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Special Assistant on Media to former President Olusegun Obasanjo,, Kehinde Akinyemi, has distanced the ex-president from a viral open letter allegedly written to President Muhammadu Buhari on some issues of national interest.
The letter was dated June 12, 2021.
It has been shared repeatedly on social media. The content of the letter also revealed some of the current challenges confronting the country such as insecurity and unemployment, among others.
Checks on each of the paragraphs show similar content, except for the closing captions. The four nuggets highlighted by Obasanjo in the old letter were also captured in the circulating letter.
“To be explicit and without equivocation, Mr. President and General, I am deeply worried about four avoidable calamities:
- Abandoning Nigeria into the hands of criminals who are all being suspected, rightly or wrongly, as Fulanis and terrorists of Boko Haram type;
- Spontaneous or planned reprisal attacks against Fulanis which may inadvertently or advertently mushroom into pogrom or Rwanda-type genocide that we did not believe could happen and yet it happened.
- Similar attacks against any other tribe or ethnic group anywhere in the country initiated by rumours, fears, intimidation, and revenge capable of leading to pogrom;
- Violent uprising beginning from one section of the country and spreading quickly to other areas and leading to the dismemberment of the country.”
As a former president, Obasanjo would often write to the nation’s presidents when necessary, especially on issues bordering on unemployment, insecurity, rule of law, and ethnic division, among others.
During Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, similar letters were written to him on the nation’s state of affairs. One of such letters was dated December 2, 2013. It was titled “Before it is too late.”
However, findings show that the controversial letter has almost the same content as that which was written by Obasanjo in 2019, except for the June 12, 2021 date appended at the top.
“Ok. My verdict is that it was an old letter dated July 15, 2019. Thanks,” Akinyemi disclosed when this reporter reached out to him.
He debunked the letter, after the reporter had shared the piece with him via WhatsApp.
The former president led the nation twice, first as a military administrator from 1976 to 1979, and as a democratically elected president between 1999 and 2007. He was in office for eight years and left the presidential seat in 2007.
On April 4, he met with some elders from northern Nigeria on rising insecurity in the country. “Federal government must be proactive, secure necessary and updated intelligence to deal with organised crimes and have common policy for the nation. It is not solving the problem when one state goes for negotiation and molly-cuddling of criminals, and another one goes for shooting them. Nor should one state go for ransom payment and another one going against it.
“Education is one main key to solve the problem in the long-run but it must start now. The 14 million children that should be in school and are out of school must be put in school with local authorities, state governments, and federal government working together,” he stated.
The former president also held a meeting last Thursday with other notable Nigerians in Abuja, still on the state of affairs in the country. Some of the participants included: former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar (retd.); the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar; and former Catholic Archbishop of Abuja Diocese, Emeritus John Cardinal Onaiyekan.
Others were: President of Nigeria Labour Congress, Ayuba Wabba; former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Kanu Agabi (SAN); General Secretary of Christian Association of Nigeria, Joseph Daramola; Etsu Nupe, Alhaji Yahaya, and former Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbe.
The ICIR was told that the meeting was sanctioned by Buhari.
Obasanjo, who addressed journalists at the Transcorp Hilton, Abuja, on Friday, noted that a communiqué was not issued at the end of the meeting because the statesmen would be long on action and short on statement.
He said that the outcome of the meeting would be communicated to President Muhammadu Buhari.
“The outcome of our meeting and our request will be made available to the president whenever he is ready to receive us.”
It is, therefore, unlikely that Obasanjo would write a letter to Buhari after holding a meeting last week approved by the president.