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Obasanjo Defies Court Order, Releases Tell-All Book
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo

Obasanjo Defies Court Order, Releases Tell-All Book

Despite a court order obtained by Kashamu Buruji, a close associate of President Goodluck Jonathan, stopping the publication of former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s autobiography, the book, “My Watch”, was released to the public on Tuesday at a public presentation held at the Lagos Country Club, Ikeja, Lagos.

In the book, Obasanjo said after observing Jonathan and listening to him and people around him, he came to the conclusion that the president lacked the capacity for the number one job in the country and had not surrounded himself with those who could help him.

“Although he might wish to do well, he does not know how nor does he have the capacity to. To compound his problem, he has not surrounded himself with aides sufficiently imbued with the qualities and abilities to help him out.

“Most of them are greedy hangers on or hungry lacklustre characters interested only in their mouths and their pockets,” said Obasanjo.

Obasanjo also said that corruption is so pervasive under the current administration that requests are now being made “from the presidency for ministries, departments and parastatals to make contributions to dubious private projects,” while Abdulrasheed Maina, the alleged mastermind of the pension fund scam, was “allowed to disappear to save those in the presidency who shared in the loot”.

On the political front, Obasanjo said the president does not care about anything beyond just staying in power for which he will sacrifice anything.

He disclosed further that the president made a commitment before the 2011 elections that if he was allowed to run then, he would not seek another term in 2015, a promise on which he has reneged.

“Immediately after the elections, it would appear that contrary to the position taken by Jonathan before the elections to be a one-term president, all his moves were towards the idea of a second term.

“I wondered, could it be that his aides were manoeuvring and strategising on his behalf? But I would not buy the idea of presidential innocence.

“After watching, reaching out to, studying, talking to, and listening to the president himself and the people around him, I came, sadly, to a number of conclusions that mark Jonathan out as a man of adequate intelligence to run the affairs of Nigeria but lacking in broad vision, knowledge, confidence, understanding, concentration, capacity, sense of security, courage, moral and ethical principles, character and passion to move the nation forward on a fast trajectory.

“Let me start with the handling of the zoned political offices after the election. Jonathan made a case for retaining David Mark as senate president.

“However, the issue of the speaker being zoned to the South-west was so poorly and awkwardly handled that the office of the speaker and that of the vice-president went to the North-West, with the South-west being deprived of what politically was legitimately zoned to it.

“That was the beginning of the cry of marginalisation by the South-west, and it will not go away, no matter what is stuffed into the mouth of the so-called Afenifere.

“The president insisting on Mulikat Akande as against Saubana Ajibola Muraina, who had been presented by Adebayo Alao-Akala for the South-west and endorsed and sold by the South-west to the House, was an act of political misadventure. And the misadventure cumulatively built up.

“After the election, the president should have kept strictly to the six geo-political zones and should have quickly undertaken a thank you visit.

“Rather, E. K. Clark took it upon himself to insult all and sundry as though the position is a birthright; and the president was incapable of calling him to order. Ethno-politics and ethno-interest are being substituted for national politics and national interest.

“On issues of personal interest and concern to him, the president will pay any price, make any sacrifice and dump anything or anyone he regards as not important.

“With the 2011 elections, heavy financial prices were paid to Lagos and Ondo State opposition political leaders to secure the vote for the president, against the interest of PDP at the state level. ‘If the president is safe and secure, nothing else matters’ – this seems to have been what the president’s actions indicated.

“Although he took the title of the party leader, he really never plays that role. One of our party chieftains described him to me as, ‘The party leader who pursues only Goodluck Jonathan’s interest and not the party’s interest. How can he then be trusted?’

“I had watched Jonathan and stood close to him in picking the national chairman of the party and chairman of the Board of Trustees (BoT) that succeeded me. What I saw and heard from him disgusted me to no end.

“It was, ‘This one will not support me, this one’s interest will be against my interest, this one said something against me.’ How can the president classify some governors belonging to his party as enemies because they hold contrary views to his?

“The handling of the removal of Timi Sylva as Governor of Bayelsa, for example, was crude, even though Timi was Jonathan’s worst enemy. But as time went on, the Timi Sylva case turned out to have been much better handled than that of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) and Rotimi Amaechi and his alleged involvement in the impeachment of governors.

“It was a shameful and debasing thing for the president the way he handled these issues. A 22-year-old squash partner of mine said to me once during a game break, ‘Sir, advise the president to be presidential on the Governors’ Forum issue. It is becoming mean.’

“I told him I would and I spoke to (Godswill) Akpabio, the Governor of Akwa Ibom State. But where Jonathan’s interests are concerned there can be no decorum. Everything can be ‘rofo rofo’, and no party or national interest matters,” he said.
On corruption, Obasanjo said Jonathan had been paying nothing but lip service to the issue: “At best, only lip-service is paid to fighting corruption.

“But to publicly deny the existence of corruption in Nigeria, as the president did in the Amanpour CNN interview of early 2013 was not only laughable but the greatest act of playing the ostrich.

“A Chinese national once told me that he was taken to Aso Villa and was asked to pay one million US dollars to enable him to see the president. When he refused, he was permanently denied access to the president, even though Nigeria would have benefitted from such access.

