Sunday, 22 December 2013

President Jonathan Replies Obasanjo

The much anticipated reply from President
Jonathan to ex-President Obasanjo is finally
I wish to formally acknowledge your letter dated
December 2, 2013 and other previous
correspondence similar to it.
You will recall that all the letters were brought to
me by hand. Although both of us discussed some
of the issues in those letters, I had not, before
now, seen the need for any formal reply since, to
me, they contained advice from a former
President to a serving President. Obviously, you
felt differently because in your last letter, you
complained about my not acknowledging or
replying your previous letters.
It is with the greatest possible reluctance that I
now write this reply. I am most uneasy about
embarking on this unprecedented and
unconventional form of open communication
between me and a former leader of our country
because I know that there are more acceptable
and dignified means of doing so.
But I feel obliged to reply your letter for a
number of reasons:
One, you formally requested for a reply and not
sending you one will be interpreted as ignoring a
former President.
Secondly, Nigerians know the role you have
played in my political life and given the
unfortunate tone of your letter, clearly, the
grapes have gone sour. Therefore, my side of the
story also needs to be told.
The third reason why I must reply you in writing
is that your letter is clearly a threat to national
security as it may deliberately or inadvertently
set the stage for subversion.
The fourth reason for this reply is that you raised
very weighty issues, and since the letter has
been made public, Nigerians are expressing
legitimate concerns. A response from me
therefore, becomes very necessary.
The fifth reason is that this letter may appear in
biographies and other books which political
commentators on Nigeria’s contemporary
politics may write. It is only proper for such
publications to include my comments on the
issues raised in your letter.
Sixthly, you are very unique in terms of the
governance of this country. You were a military
Head of State for three years and eight months,
and an elected President for eight years. That
means you have been the Head of Government
of Nigeria for about twelve years. This must
have, presumably, exposed you to a lot of
information. Thus when you make a statement,
there is the tendency for people to take it
The seventh reason is that the timing of your
letter coincided with other vicious releases. The
Speaker of the House of Representatives spoke
of my “body language” encouraging corruption.
A letter written to me by the CBN Governor
alleging that NNPC, within a period of 19
months did not remit the sum of USD49.8
billion to the federation account, was also
deliberately leaked to the public.
The eighth reason is that it appears that your
letter was designed to incite Nigerians from
other geopolitical zones against me and also
calculated to promote ethnic disharmony. Worse
still, your letter was designed to instigate
members of our Party, the PDP, against me.
The ninth reason is that 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
The tenth and final reason why my reply is
inevitable is that you have written similar letters
and made public comments in reference to all
former Presidents and Heads of Government
starting from Alhaji Shehu Shagari and these
have instigated different actions and reactions.
The purpose and direction of your letter is
distinctly ominous, and before it is too late, my
clarifications on the issues need to be placed on
Let me now comment on the issues you raised.
In commenting I wish to crave your indulgence
to compare what is happening now to what took
place before. This, I believe, will enable
Nigerians see things in better perspective
because we must know where we are coming
from so as to appreciate where we now are, and
to allow us clearly map out where we are going.
You raised concerns about the security situation
in the country. I assure you that I am fully aware
of the responsibility of government for ensuring
the security of the lives and property of citizens.
My Administration is working assiduously to
overcome current national security challenges,
the seeds of which were sown under previous
administrations. There have been some
setbacks; but certainly there have also been
great successes in our efforts to overcome
terrorism and insurgency.
Those who continue to down-play our successes
in this regard, amongst whom you must now be
numbered, appear to have conveniently
forgotten the depths to which security in our
country had plunged before now.
At a stage, almost the entire North-East of
Nigeria was under siege by insurgents.
Bombings of churches and public buildings in
the North and the federal capital became an
almost weekly occurrence. Our entire national
security apparatus seemed nonplussed and
unable to come to grips with the new threat
posed by the berthing of terrorism on our
But 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.
The scope and impact of terrorist operations
have been significantly reduced and efforts are
underway to restore full normalcy to the most
affected North Eastern region and initiate a
post-crisis development agenda, including a
special intervention programme to boost the
region’s socio-economic progress.
