Sunday, 15 December 2013

North Backs Obasanjo Over His Letter To Jonathan

The North has thrown its weight behind former President Olusegun Obasanjo over his letter to President Goodluck Jonathan in which the ex-president strongly criticised the current administration on sundry issues.

Both the apex body of northern Nigeria, Arewa Consultative Forum, and the Northern Elders Forum on Friday said all the issues Obasanjo raised in the letter should be addressed.

Obasanjo had penned what he felt to be Jonathan’s failings in an 18-page stinker. The ex-Chairman, Board of Trustees of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party accused the President, among other things, of not honouring his words, and taking actions calculated at destroying Nigeria.

The controversial letter, dated December 2, 2013 and entitled, “Before it is too late” became public knowledge on Wednesday.

The Northern Elders’ Forum backed Obasanjo, stating that most part of the letter was a fair and true representation of issues plaguing the country.

The spokesperson for NEF, Dr. Paul Unongo, told SUNDAY PUNCH that the forum believed that the allegations raised in Obasanjo’s letter were weighty and should be investigated and carefully addressed.

He noted that NEF agreed with Obasanjo’s advice that Jonathan should honour his promise to serve only one term as President.

Unongo said, “Those in high position should be examples to younger people. If there was an agreement that Jonathan will do one term, as Obasanjo has clarified in the letter, it should be honoured.

“We substantially agree with Obasanjo on this. Our contention is that if he (Jonathan) had that agreement, he should honour it. He will lose nothing; he will gain a lot and history will be very kind to him.”

Unongo added that the forum also agreed with Obasanjo on his criticism of Jonathan for allowing some Ijaw leaders portray themselves as being above the law. “We have said it before that it is disingenuous for Edwin Clark to talk and act as if he owns the Presidency because his son from Ijawland is the President,” he noted.

On the allegation of corruption and impunity, Unongo said NEF shared Obasanjo’s opinion. He added that northern elders were alarmed by recent events, including the reported loss of over $48bn of oil revenue and the N255m-bulletproof-cars saga involving the Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah, which remained unresolved.

Unongo said, “Our question is: Who is being protected? Even if Obasanjo himself is considered being corrupt, he has the right to complain. He is saying this thing has become too much. I’ve never seen the level of impunity that I’ve seen in this government.”

In its reaction, the ACF, through its National Publicity Secretary, Anthony Sani, faulted Obasanjo for allegedly leaking the letter to the public and the presidency for its counter-attack but said the letter contained facts.

In a text message to our correspondent, Sani said, “While it may be indecorous for the former President to leak altercations between him and a sitting president well known to be his political scion, it is more indecorous for the presidency to resort to uncouth language for replies.

“And that is why I plead with the media and the public to concentrate on the issues raised and not on how they have been presented.

“On the whole, except, perhaps, the aspect of Mr. President training and arming snipers, most of what the former President has written are what most Nigerians already know.”

The Convener, Coalition of Northern Politicians, Academics, Professionals and Businessmen, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, had in a statement on Thursday said Obasanjo’s letter raised a number of serious issues which could not be ignored.

He said the claim that the Presidency was planning to set up “a killer squad” was particularly worrisome, considering the nation’s sad history of unresolved assassinations.

“This, to me, is very, very serious. And given the way the government has been behaving from the time Jonathan came into power in an acting capacity; the way and manner he, INEC (Independent National Electoral Commission) and others were complicit in rigging the election, I, as a Nigerian, has to be worried.

“It is a known fact that a new think tank has been created and is being massively funded. Nigerians ought to be worried; we had random extrajudicial killings, which became the norm of the government of the day.

“As I can recall, most of the people killed have been unaccounted for. Most of the people, who were alleged to have done it or were accessories, have been freed.”

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