It’s the talk of the town. Everyone is talking about the letter, the now infamous letter written by former president Olusegun Obasanjo. The 18 page open letter he wrote to the current president has generated so much buzz and interest amongst the populace. And the reactions have been mixed; some have lauded it and some have rubbished it as well. Whatever the reactions one thing is for sure: the letter has been seen and read by all and sundry, including Goodluck Jonathan himself. So many opinions have come up over the matter. Here is mine.
I am not a fan of OBJ, he is one of the reasons we are where we are today. He is one of the reasons why in this day and age, politicians are still using outdated promises like good roads, good health care and proper drainage system as contents of their manifestoes. He had the chance to make history being the only one to rule this country thrice, but he didn’t. He was once in power and he didn’t act any differently from his predecessors. He was corrupt, high handed and power hungry and in my opinion had no moral justification to write that letter. That being said, I think the contents of that letter are actually not far from the truth. In fact, those words were true! Ironic isn’t it? In the said letter, Obasanjo accused the president of causing rifts in the PDP, being clannish, dividing the country along ethnic and religious lines and condoning corruption. He also alleged that there was information making rounds that GEJ was training a killer squad and that the president is also being disloyal to him and the ruling party. He said other things in the letter but I’ll stop here. All of what was said actually echoed my sentiments. Under GEJ things have gone from bad to worse. There is widespread corruption, we are more insecure than ever and internationally our influence has waned steadily. Jobs are still very scarce, electricity isn’t stable and our roads are death traps. Need I say more? Unless you live in mars, you’ll agree with me that that’s the situation presently. Political parties-including the PDP- are enmeshed in all sorts of mudslinging and none seem to have any sound ideologies and major sectors of the economy are suffering badly. OBJ didn’t say anything new, but he actually said the truth. The contents of the letter are quite weighty if you ask me, but then again, how weighty is the moral ineptitude of the writer of this letter?
You see, Nigerians used to have very short memories when it came to politics and governance, but not anymore. More people are now more aware of what is going on. With that in mind, OBJ should have understood this point: You don’t write a letter like this if you are not spotless and expect Nigerians not to react one way or the other. The former army general forgot the age old adage that says that “if you point one finger at someone, your remaining four fingers are pointing back at you”. Quite unfortunate for an elderly man isn’t it? Has he suddenly forgotten that it was he who gave this bad luck? Was it not he who chose GEJ and Yar’adua to continue in his stead? In the letter he said he felt that the Nigerian dream was paramount to him and that was why he felt anyone could rule in this country as far as the person had the interest of the country at heart. That was a very big lie. Obasanjo chose Jonathan and his late boss because he felt he could manipulate them, period. Now the chicken has come home to roost and for those who thought OBJ was making a colossal mistake by choosing Jonathan, it is that ‘I told you so’ moment. There are many similarities between OBJ and GEJ in terms governance. Just like the incumbent president, OBJ also harassed governors (just ask Ngige), just like GEJ he was power hungry (evident in his desire to rule for a third term) and just like GEJ he was corrupt (need I mention any?). Other than being clannish, which is the only thing I think OBJ was not, the former president ticked all the boxes when it comes to the classic African despot. Why he is angry and concerned now when it apparently already too late, I do not understand. Obasanjo should not be so worried, his political son has grown and come of age and just like every ‘reasonable’ child, he wants to outdo his father. The apple shouldn’t fall far from the tree.
Finally, I think only someone like OBJ can get the attention of GEJ. Only someone like him can write a letter like this and get attention. He even said in the letter that he had written at least three times before but the president didn’t respond. Other people have been writing uncle jona too but he doesn’t regard them. Only an open letter from someone like OBJ can draw is attention and it is good we know he has seen it. So even though we don’t like the messenger, we can’t ignore the message, a message that only someone with the kind of clout that Obasanjo has. Nigeria is heading towards a dangerous situation if something isn’t done about the state of things, especially the issue of Boko Haram, Asari Dokubo and his cronies and the systemic corruption going on in government. Whatever the case, Goodluck Jonathan’s response to his estranged political godfather’s letter will be interesting…….if he ever responds.
Iruoje ‘Tweezy’ Emmanuel