Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Saturday said that President Goodluck Jonathan may be working towards a controversial poll and possibly, exit from office, the same way former Ivorian president, Laurent Gbagbo, did in his country.
Mr. Obasanjo, who said this during an interview with journalists at his Presidential Hilltop residence in Abeokuta, advised Mr. Jonathan not to destroy his name for selfish reasons.
He also cautioned the President to do away with the phobia of the possibility of being dealt with by his successor after leaving office, and be weary of those surrounding him as the same set of people will deny him when the chips are down.
Speaking further in the interview which lasted for 45 minutes, the former President said the sudden postponement of general elections was uncalled for, stressing that the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission Chairman, Attahiru Jega, was forced to do so.
“The observable and what would appear to be happening is that the president has a grand plan, a grand plan to ensure that by hook or by crook, he wins the election or if it all fails, they scuttle it and create chaos, confusion and unpleasantness in the whole country,” Mr. Obasanjo said.
“It is the duty and function and responsibility of the security officers to provide security. The President is the Chief Security of the country and he is the Commander-in-Chief and if security is required anywhere anytime, it is his duty to provide it, failure to provide it, is dereliction of duty, pure and simple.
“Either the President, following his own grand plan, or his aides and associates, are working a script. They are playing a script which must not got his endorsement if not initiated from him.
“It looks to me ithat the President is trying to playing Gbagbo. Gbagbo was the former President of Cote d’Ivoire and Gbagbo made sure he postponed the election in his country until he was sure he would win and then allowed the election to take place. He got an inconclusive election in the first ballot and I believe this is the sort of thing Nigeria may fall into if I am right in what I observed as the grand plan and then in the run-off, Gbagbo lost with 8 per cent behind Ouattara and then refused to hand over.
“All reasonable persuasion and pleading was rebuffed by him and he unleashed horror in that country until nemesis caught up with him. I believe that we may be seeing the repeat of Gbabgo or what I called Gbagbo saga here in Nigeria, I hope not,” Mr. Obasanjo emphasised.
On the excuse given by Security Chiefs that they cannot guarantee adequate security during election, Mr. Obasanjo said it was disappointing adding that the he thinks the military might have been forced to make that excuse.
“That’s what I said it was strange to me, it wasn’t the duty and responsibility of Security Chiefs and Service Chiefs to tell INEC, ‘we are not in the position to provide security for you’ because it is their job, when they have failed, they can as well go home. Their job is to maintain law and order and provide security and at any time, at any place, they said they cannot do it, they have failed.
“I want to believe that this was forced on them. I want to believe that, but whether it was forced on them or it was there initiative, it was bad, very bad. I hope we will never have a bit performance of this in this country again because the unfortunate thing is this, it is over-exposing themselves or they are being over-exposed by whoever brought about that way of doing things and for me, a monumentous decision like that cannot be taken and implemented by Security Chiefs”.
“It was even made worst when the President in the media chat on the 11th of this month claimed not to have knowledge or not to have authorized it. I get worried, very worried that if the President of Nigeria is not in-charge of security, maintenance of law and order and such a decision can be taken behind him, assuming that is true, then the President must be reigning and not ruling and then who are the shadow figures that are ruling us? It means that one day we will find out this country would be plunged into chaos, into commotion, into confusion and the President would say, ‘I do not know about it’. Of course, the President can run but he cannot run past God”.
On speculation that Mr. Jonathan is afraid that he will not be re-elected, Mr. Obasanjo said he believes the President’s is not afraid of life after office.
“I believe the President’s concern of fear is not life out of office per se, because he and I have had occasions to talk about this, both seriously and jovially. I believe the President would want an opportunity to disengage peacefully and have a nice, descent and a glorious exit”.
“I believe the President’s fear is particularly motivated by who he sees as his likely successor, that is General Buhari.
“I believe people would have been telling him that Buhari is a hard man, he would fight corruption and you may end up in jail if not in grave. I believe people must have told him all sort of things and he is not the only one, there are other people who may be afraid of Buhari, but why?”
“I don’t think the President is afraid of being out, there’s life after Aso Villa. It may depend of course, to a large extent how his exit takes place. Because out there in the International World, there’s so much need for the wisdom and experience of people who have done it before, they also want people who are creditable and credible,” Mr. Obasanjo said.
“Again and I appeal to President Jonathan again not to listen to those who are creating phobia – phobia of Buhari, phobia of enquiry and all that. President Jonathan has done well to the best of his ability and he has made history as the first elected Nigerian from a minority tribe and nobody can take that away from him. He can even make a second history, if it turns out that way, if he contests a fair, free and transparent election and if he loses to have a dignified descent and a dignified exit. He will be in the mountain top and he would be acclaimed as a true patriot and a true democrat, what stops him from doing this?”