RE: BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE
I wish to formally acknowledge your letter dated December 2, 2013 and other previous correspondence similar to it.
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 letters.
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 President.
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.
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.
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 letter.
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.
seventh reason is that the timing of your letter coincided with other
vicious releases. The Speaker of the House of Representatives 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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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 uncharitable.
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.
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
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.
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
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 dormancy?
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 others.
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 Nigeria
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
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.
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 aspire.
Please accept the assurances of my highest consideration and warm regards.
GOODLUCK EBELE JONATHAN