Alhaji Shettima Ali Monguno
By Onwuka Nzeshi in Abuja
Elder statesman and former Minister of Petroleum, Alhaji Shettima Ali Monguno, yesterday accused former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo of inciting genocide in his recent assessment of President Goodluck Jonathan’s handling of the Boko Haram insurgence in Maiduguri, saying the former Nigerian leader was wide off the mark.
Also, the Coalition for United Nigeria (CUN) said it was unfortunate that Obasanjo could come up with such suggestion.
Obasanjo had during an occasion to mark the 40th anniversary on the pulpit of clergyman, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, criticised Jonathan’s handling of government’s response to corruption and the activities of the Boko Haram.
The former President also faulted government’s approach in arresting the threat, insinuating that President Jonathan was weak.
Obasanjo added that the present government missed an opportunity to solve the problem by not going tough on the insurgents at the early stage, comparing the present approach of the President to his response to the killing of 19 soldiers in Odi in Bayelsa State.
But Monguno, speaking to journalists in Maiduguri, Borno State, faulted Obasanjo, noting that he had no moral right to criticise his successors.
He said: “Somebody who wanted to extend beyond the constitutional term, tried his very best to extend but was rejected is now advising government to do the wrong thing.”
The former Minister of Petroleum vehemently disagreed with the former President, noting that his prescription of military action, the type of which he unleashed on the Odi community would only compound the problem.
“I do not agree with our former President that the President should use force, use the military to crush what they always call the Boko Haram,” Monguno said
He added that describing the president as weak did not even arise.
The former Minister said even in the military, soldiers do not want to go to war unless it is absolutely necessary.
He noted that even the world body, the United Nations, does not believe in using force in situations like this and advised Obasanjo to look back on his military and political ways of life.
Monguno said rather than use force, Jonathan should explore peaceful means of resolving the Boko Haram threats.
“The president could come out and still employ the same tactics, which he and the late president (Umaru Yar’Adua) employed to persuade the militants. He could have employed the same methods on Boko Haram in the North.
“The northerners were expectant that he was going to use that”, Alhaji Monguno said.
The former minister called on government to realise that every child born belongs to Nigeria and attention should be given to all to improve their standard of living.
Chairman of CUN, Alhaji Mustapha Dangana, who spoke with journalists on the issue at the weekend, said: “Obasanjo does not mean well for the North and Nigeria by suggesting that President Jonathan should have replicated the Odi treatment in the North to nip the Boko Haram menace in the bud.”
CUN said such a position was tantamount to incitement to commit genocide as the troops deployed to Odi did not just go for the insurgents but sacked the entire community.
Dangana appealed to President Jonathan to ignore Obasanjo and continue with the present technique of carefully identifying and tackling the Boko Haram insurgents in their hideouts instead of employing “ extreme military actions” against the towns where the insurgents operate.
Dangana argued that unleashing genocide on a community or an ethnic population as Obasanjo did in Odi was not a sign of strength but “a demonstration of inhumanity and irrationality by a blood-thirsty civilian dictator” who was elected to govern the people according to the rule of law.
The group appealed to Jonathan not to fall to the temptation of using the military Joint Task Force (JTF) to unleash unbridled violence and genocide against the civilian populations in Maiduguri and other cities in the North.
“It is now clear that Obasanjo was not even sincere about his effort to broker a truce between the government and Boko Haram when he visited Maiduguri last year on the permission of President Jonathan to open dialogue with some elements in Maiduguri on the Boko Haram scourge.
“The truth is that he wanted to capitalise on the raging Boko Haram problem to seize the national platform again and present himself as a statesman. It was part of an ingenious design to promote personal aggrandizement as against national interest. He wanted to be seen as a leader who was deeply touched and found a solution to the Boko Haram menace in the North.