News / Africa

Nigerian Leader Says Predecessor Harmed National Security

Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan speaks during an interview with Reuters in New York, September 26, 2012.
Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan speaks during an interview with Reuters in New York, September 26, 2012.
Reuters
— Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday accused one of his mentors and predecessors, Olusegun Obasanjo, of stirring up ethnic hatred against him and of threatening national security.

Obasanjo, twice president and a powerful political godfather who nurtured Jonathan's own rise to power, has progressively fallen out with the current president. In a letter leaked earlier this month he said it would be “morally flawed” for Jonathan to seek a second term in a 2015 poll.

“Your letter is clearly a threat to national security as it may deliberately or inadvertently set the stage for subversion,” Jonathan told Obasanjo in a reply published in local media.

“It appears that your letter was designed to incite Nigerians from other geopolitical zones against me and also calculated to promote ethnic disharmony,” he said.

The open criticism from Obasanjo, one of Nigeria's most high-profile figures, has deepened a rift within the ruling party over Jonathan's assumed plan to seek another term at the helm of Africa's second biggest economy and top oil exporter.

FILE - Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo speaks to journalists at a news conference in Dakar, Senegal, Feb. 25, 2012.FILE - Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo speaks to journalists at a news conference in Dakar, Senegal, Feb. 25, 2012.
x
FILE - Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo speaks to journalists at a news conference in Dakar, Senegal, Feb. 25, 2012.
FILE - Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo speaks to journalists at a news conference in Dakar, Senegal, Feb. 25, 2012.
One week after Obasanjo's letter, some 37 lawmakers defected to the opposition coalition, giving it a slim majority in the lower house of parliament and delivering a blow to any re-election bid by Jonathan.

Jonathan has not said he will run, but his supporters note that he has a constitutional right to. That has upset ruling party northerners, who think it violates an unwritten rule that power should rotate each two terms between the largely Christian south and mostly Muslim north.

Jonathan is a southern Christian - as is Obasanjo - and he became president in 2010 after his predecessor, Umaru Yar'Adua, a northern Muslim, died just three years into his first term.

The more divisive the election race, the more money is likely to be spent fighting it at a time when Nigeria's fiscal position normally slips, and the greater the risk of violence.

Criticism

In his criticism of Jonathan's record, Obasanjo echoed complaints often made by the president's detractors, for instance that he has failed to deal with an Islamist insurgency in the north by treating it purely as a security issue instead of tackling the underlying causes of poverty and isolation.

Jonathan retorted on Monday that his government has invested in alleviating poverty in the north, focusing on education, including the creation of nine northern universities.

The former president likened the current situation to the tenure of General Sani Abacha, whose five years of military rule in the 1990s were marred by human rights abuses and massive looting of funds from Africa's biggest oil producer.

Jonathan dismissed as “baseless” Obasanjo's allegation that he was “clandestinely acquiring weapons” as Abacha once did, in case he cannot secure another term of office by peaceful means.

The president also defended his record on corruption, noting it had flourished during both of Obasanjo's stints in office.

“The seed of corruption in this country was planted a long time ago, but we are doing all we can to drastically reduce [it],” Jonathan said, dismissing as “misconstrued” talk that billions of dollars have gone missing from the state oil firm.

Jonathan denied being biased in favor of his Ijaw ethnic group, a common criticism repeated by Obasanjo.

Despite the current discord in Nigeria's political elite, most analysts believe Jonathan would win the vote if he chooses to run, albeit with a weaker mandate.

You May Like

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid