Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has launched a frontal attack on President Goodluck Jonathan, accusing him of sundry misdeeds.
Obasanjo in a letter dated December 2 entitled, 'Before It Is Too Late,' to the president, urged him to mend his ways and stop taking Nigerians for granted.
In the 18-page letter, a copy of which THISDAY obtained Wednesday from an online medium, Premium Times, Obasanjo raised concerns about the state of the economy, especially the mismanagement of the oil and gas sector, corruption, security and the president's yet-to-be declared second term bid.
Obasanjo was brutally frank with the president about his concern on how he has been running the ship of state and the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
He also expressed concern about the president's scheming for a second term in office, warning that this could destroy the unity of the country and damage the trust of Nigerians in Jonathan.
Expectedly, the presidency, which acknowledged the receipt of the letter, condemned its leakage, which it described as an attempt to "impugn the integrity of the president and denigrate his commitment to giving Nigeria the best possible leadership."
Presidential spokesman, Dr. Reuben Abati, in a statement yesterday, said Jonathan had ordered all his aides not to take on Obasanjo on the issues contained in the letter, adding that the president will personally respond to them at the appropriate time.
THISDAY gathered that before sending the letter to Jonathan, Obasanjo had shown a draft copy to former military president, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, who advised that the content should be toned down.
It was also learnt that he had told Obasanjo to first clear the letter with his lawyers because of some of the weighty allegations in it.
It was based on this that Obasanjo was said to have consulted a prominent senior advocate of Nigeria who offered suggestions on amendments to the letter before it was dispatched to the president.
The former president, who was instrumental to the emergence of Jonathan as the running mate to the late President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua in the run-up to the 2007 presidential election, a post that paved the way for his presidency, said he was worried that Jonathan seemed to be encouraging the promotion of divisive tendencies for political expediency.
He urged Jonathan to strive to be a national leader instead of allowing himself to be held a hostage to power by his Ijaw kinsmen.
According to him, despite Jonathan's assurances to him in 2011 and to other prominent Nigerians that he would only do one-term in office, there are indications that he is engaged in scheming for a second term.
He said: “Up till two months ago, Mr. President, you told me that you have not told anybody that you would contest in 2015. I quickly pointed out to you that the signs and the measures on the ground do not tally with your statement. You said the same to one other person who shared his observation with me. And only a fool would believe that statement you made to me judging by what is going on. I must say it is not ingenious. You may wish to pursue a more credible and more honourable path.
"Mr. President, whatever may be your intention or plan, I cannot comment on much on the constitutional aspect of your second term or what some people called third term…. But if constitutionally you are on a strong wicket if you so decide, it will be fatally (and) morally flawed.
"As a leader, two things you must cherish and hold dear among others are trust and honour both of which are important ingredients of character."
Obasanjo also urged Jonathan to take all necessary steps to stop the bleeding of the nation, saying “Nigeria is bleeding and the hemorrhage must be stopped, before it is too late.”
He accuse d Jonathan of betraying the people that brought him to power, while at the same time pursuing selfish personal and political interest based on advice that he gets from “self-centred aides.”
He also accused the president of being clannish, as well as destroying PDP.
Obasanjo said rather than blame PDP National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, for the crisis in the party, the president should be held responsible because he was the one egging on the party chair.
“It would be unfair to continue to level full blame on the chairman for all that goes wrong with the party. The chairman is playing the tune dictated by the paymaster but the paymaster is acting for a definitive purpose for which deceit and deception seem to be the major ingredients,” he said.
Besides, he added that many party members were disappointed with Jonathan, whom he accused of playing double game by supporting opposition parties' candidates in Ondo, Lagos, Anambra and Edo at the expense of PDP candidates in governorship elections in those states.
On insecurity in the country, Obasanjo told the president to address it by changing tactics.
He decried the rising spate of oil theft, kidnapping and Boko Haram insurgency under Jonathan's watch.
