A former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon (retd.) and a former Minister of Defence, Gen. Theophilus Danjuma, have cautioned Nigerians, especially those who have held leadership positions, against making utterances which could throw the country into chaos.
The two spoke in separate goodwill messages at the 6th edition of the Abuja Festival of Praise held at the International Conference Centre, Abuja, on Friday.
In a veiled reference to a letter written by ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, Gowon advised Nigerians, especially past and present leaders, against saying things that could further destabilise the nation.
He said Nigerians would be the ones to suffer, if there was no peace in the country.
Gowon said, “Let all Nigerians — the leadership and the followership — make sure that we do not make utterances or say things that can really create problems for the leadership and for the country because if that happens, if we listen to such utterances, there shall be no peace and we will be the sufferers for it.
“I want all of us as faithfuls to bear in mind that this country needs peace and this peace can only come from all of us, the leadership — past and present — and from all of us. We must play our part to ensure that there is peace in the country.”
He explained that this became necessary in view of recent happenings in the country.
Speaking in a similar vein, Danjuma noted that even though he was mentioned in Obasanjo’s letter, he had refrained from commenting on it.
He said there was no need to go public on the issue because he had unfettered access to the president and would speak with him “face to face.”
Danjuma said, “The press have been after me; they want me to react to what Obasanjo said about Mr. President (Goodluck Jonathan) and I told them that I have complete access to the President. And if I have anything to say to him, I will do so face to face.
“These are very difficult times and we must be careful, especially as leaders, of what we say in public.”
President Jonathan, who was represented at the occasion by the Minister of Police Affairs, Navy Capt. Caleb Olubolade (retd), said prayers and songs of praise could save the nation and give hope for a greater nation.
He quoted the President as saying, “I strongly believe thy prayers and songs of praise like this can save the nation and give hope for a greater tomorrow in Nigeria; the land the good Lord has given to us.”
Meanwhile, a former Senate President, Senator Ameh Ebute, has said the Peoples Democratic Party must take decisive actions against Obasanjo.
Ebute said this in a statement in Abuja on Saturday, while commenting on the controversial letter.
But in a reaction by one of his aides, Mr. Tunde Oladunjoye, Obasanjo said nothing could distract him.
Quoting Obasanjo, Oladunjoye, in an SMS to our correspondent, said, “I am an incurable optimist on Nigeria. I am a believer in Nigeria. I am committed to Nigeria. Nothing, nothing, nothing will distract me.”
Ebute alleged that Obasanjo had succeeded in persuading his cronies to stir unending controversy in the PDP.
He further alleged that the former president was on a mission to destroy the party and truncate the country’s hard won democracy.
He stated, “We therefore call on the leadership of party to take a decisive action against him as nobody is greater than the party.
“Chief Obasanjo, to all intents, has demonstrated more anti-party activities than anyone else in the history of the PDP.”
On the leadership of the PDP, Ebute said it was ridiculous that Obasanjo accused Jonathan of being responsible for the lingering crisis in the PDP. He stated that the crisis pre-dated Jonathan’s emergence as the leader of the party.
Ebute stated, “No period in the history of our fledgling democracy has witnessed a higher turnover of the PDP national chairmen than the eight- year tenure of Chief Obasanjo as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
The former senate president said those who were removed included Chief Solomon Lar; Barnabas Gemade and Audu Ogbeh.
He said, “As Chief Obasanjo bestrode the PDP like an intimidating colossus, electoral decency was jettisoned, internal democracy trampled upon and good conscience buried as he dealt ruthlessly with all perceived enemies regardless of democratic culture and ethos.”
According to him, casualties of Obasanjo’s high-handed leadership included the late Senator Chuba Okadigbo; Senator Ayim Pius Ayim; a former Governor of Plateau State, Joshua Dariye and his Abia State counterpart, Orji Kalu.
On the headship of the Federal Government, he said it was perfidious for Obasanjo to set the National Assembly against the President in discussing corruption.
Ebute, added, “It is common knowledge that corruption attained monumental heights under the regime of Obasanjo as President.
“Obasanjo presided over the proceeds of Nigeria’s oil and gas for six years, without transparent accounting as the de facto Minister of Petroleum Resources.”
As the chief security officer, Ebute said that Obasanjo performed woefully.
He stated that another gory absurdity was Obasanjo’s allegation that the President Jonathan was training snipers where Abacha trained his killer squad and that about 1000 high profile politicians were on a watch list.
According to him, for an allegation as weighty, Obasanjo should know that the onus of proof lies on him.
He stated, “We demand that the relevant security agencies like NSA, Directorate of State Security, Nigerian Intelligence Agency, the Nigeria Police, should immediately take decisive appropriate action to investigate this very sensitive national security issue and make their findings public.
“The security services must carry out this investigation with dispatch because we suspect that there is a grand plan to assassinate some high profile Nigerians, in the context of this very dangerous allegation, to intimidate and coerce President Jonathan to abdicate his right to contest in 2015.”
On the fight against corruption, Ebute said the agencies tasked to deal with corruption must be given a free hand to work.
He said, “We state that Obasanjo’s letter is at best self-serving and holds no grain of patriotism and national interest.
“Through this blatant charade of promoting falsehood, innuendoes and untruths, Obasanjo attempts to raise a mob action against President Jonathan, a crafty follow-up to the rebellion he used the G 7 governors he planted in the states to stir up crisis in the PDP in order to stop Jonathan in 2015.”
Obasanjo had in an open letter to Jonathan accused him of paying lip service to corruption and pursing personal interest instead of that of the ruling People’s Democratic Party.
He also demanded that the President come clean of allegations that he was training snipers, while placing 1,000 people on a watch list.