncouth language, set individuals against individuals, community against community, religion against religion, soldiers against civilian, Muslim against Christian, and government against citizen. In the process, they have almost destroyed the sense of community without which this country cannot move forward. In the last seven years, the labors of our heroes past have been steadily undermined. Not even that armed forces, which we have always held out as the bedrock of Nigerian unity has been spared this steady devaluation, clearly we cannot continue along this path of destruction.
Prolongation of military rule cannot be the answer under the present circumstances. The honor and integrity of the armed forces in whose name you have governed this country these past seven years are at great risk. The handing over of power to an elected civilian government on January 23, 1993, must proceed apace. There lies the honour of the military, which must not be destroyed. All that needs to be done between now and then can be done if there is seriousness and honesty of purpose, and if the system is allowed to work without manipulation.

We have a voters’ register, we have a national electoral commission in position, with all the support system, for what they are worth, we have two parties. Let the caretakers’ organized party conventions with the assistance of NEC to elect the party flag bearer to contest the presidential elections on the basis open-secret system. Let the ballot papers which can be printed in one week – we did that in 1979 – be printed with the photographs of the two presidential candidates against which the choice of a voter can be indicated. Mr. President, it is a matter for great concern bordering on shame to Nigeria that Angola with more inadequate infrastructures than Nigeria, being engaged in civil population could organize a decent, world-acclaimed, free and affair election within a space of one year with open secret ballot. Of course, where there is will, good intention, determination and integrity, there will be way.

Any prolongation of military rule in the form of diarchy or any other arrangement will not only bring the armed forces into utter disrepute, it will amount to a declaration of war against the sovereign rights of the people of Nigeria to choose their own leaders and conduct their affairs in accordance with the constitution. Enough is enough. Asking NEC or governors to advise AFRC on such issues as timing and period of transition with a view to passing the buck is a big joke and no serious mind is amused or deceived by it. The responsibility is squarely yours.

Except mentioning it in passing, I do not intend to dwell on the issue of destroying the base of the Armed Forces through the ill-advised reported proposal of moving Army Headquarters to Minna, Air Force headquarters to Kano and Navy headquarters to Lagos. The capital of almost every nation I know is also the seat of he headquarters of the Armed Forces. I have it on strong authority that some others have advised you against such precipitate action. But as one has come to know you a little bit better now that you are in power and with power, you could toy with anything believing that Nigerians will shout only for a while and you either silence them with chocking largess, intimidation, hack letters or that time will silence them. You have acted and voiced this tendency in the past. But Mr. President, every word, work and act of yours goes into history. Nobody is immune from the verdict of history.

As someone who was in the battlefield during the Nigerian Civil War and who unexpectedly but providentially assumed the mantle of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria and the leadership of the government, I beg you in the name of Allah not to mistake the silence of our people for acquiescence or weakness and the sycophancy of the greedy and opportunistic people who parade the corridors of power as representative of the true feelings of our people. Nigeria needs peace and stability. It is too fragile to face another commotion. In God’s good name drag it not into one. This is the time for you to have some honorable exit.
May God help you and help our country”.

November 1992


Professor Chinua Achebe’s Letter to President Obasanjo

It is no news that Okanmuta Chinua Achebe (of blessed memory) wrote President Olusegun Obasanjo to decline an offer of national award in 2004. In case you missed it then, here is it: 
“My Dear President Obasanjo,

I write this letter with a very heavy heart. For some time now I have watched events in Nigeria with alarm and dismay. I have watched particularly the chaos in my own state of Anambra where a small clique of renegades, openly boasting its connections in high places, seems determined to turn my homeland into a bankrupt and lawless fiefdom. I am appalled by the brazenness of this clique and the silence, if not connivance, of the Presidency.

Forty three years ago, at the first anniversary of Nigeria’s independence I was given the first Nigerian National Trophy for Literature. In 1979, I received two further honors – the Nigerian National Order of Merit and the Order of the Federal Republic – and in 1999 the first National Creativity Award.

I accepted all these honors fully aware that Nigeria was not perfect; but I had a strong belief that we would outgrow our shortcomings under leaders committed to uniting our diverse peoples.

Nigeria’s condition today under your watch is, however, too dangerous for silence. I must register my disappointment and protest by declining to accept the high honor awarded me in the 2004 Honors List.”

Yours faithfully,

Chinua Achebe
Annandale-on-Hudson, New York