December 20th 2013
His Excellency,
Chief Olusegun
Obasanjo, GCFR
Agbe L’Oba House,
Quarry Road,
Ibara, Abeokuta.
I wish to formally acknowledge your letter dated December 2,
2013 and other previous correspondence similar to
You will recall
that all the letters were brought to me by hand. Although both of us discussed
some of the issues in those letters, I had not, before now, seen the need for
any formal reply since, to me, they contained advice from a former President to
a serving President. Obviously, you felt differently because in your last
letter, you complained about my not acknowledging or replying your previous
It is with the
greatest possible reluctance that I now write this reply. I am most uneasy
about embarking on this unprecedented and unconventional form of open
communication between me and a former leader of our country because I know that
there are more acceptable and dignified means of doing so.
But I feel obliged
to reply your letter for a number of reasons: one, you formally requested for a
reply and not sending you one will be interpreted as ignoring a former
Secondly, Nigerians know the role you have played in my
political life and given the unfortunate tone of your letter, clearly,
the grapes have gone sour.  Therefore, my side of the story also needs to
be told.

The third reason why I must reply you in writing is that your
letter is clearly a threat to national security as it may
deliberately or inadvertently set the stage for subversion. 
The fourth reason
for this reply is that you raised very weighty issues, and since the letter has
been made public, Nigerians are expressing legitimate concerns. A response from
me therefore, becomes very necessary. 
The fifth reason
is that this letter may appear in biographies and other books which political
commentators on Nigeria’s contemporary politics may write. It is only proper
for such publications to include my comments on the issues raised in your
Sixthly, you are
very unique in terms of the governance of this country. You were a military
Head of State for three years and eight months, and an elected President for
eight years. That means you have been the Head of Government of Nigeria for
about twelve years. This must have, presumably, exposed you to a lot of
information. Thus when you make a statement, there is the tendency for people
to take it seriously.

The seventh reason is that the timing of your letter coincided
with other vicious releases. The Speaker of the House of
 spoke of my “body language” encouraging corruption.
A letter written to me by the CBN Governor alleging that NNPC, within a period
of 19 months did not remit the sum of USD49.8 billion to the federation
account, was also deliberately leaked to the public. 
The eighth reason
is that it appears that your letter was designed to incite Nigerians from other
geopolitical zones against me and also calculated to promote ethnic disharmony.
Worse still, your letter was designed to instigate members of our Party, the
PDP, against me. 
The ninth reason
is that your letter conveys to me the feeling that landmines have been laid for
me. Therefore, Nigerians need to have my response to the issues raised before
the mines explode. 
The tenth and
final reason why my reply is inevitable is that you have written similar
letters and made public comments in reference to all former Presidents and
Heads of Government starting from Alhaji Shehu Shagari and these have
instigated different actions and reactions. The purpose and direction of your
letter is distinctly ominous, and before it is too late, my clarifications on
the issues need to be placed on record.
Let me now comment
on the issues you raised. In commenting I wish to crave your indulgence to
compare what is happening now to what took place before.  This, I believe,
will enable Nigerians see things in better perspective because we must know
where we are coming from so as to appreciate where we now are, and to allow us
clearly map out where we are going.
You raised concerns about the security situation in
the country. I assure you that I am fully aware of the responsibility of
government for ensuring the security of the lives and property of citizens. My
Administration is working assiduously to overcome current national security
challenges, the seeds of which were sown under previous administrations. 
There have been some setbacks; but certainly there have also been great
successes in our efforts to overcome terrorism and insurgency.
Those who continue
to down-play our successes in this regard, amongst whom you must now be
numbered, appear to have conveniently forgotten the depths to which security in
our country had plunged before now.
At a stage, almost
the entire North-East of Nigeria was under siege by insurgents. Bombings of
churches and public buildings in the North and the federal capital became an
almost weekly occurrence. Our entire national security apparatus seemed
nonplussed and unable to come to grips with the new threat posed by the
berthing of terrorism on our shores.
