Public spats between President Goodluck Jonathan and former President Olusegun Obasanjo are becoming a staple diet of news. The two men have been at each other’s throat since Obasanjo started showing disinclination towards Jonathan’s second term about a year ago. Only last November, they were in the news over their divergent approaches to the Boko Haram insurgency. After Obasanjo’s scathing criticism of the handling of Boko Haram. Jonathan had responded by also putting down the former president’s handling of the Odi crisis, in the president’s home state of Bayelsa, in 1999, which was widely condemned as genocide.
Then on Tuesday, the former president started another round of the tirades, also centred on Boko Haram. Obasanjo in an interview with CNN suggested “a carrot and stick approach” toward the Islamic terror group and criticised Jonathan for “just using the stick.” To Obasanjo, Jonathan was “doing one aspect of it well, but the other aspect must not be forgotten.”
It was a curious perspective from a man who barely two months was in the news for recommending draconian measures. But Obasanjo’s opinion, certainly, did not warrant the indecorous response from presidential spokesman Reuben Abati. Abati responded on Twitter, where he described Obasanjo’s views on Boko Haram as “contradiction and confusion writ large.”
In a country where ostentation and self-aggrandisement are like a way of life, the two leaders may be enjoying the opportunities to hit at each other’s weak points. But their actions definitely diminish the country and the presidency. Jonathan appeared to recognise this fact when last year he, reportedly, warned his aides against throwing caustic tirades at the former president. But he has seemed to remain deaf to the apparent disregard of his own directive on Obasanjo.
The two leaders must learn to play their politics with decorum for the sanity of the country and its leadership.