Obasanjo to Buhari: Nigeria approaching tipping point

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo
A former President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday warned President Muhammadu Buhari that a “very onerous cloud is gathering” over Nigeria and it could result into “rain of destruction, violence and disunity” if not checked.

“Nothing should be taken for granted, the clock is ticking with the cacophony of dissatisfaction and disaffection everywhere in and outside the country,” Obasanjo said in an open letter he personally signed and addressed to Buhari.

In the letter made available to journalists in Abeokuta, Ogun State capital on Monday by his media aide, Kehinde Akinyemi, the former president also asked Buhari to avert impending “Rwanda-type genocide” over incessant killings suspected to have been masterminded by the Fulani herdsmen in Nigeria.

Specifically, Obasanjo hinted Buhari on four “avoidable calamities,” involving “spontaneous or planned reprisal attacks against Fulanis which may inadvertently or advertently mushroom into pogrom or Rwanda-type genocide.”

“To be explicit and without equivocation, Mr. President and General, I am deeply worried about four avoidable calamities:

“1. Abandoning Nigeria into the hands of criminals who are all being suspected, rightly or wrongly, as Fulanis and terrorists of Boko Haram type;

“2. Spontaneous or planned reprisal attacks against Fulanis which  may inadvertently or advertently mushroom into  pogrom or Rwanda-type genocide that we did not believe could happen and yet it happened.

“3. similar attacks against any other tribe or ethnic group anywhere in the country initiated by rumours, fears, intimidation and revenge capable of leading to pogrom;

“4. Violent uprising beginning from one section of the country and spreading quickly to other areas and leading to dismemberment of the country.

Obasanjo cited the murder of Afenifere leader’s daughter, Pa Reuben Fasoranti, Mrs Funke Olakunrin as one killing allegedly carried out by the fulani herdsmen.

He said the herdsmen/farmers crises has festered and spread because the government treated the issue with “cuddling glove instead of hammer.”

The former President asked Buhari to avert the imminent calamity with “utmost seriousness and with maximum dispatch and getting all hands on deck to help.”

“If there is failure, the principal responsibility will be that of the President and no one else.  We need cohesion and concentration of effort and maximum force – political, economic, social, psychological and military – to deal successfully with the menace of criminality and terrorism separately and together.  Blame game among own forces must be avoided”, Obasanjo said.

Speaking on Boko Haram insurgency, Obasanjo submitted that Boko Haram has “menacingly ravaged” Nigeria and put lie to government’s victory claim.

He told the President that “Boko Haram will not go away on the basis of sticks alone, carrots must overweigh sticks.”

Obasanjo also blamed the crisis in the country on poor management of the nation’s diversity, which he described as the greatest assets.

“The main issue, if I may dare say, is poor management or mismanagement of diversity which, on the other hand, is one of our greatest and most important assets.

“The Presidency and the Congress in the US have signalled to us to put our house in order. The House of Lords in the UK had debated the Nigerian security situation. We must understand and appreciate the significance, implication and likely consequences of such concerns and deliberations.

“No one can stop hate speech, violent agitation and smouldering violent agitation if he fans the embers of hatred, disaffection and violence.  It will continue to snowball until it is out of control.

“For the sake of Nigeria and Nigerians, I pray that God may grant you, as our President, the wisdom, the understanding, the political will and the courage to do what is right when it is right and without fear or favour,” Obasanjo wrote in the letter.

Presidency to leaders: Mind your utterances

The presidency last night cautioned leaders in the country to be mindful of their utterances on the insecurity challenges.

Presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu, in a second statement issued on the killing of the daughter of Afenifere leader, Pa Reuben Fasoranti, said the insecurity challenges must be faced by all in the country.

Though the statement didn’t mention Obasanjo’s name, the context and the time made a clear link to comments by the former president.

The Presidency has noted public concerns on the attack leading to the death of daughter of the Afenifere leader.

“The President has already issued a statement expressing his heartfelt condolences to the family of Mrs Funke Olakunri and followed up with a telephone call.

“The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo has in addition, paid a visit to the grieving family in Akure, Ondo State.

“Her death is a tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family.

“It is incumbent on all leaders across the country to consider their language and its potential consequences.

“Insecurity is an issue that Nigeria must face together as one nation – united.

“Times of tragedy like these are not the time for politics. It reveals only disrespect for the departed and her family. And we hope that those who stand in positions of influence recognise and understand this,” he said.

Obasanjo’s letter to Buhari an invitation to chaos – Yakasai

An elder statesman, Alhaji Tanko Yakasai, yesterday described Obasanjo’s Open Letter to President Muhammadu Buhari as selfish, unpatriotic, and an invitation to chaos and disaster.

Yakasai said, “I don’t see patriotism in General Obasanjo’s letters,” he said while reacting to the letter yesterday.

According to him, “my experience with Nigerian political situation is that the top echelons of the military are always fighting one another, either when in the service or retirement.

“It is from this angle that I always view most of the writings of General Olusegun Obasanjo to any military officer who is a Head of State or President in Nigeria as unpatriotic. Even the ones he wrote to former Presidents Goodluck Jonathan and the late Umar Musa Yar’Adua were not patriotic. They were guided by selfish interest.”

Yakasai further stated that, “General Obasanjo did it during Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida’s era. He did it during the late General Sani Abacha’s regime, which later resulted to accusations that he was trying to overthrow the government, which eventually led to his imprisonment.

“General Olusegun Obasanjo also wrote a number of letters during General Abdulsalami Abubakar’s regime; and he is still writing letters in this current presidency of General Muhammadu Buhari. So, this attitude of writing unpatriotic letters has been part of General Olusegun Obasanjo.”

The former Political Adviser to ex-President Shehu Shagari noted that there was nothing new in the latest letter the former President Obasanjo wrote to President Buhari.

“I am puzzled to read from that letter that General Olusegun Obasanjo is requesting or asking for the convocation of another National Conference at this critical moment in our national history.”

Yakasai advised President Buhari to revisit the implementation of the recommendations of the 2014 National Conference rather than calling for a fresh conference.

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