Alkasim Abdulkadir: What Jonathan must do in this stormy season of letters (Y! FrontPage)

by Alkasim Abdulkadir


One argument that continues to run through the conversation is space on the moral authority of Obasanjo to write President Jonathan such a letter, for many people it has been a case of take message but shoot down the messenger.

Nigeria’s public space has been inundated with a series of letters and speeches from high profile state actors. From Speaker Aminu Waziri Tambuwal to the Central Bank Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, to former President Olusegun Obasanjo and his daughter Iyabo Obasanjo (even though there are denials from certain quarters as to the veracity of this missive)

One clichéd refrain in a time of national crisis is always let us not overheat the polity, if there was any time that the polity was truly in overdrive or being overheated it is this season. The parliamentary majority lost by the Peoples Democractic Party PDP since 1999 to the All Progressive Congress APC is one pointer to the political embers over heating the polity. For me personally, to understand the true temperature of the polity is to listen to everyday people on the street, a visit to a crowded vendor spot will show you the rising thermometer of the polity, their fierce and degenerating arguments, ethnic bashing, 20125 permutations with neck veins clearly pulsating are signs of the times.

Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s letter has been the most damning of all the letters, especially coming from someone with a history of writing letters and issuing warnings to those in power, since he handed over to President Shehu Shagari in 1979, he has never shied away in giving either solicited or unsolicited advice to his co-travelers in Nigeria’s corridors of power, from Margaret Thatcher Britain’s once powerful Prime Minister to Gen Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, they have all been recipients of Obasanjo’s seeming wise counsel via a missive.

One argument that continues to run through the conversation is space on the moral authority of Obasanjo to write President Jonathan such a letter, for many people it has been a case of take message but shoot down the messenger. On corruption he said “Corruption has reached the level of impunity. It is also necessary to be mindful that corruption and injustice are fertile breeding ground for terrorism and political instability”.  In some areas, within the context of Nigeria’s divisive partisan politics he cautions the president “Please, Mr. President, be very wary of assistants, aides and collaborators who look for enemies for you”. There are also some alarming instances, that forces one to blot away these possible scenarios such as where he raised the drug alarm –“Sooner or later, drug barons will be in control of large real estates, banks and other seemingly legitimate businesses; in elections they will buy candidates, parties and eventually buy power or be in power themselves”.

But perhaps the one part of the letter that has gotten Nigeria’s scared or thinking is the one thorny “allegation of keeping over 1000 people on political watch list rather than criminal or security watch list and training snipers and other armed personnel secretly and clandestinely acquiring weapons to match for political purposes”. In a country easily gripped by conspiracy theories and selective perception this weighty allegation coupled with the pronouncements of supposedly disarmed Niger Delta militants has got a section of the population having no scintilla of doubt in the allegations.

A paragraph in Obasanjo’s letter not only echoed Lamido Sanusi’s missive to the president but also referenced Sanusi’s letter of Non-Repatriation to the Federation Account by Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) of $49.8 Billion representing 76% of the value crude oil lifting in 2012 and 2013 and the failure of NNPC to pay N22billion Nigerian Export Supervision Scheme (NESS) Levy.

Obasanjo said “the serious and strong allegation of non-remitting of about $7 billion from NNPC to Central Bank occurring from export of some 300,000 barrels per day, amounting to $900 million a month, to be refined and with refined products of only $400 million returned and Atlantic Oil loading about 130,000 barrels sold by Shell and managed on behalf on NPDC with no sale proceeds paid into NPDC account is incredible”

This stormy season of letters has gone to show that the seeming dissatisfaction with the status quo that has long been felt on the streets has slowly seeped to the upper echelons of the power structure.  The presidency therefore is faced with two choices, either to as a matter of affirmative action begin to redeem itself in the eyes of Nigerians or to act apathetically towards the growing din of its governance operations. In my humble opinion to avoid further political implosions and leave lasting legacies the former option presents the greater appeal for our nationhood.



Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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