Dec. 15, 2013
Islamic cleric and scholar Sheikh Ahmed Gumi has praised former President Olusegun Obasanjo for standing up for his conviction and for being bold to confront the government of President Goodluck Jonathan.
In the words of the Kaduna-based cleric, Mr. Obasanjo has “washed his hands off innocent blood” by speaking up against the lapses of the incumbent government. Last week, Mr. Obasanjo had leaked the contents of an 18-page letter filled with allegations of corruption, misrule, and dishonorable conduct against President Jonathan.
Speaking on Sahara TV over the weekend, Mr. Gumi defended Mr. Obasanjo’s position.
In a letter titled “Before It Is Too Late,” the former president expressed grave concern on President Jonathan manner of governance. He also accused the president of ineptitude and failure to deliver on his electoral promises to Nigerians. In addition, Mr. Obasanjo charged that President Jonathan had failed to curb corruption, had lost control of national security, and was promoting divisiveness.
Mr. Gumi endorsed Mr. Obasanjo’s position. “I expect all those retired generals who are languishing in their luxurious buildings would come out and speak against what is happening in Nigeria. Nobody did, so I hail this man and I am ready to forgive him for all the things he did against Nigeria,” Mr. Gumi said.
Responding to the issue of corruption during Mr. Obasanjo’s Presidency, the Islamic cleric admitted to SaharaTV’s Rudolf Okonkwo that there was corruption during Obasanjo’s tenure. “There was corruption, yes,” he said. “But Obasanjo was not doing it to divide Nigeria. He was doing it to help himself and his friends.”
Some of Mr. Obasanjo’s critics have also noted that he “imposed” President Jonathan on Nigerians. But Mr. Gumi suggested that the motive of Mr. Obasanjo, a two-time head of state, was to show Nigerians that anyone from any ethnic group, including minority groups, could become president. “The intention of Obasanjo, who fought the Biafran war, a war of secession from Nigeria, his intention was never to bring somebody to break Nigeria,” he said.
He sharply blamed President Jonathan for doing little to curb corruption in his government and also for his lackadaisical approach to the security crisis in the north-eastern part of Nigeria. In a veiled reference to the scandal involving Aviation Minister Stella Oduah, who spent $1.6 million ostensibly to acquire two bullet-proof cars, Mr. Gumi asked, “How can the [National] Assembly investigate a case of fraud by one Minister and convict the Minister, yet the President [is] taking no action about that?”
The firebrand Islamic scholar also indicted President Jonathan for hiding behind terror attacks by the Islamist group, Boko Haram, to unleash his own brand of terror on Nigerians. He alleged that a series of bombings across northern Nigeria, which seemed to have been perpetuated by Boko Haram, were actually carried out by security operatives under President Jonathan’s command. “Boko Haram are people from the north-eastern part of Nigeria. And if you can remember, or if you can even hear their language, you know that they are from the north-eastern part. If they want to fight the president because he is a southerner or a Christian, they will go to southern states and Christian states to fight him there. They will not be exploding bombs in their own towns,” the sheikh said. He added that Mr. Jonathan belongs to a faction of Nigerians hell-bent on seceding from and breaking up the Nigerian federation.
Presenting three scenarios all of which entailed Mr. Jonathan losing power, the Islamic cleric stated that Mr. Obasanjo’s letter spells doom for the president’s electoral chances in 2015. He said that Mr. Jonathan’s options are to resign, to be impeached, or to risk being humiliated at the polls in 2015. He advised the embattled president to choose the first option.
“I don’t think anybody can stand up now and say he will campaign for Jonathan. It is finished. So the best way for him is to resign,” Mr. Gumi said. He argued that Mr. Jonathan should seriously consider the first option because Nigerians cannot be ruled by force anymore. “Nobody will rule us again with a rigged election,” he said.