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Jonathan-Obasanjo feud gets messier

By Azimazi Jimoh (Abuja) and Seye Olumide (Lagos)
15 February 2015   |   10:41 pm
• President may soon expose ex-Head of State’s alleged personal demands, says PDP • Ruling party’s candidate likely to win, U.S. ex-envoy  predicts   INDICATIONS emerged yesterday that the face- off between former President Olusegun Obasanjo and incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan may be far from abating as the  Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said that the latter…


• President may soon expose ex-Head of State’s alleged personal demands, says PDP • Ruling party’s candidate likely to win, U.S. ex-envoy  predicts  

INDICATIONS emerged yesterday that the face- off between former President Olusegun Obasanjo and incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan may be far from abating as the 

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said that the latter would soon disclose all alleged personal demands of the former that he had turned down since 2011 that might have fuelled the lingering animosity.

  The party also declared that its leadership would decide on whether or not to sanction Obasanjo over allegation of anti-party activities. 

  Meanwhile, former United States Ambassador to Nigeria, John Campbell, has revealed that President Jonathan was the likely candidate to win the forthcoming elections, according to persecond 

  Addressing a news conference in Abuja yesterday, the Director of Media and Publicity of the PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation, Femi Fani- Kayode, described Obasanjo’s allegation that Jonathan was planning to perpetuate himself in power unconstitutional as reckless and pointing that the allegations were assertions that were “capable of derailing our democracy and creating chaos in the land.

  “The truth is that he knows that 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.  What he is trying to say in his latest contribution is 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.”

  Fani-Kayode challenged Obasanjo to prove his weighty allegations by presenting them before the Council of State and take it up there.

  He should also report to INEC itself and present the data of whatever sinister plan he believes that Jonathan has to stay in power ‘’by hook or by crook’’ to them. He should tell INEC whatever it is that Jonathan is doing in order for him to stay in power by all means and he should give them all the details.  That should be the starting point.”

  On Obasanjo’s allegation that Jonathan was playing out a script of perpetuating himself in power like former Cote d’Voire President Laurent Gbabo, Fani Kayode stated:

“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 29 is sacrosanct.  In view of these assurances, one wonders why Obasanjo is creating such a hue and cry over nothing.  What has he seen 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?’’

  “President Obasanjo spoke about President 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 Jonathan and Nigeria played in helping to restore democracy and stability to his country. 

  “They should also find out the role that Obasanjo played in attempting to keep President 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, 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.”

  “Again it is ironic that Obasanjo has accused President 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 forbids it. He tried all he could to change the constitution but the whole thing failed and he was compelled to leave power.”

  On Obasanjo’s alleged demands from Jonathan, Fani-Kayode stated:

“After Jonathan came to power, 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. It is for Jonathan himself to divulge those things and I am sure that he will do so at the appropriate time.  Needless to say 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 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.

  “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 it is headed by his puppet. 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.”

 “The bottom line is this: “Obasanjo’s grouse with Jonathan is personal and it has nothing to do with Nigeria. He should leave Nigeria out of it and let us all be.  If he has a personal score to settle with Jonathan, he should not do so at the expense of the peace and stability of Nigeria.  If he wants to stop Jonathan then let him attempt to do so through the democratic process and through the ballot box and not through foul and unconstitutional means.  We said it before and we will say it again: gone are the days that any president can be teleguided and controlled, because we have all come of age.”

  On Obasanjo’s alleged anti-party activities Fani-Kayode said: “‎It is very difficult to say that he (Obasanjo) is a member of the PDP and he is saying these sort of things and doing these sort of things it makes things very difficult for us and I think with this, it is left for the party chairman and leaders to make their own determination on our part as the Presidential campaign organisation to ensure that President Jonathan gives a good fight in terms of the elections. That is our job, we need to take on anybody…. or any institutions or…but he has made his choice and we have made our choices and we intend to stand where we stand nobody will be pushed around or intimidate us.

  “I sincerely hope and pray that Obasanjo pulls back and rethink and join forces with us against the opposition. It is never too late even if it will be on the eve of the election, to have him on our corner will be great privilege and honour. As long as he stands on the other side and continues to cast aspersions on the character of the president and raise questions on him, what the president wants to do and suggesting that the president wants to stay in power by hook or by crook and all that sort of stuff, we cannot possibly expect us to keep quiet. We have to set the records straight. We have to stand with our president and with our party.”

  Campbell, a Ralph Bunche senior fellow for Africa Policy Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations in a report titled, ‘Nigeria’s 2015 Presidential Election: Contingency Planning Memorandum Update, the envoy said, “despite the strength of the opposition, Jonathan remains the likely—but not certain—winner.

  According to him, the 2015 elections again might precipitate violence that could destabilise Nigeria, and Washington has even less leverage in Abuja than it did in 2011.

  In his recommendations to the U.S government, he advised the Obama administration not to comment prematurely on the quality of the elections. Observers from the National Democratic Institute and the International Republic Institute are likely to issue preliminary assessments immediately after the polls close. So, too, will observers from the European Union, the Commonwealth, and the African Union. There will be media pressure for early, official comment. But, following a close election and the violence likely to follow, the timing and content of official U.S. statements should take into account the views of the vibrant Nigerian human rights community, which will likely be the most accurate.