“Having heard many rumours in the past but now with concrete evidence from a victim, I was incensed enough to bring it to the knowledge of the president, who asked, ‘Who can that be among my staff?’ I replied, ‘You know those responsible for your programmes and visitors.’

“That was the last I heard of the issue. On several occasions in the past, and based on Transparency International reports, what I have observed and heard, I have made public comments on Jonathan’s lack of political will to fight corruption. I was called names and pilloried.

“I had also pointed out that the track records of some people employed to speak for and on behalf of the president and his administration do more harm than good to the president. Doyin Okupe is one man whose case I know so well.

“The familiarity and closeness of some staff of the president and, by extension, the president himself with those in charge of parastatals who made returns to the presidency, the request from the presidency for ministries, departments and parastatals to make contributions to dubious private projects, and the treatment of the official found stealing police pension funds, Abdulrasheed Maina, who was allowed to disappear to save those in the presidency who shared in the loot, left a very bad taste in the mouths of most Nigerians.

“Some people have inferred that the grand corruption around the presidency has actually encouraged corruption within the legislature and the judiciary, and that this constrains the president’s ability to curb it.

“The greatest show of shame in this respect was the scandalous pardon granted to DSP Alamieyeseigha. I was so shocked that I had to write to the president.

“There are many melancholically amusing stories I have heard about Goodluck Jonathan that prove his limitations, and that he cannot give what he does not have.
“Most of these stories, which are verifiable through his actions, reactions and inactions, reflect stunningly on the character and ability of Goodluck Jonathan as a man, a leader, and a president.

“Within eighteen months or thereabouts of his presidency after the 2011 elections, I heard complaints from Ministry of Finance sources that the amount of money being spent on the Amnesty Programme was unsustainable.

“I took up the issue with the president, who claimed that the amnesty was meant to be a two-year programme but that it seemed to have developed a long life of its own.

“He reacted as though he would cut its life short almost immediately. He has not been able to do it. If anything, the situation had gotten worse.

“At about the same time, I asked a very discerning minister for a candid view and opinion of his boss. I believe that he was being honest when he said, ‘I think the man is basically a good man, but if he wants to do good, for which he may have inclination, he has not the knowledge, the know-how, and the ability to do it and he has not surrounded himself with close aides that can help him to.’

“What a pity! A schoolmate of his, speaking from personal experience, said that one should not believe the president’s words, but should believe only his actions. The president seems to display the habit of pretending to have no knowledge of the very things he sanctions.

“The news was fairly well-circulated that an elder statesman who formed a close relationship with President Jonathan very early in his presidency came to the conclusion, after six months, that the president has not got what it takes to lead.

“It was the same elder statesman who reportedly tried to jolt the president into action by telling him that there were five presidents in Nigeria, and these were his wife the first lady, Diezani (Alison-Madueke), Stella (Oduah), Ngozi (Okonjo-Iweala) and the president himself, and that he was the weakest of the five.

“I understand the president tried to make excuses for everyone, but President Jonathan is not too weak to be able to butter his bread and, if necessary, to engage the services of Satan to achieve his self-centred interests on the altar of all else.
“The longest period that I have met one-on-one with the president was for one hour and ten minutes. That whole time, the president talked about nothing that was in the interest of Nigeria; instead he kept pointing out his supposed enemies and various matters that would not serve his interests…”

Also, in the book, Obasanjo identified his former deputy, Atiku Abubakar; former Lagos State Governor and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu; Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) BoT, Chief Tony Anenih; and former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, among others, as people who have worked against the progress of Nigeria.

Obasanjo described Atiku as a “blatant and shameless liar”, Tinubu as “definitely one of the worst cases in terms of corruption”, and el-Rufai as “a brilliant man but economical with truth”.

In what indicated his preference for former military Head of State and APC
presidential aspirant, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari, Obasanjo referred to him as a leader who “would not be a good economic manager but who will be a strong, almost inflexible, and a courageous and firm leader”.

The first of the books, which comes in three volumes, focuses on his early years and military days while the second book focuses on his military career, combat operations in Congo, the first military coup, his close friendship with Chukwuma Nzeogwu – leader of the 1966 coup – his command during the Nigerian civil war and his first time as military head of state.

Situating his legacies in the context of various reform efforts of his administration in the context of economic, financial management, social welfare, civil service, administrative enhancement, fuel energy and power reforms, conflict resolution and the truth and reconciliation commission, Obasanjo, in the book, addressed almost every aspect of national life in Nigeria.

Convinced that the book would stir some reaction among the political class, Okigbo noted that with the publication of the book, some of those affected by its content by the former PDP leader who has had a no-love-lost relationship with President Jonathan in recent times, are expected to react.

“The book is very important because it may motivate the various political actors who have been taciturn on the inner workings of government to defend their integrity, explain their actions, and provide context. Readers should eagerly await the subsequent dialogue that is sure to ensue,” Okigbo said.

Speaking on the court order stopping the publication of the book, Obasanjo yesterday assured the audience at the book launch that he would “never be part of illegality”, explaining that the court order had sought to stop the publication of the book when it had already been published.

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