Nigeria: President Goodluck Jonathan, Obasanjo trade words over Boko Haram
President Goodluck Jonathan has again lashed out at ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, describing him as a confused man unstable in his views regarding government’s handing of the protracted Boko Haram insurgency.
Mr. Jonathan, who spoke through his spokesperson, Reuben Abati, was reacting to Mr. Obasanjo’s comment in a CNN interview that the president had been deploying excessive force and exploring little or no dialogue in solving the Boko Haram problem.
“To deal with a group like that, you need a carrot and stick. The carrot is finding out how to reach out to them. When you try to reach out to them and they are not amenable to being reached out to, you have to use the stick,” Mr. Obasanjo reportedly said.
An apparently angry Mr. Abati took to Twitter early this morning deploring the former president’s comment and labeling him a confused man whose counsel or view the government does not care about.
In four different tweets this morning, the presidential spokesperson said, “In Nov. 2012 in Warri, fmr Prez. Obasanjo accused federal govt of being soft on Boko Haram. He recommended the Odi solution: genocide.
“In Jan.2013, OBJ tells CNN Govt shd adopt a carrot and stick approach to Boko Haram. Genocide & dialogue? Where exactly does he stand?
“OBJ’s position on Boko Haram= Contradiction and Confusion writ large.
“One report says OBJ is recommending a multifaceted approach to Boko Haram. This govt certainly doesn’t need a lecture on that!
“Jonathan administration has shown creativity & purposefulness in handling the BH challenge. Hence, the progress we witness.”
Mr. Obasanjo first angered Mr. Jonathan after he suggested that the president appeared a weak leader given the way he was handling the security challenges facing the country.
In his comment, the former President reminded the nation of how he directed security agencies to invade Odi, Rivers State, to fish out militants who killed some security men during his tenure.
An angry Mr. Jonathan however hit back at Mr. Obasanjo during his last media chat, saying the Odi invasion Mr. Obasanjo boasted about did not solve the problem but only ended up shedding the blood of the innocent.
Since then, elements loyal to the two men within the party have engaged one another in a war of words, and the national leadership of the party has been desperate for a reconciliation.
But when a peace team, led by party chairman Bamanga Tukur, visited the ex-President in his Ota farm on December 15, Mr. Obasanjo insisted he would continue to comment on national issues whenever necessary not minding whose ox is gored.