“Conventional military actions based on standard phases of military operations alone will not permanently and effectively deal with the issue of Boko Haram,” he added.
He also accused the president of encouraging tribalism, saying: “For you to allow yourself to be “possessed”, so to say, to the exclusion of most of the rest of Nigerians as an “Ijaw man” is a mistake that should never have been allowed to happen."
"Yes, you have to be born in one part of Nigeria to be a Nigerian if not naturalised, but the Nigerian president must be above ethnic factionalism. And those who prop you up as of, and for ‘Ijaw nation’ are not your friends genuinely; not friends of Nigeria nor friends of ‘Ijaw nation’ they tout about.
“To allow or tacitly encourage people of ‘Ijaw nation’ to throw insults at other Nigerians from other parts of the country and threaten fire and brimstone to protect your interest as an Ijaw man is myopic and you’re not openly quieting them is even more unfortunate,” he added.
Also in a tacit reference to the release of former Maj Hamza Al-Mustapha, former chief security officer to the late General Sani Abacha, Obasanjo said: “Presidential assistance for a murderer to evade justice and presidential delegation to welcome him home can only be in bad taste generally but particularly to the family of his victim.
“Assisting criminals to evade justice cannot be part of the job of the presidency. Or, as it is viewed in some quarters, is he being recruited to do for you what he had done for Abacha in the past? Hopefully, he should have learned his lesson. Let us continue to watch.”
The former president also called on the National Assembly to rise up and take decisive action over the recent allegation that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has been cheating the country in the remittance of funds to the Federation Account.
“This allegation will not fly away by non-action, cover-up, denial or bribing possible investigators. Please deal with this allegation transparently and let the truth be known.
“The dramatis personae in this allegation and who they are working for will one day be public knowledge. Those who know are watching if the National Assembly will not be accomplice in the heinous crime and naked grand corruption. May God grant you the grace for at least one effective corrective action against high corruption which seems to stink all around you in your government,” he said.
As a parting shot, the former president said he knew he had stirred the hornet's nest with his letter detailing the misdeeds of the president and he would be ready for attacks by his aides and the federal government,.
He however said he was unperturbed by the likely threats, adding: “Knowing what happens around you most of which you know of and condone or deny, this letter will provoke cacophony from hired and unhired attackers but I will maintain my serenity because by this letter, I have done my duty to you as I have always done, to your government, to the party, PDP, and to our country, Nigeria.
“I have passed the stage of being flattered, intimidated, threatened, frightened, induced or bought… Death is the end of all human beings and may it come when God wills it to come.”
In a swift response, Jonathan's spokesman who acknowledged the receipt of the letter, said it was "highly unbecoming, mischievous and provocative that a letter written by a former head of state and respected elder statesman to President Jonathan has been deliberately leaked to the mass media in a deplorable effort to impugn the integrity of the president and denigrate his commitment to giving Nigeria the best possible leadership."
According to him, while some Nigerians have condemned the letter as self-serving, hypocritical, malicious, indecent, and very disrespectful of the office of the president, Jonathan has ordered his aides or any government official not to react to Obasanjo's vituperation.
"The president himself will, at the appropriate time, offer a full personal response to the most reckless, baseless, unjustifiable and indecorous charges levied against him and his administration by the former head of state," he added.
Also reacting, Tukur denied Obasanjo's allegations that it was Jonathan that was pushing him to stoke crisis in PDP.
"For such a statement against the person of the national chairman of the PDP, to come from Chief Obasanjo, a former head of state and president is most unfortunate.
"Chief Obasanjo in his position as former president under the PDP platform should have known very well the constitution of the party, the party manifestos as it relates to the independence of the PDP National Working Committee.
"For him to insinuate that the president is using the national chairman to cause multiple problems for the party doesn't in any way portray him as a true democrat.
"Chief Obasanjo is very much aware of the fact that Dr Bamanga Tukur is a man of honour and proven integrity who shouldn't be portrayed as a stooge to anybody," he said.