Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, and President Goodkuck Jonathan on Saturday took each other on, trading words over the postponement of the general elections, and allegations of plans to set up an interim.
Chief Obasanjo declared that the election postponement was a grand plan by President Jonathan to have six weeks more to attempt to sway Nigerians to himself ahead of the elections in which he is participating as the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
However, in a swift reaction, Dr. Reuben Abati, Special Adviser to the President on Media & Publicity, said the assertions of the former President were odious repugnant and self serving.
The elections were shifted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from February 14 and 21, to March 28th for the Presidential and National Assembly elections and April 11 for the governorship and House of Assembly elections.
Obasanjo, who spoke in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, said that President Jonathan cannot absolve himself of the postponement of the elections as it was a grand plot aimed at benefiting him and making him win the election at all cost.
He said the plot was to either win the election, or create chaos and confusion in the country that could lead to truncating the country’s democracy.
While pleading with politicians across the country to maintain peace during this period, Obasanjo also warned President Jonathan against any plan to sack the chairman of INEC, Professor Attahiru Jega, saying such an action could truncate Nigeria’s democracy.
Obasanjo also said he had confidence in the military’s ability to win the war against Boko Haram especially as it is in co-operation with allied forces.
Reacting further, Abati said, “it would be completely senseless, irrational and out of place for Chief Obasanjo, who still claims to belong to the same party as the President, to accuse President Jonathan of plotting to win the rescheduled presidential elections by “hook or crook” and planning to plunge the nation into crisis if he loses the election.”
Abati also said, “As we have had cause to say before, it is most regrettable indeed that a man like Chief Obasanjo, who should know better, chooses to repeatedly, wantonly, and maliciously impugn the integrity of a sitting President of his country for the primary purpose of self-promotion.
“It is obvious from Chief Obasanjo’s serial vituperations against President Jonathan who is doing his best to positively transform Nigeria for the benefit of all of its people that he has willfully chosen to close his eyes to the present administration’s good works and intentions. For reasons best known to him, Chief Obasanjo has set his mind on regime change by fair or foul means”.
According to Abati, Chief Obasanjo’s plot with others within and outside the country to thwart the general elections and “foist an unconstitutional Interim National Government, which he hopes to head on the nation is well known to us, but by the Grace of God Almighty, his odious plan to return to power through the back door will fail woefully.
“For the record, President Jonathan has no such intention and will continue to give the greatest possible support to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and other relevant federal agencies to ensure that the rescheduled elections are successfully conducted,” he said.
He said that “Indeed, it is not President Jonathan who remains faithful to his oath of office who is trying to plunge Nigeria into crisis, but Chief Obasanjo who is scheming to plunge the country into chaos in pursuit of a selfish and highly egocentric agenda.”
“We know very well that it is in pursuit of this nefarious plot that the former President continues to sow the seeds of discord and crises in the polity by purporting to remain in the ruling party while openly consorting with the opposition, endorsing its candidates and predicting victory for opposition candidates in a manner most unbecoming of a supposed elder statesman.
“Thankfully, the vast majority of Nigerians who are patriotic and right-thinking cannot be fooled by Chief Obasanjo’s antics.”