But my administration
has since brought that very unacceptable situation under significant control.
We have overhauled our entire national security architecture, improved
intelligence gathering, training, funding, logistical support to our armed
forces and security agencies, and security collaboration with friendly
countries with very visible and positive results.
The scope and
impact of terrorist operations have been significantly reduced and efforts are
underway to restore full normalcy to the most affected North Eastern region and
initiate a post-crisis development agenda, including a special intervention
programme to boost the region’s socio-economic progress.
In doing all this,
we have kept our doors open for dialogue with the insurgents and their
supporters through efforts such as the work of the Presidential Committee on
Dialogue and the Peaceful Resolution of the Security Challenges in the
North-East. You also know that the Governor of Borno State provided the items
you mentioned to me as carrots. Having done all this and more, it is
interesting that you still accuse me of not acting on your hardly original
recommendation that the carrot and stick option be deployed to solve the Boko
Haram problem.
Your suggestion
that we are pursuing a “war against violence without understanding the root
causes of the violence and applying solutions to deal with all the underlying
factors” is definitely misplaced because from the onset of this administration,
we have been implementing a multifaceted strategy against militancy, insurgency
and terrorism that includes poverty alleviation, economic development,
education and social reforms.
Even though basic
education is the constitutional responsibility of States, my administration
has, as part of its efforts to address ignorance and poor education which have
been identified as two of the factors responsible for making some of our youth
easily available for use as cannon fodder by insurgents and terrorists,
committed huge funds to the provision of modern basic education schools for the
Almajiri in several Northern States. The Federal Government under my leadership
has also set up nine additional universities in the Northern States and three
in the Southern States in keeping with my belief that proper education is the
surest way of emancipating and empowering our people.
More uncharitable
persons may even see a touch of sanctimoniousness in your new belief in the
carrot and stick approach to overcoming militancy and insurgency. You have
always referred to how you hit Odi in Bayelsa State to curb militancy in the
Niger Delta.  If the invasion of Odi by the Army was the stick, I did not
see the corresponding carrot.  I was the Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State
then, and as I have always told you, the invasion of Odi did not solve any
militancy problem but, to some extent, escalated it. If it had solved it, late
President Yar’Adua would not have had to come up with the amnesty program. And
while some elements of the problem may still be there, in general, the
situation is reasonably better.
In terms of
general insecurity in the country and particularly the crisis in the Niger
Delta, 2007 was one of the worst periods in our history. You will recall three
incidents that happened in 2007 which seemed to have been orchestrated to
achieve sinister objectives.  Here in Abuja, a petrol tanker loaded with
explosives was to be rammed into the INEC building. But luckily for the
country, an electric pole stopped the tanker from hitting the INEC
building.  It is clear that this incident was meant to exploit the general
sense of insecurity in the nation at the time to achieve the aim of stopping
the 2007 elections.  It is instructive that you, on a number of occasions,
alluded to this fact.
When that incident
failed, an armed group invaded Yenagoa one evening with the intent to
assassinate me.  Luckily for me, they could not.  They again attacked
and bombed my country home on a night when I was expected in the village.
Fortunately, as God would have it, I did not make the trip.
I recall that
immediately after both incidents, I got calls expressing the concern of
Abuja.  But Baba, you know that despite the apparent concern of Abuja, no
single arrest was ever made. I was then the Governor of Bayelsa State and the
PDP Vice-Presidential candidate. The security people ordinarily should have
unraveled the assassination attempt on me. 
You also raised
the issues of kidnapping, piracy and armed robbery. These are issues all
Nigerians, including me are very concerned about. While we will continue to do
our utmost best to reduce all forms of criminality to the barest minimum in our
country, it is just as well to remind you that the first major case of
kidnapping for ransom took place around 2006. And the Boko Haram crisis dates
back to 2002. Goodluck Jonathan was not the President of the country then.
