African Outlook Online

Letters to the editor

Nigeria is Already a Failed State

Nigeria is Already a Failed State


By David Lanre Lijadu

The President of Nigeria, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, just confirmed to all Nigerians that Nigeria is a failed state through the letter he wrote to Mr. Obasanjo whom he severally referred to as “Baba.”

First, Mr. President said he was obligated to write Mr. Obasanjo because he doesn’t want to be seen as “ignoring a former President.”  However, the eighth, ninth and tenth reasons the President gave for replying Mr. Obasanjo were serious alert that his life is in danger and that he believed that the former President is attempting to take over his government by violence: Mr. President stated:


"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. ~AfricanOutlook Online


The above are serious accusations by the President that a leader of his party who is a former President has “instigated” members of the PDP against him and therefore, he feels that “landmines have been “laid” for him ready to “explode.”  Furthermore, the President referred to past letter writing precedents that had led to the take over of government by force and believed that this letter was meant to serve similar purpose.


The summary of these three reasons which President Jonathan offered in his letter is that Mr. Obasanjo is attempting to use members of the PDP and others to take over the government of Nigeria by force and possibly with the intent to assassinate him. To corroborate his accusation, the Present chronicled similar attempts on his life during Mr. Obasanjo’s administration without any investigation carried out by same


In the final analysis, one wonders if this President is so fearful that he had to account for his stewardship to a former President rather than Nigerians. I thought that the office of the President is above all other in the country except the people who elected him. However, the woeful accountability by Mr. Jonathan to a particular “Baba” and the latest meeting of the APC leaders to Mr. Obasanjo asking him to be the “navigator” of the “ship” to “rescue” Nigeria worries me and I think it should worry every Nigerian who believes in democracy, the rule of law and the power of the Constitution. 


By not holding a Press conference, the notice that the President gave to all Nigerians is that he is accountable to Mr. Obasanjo and the fragmented PDP first, and the Nigerians second. The implication of this is that he is incapable of using the power given to him by all Nigerians as the President and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces to stand against any internal or external aggression, rather, would succumb to them.


A World Press conference as practiced in every civilized country governed by democratically elected President would have been the right thing to do so that Mr. Jonathan would be seen as addressing the issues and accounting to Nigerians who elected him into office and are collectively his boss; not Obasanjo. He would also have given the Media the opportunity to ask pertinent questions that most Nigerians and the whole world are anxious to ask and have been asking for couple of weeks since Mr. Obasanjo made his letter public and respond to them officially. Mr. Jonathan deliberately shattered the hope of Nigerians to hear from their President. Instead, he validated Obasanjo’s claim that he “handpicked” his successors and they dare not challenge his authority. This is now a matter of “He, who pays the piper, dictates the tune.”


Downgrading the office of the President to that of letter writing and stating various and  serious charges of criminal activities by past and present politicians in power and other bureaucrats and individuals in the country without stating what the next action would be officially is laughable and absolutely shameful to say the least. 


A sitting President cannot afford to make such serious accusations and allegations in a letter to another past leader publicly without telling the country what action his administration would take to make sure that the Nigerian people are not taken for a ride. Is Nigeria not a country of law? What has happened to the entire systems of enforcement, investigation, detection, prosecution and judgment in accordance with the rule of law in the country? Is the Constitution not guiding the operation of government in Nigeria anymore?


The issues are about the Nigerian state and as the President of Nigeria; he should be addressing Nigerians officially at a World Press Conference. By his letter, the President presented Nigeria as the property of Obasanjo and the fragmented PDP and himself as an employee for the former President who is answering a query from the boss.


Also, addressing Mr. Obasanjo as “Baba” is unfortunate to say the least. It is unbelievable and monumental insult to Nigerians. I think the President is the 1st person in any civilized country! Is Mr. Obasanjo the “Baba” of President Jonathan? The Yorubas say, “Ibi ti a ba ape lori, a ki fii tele” (Whatever is designated as the head cannot be used to stump the ground.” Even in most Nigerian cultures, when has it become customary for a King to prostrate to any of his subjects – young or old? Would Barack Obama refer to former President Clinton as “Father” in a public letter of such significance?


The world saw former President Clinton during the 2012 Democratic convention bowed down for President Barack Obama. Here in Nigeria, a sitting President is calling a former President “Baba.” So, is “Baba” above the law? Does he have absolute power in Nigeria today? Is this shameful show of idiocy playing out to the world that Nigerians desire to command respect?


The question that Nigerians should ask their President is: Where do we go from here?  Are you strong enough to defend Nigeria from internal and/or external aggressors or should we quickly look for another “before it’s too late?” Are these allegations of corruption, murders, assassination attempts, plutocratic practices and terrorism just going to be a matter of writing to Mr. Obasanjo? Can Nigerians now assume that their country is already a failed state because their President alerted them that his life is in danger but cannot do anything about it?  Nigerians need answers now, or they shall take their country back before it’s too late!