By Uzor Maxim Uzoatu
Nigerians forget all too quickly.
Many of my countrymen and women have of course forgotten the bomb of a letter that ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo sent to then President Goodluck Jonathan.
Given the volatile political situation in the country today it is crucial to recall that Obasanjo letter and its aftermath.
I have just found in a corner of my house the book entitled Before We Forget: Obasanjo’s Letter To President Jonathan And The Aftermath edited by Francis Abayomi and published by Peace and Development Projects (PEDEP), Ogba, Lagos in 2014. It’s a 273-page book.
The book is still in the envelope through which it was sent to me, and there is still the accompanying letter signed by Francis Abayomi that goes straight to the point thus: “We have the pleasure to present, to you, a book titled Before We Forget: Obasanjo’s Letter to President Jonathan and the Aftermath. This publication by Peace and Development Projects (PEDEP) is aimed at documenting history and deepening engagement of Nigeria’s political and governance processes in the light of the popular debate elicited by the letter addressed to President Goodluck Jonathan by former President Olusegun Obasanjo and made public in December, 2013. We found public engagement of issues around the presidential exchanges very critical to our polity, governance and continuous interrogation of leadership question in Nigeria. By this publication, our objective is to avail present and future generations the opportunity of appreciating the whole account of issues and contentions that dominated the historical debate.”
The drift of the book can be gleaned from the bold capitals of the blurb: “When former President Olusegun Obasanjo wrote his ‘historic’ letter to President Jonathan, he probably expected a bouquet of flowers from a broad spectrum of Nigerians, but enlightened Nigerians, including his own daughter, easily saw through him. He didn’t bargain for what he got…”
It was indeed uncanny for a former president to criticize the sitting president elected from his political party.
Obasanjo happens to be the exception to every rule.
It is not for nothing that many of Obasanjo’s critics see him as suffering from “The Messiah Complex”, that know-all habit of almost always having all the solutions to all the problems.
The Vanguard columnist Obi Nwakanma is quoted at the back of the book, to wit: “The remarkable thing about Obasanjo is that he has all the answers when he is not in government.”
Before We Forget is divided into four broad parts. The first part contains Obasanjo’s letter, President Jonathan’s reply, Iyabo Obasanjo’s sending-up of her father, Chief EK Clark’s response, former Senate President Ameh Ebute’s missive, and Alhaji Mujahid Asari Dokubo’s diatribe.
The second part contains a broad spectrum of rejoinders from the media.
The third part deals with opinions from columnists, bloggers, and sundry newspapers.
The fourth and final part is a compilation of comments in various websites and social media platforms.
According to Obasanjo in his letter entitled “Before It Is Too Late”, “Mr. President, you have on a number of occasions acknowledged the role God enabled me to play in your ascension to power. You put me third after God and your parents among those that have impacted most on your life.”
The letter “dated December 2, 2013, was leaked to the media on December 11, 2013.”
Obasanjo states as a sort of epilogue that he had discussed the contents of the letter with General Ibrahim Babangida, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, General Yakubu Danjuma and Dr. Alex Ekwueme “whose concerns for and commitments to the good of Nigeria have been known to be strong.”
In his reply to the Obasanjo letter, President Jonathan states, inter alia, “that you (Obasnjo) have done me grave injustice with your public letter in which you wrongfully accused me of deceit, deception, dishonesty, incompetence, clannishness, divisiveness, and insincerity, among other ills.”
As it happened back then, well before President Jonathan published his reply, Obasanjo’s daughter Senator Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello had sent a stinker to his father as published by Vanguard.
Quoting Menchus, the 4th Century Chinese philosopher, as per “The great man is he who does not lose his child’s heart”, Iyabo dismisses his father as a “Mr. Know it All” who insists on overshadowing everybody, stressing, “… you surround yourself with idiots who will agree with you on anything and need you for financial gain and you need them for your insatiable ego…Nigeria has descended into a hellish reality where smart, capable people to ‘survive’ and have their daily bread prostrate to imbeciles.”
Chief EK Clark in his letter entitled “Let The Truth Be Told Before It Is Too Late” writes: “My dear Obasanjo, your allegation that President Jonathan is training snipers in preparation for 2015, is a diabolical concoction and a figment of your imagination.”
For Col. Abubakar Dangiwa Umar, Obasanjo is spearheading a secret agenda.
My one poser for Obasanjo is: “Where are Jonathan’s snipers?”
Well, 2015 happened, and for the first time in Nigerian history a sitting president was voted out of power – but Obasanjo happens to still be griping!
Now that Nigeria is boiling up in the race to the 2023 polls, Obasanjo’s 2014 “letter-bomb” should serve as an object lesson to all Nigerians.