Also, armed robbery started in this country immediately after the civil war and
since then, it has been a problem to all succeeding governments.  For a
former Head of Government, who should know better, to present these problems as
if they were creations of the Jonathan Administration is most
Having said that,
let me remind you of some of the things we have done to curb violent crime in
the country. We have reorganized the Nigerian Police Force and appointed a more
dynamic leadership to oversee its affairs. We have also improved its manpower
levels as well as funding, training and logistical support.
We have also
increased the surveillance capabilities of the Police and provided its air-wing
with thrice the number of helicopters it had before the inception of the
present administration. The National Civil Defence and Security Corps has been
armed to make it a much more effective ally of the police and other security
agencies in the war against violent crime. At both domestic and international
levels, we are doing everything possible to curb the proliferation of the small
arms and light weapons with which armed robberies, kidnappings and piracy are
perpetrated. We have also enhanced security at our borders to curb cross-border
 We are
aggressively addressing the challenge of crude oil theft in collaboration with
the state Governors. In addition, the Federal Government has engaged the
British and US governments for their support in the tracking of the proceeds
from the purchase of stolen crude. Similarly, a regional Gulf of Guinea
security strategy has been initiated to curb crude oil theft and piracy. 
Perhaps the most
invidious accusation in your letter is the allegation that I have placed over
one thousand Nigerians on a political watch list, and that I am training
snipers and other militia to assassinate people. Baba, I don’t know where you
got that from but you do me grave injustice in not only lending credence to
such baseless rumours, but also publicizing it. You mentioned God seventeen
times in your letter. Can you as a Christian hold the Bible and say that you
truly believe this allegation?
The allegation of
training snipers to assassinate political opponents is particularly
incomprehensible to me. Since I started my political career as a Deputy
Governor, I have never been associated with any form of political violence. I
have been a President for over three years now, with a lot of challenges and
opposition mainly from the high and mighty. There have certainly been cases of
political assassination since the advent of our Fourth Republic, but as you
well know, none of them occurred under my leadership.
Regarding the over
one thousand people you say are on a political watch list, I urge you to kindly
tell Nigerians who they are and what agencies of government are “watching”
them. Your allegation that I am using security operatives to harass people is
also baseless. Nigerians are waiting for your evidence of proof. That was an
accusation made against previous administrations, including yours, but it is
certainly not my style and will never be. Again, if you insist on the spurious
claim that some of your relatives and friends are being harassed, I urge you to
name them and tell Nigerians what agencies of my administration are harassing
I also find it
difficult to believe that you will accuse me of assisting murderers, or
assigning a presidential delegation to welcome a murderer. This is a most
unconscionable and untrue allegation. It is incumbent on me to remind you that
I am fully conscious of the dictates of my responsibilities to God and our dear
nation. It is my hope that devious elements will not take advantage of your
baseless allegation to engage in brazen and wanton assassination of high
profile politicians as before, hiding under the alibi your “open letter
has provided for them.
Nevertheless, I
have directed the security agencies and requested the National Human Rights
Commission to carry out a thorough investigation of these criminal allegations
and make their findings public.
That corruption is
an issue in Nigeria is indisputable.  It has been with us for many years.
You will recall that your kinsman, the renowned afro-beat maestro, Fela
Anikulapo-Kuti famously sang about it during your first stint as Head of State.
Sonny Okosun also sang about corruption. And as you may recall, a number of
Army Generals were to be retired because of corruption before the Dimka coup.
 Also, the late General Murtala Mohammed himself wanted to retire some top
people in his cabinet on corruption-related issues before he was
assassinated.  Even in this Fourth Republic, the Siemens and Halliburton
scandals are well known.