In doing all this, we have kept our doors open
for dialogue with the insurgents and their
supporters through efforts such as the work of
the Presidential Committee on Dialogue and the
Peaceful Resolution of the Security Challenges
in the North-East. You also know that the
Governor of Borno State provided the items you
mentioned to me as carrots. Having done all this
and more, it is interesting that you still accuse
me of not acting on your hardly original
recommendation that the carrot and stick option
be deployed to solve the Boko Haram problem.
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.
Even though basic education is the
constitutional responsibility of States, my
administration has, as part of its efforts to
address ignorance and poor education which
have been identified as two of the factors
responsible for making some of our youth easily
available for use as cannon fodder by insurgents
and terrorists, committed huge funds to the
provision of modern basic education schools for
the Almajiri in several Northern States. The
Federal Government under my leadership has
also set up nine additional universities in the
Northern States and three in the Southern States
in keeping with my belief that proper education
is the surest way of emancipating and
empowering our people.
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 Yar’Adua would not have had to come
up with the amnesty program. And while some
elements of the problem may still be there, in
general, the situation is reasonably better.
In terms of general insecurity in the country and
particularly the crisis in the Niger Delta, 2007
was one of the worst periods in our history. You
will recall three incidents that happened in 2007
which seemed to have been orchestrated to
achieve sinister objectives. Here in Abuja, a
petrol tanker loaded with explosives was to be
rammed into the INEC building. But luckily for
the country, an electric pole stopped the tanker
from hitting the INEC building. It is clear that
this incident was meant to exploit the general
sense of insecurity in the nation at the time to
achieve the aim of stopping the 2007 elections.
It is instructive that you, on a number of
occasions, alluded to this fact.
When that incident failed, an armed group
invaded Yenagoa one evening with the intent to
assassinate me. 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.
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 unraveled
the assassination attempt on me.
You also raised the issues of kidnapping, piracy
and armed robbery. These are issues all
Nigerians, including me are very concerned
about. While we will continue to do our utmost
best to reduce all forms of criminality to the
barest minimum in our country, it is just as well
to remind you that the first major case of
kidnapping for ransom took place around 2006.
And the Boko Haram crisis dates back to 2002.
Goodluck Jonathan was not the President of the
country then. Also, armed robbery started in
this country immediately after the civil war and
since then, it has been a problem to all
succeeding governments. For a former Head of
Government, who should know better, to
present these problems as if they were creations
of the Jonathan Administration is most
Having said that, let me remind you of some of
the things we have done to curb violent crime in
the country. We have reorganized the Nigerian
Police Force and appointed a more dynamic
leadership to oversee its affairs. We have also
improved its manpower levels as well as
funding, training and logistical support.
We have also increased the surveillance
capabilities of the Police and provided its air-
wing with thrice the number of helicopters it had
before the inception of the present
administration. The National Civil Defence and
Security Corps has been armed to make it a
much more effective ally of the police and other
security agencies in the war against violent
crime. At both domestic and international
levels, we are doing everything possible to curb
the proliferation of the small arms and light
weapons with which armed robberies,
kidnappings and piracy are perpetrated. We
have also enhanced security at our borders to
curb cross-border crimes.
We are aggressively addressing the challenge of
crude oil theft in collaboration with the state
Governors. In addition, the Federal Government
has engaged the British and US governments for
their support in the tracking of the proceeds
from the purchase of stolen crude. Similarly, a
regional Gulf of Guinea security strategy has
been initiated to curb crude oil theft and piracy.
Perhaps the most invidious accusation in your
letter is the allegation that I have placed over
one thousand Nigerians on a political watch list,
and that I am training snipers and other militia
to assassinate people. 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 publicizing it. You mentioned
God seventeen 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. 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
I also find it difficult to believe that you will
accuse me 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.
That corruption is an issue in Nigeria is
indisputable. It has been with us for many years.
