ABUJA – President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, described former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s attacks on him as the consequence of his failure to surrender his administration to the former leader.
Responding to the tirades of the former president last week, President Jonathan said Obasanjo was so bent on controlling his protégées that he would not mind installing the devil in power so long as he can control him.
Meanwhile, it was learned at the weekend that the Presidency and the Peoples Democracy Party, PDP, have decided to pull back from earlier plans to sanction Obasanjo over his perceived anti-party activities. Besides, there were indications that Obasanjo’s support among some northern governors, who deferred to him in the past, may be waning. One serving northern governor in the PDP known as an Obasanjo associate, weekend, flayed the former president for crossing the line in his attacks on the president and party.
Addressing journalists, yesterday, in Abuja, Director, Media and Publicity of PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation, Chief Femi Fani- Kayode stressed that soon after Jonathan won the 2011 elections, the former president tried everything possible to control and teleguide him, adding that he asked the President to do a number of things that were simply wrong and unacceptable to a government with plans for the people.
Why Obasanjo is attacking Jonathan
He said: “After Jonathan came to power, Obasanjo not only tried to control and teleguide him, but he also asked him to do a number of things that were simply wrong and unacceptable. It is for President Goodluck Jonathan himself to divulge those things and I am sure that he will do so at the appropriate time.
“Needless to say President Jonathan refused to be teleguided and told what to do though at all times he showed Obasanjo maximum respect and accorded him all the privileges, access and courtesies that are due to a former Head of State and a father and mentor. This continued to be the case even after Obasanjo consistently attempted to undermine his government and ridicule his efforts.
“Yet President Obasanjo could not be appeased and was not satisfied. As far as he was concerned, he must either control Jonathan or Jonathan had to go. That is why he decided to secretly support the APC and became their ‘navigator in chief’. He was determined to pull the whole house down rather than allow Jonathan to return to power. This is simply because he believes that if he cannot control someone, that person must be destroyed. Control and domination is an obsession for Obasanjo. That is the bottom line. He is prepared to put even the devil in power provided he can control him,” Fani-Kayode, who also served President Obasanjo as a senior special assistant (public communication) and later Aviation Minister said.
“Obasanjo does not want genuine democracy. He only pretends to want it. What he wants is control and a stooge in power. It does not matter what type of government it is as long as he controls it and it is headed by his puppet. It can be a military government, a civilian one, a democratic one, an interim government or a government of National Unity. To Obasanjo, it does not matter as long as he can control it. That is his objective. That is why he hates Jonathan so much and that is why he wishes to stop him at all cost.
“The bottom line is this: President Obasanjo’s grouse with President Jonathan is personal and it has nothing to do with Nigeria. He should leave Nigeria out of it and let us all be. If he has a personal score to settle with Jonathan, he should not do so at the expense of the peace and stability of Nigeria.
“If he wants to stop Jonathan, then let him attempt to do so through the democratic process and through the ballot box and not through foul and unconstitutional means. We said it before and we will say it again: Gone are the days that any president can be teleguided and controlled because we have all come of age.
“President Olusegun Obasanjo’s allegations are serious and grave. They are also reckless. He has raised issues and made assertions that are capable of derailing our democracy and creating chaos in the land. It is vital that we consider his motives for this latest outburst and his credentials as a leader and an elder statesman.
“The truth is that he knows that President Goodluck Jonathan will win next month’s presidential election and that is why he wants to destroy the credibility of the whole process right from the outset.
“What he is trying to say in his latest contribution is that if President Jonathan wins, then the election must have been rigged right from the outset. This is not only wrong but it is also unfair and uncharitable. If President Obasanjo has any evidence to prove his weighty allegations, he ought to present it before the Council of State and take it up there.
“He should also report to INEC itself and present the data of whatever sinister plan he believes that President Jonathan has to stay in power ‘by hook or by crook’ to them. He should tell INEC whatever it is that Jonathan is doing in order for him to stay in power by all means and he should give them all the details. That should be the starting point.”
Postponement of polls
Asserting that the postponement of the election was not a sufficient reason for Obasanjo to lampoon Jonathan given that polls have been postponed in the past, the president’s campaign image maker faulted the comparison between Jonathan and former Ivorian president, Laurent Gbagbo.
He said: “President Obasanjo spoke about President Laurent Gbagbo and he claimed that President Jonathan was attempting to do a Gbagbo in Nigeria. The question that must be put to him is this: “Who got Gbagbo out?” Was it not Jonathan’s government that played a key role in ensuring that democracy was fully established in the Ivory Coast and did he not play a key role in ensuring that the Gbagbo ‘stay in power forever plan’ did not work? If anyone doubts this, they should ask President Alhassan Outtara of Cote D’Ivoire the role that Jonathan and Nigeria played in helping to restore democracy and stability back to his country.
“They should also find out the role that former President Obasanjo played in attempting to keep President Laurent Gbagbo in power at all costs and the deep friendship that exists between the two men. It is a matter of fact and public record that when he was President of Nigeria, Obasanjo, perhaps more than any other African Head of State with the exception of President Jacob Zuma of South Africa, propped up and supported President Gbagbo and it is an irony of fate and history that he is now condemning the actions of his old friend and accusing others of trying to emulate him.
“Again it is ironic that President Obasanjo has accused President Jonathan of having a grand plan to stay in power at all cost and by all means yet it is the same Obasanjo that tried to stay in power for a third term even though the Nigerian constitution specifically forbade it. He tried all he could to change the constitution but the whole thing failed and he was compelled to leave power.
“We continue to hold Obasanjo in high esteem but his recent actions and utterances are beyond the pale. He has been unfair to Jonathan, to Nigeria and even to himself. Most importantly the days of intimidating others with his harsh words and overbearing influence are long over. Obasanjo is not God. Only God is God and He alone determines the fortunes of men and the destiny of nations.”
Will of the people
Fani-Kayode continued: “We sincerely hope that Obasanjo appreciates the gravity of what he is attempting to do and we shall continue to pray that God will guide him and deliver him from whatever it is that makes him want to destroy all those that love him the most. Whether he likes it or not, democracy has come to stay in Nigeria and the will of the Nigerian people will be done in next month’s presidential elections and thereafter. We believe that it is God’s plan and not even one million Obasanjos can stop it.”
PDP backs out
Meanwhile, the presidency and the PDP may have opted not to tackle Obasanjo on the development and rolled back plans to sanction the former leader on his recent activities.
“The position is that the party does not want to come out outright to take action on Obasanjo so as not to heat up the system further. We believe that with time he would see the need to stop attacking Jonathan,” a party official said last night in Abuja.
This is coming as a Northern governor, who is close to former President Obasanjo, has described him as lacking the democratic credentials to attack Jonathan on the issue of democracy.
The governor, who pleaded anonymity, pointed out that Obasanjo took more undemocratic steps to frustrate his opponents, including his Vice, Atiku Abubakar, in the 2003 Presidential election.
The governor, who is working closely with Jonathan to deliver his agrarian state to the PDP, pointed out that Obasanjo should not claim to be more democratic than Jonathan since he masterminded a devious third term bid to the detriment of Nigerian democracy.
“The governor said: “Nigerians should be wary of Obasanjo, who wants to launder his image as the father of modern day democracy in Nigeria. They should not forget in a hurry that the former president never even wanted to leave office after eight years in the saddle.”