Monday, January 01, 2007

Open Letter to President Obasanjo (Part 2)

Dear OBJ,

Happy New Year! One year ago, I wrote you to thank you for your achievements in 2005, namely the Paris Club Debt forgiveness, EFCC successes amongst other issues. I also beseeched you to make a definitive statement that you would not be seeking a 3rd term in the wake of all the politicking and lobbying for a third term. Even though you had variously hinted that you were not interested in a third term, saying that you would be returning to Otta come May 29, 2007, your actions suggested otherwise, particularly as you were reported as having said that you would make your decision whether to run or not for a third term after the senate had decided on the bill. Last May, the senate threw out the bill and effectively made the decision for you.

The year 2006 was a successful one for Nigeria under your leadership. Not only did Nigeria fully liquidate its Paris Club debt, but the record high crude oil prices saw her foreign reserve rise up in excess of $40billion, the highest ever in Nigeria’s history. Also, your fight against corruption ,spear-headed by the EFCC made far-reaching strides with the successful investigation, indictment and prosecution of several high ranking federal and state government officials. These activities culminated in the investigation and indictment of your Vice President, Abubakar Atiku, for financial impropriety with the Petroleum Development Trust Fund (PDTF), but who enjoys the protection of section 308 of the constitution, is yet to be arrested and charged. As a fall out of this, there are accusations and recriminations by the VP and his sympathizers that he is being targeted for opposing your third term ambition.

OBJ, as you know, this is expected of the typical Nigerian politician, who would do anything to hold on to power even after he has been caught with his pants down. Compounding Atiku’s problem is his defection to a rival party, his eventual expulsion from the Peoples Democratic Party and your declaration of his office as vacant just over a week ago. Were he an honorable man, Atiku would have resigned his position as VP before defecting to the Action Congress (AC) as its presidential ticket bearer. But it appears he is not. OBJ, my advice to you on this is to follow the dictates of the constitution. It is more likely than not that the Atiku issue would be visited by the senate and house of assembly after the holidays. Let the legislators decide if the code of conduct committee’s and the EFCC investigation reports, as well as the VPs defection to AC are enough grounds for impeachment. In the meantime, the mature thing to do is to reinstate the VPs privileges, that way you will be seen as being fair and without prejudice.

Another topical issue, which you should address seriously, is the militancy in the Niger Delta. There are definitely legitimate environmental degradation and economic disruption issues in the region that need to be addressed with the utmost urgency, but these do not justify the lawlessness, murder and anarchy perpetrated by militant groups. The wave and frequency of violence and abductions seem to be escalating with every passing day. OBJ, I know you have been treading softly here, not wanting to use the kind of force the Nigerian military is capable of for want of a repeat of Oddi. While this stance seeks to be politically correct, it places little value on the lives of the men and women of the Nigerian police and armed forces and innocent bystanders who have been murdered or maimed by the militants in their attacks. In addition, Nigeria looses untold tens of millions of dollars daily with the resulting disruption in crude oil production activities; up to 500,000 barrels a day in the last few attacks.

OBJ, your reticence and inaction embolden these militants, who construe your "pacifist" posture as weakness and a tacit acceptance of defeat. My advice, Mr. President is that you go at this issue with all the armament in your arsenal – Niger Delta development programs, youth enlightenment, negotiation, military incursion, intelligence gathering, arrests, prosecution and incarceration should all be used to address this problem. Since the militants have resorted to arms, it is only proper that you return the favor with a stronger and mightier force as a signal that you are in full control of the sovereignty of Nigeria and would not tolerate lawlessness. A well-trained, adequately-kited and properly equipped force of 7,500 to 10,000 troops should be able to secure the Niger Delta. With a strong and effective military presence, the militants would be forced to abandon their tactics of mayhem, murder and kidnapping and seek to negotiate peace, and then you will be negotiating from a position of strength, backed by your credible threat of military incursion. It is important that you achieve this with speed, precision and a well managed and transparent press coverage, exposing the nefarious activities of these militants for what they truly are, and not leave any room for a situation where they are seen as folk heroes by propaganda and misinformation.

Your remaining five months in office, OBJ, should be used to consolidate all the good that your administration has entrenched. You should be laying the grounds for improvement and development in other areas of the economy and social amenities, namely education, health care, security/crime-fighting, power generation, roads, housing and other social infrastructure. While economists argue that privatization and commercialization are the way to go, these are often accompanied by pristine and impeccably administered regulatory, policing and judiciary institutions in the advanced economies of the world where these work. OBJ, you have spent the second half of your administration trying to achieve this and would do well if you spend the remainder of your time in office mapping out a blue print from which your successor can continue the pursuit of these noble objectives.


Nilla said...

Interesting letter...

You pondered on whether Atiku was honorable, I on the other hand wonder if OBJ is honorable???

Veracity said...

OBJ definitely has given us cause over the last 7-plus years to doubt his honor, and he may very well be a dishonorable leader; the third term agenda for one, was a stinker as is the purchase of Transcorp shares by Obasanjo Holdings. These however do not negate the VP's display of dishonor.