Mr. Obasanjo says he would not bandy words with anyone over his letter to President Jonathan, and anyone who feels aggrieved should go to court
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has challenged those dissatisfied with the issues he raised in his now famous letter to President Goodluck Jonathan to take him to court, insisting he would not trade words with anybody on the matter.
Mr. Obasanjo, had in the 18-page letter dated December 2, to Mr. Jonathan accused the president of failing to deliver on his electoral promises, promote national unity, check corruption and strengthen national security.
He also accused the President of planning to renege on his promise to stay for only one term in office and of training a killer squad for the 2015 general elections.
The former president had come under intense criticisms not only for writing the letter, which he titled “Before it is too late” but also for raising those issues.
Mr Obasanjo, who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES on Monday through an aide, Tunde Oladunjoye, during a telephone interview, insisted he would not join issues with any one on the controversial letter.
This newspaper had called the former President’s office requesting Mr. Obasanjo to respond to the claim by a Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, chieftain in Ogun State, Buruji Kashamu, that he (Kashamu) spent a whopping N3 billion to help him (Obasanjo) defeat former Governor Gbenga Daniel during the 2011 elections.
An aide to the former president however referred PREMIUM TIMES to Mr. Oladunjoye, who he said has Mr. Obasanjo’s permission to speak on his behalf.
“Baba will not join issues with Kashamu,” Mr. Oladunjoye said when contacted by this newspaper. “Baba’s letter is very clear. Any individual that is dissatisfied with any part of that letter can go to court, but Baba will not join issues with Kashamu or with anyone for that matter.”
Mr. Oladunjoye then declined further comments, saying that was all he was willing to say on behalf of former President Obasanjo.
Pressed for more comments, Mr. Oladunjoye said he would only continue if he allowed to speak for himself, a request he was granted.
Speaking for himself on Mr. Kashamu’s claim, Mr. Oladunjoye, who was the deputy governorship candidate of the PDP in Ogun State in the 2011 elections, said it was laughable for Mr. Kashamu to try to disparage Mr. Obasanjo, adding that the PDP chieftain would need to examine his conscience and political strategy.
He said, “Kashamu need to examine his conscience and strategy. Not long ago he took on African Independent Television. A politician who knows his worth does not take on a community paper on flimsy excuses let alone an organisation like AIT.
“I see it as laughable. If they say you are wanted for drug trafficking and money laundering and you are saying you spent N3 billion on behalf of someone. Is that not further indicting. If you spent N3 billion, where did you get it from? What kind of investment did you do? Is it legitimate? If you say you made $700 million at the age of 30, how did you make that?
Mr Oladunjoye predicted that those criticising the former President for writing the letter to Mr. Jonathan would eventually swallow their words as they had done in the past because they (critics) did not have the mandate of the president to do so.
Asked if he was not worried about accusations of treason against Mr Obasanjo, the former deputy governorship candidate to Tunji Olurin, noted that it would not be new to the former president.
“It will not be the first time. He was arrested, charged and ‘convicted’ on a phantom allegation of coup plotting and he was sent to prison,” he said.
“But what happened to the head of state who sent him to jail? Where is the man today?
“Let me add that it is in the best interest of Mr. President to remove himself from this court of jesters and political jobbers and sycophants. Let him examine the contents of the letter one by one. The former president is not a flippant person who talks anyhow.”
Quoting the famous statement by the late environmental rights activist, Ken Saro-Wiwa about the message and the messenger, Mr. Oladunjoye argued that it was easier to destroy the messenger, in this case Mr Obasanjo, than the message.
He recalled, “Saro-Wiwa was violently executed by the junta then. The issues in the Niger Delta today for which Saro-Wiwa embarked on non-violent campaign are worse today than they were then.”
Mr. Oladunjoye admonished Mr. Jonathan not only to follow similar path but also to adopt the method used by the former Tanzanian leader, Julius Nyerere, in running the country.
He stressed, “During his regime of Nyerere he was reported to have regularly left his presidential mansion to go to his native home, dismissing all his security and other aides as soon as he goes back to his town. That gave him the opportunity to listen to his community, telling him the reality of the situation in the community. Julius Nyerere ended up a very successful president.”
He described Mr. Obasanjo as somebody who had staked his life for Nigeria during the civil war and that the former president had repeatedly told him that God had done for him more than what he deserved at his age.
“President Obasanjo is a general. He has staked his life for this country in the Nigerian civil war. He could have been killed,” Mr. Oladunjoye said.
“Don’t forget that President Obasanjo is Balogun of Owu. He has told me personally in the past that God has done for him more than he desires and deserves and at his age and what he has accomplished, he is not afraid to die. Death will come when it will come.
“But it will be the biggest mistake of the Presidency to arrest, harass or eliminate President Obasanjo or his aides and members of his family.
“I can predict that President Jonathan will not do that because at the end of the day all the hangers on and political jobbers will not be there when the ongoing reconciliation will be finally effected.”
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