The seed of
corruption in this country was planted a long time ago, but we are doing all
that we can to drastically reduce its debilitating effects on national
development and progress. I have been strengthening the institutions
established to fight corruption. I will not shield any government official or
private individual involved in corruption, but I must follow due process in all
that I do. And whenever clear cases of corruption or fraud have been
established, my administration has always taken prompt action in keeping with
the dictates of extant laws and procedures. You cannot claim to be unaware of
the fact that several highly placed persons in our country, including sons of
some of our party leaders are currently facing trial for their involvement in
the celebrated subsidy scam affair. I can hardly be blamed if the wheels of
justice still grind very slowly in our country, but we are doing our best to
support and encourage the judiciary to quicken the pace of adjudication in
cases of corruption.
Baba, I am amazed
that with all the knowledge garnered from your many years at the highest level
of governance in our country, you could still believe the spurious allegation
contained in a letter written to me by the Governor of the Central Bank of
Nigeria (CBN), and surreptitiously obtained by you, alleging that USD49.8
billion, a sum equal to our entire national budget for two years, is “unaccounted
” by the NNPC. Since, as President, you also served for many years as
Minister of Petroleum Resources, you very well know the workings of the
corporation. It is therefore intriguing that you have made such an assertion.
You made a lot of insinuations about oil theft, shady dealings at the NNPC and
the NNPC not remitting the full proceeds of oil sales to the of CBN. Now that
the main source of the allegations which you rehashed has publicly stated that
he was “misconstrued”, perhaps you will find it in your heart to
apologize for misleading unwary Nigerians and impugning the integrity of my
administration on that score.
Your claim of “Atlantic
Oil loading about 130, 000 barrels sold by Shell and managed on behalf of NPDC
with no sale proceeds paid into the NPDC account
” is also disjointed and
baseless because no such arrangement as you described exists between Atlantic
Oil and the Nigeria Petroleum Development Company. NPDC currently produces
about 138, 000 barrels of oil per day from over 7 producing assets. The Crude
Oil Marketing Division (COMD) of the NNPC markets all of this production on
behalf of NPDC with proceeds paid into NPDC account.
I am really
shocked that with all avenues open to you as a former Head of State for the
verification of any information you have received about state affairs, you
chose to go public with allegations of “high corruption” without
offering a shred of supporting evidence. One of your political “sons
similarly alleged recently that he told me of a minister who received a bribe
of $250 Million from an oil company and I did nothing about it. He may have
been playing from a shared script, but we have not heard from him again since
he was challenged to name the minister involved and provide the evidence  
to back his claim.  I urge you, in the same vein, to furnish me with the
names, facts and figures of a single verifiable case of the “high corruption
which you say stinks all around my administration and see whether the
corrective action you advocate does not follow promptly. And while you are at
it, you may also wish to tell Nigerians the true story of questionable waivers
of signature bonuses between 2000 and 2007.
While, by the
Grace of God Almighty, I am the first President from a minority group, I am
never unmindful of the fact that I was elected leader of the whole of Nigeria
and I have always acted in the best interest of all Nigerians. You referred to
the divisive actions and inflammatory utterances of some individuals from the
South-South and asserted that I have done nothing to call them to order or
distance myself from their ethnic chauvinism. Again that is very untrue. I am
as committed to the unity of this country as any patriot can be and I have
publicly declared on many occasions that no person who threatens other
Nigerians or parts of the country is acting on my behalf.
It is very
regrettable that in your letter, you seem to place sole responsibility for the
ongoing intrigues and tensions in the PDP at my doorstep, and going on from
that position, you direct all your appeals for a resolution at me. Baba, let us
all be truthful to ourselves, God and posterity. At the heart of all the
current troubles in our party and the larger polity is the unbridled jostling
and positioning for personal or group advantage ahead of the 2015 general
elections. The “bitterness, anger, mistrust, fear and deep suspicion
you wrote about all flow from this singular factor.
