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Obasanjo, Jonathan Continue Power Tussle

Obasanjo, Jonathan Continue Power Tussle

President Goodluck Jonathan and his predecessor, Olusegun Obasanjo, on Saturday resumed their verbal attacks on each other, with the ex-president accusing the Presidency of masterminding last week’s postponement of the general elections by the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman, Attahiru Jega,

 Obasanjo Jonathan

Obasanjo, in his criticism earlier in the day in Abeokuta, likened Jonathan’s attitude towards this year’s election to that of former Cote d’Ivoire President, Laurent Gbagbo, who he said orchestrated a shift in election date in that country, lost to Lansana Watara, but refused to hand over power, thereby plunging his nation into turmoil.

But, few hours later, the Presidency hit back at Obasanjo, accusing him of trying to plunge Nigeria into chaos in pursuit of a selfish and highly egocentric agenda.

A statement issued by presidential spokesman, Reuben Abati, on Saturday, accused Obasanjo of plotting, with others within and outside the country, to thwart the general elections and foist an unconstitutional Interim National Government, which he hopes to head, thereby returning to power through the back door.

Abati said: “We know very well that it is in pursuit of this nefarious plot that the former President continues to sow the seeds of discord and crises in the polity by purporting to remain in the ruling party while openly consorting with the opposition, endorsing its candidates and predicting victory for opposition candidates in a manner most unbecoming of a supposed elder statesman.

Abati’s statement also described Obasanjo’s attacks on Jonathan as self-serving and repugnant on the part of the former leader who, it said, still claims to be a member of the ruling party.

It said Nigerians would not no be fooled by Obasanjo’s antics and would make the right choice of re-electing Jonathan based on his record of achievements in his first term.

The statements reads in part:”It is obvious from Chief Obasanjo’s serial vituperations against President Jonathan … that he has willfully chosen to close his eyes to the present administration’s good works and intentions. “For reasons best known to him, Chief Obasanjo has set his mind on regime change by fair or foul means.

“Otherwise, it would be completely senseless, irrational and out of place for Chief Obasanjo, who still claims to belong to the same party as the President, to accuse President Jonathan of plotting to win the rescheduled presidential elections by ‘hook or crook’.

“For the record, President Jonathan has no such intention and will continue to give the greatest possible support to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and other relevant federal agencies to ensure that the rescheduled elections are successfully conducted.”

Obasanjo, in a chat with journalists at his Hilltop mansion in Abeokuta, had stressed that the decision to shift the elections was forced on INEC.

He said: “It turned out that it was a forced decision on the INEC because it was alleged that the security chiefs were unable to provide security, and as a result, the Chairman of the INEC had to postpone the elections in accordance with the dictate of the so-called security chiefs.

“I thought, for me, that was a bad decision and for democracy and for Nigeria.

“It means that it does not matter what preparation or lack of preparation any electoral body make in Nigeria, the final decision whether election will take place the day scheduled, lies in the domain of security chiefs.

“It is a sad day for democracy in Nigeria and I will say this, that we all must feel concerned before democracy is killed.”

Obasanjo wondered what miracle the military can pull off within the six weeks interval to quiet the Boko Haram insurgency, which they have battled for over five years.

He also referred to some countries where full-scale war was on, but held elections successfully.

“Look, Boko Haram problem has been with us since 2009 and now you say what we have not been able to achieve since 2009, we will achieve in six weeks.”

“Well, all I will say is that God is a God of miracle, God can do anything. But, look, countries like Syria had election; they have full-scale war all over the country.

“Countries like Iraq had election; they had full scale war and they are still having.

“Countries like Afghanistan had election; they even had election where the incumbent had his term and moved out.

“Even countries like Colombia, where they have FARC, their own insurgent group, active for more than 50 years, have been regularly having elections and FARC is still very much active.

“So, to say that what you have not been able to achieve in five years you will now achieve in six weeks; let us wait and see. That will be my view.”

The two-term ex-president said Jonathan’s greatest phobia is life after presidency and Buhari’s possibility of instituting a probe panel against him.

“I believe the President’s fear is particularly motivated by whom he see as his likely successor, that is, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari.

“I believe people would have been telling him that, look, Buhari is a hard man, he will fight corruption and you may end up in jail if not in the grave.

“I think people would have told him those sorts of things and he is not the only one afraid of Buhari.”

He, however, assured that Buhari should have learnt his lessons by now, adding that you don’t need to jail people for 200 years to fight corruption, recalling that his administration recovered over $1.5 billion from the family of late dictator, Gen Sanni Abacha, without sending anybody to jail.

Obasanjo also cited the case of $750 million his predecessor, Gen Abdul Salami Abubakar, recovered from the same family without jailing anybody.

He revealed that there is still an outstanding $1billion yet to be recovered from the Abacha family, which he indicated in his handover note, but has not been pursued, stressing that corruption should not be Nigerians’ way of life.

Obasanjo warned Jonathan not to listen to charlatans singing his praises, saying they will turn around to castigate him when the tide turns against him.

The former president, though clarified reports few days ago that he had not expressly endorsed Buhari, said he believes the APC presidential candidate would preside over an efficient government if voted into power.

“He has the knowledge, he has the experience; he may not be bowl of fire as an economist; but, can preside over it.”

In a quick response the PDP, through the Publicity Secretary of its Lagos chapter, Taofik Gani, also on Saturday advised Obasanjo to avoid being deceived by the APC, whose primary motive, he said “is to use and dump him after the election”.

While asserting that Nigeria has not had it so good in short a time under the Jonathan administration, the party described the PDP presidential candidate as “the best president Nigeria ever had” due to his sterling performance in office despite distractions from many quarters.

“Former President Obasanjo should be wary of his newly found friends in the APC who are only hobnobbing with him to use and dump him in their over ambitious quest to take over power at the centre.

“The persistent antagonism of President Jonathan by former President Obasanjo is unfair, destructive and unbecoming of a supposed elder statesman.

“This is more so as President Jonathan has remained calm, unprovoked and focused. This attack is totally unwarranted.

“Not only that, the President is above board, indeed considering the level of development viz the short term and inspite of the distraction caused by insurgency in the land, President Jonathan can be rated as the best president Nigeria ever had”, Gani said in statement made available to Sunday Independent.

Also, former Senate Chief Whip, Roland Owie, described Obasanjo’s purported endorsement of Buhari as a blessing to Jonathan and PDP.

Owie, who spoke in Benin, said, with Obasanjo’s supposed endorsement, Buhari will lose not less than 10 million votes in Nigeria.

According to him, “it is unfortunate that Obasanjo won’t stop behaving like a trailer conductor.

“His nature is to smile at a person he wants to destroy and keeps a dagger behind him and Buhari should know that Obasanjo has no friend.

“While OBJ (Obasanjo) was dancing with the wife of late Sen. Chuba Okadigbo at the opening of APO MANSION, his agent, late Gov. Agagu, was sharing money to impeach Okadigbo as the Senate President.

“Obasanjo does not know that he has never had any electoral value in this country, in his zone, in his local government, in his ward and booth and in 1999 he lost his booth, ward, local government, state and the entire South West Zone”, Owie recalled.

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