You will recall that your kinsman, the renowned
afro-beat maestro, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti
famously sang about it during your first stint as
Head of State. Sonny Okosun also sang about
corruption. And as you may recall, a number of
Army Generals were to be retired because of
corruption before the Dimka coup. Also, the late
General Murtala Mohammed himself wanted to
retire some top people in his cabinet on
corruption-related issues before he was
assassinated. Even in this Fourth Republic, the
Siemens and Halliburton scandals are well
The seed of corruption in this country was
planted a long time ago, but we are doing all that
we can to drastically reduce its debilitating
effects on national development and progress. I
have been strengthening the institutions
established to fight corruption. I will not shield
any government official or private individual
involved in corruption, but I must follow due
process in all that I do. And whenever clear
cases of corruption or fraud have been
established, my administration has always taken
prompt action in keeping with the dictates of
extant laws and procedures. You cannot claim to
be unaware of the fact that several highly placed
persons in our country, including sons of some
of our party leaders are currently facing trial for
their involvement in the celebrated subsidy
scam affair. I can hardly be blamed if the wheels
of justice still grind very slowly in our country,
but we are doing our best to support and
encourage the judiciary to quicken the pace of
adjudication in cases of corruption.
Baba, I am amazed that with all the knowledge
garnered from your many years at the highest
level of governance in our country, you could
still believe the spurious allegation contained in
a letter written to me by the Governor of the
Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and
surreptitiously obtained by you, alleging that
USD49.8 billion, a sum equal to our entire
national budget for two years, is “unaccounted
for” by the NNPC. Since, as President, you also
served for many years as Minister of Petroleum
Resources, you very well know the workings of
the corporation. It is therefore intriguing that
you have made such an assertion. 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 of CBN. Now that the
main source of the allegations which you
rehashed has publicly stated that he was
“misconstrued”, perhaps you will find it in your
heart to apologize for misleading unwary
Nigerians and impugning the integrity of my
administration on that score.
Your claim of “Atlantic Oil loading about
130,000 barrels sold by Shell and managed on
behalf of NPDC with no sale proceeds paid into
the NPDC account” is also disjointed and
baseless because no such arrangement as you
described exists between Atlantic Oil and the
Nigeria Petroleum Development Company.
NPDC currently produces about 138,000 barrels
of oil per day from over 7 producing assets. The
Crude Oil Marketing Division (COMD) of the
NNPC markets all of this production on behalf of
NPDC with proceeds paid into NPDC account.
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. One of your
political “sons” similarly alleged recently that he
told me of a minister who received a bribe of
$250 Million from an oil company and I did
nothing about it. He may have been playing
from a shared script, but we have not heard from
him again since he was challenged to name the
minister involved and provide the evidence to
back his claim. I urge you, in the same vein, 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.
While, by the Grace of God Almighty, I am the
first President from a minority group, I am
never unmindful of the fact that I was elected
leader of the whole of Nigeria and I have 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.
It is very regrettable that in your letter, you
seem to place sole responsibility for the ongoing
intrigues and tensions in the PDP at my
doorstep, and going on from that position, you
direct all your appeals for a resolution at me.
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. 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.
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. 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.
The charge that I was involved in anti-party
activities in governorship elections in Edo,
Ondo, Lagos, and Anambra States is also very
unfortunate. I relate with all Governors
irrespective of political party affiliation but I
have not worked against the interest of the PDP.
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
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.
You quoted me as saying that I have not told
anybody that I will seek another term in office in
2015. You and your ambitious acolytes within
the party have clearly decided to act on your
conclusion that “only a fool will believe that
statement” and 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.
You will recall that you serially advised me that
we should refrain from discussing the 2015
general elections for now so as not to distract
elected public officials from urgent task of
governance. While you have apparently moved
away from that position, 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
Your allegation that I asked half a dozen African
Presidents to speak to you about my alleged
ambition for 2015, is also untrue. I have never
requested any African President to discuss with
you on my behalf. In our discussion, I
mentioned to you that four Presidents told me
that they were concerned about the political
situation in Nigeria and intended to talk to you
about it. So far, only three of them have
confirmed to me that they have had any
discussion with you. If I made such a request,
why would I deny it?
The issue of Buruji Kashamu is one of those lies
that should not be associated with a former
President. The allegation that I am imposing
Kashamu on the South-West is most 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. 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.