It is indeed very
unfortunate that the seeming crisis in the party was instigated by a few senior
members of the party, including you. But, as leader of the party, I will
continue to do my best to unite it so that we can move forward with strength
and unity of purpose. The PDP has always recovered from previous crises with
renewed vigour and vitality. I am very optimistic that that will be the case
again this time. The PDP will overcome any temporary setback, remain a strong
party and even grow stronger.
Instigating people
to cause problems and disaffection within the party is something that you are
certainly familiar with. You will recall that founding fathers of the Party
were frustrated out of the Party at a time.  Late Chief Sunday Awoniyi was
pushed out, Late Chief Solomon Lar left and later came back, Chief Audu Ogbeh
and Chief Tom Ikimi also left. Chief Okwesilieze Nwodo left and later came
back. In 2005/2006, link-men were sent to take over party structures from PDP
Governors in an unveiled attempt to undermine the state governors. In spite of
that, the Governors did not leave the Party because nobody instigated and
encouraged them to do so.
The charge that I
was involved in anti-party activities in governorship elections in Edo, Ondo,
Lagos, and Anambra States is also very unfortunate. I relate with all Governors
irrespective of political party affiliation but I have not worked against the
interest of the PDP.  What I have not done is to influence the electoral
process to favour our Party. You were definitely never so inclined, since you
openly boasted in your letter of how you supported Alhaji Shehu Shagari against
Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Chief Nnamdi Azikiwe and others in the 1979 presidential
elections while serving as a military Head of State. You and I clearly differ
in this regard, because as the President of Nigeria, I believe it is my duty
and responsibility to create a level playing field for all parties and all
Recalling how the
PDP lost in states where we were very strong in 2003 and 2007 such as Edo,
Ondo, Imo, Bauchi, Anambra, and Borno, longstanding members of our great party
with good memory will also consider the charge of anti-party activities you
made against me as misdirected and hugely hypocritical. It certainly was not
Goodluck Jonathan’s “personal ambition or selfish interest” that caused
the PDP to lose the governorship of Ogun State and all its senatorial seats in
the last general elections.
You quoted me as
saying that I have not told anybody that I will seek another term in office in
2015. You and your ambitious acolytes within the party have clearly decided to
act on your conclusion that “only a fool will believe that statement
and embark on a virulent campaign to harass me out of an undeclared candidature
for the 2015 presidential elections so as to pave the way for a successor
anointed by you.
You will recall
that you serially advised me that we should refrain from discussing the 2015
general elections for now so as not to distract elected public officials from
urgent task of governance. While you have apparently moved away from that
position, I am still of the considered opinion that it would have been best for
us to do all that is necessary to refrain from heating up the polity at this
time. Accordingly, I have already informed Nigerians that I will only speak on
whether or not I will seek a second term when it is time for such declarations.
Your claims about discussions I had with you, Governor Gabriel Suswam and
others are wrong, but in keeping with my declared stance, I will reserve
further comments until the appropriate time.
Your allegation
that I asked half a dozen African Presidents to speak to you about my alleged
ambition for 2015, is also untrue.  I have never requested any African
President to discuss with you on my behalf.  In our discussion, I
mentioned to you that four Presidents told me that they were concerned about
the political situation in Nigeria and intended to talk to you about it. 
So far, only three of them have confirmed to me that they have had any
discussion with you. If I made such a request, why would I deny it?
The issue of
Buruji Kashamu is one of those lies that should not be associated with a former
President.  The allegation that I am imposing Kashamu on the South-West is
most unfortunate and regrettable.  I do not even impose Party officials in
my home state of Bayelsa and there is no zone in this country where I have
imposed officials.  So why would I do so in the South West?  Baba, in
the light of Buruji’s detailed public response to your “open letter”, it will
be charitable for you to render an apology to Nigerians and I.
On the issue of
investors being scared to come to Nigeria, economic dormancy, and stagnation, I
will just refer you to FDI statistics from 2000 to 2013. Within the last three
years, Nigeria has emerged as the preferred destination for investments in
Africa, driven by successful government policies to attract foreign investors.
