To fully make sense of Obasanjo’s December 2, 2013 letter to Jonathan, you should follow the key point of my analytical deduction, which I refer to as Obasanjo’s unspoken historical burden. They are, namely, for the three times when he exercised partisan power and influence in Nigeria’s presidential election history, he has faced unpleasant twists, as well as unexpected and unsatisfactory outcomes: in 1979 (he supported Alhaji Shehu Shagari, NPN, removed in a military coup in 1983)
In 2007 (he personally picked an ill Alhaji Umar Yar’Adua, PDP, who died after 3 years of ineffective presidency as the 13th Head of State on May 5, 2010) and he also picked Yar’Adua’s VP, Goodluck Jonathan who became acting President on May 6.
On April 18, 2011, however, he was declared winner of the presidential election with the very active campaign support of Obasanjo, but he now insists that Jonathan is not good enough and deserves the December 2 acidic, public, denunciation of his presidency and worse, of this same man who has been, according to my key sources in the presidency in Abuja, very respectful and deferential toward Obasanjo.
Based on Obasanjo’s military antecedents, power attitude and drawing from my reading of his history as a leader, he will Not — for lack of a better word — “forgive” Jonathan despite his references to God and Christ, and to the great Nelson Mandela the same week as a forgiving leader. To be sure, Obasanjo does not have the forgiving spirit of Mandela. I am not surprised at Obasanjo’s militaristic strategy of maximum assault and attack to severely damage his target.
No matter how finely presented the speeches he makes in the name of democracy, he’s a dyed-in-the-wool soldier for whom the opposition to his set goals no longer require philosophical exegesis and debates but the whiz-bang of ear-shattering confrontation fit for enemy combatants. Hence, I believe that Obasanjo’s caustic, open letter was calibrated to belittle the credibility of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria and severely advertise his lack of personal respect for the same Nigerian leader Dr. Jonathan. And, he makes it clear that he does not have to respect the man or his presidency!
As a student of politics Nigeriana and analyst of the various emanations and power plays by Obasanjo I’m not surprised that he’s going for Jonathan’s jugular. Obasanjo fights to the finish! The good thing about his fighting you in politics is that you will know. But, somehow, Jonathan’s handlers and strategists are yet to show an effective, better, grasp of the unfolding events and, realistically and without sentiments, “engage” Obasanjo & Co. Otherwise, the man who has the most to lose, the President Jonathan, should, operationally, awaken to the unfolding strategic goal of the letter from former President Obasanjo: a forced, embarrassing, end to the Jonathan presidency!
There are, mainly, three sets of reaction to the harsh, condescending, caustic and in some cases brutally frank letter of December 2, 2013, to Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan from his “political godfather”, former President retired General Olusegun Obasanjo.
The First group of Nigerians dismisses everything said and written by Obasanjo as utter “nonsense”, total “bunkum”, possibly good advice coming from the “wrong source” and, lest we forget, from “a shameless hypocrite.” Worse things and poisonous adjectival arrows have been deployed by the trumpeters for Jonathan to aim at the medulla oblongata of the former army officer who, himself, categorizes politics in the language of war and martial brutality led by garrison commanders!
Obasanjo has since the December 10, 2013, deliberate leak of the letter faced a media barrage and assault by Jonathan’s garrison commanders. To boot, since Obasanjo, they say, “loves to write open letters”, one letter with a truck load of insults was fluently “forged” with his famous daughter Iyabo’s name appended as the author of the most comprehensive and contextual letter of insults from a daughter to her father.
The Second group are the Nigerians who insist that Obasanjo hit the name on the head; they add he has done President Jonathan a wake up favour by running a laundry list of Jonathan’s failings and alleged inadequacies.
These Nigerians add that Obasanjo deserves another level of respect for speaking up and sharing with Nigerians what he now, really, thinks about the man he hand-picked as Nigeria’s vice President and my key sources informed me he affirmed to be elevated as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria. These Nigerians say that Obasanjo is accurate in assessing Jonathan’s presidency as a failure which should get out of the way for peace and security to emerge.
And, for effect, Obasanjo “cautions” Jonathan that he personally copied some influential retired Generals— especially the crafty power player Ibrahim Babangida. The extreme elements and beneficiaries of the Obasanjo tenures (1976-1979) and (1999-2007) in this group shout, hoarily and foolishly, that “only Baba Obasanjo knows how to rule this Nigeria” and spread other psycho-political pathologies.
The Third group of Nigerians — who might be the majority — point out there are some reasonable deductions from the two previous groups/positions. They argue that Jonathan is doing his best, yet he is complacent and should do more especially on corruption. Consequently, I think that Jonathan should digest Obasanjo’s letter and harness the meaningful aspects of his message and discard the boatload of serial insults, unusual condescension to a sitting president and the slap on Ijaw peoples’ right to rally around their first son.
Although, some of the spokespersons for Ijaw interests use the language of power politics in vernacular and without adequate discretion. Jonathan should call a very small meeting of effective men and women (from within and outside government) with one request: how do I save my presidency to make Nigeria better for all? He should demand optimal performance from all his ministers, set a firm deadline for verifiable results — in the same way Lagos Governor Fashola’s results are evident — or such minister(s) get sacked before May 2014.
Besides Obasanjo’s open warfare, the opposition is gaining major grounds against Jonathan. Especially, taking cognizance of their December 17, 2013, over-turning of Jonathan’s ruling PDP majority in Nigeria’s House of Representatives into the APC’s advantage via defections.
On balance, the trillion dollar question is simple: is it too late to rescue the Jonathan presidency from the combined onslaught of the Obasanjo squad and the assorted maneuvers of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC)?
The answer is blowing in the wind…
•Dr. Chido Nwangwu, Publisher of Houston-based USAfrica multimedia networks, recipient of several journalism and public policy awards, is completing in February 2014, the book MANDELA: Immortal Icon & The Power of Forgiveness. Feed him back via Chido247@Gmail.com