On the issue of investors being scared to come to
Nigeria, economic dormancy, and stagnation, I
will just refer you to FDI statistics from 2000 to
2013. Within the last three years, Nigeria has
emerged as the preferred destination for
investments in Africa, driven by successful
government policies to attract foreign investors.
For the second year running, the United Nations
Conference on Trade and Investments
(UNCTAD) has ranked Nigeria as the number
one destination for investments in Africa, and as
having the fourth highest returns in the world.
Today, Nigeria is holding 18 percent of all
foreign investments in Africa and 60 percent of
all foreign investments in the ECOWAS Sub-
Region. Kindly note also that in the seven years
between 2000 and 2007 when you were
President, Nigeria attracted a total of $24.9
Billion in FDI. As a result of our efforts which
you disparage, the country has seen an FDI
inflow of $25.7 Billion in just three years which
is more than double the FDI that has gone to the
second highest African destination. We have
also maintained an annual national economic
growth rate of close to seven per cent since the
inception of this administration. What then, is
the justification for your allegation of scared
investors and economic dormancy?
Although it was not emphasized in your letter of
December 2, 2013, you also conveyed, in
previous correspondence, the impression that
you were ignorant of the very notable
achievements of my administration in the area
of foreign relations. It is on record that under
my leadership, Nigeria has played a key role in
resolving the conflicts in Niger, Cote d’Ivoire,
Mali, Guinea Bissau and others.
The unproductive rivalry that existed between
Nigeria and some ECOWAS countries has also
been ended under my watch and Nigeria now
has better relations with all the ECOWAS
countries. At the African Union, we now have a
Commissioner at the AU Commission after
being without one for so long. We were in the
United Nations Security Council for the
2010/2011 Session and we have been voted in
again for the 2014/2015 Session. From
independence to 2010, we were in the U.N.
Security Council only three times but from 2010
to 2015, we will be there two times.
This did not happen by chance. My
Administration worked hard for it and we
continue to maintain the best possible relations
with all centres of global political and economic
power. I find it hard therefore, to believe your
assertions of untoward concern in the
international community over the state of
governance in Nigeria
With respect to the Brass and Olokola LNG
projects, you may have forgotten that though
you started these projects, Final Investment
Decisions were never reached. For your
information, NNPC has not withdrawn from
either the Olokola or the Brass LNG projects.
On the Rivers State Water Project, you were
misled by your informant. The Federal
Government under my watch has never directed
or instructed the Africa Development Bank to
put on hold any project to be executed in Rivers
state or any other State within the Federation.
The Rivers Water Project was not originally in
the borrowing plan but it was included in April
2013 and appraised in May. Negotiations are
ongoing with the AfDB. I have no doubt that you
are familiar with the entire process that prefaces
the signing of a Subsidiary Loan Agreement as
in this instance.
Let me assure you and all Nigerians that I do not
engage in negative political actions and will
never, as President, oppress the people of a
State or deprive them of much needed public
services as a result of political disagreement
I have noted your comments on the proposed
National Conference. Contrary to the
insinuation in your letter, the proposed
conference is aimed at bringing Nigerians
together to resolve contentious national issues
in a formal setting. This is a sure way of
promoting greater national consensus and unity,
and not a recipe for “disunity, confusion and
chaos” as you alleged in your letter.
Having twice held the high office of President,
Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of the
Federal Republic of Nigeria, I trust that you will
understand that I cannot possibly find the time
to offer a line-by-line response to all the
accusations and allegations made in your letter
while dealing with other pressing demands of
office and more urgent affairs of state.
I have tried, however, to respond to only the
most serious of the charges which question my
sincerity, personal honour, and commitment to
the oath which I have sworn, to always uphold
and protect the interests of all Nigerians, and
promote their well-being.
In closing, let me state that you have done me
grave injustice with your public letter in which
you wrongfully accused me of deceit, deception,
dishonesty, incompetence, clannishness,
divisiveness and insincerity, amongst other ills.
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.
Please accept the assurances of my highest
consideration and warm regards.

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