Could it be that the curious unfolding cold war between President Goodluck Jonathan and former Nigerian heads-of-state is largely responsible for why the ship of state is, willy-nilly, heading for the precipice even as the contest for the soul of Nigeria assumes worrying dimensions, writes BAYO OLADEJI.
That things are not going well between President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and some of his predecessors in office is an open secret to some people that are in the corridors of power. Not a few strongly believed that this apparent cold war among the present and the former leaders is largely responsible for why the country continues running is retrogressing.
Tragically, it is not only Jonathan that is having a running problem with past leaders but they too are not at peace with themselves. If there had been anyone who doubted this, the media reports last week have removed the veil from their faces as not fewer than four of them were in the news for one thing or the other that is related to this undeclared cold war among them.
To kick-start this melodrama was a story exclusively reported by LEADERSHIP of the plan being made by former President Olusegun Obasanjo to ensure Jonathan’s second term dream is aborted just like his own third term. And to accomplish this task, he has reportedly anointed one of his closest allies in the North and serving governor of Jigawa State, Sule Lamido and his Rivers State counterpart, Governor Rotimi Amaechi as his running-mate come 2015.
Although the Obasanjo camp has come out to deny this and traced the story to the doorstep of those who do not wish him and Jonathan well in their relationship but those that know better have asked him to tell that to the marines.
According to some observers, whatever happens between now and next year will largely reveal whether Obasanjo is saying the truth or otherwise. Meanwhile, some political leading lights from the North like former governor of Niger State, Abdullahi Kure, have asked the former president to keep away from the Northern politics.
As if to confirm that things have truly fallen apart between the president and his predecessors in office, it was Jonathan himself that sent a mortal javelin to the former leaders accusing them of being insincere with the way and manner some of them have been criticizing him and his government behind his back. The forum was provided by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) at its just concluded conference held in Abuja.
Hear him, “Sometimes, even people who have held offices in government criticise me to the extent of personal abuses. Sometimes, I ask, ‘were there roads across the country and Jonathan brought flood to wipe out these roads?’ Or we had power and I brought hurricane to break down the entire infrastructure?
“If they say Boko Haram is because of poverty; were there massive irrigation projects in the North where agriculture can thrive and massive farms and Jonathan brought drought to wipe out these farms? Under two years, is it possible? Well, time will tell.
What I can tell Nigerians is that let those who criticise continue to criticise. We will do our best and as we progress, Nigerians will know the truth and we’ll see that we are committed and will surely transform this country.”
Speaking further the President said: “I think I am the most criticised President in the whole world, but I tell this noble audience that before I leave, I will also be the most praised president. I have experienced that before in my governorship journey in Bayelsa State.
“In fact, people who were close to me will tell you that even after the election, I told them that in my first 12 months; please cover your ears because you will hear all kinds of things. But as we progress, you will see (changes). “We are working very hard to stabilise power. We are working very hard to resurface our roads. We have security challenges, which we are also working very hard to bring to reasonable control.
“It is not easy; we don’t have the magic wand, except the miracle worker that with the wave of the hand, probably will help to throw all these challenges away and prosperity will appear. But in pure governance issues, it takes time.”
As the president was forcefully defending himself and his government in Abuja, one of his predecessors in office Gen. Muhammadu Buhari was railing at him in Kaduna; taking him to the cleaners with two of his colleagues in the National Council of State, Chief Obasanjo and General Ibrahim Babangida who terminated his (Buhari’s) government in a palace coup.
The presidential candidate of the opposition Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) in the last general election accused Jonathan, former President Olusegun Obasanjo and ex-military President Ibrahim Babangida of being behind the destruction of the oil industry, with its attendant effects on the welfare of the ordinary Nigerian. Gen. Buhari reportedly made this remark while receiving members of the CPC from Katsina, who paid him a Sallah homage.
According to Gen. Buhari, the high level of corruption and the destruction of the petroleum industry began in the administration of Gen. Babangida. For the country to move forward, Nigerians must entrust its affairs to trusted leaders, he counselled.
He argued that there was no country where impunity thrives like Nigeria, adding that corruption in the petroleum sector began during the era of Gen. Babangida, continued during that of ex-President Obasanjo and the administration of President Jonathan because, in his view, they had the mindset to cheat the Nigerian masses.
To Buhari whose short-lived era was charaterised by discipline, “The biggest challenge of Nigeria is for adequate security to be in place and ways in which we can protect the riches of this country and provide job opportunities for the youths in the country, so that we can build more industries as it was before. “The inability of these industries to work has brought mistrust and corruption to Nigeria. Therefore, our leaders have to be sincere and lead with the fear of God and carry all along for Nigeria to be a better place.
“All leaders should stand and keep promises of the people. We cannot move forward, if things that are supposed to be put in place are not done. Like the money which was siphoned in the recent pension scam and the petroleum industry scam must all be brought back into the government’s coffer for good leadership.
“Therefore, all those that want the masses to vote and be voted for should go to the masses and get their mandate. The era of using money to bribe the masses or force to get political office is gone.
“A leader that wants to be a good leader must look at the needs of the people, the suffering and the humiliation and proffer solution to those problems and together we shall achieve greatness.”
But if Buhari thought his missile would go without any backlash, the aftermath spelt otherwise, as his friend and Buhari took a swipe at the trio of Jonathan, Obasanjo and Babangida. Babangida returned fire for fire, warning Buhari to watch his back as his hidden skeletons are not far away from them.
Gen. Babangida who spoke through Prince Kassim Afegbua, his media adviser, reportedly reminded Gen. Buhari that those who live in glass houses should not throw stones. He also advised Dr. Jonathan to look elsewhere, not him, if he is blaming past leaders that are criticising him.
