Earlier in the week, President Goodluck Jonathan replied to the 18-page letter written to him by former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, titled “Before it is too Late.” In the earlier letter, the former president had listed some actions of the incumbent which he believed were capable of throwing the country into confusion. Some of the issues the Owu chief raised bordered on how the president had been “encouraging” his Ijaw kinsmen to insult Nigerians, the handling of the economy and the country’s security situation. But the weightiest of the allegations was that the president has been training snipers to be used on some opposition elements and that over a thousand Nigerians have been put on the political watch list. The letter dated December 2, 2013 also accused the Presidency, under Jonathan, of using presidential jet to welcome a convicted murderer, a veiled reference to the recently freed former chief security officer to late head of state, Hamza al-Mustapha .
In his response, which was marked with decorum, civil language and deference to both age and office of a president, Jonathan said he was surprised that the former president chose to write the letter when he had unfettered access to him to discuss any state matters with him instead of going public. He said he had chosen not to reply previous letters since they were hand delivered and they usually discussed the content; hence no need for any response. On the allegations, President Jonathan wondered how a former president could have made such allegations of snipers being trained and politicians being put on watch list without any proof to back up such allegations. Poignantly, the president referred to the statement by Speaker Aminu Tambuwal that his body language did not support fight against corruption and Central Bank governor, Sanusi Sanusi, that $49.8 billion were not accounted for by the NNPC as part of an orchestrated campaign to scare him away from contesting the 2015 presidential elections.
Overall, President Jonathan seemed to have scored more political points than his predecessor. In the first instance, his language was very civil and he also took the ‘fight’ back to former president Obasanjo to substantiate his claims; adding that some of his claims were capable of setting Nigerians against one another. He asked the former president to come forward with name of any of his family or friend whose name was on the alleged watch list.
The president also used the letter, which was another political masterstroke, to show that all the attacks from different directions have an imprint of the 2015 elections written all over them. He came across as someone who knew how to get pungent messages across without sounding belligerent. Perhaps, that is where he scored more political points than Obasanjo.