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Sunday, 22 December 2013

Jonathan Reply's Obasanjo

December 20th 2013

His Excellency,
Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR
Agbe L’Oba House, Quarry Road,
Ibara, Abeokuta.

RE: BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE

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 seriously.

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
explode.

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 record.

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 shores. 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 uncharitable.
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 them.
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
known.
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
candidates.
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
time.
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.
GOODLUCK EBELE JONATHAN

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