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Presidency may not respond to Obasanjo’s criticism

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The Presidency may have decided for now not to join issues with former President Olusegun Obasanjo   over his latest comment   on how President Goodluck Jonathan was handling the abduction of over 200 schoolgirls by Boko Haram.

Obasanjo had in an interview said Jonathan did not believe that girls were missing. He also said that the abducted girls would have been rescued if the President had acted swiftly and that Jonathan had so far performed below the expectation of Nigerians.

The PUNCH however learnt on Sunday that Jonathan’s aides might have decided to keep quiet because of the relationship that still existed between their boss and the former President.

A government source in Abuja said the Presidency would not want a situation where its reaction would be seen as another confrontation with the former leader.

The source said contrary to Obasanjo’s claims, Nigerians were aware that the President never said there was no missing girl, adding that Jonathan had since put machinery in place to ensure the girls rescue.

He said, “The truth is that everybody is aware that the President is working hard to ensure that the schoolgirls are rescued and he has received international support in that regards.

“Apart from the efforts of   security agencies, President Jonathan has also set up a fact-finding commission on the matter. This is also in the public domain.

“Answering the former leader directly will mean that we are confronting him again. The Presidency does not want to be seen as engaging Obasanjo in another public fight.

“Many people know Obasanjo for who he is. Our thinking is that we do not need to engage him in any altercation.

“This is the same man that whenever he sees the President, he will give him courtesies and they will discuss heart-to-heart, then he will go and say something again.

“Then if we keep fighting him, it will serve the purpose of those who will say the President is fighting his benefactor, that he is fighting everybody.”

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, could not be reached on the telephone at the time of filing this report.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, did not answer his calls when contacted on the telephone.

He did not respond to a text message sent to him by one of our correspondents as of press time.

But the All Progressives Congress said on Sunday that   Obasanjo’s comment had vindicated its position on   Jonathan’s handling of the Boko Haram insurgency.

The party, through its Interim National Publicity Secretary , Alhaji Lai Mohammed,   said the Jonathan administration had not only been living in self denial but also seeking to make political gain out of the insurgency.

The APC said, “There is nothing the former President said that does not tally with what we’ve been saying all along.

“That the President rather than look at the Boko Haram as a real menace to the country has been busy trying to reap political gains out of it and in the process it became a monster.

“Now, they have linked up with better organised terror groups from across the world. they have become a global terror group.”

Noting however   that this was not the time to pass the bulk, the party urged all Nigerians of good conscience to come together to deal with the problem.

It reiterated its   offer to assist the Jonathan administration to deal with the issues through the convocation of a national security summit.

But the pan-Yoruba cultural organisation, Afenifere, dismissed Obasanjo as attempting to score cheap political points   instead of cutting the image of a statesman.

The group’s spokesman,   Yinka Odumakin,   said the comments attributed to the former President was the most uncharitable.

He said “Given the closeness of some top security chiefs to Obasanjo, his statement is a clear testimony to the fact that a script is behind this whole saga and Obasanjo may be privy to the dummy sold to Jonathan which eventually made his response uncoordinated in the first few days after the abduction.

“The visible government which Jonathan heads has not looked pretty good over this Chibok issue but a deeper inquest will show that the invisible government which Obasanjo appears to be working for schemed everything to be so.

“The surprise in all these is that Jonathan has not taken any action against those security chiefs who told him the lie that those girls were rescued.

“He should tell the whole country what his recommendations were after he met with Boko Haram.

“But he should not confuse us that the insurgency we are dealing with now is the same as the rag-tag Yusuf forces.That would be highly disingenuous.”

He also said that in playing politics over this matter, Obasanjo should not assume that Nigerians could not think through what he said.

Also, the National Coordinator of the Niger Delta Youth Parliament, Mr. Imoh Okoko, said it was wrong for the former President to blame   Jonathan for the activities of Boko Haram, particularly the kidnap of   the Chibok girls.

Okoko explained that rather than blame the President , the Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima, should take the blame for the abduction.

He said, “I don’t think President Jonathan should be blamed over the Boko Haram insurgency because he (Jonathan) is not the cause of the current crisis in the North.

“What everybody, including Obasanjo should do is to proffer solution to this problem .

“The Governor of Borno State, who is the chief security officer of that state, should be blamed. The governor ought to have made moves when the schoolgirls were kidnapped.

“People were kidnapped in the past in the Niger Delta and nobody pointed accusing finger at the person who was the President of the country at that time.”

Okoko, who acknowledged Obasanjo’s bid to reach out to   Boko Haram, described Jonathan as a listening leader .

A Lagos-based lawyer,   Fred Agbaje, said the Presidency would not have responded to the abduction without condemnation from the international community.

Agbaje said, “I actually believe what Obasanjo said. He spoke the minds of so many. Why was the Federal Government dilly dallying on the abduction of the girls before the condemnation by the international community.

“To make things worse, the television drama by the President’s wife, Patience, showed that the President did not believe that the girls were abducted.”

He called on the government to ensure the release of the girls through all possible means, including negotiating with the sect.

“The Federal Government should come down from its Olympian height   and ensure the release of the girls,” the lawyer added.

Article Credit: Punchng

Updated 4 Years ago

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