A former Minister of Aviation and spokesperson of President Goodluck Jonathan’s campaign organisation, Femi Fani-Kayode, has stated that former President Olusegun Obasanjo has intensified his attacks on president Goodluck Jonathan because he has strong fears that Mr. Jonathan will win next month’s presidential election.
Mr. Fani-Kayode made the assertion Sunday at a press conference in Abuja.
Mr. Obasanjo had on Saturday accused Mr. Jonathan of working towards a controversial poll and possibly, exit from office, the same way former Ivorian president, Laurent Gbagbo, did in his country.
In his earlier reaction, the president accused Mr. Obasanjo of harbouring an ambition of heading an interim government after instigating a constitutional crisis in the country
Speaking on Saturday, Mr. Fani-Kayode, who was also a spokesperson to Mr. Obasanjo while the latter was in office, said Mr. Obasanjo’s allegations are “serious and grave”.
He described the comments made by the former president as 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,” Mr. Fani-Kayode said.
He said what Mr. Obasanjo was trying to say in his latest comments was 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 said.
He also urged Mr. Obasanjo to present any evidence he has to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
Poll shift, not the first time
Mr. Fani-Kayode also said that this is not the first time that INEC has postponed elections in Nigeria.
He said that in 2011 during the National Assembly elections INEC not only cancelled the elections just after they started but it also postponed them by two weeks.
“The heavens did not fall then and neither did President Obasanjo accuse INEC or the president of having any grand plan to stay in power by hook or by crook at that time. One wonders what has suddenly changed.”
The INEC Chairman, Attahiru Jega, had last week announced the postponement of general elections by six weeks, citing security report from the country’s armed forces.
Mr. Fani-Kayode said what INEC has done by postponing the elections is firmly within the confines of the law and they have probably saved thousands of lives by doing so.
He added that by the shift, INEC has given the 34 per cent of Nigerians that had not collected their PVC’s as at the relevant time the opportunity to do so.
He argued that without this postponement all those people would have been disenfranchised and it would have placed a dark cloud over the whole process.
“Why should President Obasanjo have a problem with that?” he asked.
The spokesperson added that Mr. Jonathan has re-affirmed his commitment to the democratic process over and over again and he has also said that the handover date of May 29th is sacrosanct.
“In view of these assurances, one wonders why President Obasanjo is creating such a hue and cry over nothing. What is he seeing that no one else can see? One wonders what his motives are. Does he have to rule every government by proxy? Must every leader take instructions from him? Is it a case of ”if I cannot control you and tell you what to do then you must go?”
Jonathan ousted Gbagbo
Reacting to the “Gbagbo treatment” claim by Mr. Obasanjo, Mr. Fani-Kayode said Mr. Jonathan was the one who forced Laurent Gbagbo out of office when he tried to muzzle an over stay.
“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 plan to ”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 Mr. Jonathan and Nigeria played in helping to restore democracy and stability back to his country,” he said.
Mr. Fani-Kayode also accused Mr. Obasanjo of working for the former Ivory Coast leader during the country’s constitutional crisis.
He said efforts should be made to “find out the role that 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, President 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 them,” he said.
You leave in a glass house
Mr. Fani-Kayode said it is ironic that Mr. Obasanjo has accused Mr. Jonathan of having a grand plan to stay in power at all costs 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,” he said.
He said after Mr. Jonathan came to power, Mr. 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.
He, however, said it is for Mr. Jonathan himself to divulge those things adding “I am sure that he will do so at the appropriate time”.
“President Jonathan refused to be teleguided and told what to do even though at all times he showed Obasanjo maximum respect and accorded him all the privileges, access and courtesies that is 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. That is why he is so determined to stop Jonathan and put in place an Interim Government, which he, or one of his surrogates, will head. That is his plan and he is determined to achieve it no matter what it takes,” the campaign spokesperson said.
What Obasanjo wants
Mr. Fani-Kayode also accused the former president of not being a democrat but a power monger.
“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 his puppet heads it. 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 costs,” he said.