Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
The Southern Mandate, a coalition of socio-political groups in the South-west, South-south and South-east geopolitical zones of the country, has called on President Goodluck Jonathan to ignore the hardline posture canvassed by former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo in tackling the Boko Haram insurgency.
It also berated Obasanjo over his comments describing Jonathan as a weak leader incapable of taking decisive action to quell the Boko Haram insurgency.
Obasanjo had at the 40th anniversary of Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor as preacher at the Word of Life Bible Church in Warri, Delta State, blamed Jonathan for allowing the Islamic sect to grow into an uncontrollable monster by his failure to act on a report submitted to the government.
But reacting to development, the Southern Mandate asked Jonathan not to resort to crude and brutal force as suggested by Obasanjo in his handling of the Boko Haram menace, but to explore a humane and civilised approach to avoid unnecessary loss of innocent lives.
In a statement issued yesterday in Abuja and signed by five coordinators of the coalition, Messrs Tito Zuokumor, Victor Akpe, Obi Okoroma, Fadairo Bamidele, and Dr. Odafe Wilson Omene, the group expressed dismay that rather than bury his head in shame and seek forgiveness, the former president took pride in the Odi massacre.
Part of the statement read:
“It is pertinent to recall the circumstances that led to the Odi massacre. Some hooligans had constituted a menace in the town and responsible members of the community went to report to the police. It was when the police came to arrest them that they were attacked and killed. Unfortunately, it was those that were law-abiding and went to report the criminal activities of these boys to the police that Obasanjo sent soldiers to kill. They killed old women, children, the mentally challenged and even domestic animals. Is that what Obasanjo want Jonathan to do in Borno and Yobe States where Bako Haram is on rampage?
“How in this civilised age would Obasanjo advise President Jonathan to wipe out some towns in the North because of the activities of a few criminals masquerading as Boko Haram? We urge President not to take his advice seriously. It is not always every advice of an elder statesman that should be taken seriously.”
Southern Mandate said that government must wear a human face and must be decisive in enhancing citizens welfare, the protection of lives and property, and maintenance of human dignity.
It stated that Jonathan was considered weak on account of the Boko Haram insurgency because he had not ordered the killing of innocent people and total destruction of a town in the North.
It said: “He is weak perhaps, because no journalist is being haunted or killed for performing his or her professional duties. Maybe he is weak because politicians are not in exile as it used to be in the past; he is also seen as weak because he believed in free and fair elections without the usual presidential interference. He is considered to be disobedient to the National Assembly because of his commitment to the protection of the interest of the citizenry and his refusal to succumb to waste of public funds. But the president’s humane disposition and strict adherence to the dictates of the rule of law and preservation of national unity should not be misconstrued as inability to tackle the prevailing security challenges facing the nation.
“It is only an African leader like Obasanjo that will see himself as a hero. In an attempt to fish out nine criminals, he took an action that led to the death of thousands of innocent souls and wanton destruction of an entire community including schools, churches and government offices. Different militant camps across the Niger Delta sprang up shortly after the Odi invasion. His place in history is that of a villain and nothing more.”