Former Head of State, Yakubu Gowon, has kicked against a move by former President Olusegun Obasanjo to coerce ex-leaders of the country into issuing a joint statement condemning President Muhammadu Buhari’s performance in the area of insecurity, this newspaper has reliably gathered.
Obasanjo ruled Nigeria as a civilian president for two terms, between May 29, 1999 and May 29, 2007. This is in addition to the time spent as a military ruler from 1976 to 1979. According to sources in the Villa, Obasanjo has been reaching out to former heads of state and Presidents asking for their support to discredit the Buhari-led administration.
Amongst those contacted by the former President are General Abdulsalam, General Ibrahim Babangida and General Yakubu Gowon
Obasanjo reportedly said the insecurity in the country has reached a tipping point that demands a joint statement from the ex-officio.
He also cited the train attack that led to the death and abduction of some passengers along the Abuja/Kaduna railway which has sparked varying reactions.
While this newspaper cannot confirm the reaction of all the leaders contacted, multiple sources in the Presidency stated that Gowon condemned the move vehemently, noting it was a political attempt to heat the polity ahead of 2023 general elections.
Gowon, who took over power after two coup d’etats in 1966 and was overthrown in 1975, is famed for presiding over the controversial Nigerian Civil War and delivery of the famous “no victor, no vanquished” speech.
The retired General, however, rejected Obasanjo’s plot, stating that former Presidents including himself have channels through which they communicate with the Presidency.
Another source confirmed that one particular liaison channel is under the office of Secretary General of the Federation (SGF) currently headed by Boss Mustapha.
Also in his response, this paper learnt that Gowon pointed out the fact that every successive administration in the country has had a fair share of the insecurity that has plagued the nation for years, adding that it will be unfair to heap the blame on the Buhari-led administration.
It however remains unclear if Obasanjo has decided to jettison the plan or proceed despite Gowon’s disapproval.
It should be noted that former President Obasanjo has come to be known to write letters to incumbent presidents who occupied office after him.
He has written three letters to President Muhammadu Buhari since his assumption of office as a civilian president.
The first was in January 2018. In a 13-page statement titled; “The way out, a clarion call for coalition for Nigeria movement”, Obasanjo asked Buhari not to listen to the advisers around him who are urging him to seek re-election.
Obasanjo also blamed the incumbent for his handling of the herdsmen crisis in the north of Nigeria.
The second letter to Buhari was in January 2019, in which Obasanjo commented on different political issues including the Osun state Governorship and the removal of the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen.
“President Buhari and his hatchet men in the coming election think that the judiciary must be primed in their favour.”
“Hence, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen, has been harassed and prosecuted for non-declaration of his assets without following the Constitution and the law, just to make him conform or set him aside for a Buhari man to take over or act, as President Buhari and his people believe no stone should be left unturned to rig Buhari in,” the former President wrote.
However, in the third letter to Buhari published in July, 2019, Obasanjo advised President Buhari to immediately address the increasing cases of insecurity in Nigeria to prevent it from escalating into a full-blown war.