Noted Babangida, “On President Jonathan, there is nothing wrong in criticism if it is constructive and in the interest of the country. Gen. Babangida is one unique former President who does not criticise a sitting President as a matter of courtesy. If President Jonathan is blaming past leaders, he should look elsewhere, certainly not IBB.
“On Gen. Buhari, it is not in IBB’s tradition to take up issues with his colleague former president. But for the purpose of record, we are conversant with Gen. Buhari’s so-called holier-than-thou attitude. He is a one-time Minister of Petroleum and we have good records of his tenure as minister.
“Secondly, he also presided over the Petroleum Trust Fund ( PTF) which records we also have. We challenge him to come out with clean hands in those two portfolios he headed. Or, we will help him to expose his. “records of performance during those periods. Those who live in glass houses do not throw stones. Gen. Buhari should be properly guided.”
But on the same day the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Dr. Matthew Hassan Kukah declared that no Nigerian president was ever prepared for the leadership of the country from Tafawa Balewa’s era to the present time, all Nigerian leaders who got into office achieved it by stroke of luck.
Delivering a keynote address at the just concluded 52nd Annual General Conference of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Kukah called for the removal of Section 162 of the Constitution in the on-going Constitutional amendment if the nation must move forward.
His words: “No Nigerian president or head of state has ever been prepared for the leadership of the country. From the days of Tafawa Balewa, all Nigerian leaders had always got into office through good luck, as most of them were never prepared for leadership.
The transition that took place had a terminal point, it was clearly known and nobody was left in doubt that everything was put in place to bring Obasanjo to power from prison, everybody that fought for the entrenchment of democracy is on the outside, from the annulment of the June 12 election till now Nigeria has had seven presidents.
“We cannot retain Section 162 of the Constitution if the nation must move forward. As long as the access to the resources of Nigeria is access to do as you like, we would continue to have violence in the country. Nigeria needs to be a bit creative and commit itself to human rights. Nigeria is a country with huge resources and unfortunately a country with a lot of poor people, one of the difficulties of this country.
Anybody who is the president of Nigeria deserves our sympathy as the loyalty in Nigeria has been transferred to tribes and godfathers, and 30 years from now Nigeria will be ruled by people who have their loyalty to tribe and godfathers. Nigerians are looking for a messiah, a messiah is not going to come from another planet, the Nigerian messiah is among us, who the messiah is, is what we don’t know so let’s us try to treat one another with some respect.”
While this was going on the opposition Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) descended heavily on the President for accusing his predecessors and reminded him of what leadership entails cited what is operating on the global scene to buttress its point. In a statement, the ACN considered Jonathan’s position as an admission of failure, incompetence and un-preparedness to govern.
On behalf of the party, National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said: “What a nation expects from a President even at a time of crisis are words that will inspire the citizens and give them confidence that the helmsman is on top of the situation and not the kind of words credited to Jonathan, which are only capable of demoralising the citizenry and telling them things are out of control and that he is completely at loss as at what to do.”
“Great leaders in the world like Winston Churchill, Dwight Eisenhower and JF Kennedy, are remembered today more importantly for the quality of leadership they provided their various nations at moments of crisis.”
But the Presidency has risen up defending the integrity of President Jonathan, faulting both Buhari and ACN. It dismissed Buhari’s assertion that Jonathan, along with former President Olusegun Obasanjo and former military president, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, were responsible for the corruption in the nation’s oil sector. It also described ACN’s attacks on Jonathan following his Monday speech at the general conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) as “illogical, untruthful and irresponsible.”
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, carpeted Buhari for including Jonathan among Nigerian leaders responsible for the rot in the oil sector. He said: “General Buhari made a great mistake in including President Jonathan among presidents that had killed the oil industry with corruption.
“That president has successfully put together the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) that is acceptable globally as best for industry practice and as a great achievement on the part of the present administration. It is also under this administration that the perennial fraud in the oil subsidy was exposed. So Buhari made a great mistake by including President Jonathan among those who superintended over the corruption in the petroleum sector.”
On the accusation by the ACN that the president’s comment at the NBA conference that he is the most criticised leader because of rising insecurity, which the party described as despondency on the part of the president, Okupe said: “The ACN interpretation is jaundiced and a total misrepresentation of the facts of what the president said. He said contrary to the perception of the Jonathan administration by the opposition, some world leaders have given him a good rating over how he has been handling the nation’s economy.
Quoting a representative of the United States President Barack Obama in the just-concluded Trade and Investment Summit, Ambassador Eunice Reddick, Okupe said: “President Barack Obama said that the economic team of President Jonathan remains the best in the world and that Nigeria is the next economic miracle and giant being launched in the world.”
Meanwhile General Muhammadu Buhari has reportedly said he would reply General Babangida’s threat to expose dirt on him.
According to a media report, Buhari, he said he would reply Babangida’s threat “soon.” This speech was delivered by one of the officers in his office who identified himself as Baba. There has been no word from his media aide, Ya’u Darazo.
The unanswered remains why are our past leaders find it difficult to relate well? Why do they find it difficult to even make inputs into the running of the Presidency in order for the country and the incumbent to benefit from their wealth of experience? To political pundits, it has to do with power aside from the circumstances that brought them to the office as noted by Rev. Father Kukah.
For example, despite the alarming level of the insecurity of lives and property occasioned by the insurgency of the Boko Haram sect and other problems bedevilling the polity, President Goodluck Jonathan was said to have resolved not to involve his predecessors in office due to what a close confidant describes as mistrust.
Source Article from http://allafrica.com/stories/201209031158.html
Nigeria: Appraising Jonathan, Predecessors’ Cold War
AllAfrica News: Water and Sanitation
All Africa, All the Time.