For the second year running, the United Nations Conference on Trade and
Investments (UNCTAD) has ranked Nigeria as the number one destination for
investments in Africa, and as having the fourth highest returns in the world.
Today, Nigeria is
holding 18 percent of all foreign investments in Africa and 60 percent of all
foreign investments in the ECOWAS Sub-Region. Kindly note also that in the
seven years between 2000 and 2007 when you were President, Nigeria attracted a
total of $24.9 Billion in FDI.  As a result of our efforts which you
disparage, the country has seen an FDI inflow of $25.7 Billion in just three
years which is more than double the FDI that has gone to the second highest
African destination. We have also maintained an annual national economic growth
rate of close to seven per cent since the inception of this administration.
What then, is the justification for your allegation of scared investors and economic
Although it was
not emphasized in your letter of December 2, 2013, you also conveyed, in
previous correspondence, the impression that you were ignorant of the very
notable achievements of my administration in the area of foreign relations. It
is on record that under my leadership, Nigeria has played a key role in
resolving the conflicts in Niger, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, Guinea Bissau and
The unproductive
rivalry that existed between Nigeria and some ECOWAS countries has also been ended
under my watch and Nigeria now has better relations with all the ECOWAS
countries.  At the African Union, we now have a Commissioner at the AU
Commission after being without one for so long. We were in the United Nations
Security Council for the 2010/2011 Session and we have been voted in again for
the 2014/2015 Session. From independence to 2010, we were in the U.N. Security
Council only three times but from 2010 to 2015, we will be there two times.
This did not
happen by chance.  My Administration worked hard for it and we continue to
maintain the best possible relations with all centres of global political and
economic power. I find it hard therefore, to believe your assertions of
untoward concern in the international community over the state of governance in
With respect to
the Brass and Olokola LNG projects, you may have forgotten that though you
started these projects, Final Investment Decisions were never reached. 
For your information, NNPC has not withdrawn from either the Olokola or the
Brass LNG projects.
On the Rivers
State Water Project, you were misled by your informant. The Federal Government
under my watch has never directed or instructed the Africa Development Bank to
put on hold any project to be executed in Rivers state or any other State
within the Federation. The Rivers Water Project was not originally in the
borrowing plan but it was included in April 2013 and appraised in May.
Negotiations are ongoing with the AfDB.  I have no doubt that you are
familiar with the entire process that prefaces the signing of a Subsidiary Loan
Agreement as in this instance.
 Let me
assure you and all Nigerians that I do not engage in negative political actions
and will never, as President, oppress the people of a State or deprive them of
much needed public services as a result of political disagreement
I have noted your
comments on the proposed National Conference. Contrary to the insinuation in
your letter, the proposed conference is aimed at bringing Nigerians together to
resolve contentious national issues in a formal setting. This is a sure way of
promoting greater national consensus and unity, and not a recipe for “disunity,
confusion and chaos
” as you alleged in your letter.
Having twice held
the high office of President, Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of the
Federal Republic of Nigeria, I trust that you will understand that I cannot
possibly find the time to offer a line-by-line response to all the accusations
and allegations made in your letter while dealing with other pressing demands
of office and more urgent affairs of state.
I have tried,
however, to respond to only the most serious of the charges which question my
sincerity, personal honour, and commitment to the oath which I have sworn, to
always uphold and protect the interests of all Nigerians, and promote their
In closing, let me
state that you have done me grave injustice with your public letter in which
you wrongfully accused me of deceit, deception, dishonesty, incompetence,
clannishness, divisiveness and insincerity, amongst other ills.
I have not,
myself, ever claimed to be all-knowing or infallible, but I have never taken
Nigeria or Nigerians for granted as you implied, and I will continue to do my
utmost to steer our ship of state towards the brighter future to which we all
Please accept the
assurances of my highest consideration and warm regards.

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