Former President Olusegun Obasanjo witheringly criticizes President Goodluck Jonathan’s governance in an eighteen page, ostensibly private, letter that has been leaked to the press. Obasanjo’s catalog of Jonathan’s shortcomings and mistakes runs the gamut from failing to address the underlying causes of security issues in the Niger Delta and the jihadist Boko Haram insurrection in the North to subordinating the well-being of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to his own political ambitions. According to Obasanjo, Jonathan is failing to address threats posed by narcotics trafficking and corruption, and his mismanagement of the economy is causing a pause in foreign investment.

Obasanjo accuses Jonathan of identifying himself with his fellow Ijaw ethnic group, not the Nigerian people as a whole. And Obasanjo sees points of comparison between Jonathan’s abusive use of the security forces with what the notorious military dictator Sani Abacha did during the era of military dictatorship.

Looking to national elections in 2015, Obasanjo says that Jonathan won the ruling party presidential nomination in 2011 because he promised not to run in 2015. There is every sign that Jonathan will break that promise and run; that would be “morally flawed.”

Obasanjo’s letter has little that is new. However, its eighteen pages are a remarkably comprehensive indictment of the Jonathan administration. In the letter’s last paragraph, Obasanjo says that he will be sharing the text of this private letter with former military heads of state Ibrahim Babangida and Abdulsalami Abubakar, former vice president Alex Ekwueme, and Yakubo Danjuma, a retired general who played a central role in successive military administrations, though he himself was never a head of state. These individuals are at the pinnacle of Nigeria’s traditional elite.

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Predictably, the Jonathan administration appears to be outraged over the fact the letter was leaked as well as its content. According to the BBC, Jonathan’s office has characterized the letter as “reckless, baseless, unjustifiable, and indecorous.” The president has promised a full response in due course.

Some commentators are suggesting that Obsansjo’s letter is designed to build opposition to the ruling PDP’s renomination of Jonathan in 2015. Yet, the letter strikes me as more than a political maneuver. It reflects the criticisms and anxieties that are widespread among Nigeria’s elites, many of whom are deeply concerned that the country is on a downward spiral. There is irony in Obasanjo’s critique. He more than anyone else was responsible for Jonathan’s selection as PDP vice presidential candidate in 2007. With the death of President Yar’Adua in 2010, Jonathan became the president—and the incumbent in 2011. Many others have confirmed Obasanjo’s statement that Jonathan then promised not to run in 2015—though Jonathan himself has never acknowledged making it. Jonathan says that he will announce whether he will run in 2015 only in 2014. However, most Nigerian observers see his candidacy as a foregone conclusion.


There is nothing to celebrate in the letter. We Nigerias  should avoid any generalization so that we don’t generate more heat than light. Issues should be discussed with decorum.

  And for the calls for impeachment, this is not necessary since there are standard procedures to impeach a president and these are well known to him and the legislators as well as it have its place in the Nigerian Constitution.

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 However, the issues raised by the former president are issues of common knowledge to Nigerians. Is it because they are coming from him? These are issues that are not new and Nigerians are all aware of all them.

So, the way we are handling matters requires some kind of decorum. I hope we will get over everything that is happening in Nigeria today. I do not think the letter deserves the heat it is generating in the polity because most of the issues are not new to Nigerians.

Also, It is not impossible that Obasanjo, being a former president and military leader, had his facts before coming out with them. It is quite possible. It will be very naive to write him off on this issue, just like that.

Nigerians to know that there is nothing that disqualifies a felon, who had been convicted and sentenced to the prison, from giving useful evidence in the court.

People are saying that the allegations came from Obasanjo, whose past was not good and as such doesn’t have the moral authority to do what he did. Hence, that really mean he cannot provide credible evidence against the system?

Assuming he provides credible evidence now, will Nigerians reject it because it’s coming from him? Are Nigerians going to refuse the evidence because it is coming from him, to the detriment of the nation?

As for the fears raised by Obasanjo, Jonathan is his boy; he is his party man; so, he knows him better. That issue has been on for long. They (Northern leaders) said there was an agreement between Jonathan and the PDP governors that he would serve for only one term.

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But this decision, whether to contest or not, cannot be taken by any other person than the president himself, depending on whether he has patriotic courage or not.

The second aspect of the scenario is that immediately he took over from the late Umaru Yar’Adua, Jonathan served part of Yar’Adua’s term as his vice, and the Constitution says the maximum period is eight years. And by 2015, he should have served for about five or six years.

If he contests, it means he would have taken the oath of office three times. It would mean he would surpass the eight years recommended by the Constitution. Here, of course, it is only the court that is only allowed to make the interpretation and not the citizens.


Before it’s too late (2013). Retrieved from https://https://www.https://www.projectwriters.ng/education-gist/read-full-18-pages-obasanjoobj-letter-goodluck-jonathangej/ on 28th December, 2013.

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