  The U.S Secretary of State in the wake of the elections postponement issued a statement declaring that the shift was unacceptable, a statement that has been rejected by some Nigerians as hypocritical.

  Campbell further asked the U.S government to facilitate and support humanitarian assistance. The north is already in desperate need of humanitarian assistance, with the prospect of famine looming. If the postelection period is violent, there may be need for international humanitarian assistance in 

many other parts of the country. 

  Campbell has been generally regarded a critic of the Jonathan administration, an ally of APC leader and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar.

   Meanwhile, the Southwest Zone of the Presidential Campaign Council of the PDP has said that the 

postponement of the elections was a crucial opportunity for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to remedy “ its apparent lack of preparedness to conduct a minimally credible presidential election on the earlier date of February 14th 2015.”

 Also, the Chairman, Organisation and Mobilisation Committee of the South West PDP, Prince Buruji Kashamu, has called on appropriate authorities in Nigeria to investigate, prosecute and imprison Obasanjo for alleged acts of corruption perpetrated during the latter’s regime as president.

  Making the call yesterday during a press conference at his Lekki, Lagos residence, Buruji, who presented a researched ‎document entitled: ‘Obasanjo Wants to Rule Nigeria Again,’ which contained over 500 alleged corruption acts carried out during the latter’s administration, said the former president lacked the moral right to castigate Jonathan.

  On his part, a former Deputy National Chairman, PDP South West, Chief Olabode George, eually berated Obasanjo for comparing President Jonathan with former president of Ivory Coast, Larence Gbagbo as an insult to Nigeria.

   Addressing the media in his Ikoyi residence yesterday, George said Obasanjo was simply aiming to destabilise the country based on his selfish motive

 George and Buruji accused the former president engaging in anti-PDP activities making unguarded utterances capable of heating up the polity.

 In a statement yesterday in Ibadan by its chairman, publicity sub-committee, Chief Akin Oshuntokun, the campaign council said it was “a matter of great concern that INEC appears unconcerned about such potentially explosive and puzzling lapse of sharp disparities in the distribution of the Permanent Voter cards (PVCS) which it says, systematically puts a section of the country at clear advantage whilst pitting others at severe disadvantage.”

 It went on: “A distribution pattern in which insurgency ravaged areas record over 70% collection rate of PVCS to the 40% average distribution rate in the relatively stable and peaceful South West calls for concern and most certainly requires a lot of explanation. More puzzling still is the surprising acquiescence of  the All Peoples Congress (APC) leadership in the South West in an emergent electoral situation in which majority of voters in the zone would have been disenfranchised.”

   Further, it said “there is no more eloquent demonstration of this tacit endorsement and connivance than the description of the postponement as a ‘coup against democracy’ by the APC national leader, Senator Ahmed Bola Tinubu.

  “For the  APC leadership to have  referred  to the postponement  of  the  election dates as a coup against democracy, even  as it became  apparent  that  about 60% of the people of the region would not have been able to  vote, is  sheer wickedness and a coup against the people they claim to lead.”

  It further queries “how a remedial postponement that responds to the electoral disempowerment of a less than 40% collection rate in Lagos state amount to coup against democracy, insisting that  the INEC Chairman,  Professor Atahiru  Jega has not been able to convincingly justify the high rate of distribution of PVCs in areas of high tension and terrorist attacks relative to the security conducive Yoruba area where the PVCs have been barely available for collection.

The committee urges INEC to take urgent measures to eradicate the prevalence of underage voting in areas that have been clearly identified with such credibility eroding practice.”

 It further stated that “the aggregate percentage of distribution of PVCs, by the figures released by the INEC, shows in an inexplicable manner that the South West lags behind, adding that the development would have disenfranchised more than 45% of likely voters on the average in the region.

 “The argument that the high percentage would not have mattered because there was never a time that there is 100 per cent turn out of voters is reckless and should be discountenanced, insisting  that  the right to vote is inalienable to every Nigerian of voting age.

 “The deliberate attempt to disenfranchise some set of residents as unravelled by the Resident Electoral Commission in Lagos recently is worrisome and deserves more than cursory attention stressing that the announced extension period is  opportunity to make amends.

  “We ask that the postponement of the election by six weeks be capitalised upon by INEC, to, as a matter of urgency, provide the PVCs and make necessary logistic arrangements for their speedy distribution

  “The INEC chairman should endeavour to jealously guard the good track record and reputation he earned for conducting the credible 2011 widely adjudged to meet international standard. There is the need for him to disabuse the mind of the public of any misgiving and resolve to remain a fair and unbiased umpire.”

  It thus enjoined “all residents of the zone to exhibit vigilance and dedication and wait to collect their PVCs so as to support PDP candidates across the zone and in the presidential election, even as it demanded that  Nigerians should be vigilant and reject war mongers now masquerading as change champions through the power of the ballots.”