Several sources in the Presidency have told SaharaReporters that overwhelmed senior aides and associates of President Goodluck Jonathan have been thrown into a state of confusion over strategies for containing the grave political damage to Mr. Jonathan after a harsh letter by former President Olusegun Obasanjo was leaked to the media.
Members of Mr. Jonathan’s camp have responded by holding several marathon meetings in Aso Rock and other locations in Abuja to find some angle to stem the fallout of the blistering attack Mr. Jonathan launched against the president.
“The feud between Mr. President and Chief Olusegun Obasanjo has been worrying us,” said one source, adding, “Baba [a moniker for Mr. Obasanjo] has chosen a bad time to release this letter.” The source said the death of former South African President Nelson Mandela meant that Mr. Obasanjo’s letter was ill-timed. “The whole of Africa should be mourning Dr. Mandela and celebrating his legacy,” the source, a senior aide to Mr. Jonathan said, on condition of anonymity.
Another source, who is close to Mr. Jonathan but not a government appointee, accused Mr. Obasanjo of acting hypocritically and true to character. “This is the way Chief Obasanjo has always operated, even before and during the civil war,” said the source, noting that retired General Alabi had exposed Mr. Obasanjo’s war-era duplicity in a recent book.
SaharaReporters learned that the marathon meetings by Mr. Jonathan’s aides are being coordinated by National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki (ret.), and the president’s Chief of Staff, Mike Oghiadomhe.
Our sources disclosed that the meetings concluded that the initial responses by Mr. Jonathan’s camp, relayed by the president’s top media aide, Reuben Abati, as well as statements by Bamanga Tukur, the national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), were considered insensitive and immature. Both Mr. Abati as well as Mr. Tukur had used harsh words in their respective reactions to Mr. Obasanjo’s 18-page epistle which accused Mr. Jonathan of failure of statecraft, encouragement of corruption, and of sabotaging the electoral prospects of PDP candidates in several recent elections, including the November 16 governorship election in Anambra State.
The source told SaharaReporters that a few influential associates of President Jonathan were opposed to pummeling Mr. Obasanjo with words. “We are not comfortable with the reactions so far. We are determined to make every effort to ensure an early end to the warfare between the former president and Mr. President.”
“Chief Obasanjo will benefit if we attack him with insults,” said another source who has attended several meetings on how best to respond to the ongoing feud. “It is against African culture to abuse an elder, even if he abuses you. Chief [Obasanjo] will look good if we are seen as returning fire-for-fire,” the source added. He described the timing and nature of the former president’s leaked letter as inauspicious.
The source disclosed that he and several other friends of Mr. Jonathan considered Mr. Abati’s and Mr. Tukur’s fiery responses to Mr. Obasanjo to be “uncalled for and clearly insensitive in view of the complexities associated with the tension generated by Chief Obasanjo’s letter.”
He added that there was also a move to wade into a fight brewing between the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, and officials of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). In a letter to President Jonathan that was also widely reported, Mr. Sanusi accused the management of the NNPC of failure to remit billions of dollars of revenue earned from oil exports to the Central Bank of Nigeria. In a biting rebuttal, the NNPC stated that the CBN governor was ignorant of the fact that the oil corporation remits its oil-export receipts to other agencies of the government.