President Goodluck Jonathan has said that despite the recent verbal war with former leader Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, he still sees him as his father and himself as Obasanjo's first political son.
The president said God had used people, including Obasanjo, to make him president of Nigeria.
The president used the occasion of his first interview with a Nigerian media outfit to clear the air on a number of subjects, including security, the inviolability of the March 28 and April 11 election dates, the awaited return of the kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls and the fight against corruption.
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Jonathan said this while speaking to Tribune in Lagos:
"First and foremost, Obasanjo is a father to me. By divine providence and the grace of God, I am the President of Nigeria today. It is not by my strength. But God uses human beings to actualise His own blessings on human beings. And He used so many Nigerians, including former President Obasanjo, to play one role or the other for me. I became the deputy governor of a state, became the governor, the vice president and president. I have no issues with him, and I really don’t want to join issues with President Obasanjo,” Jonathan said.
“I think it is not necessary. But I will use this opportunity, because you asked, to just plead with my father that he is a leader, a former president of the country. He has led the country more than anybody, eight years of democratic governance and almost four years of military governance. No other person has that kind of record. The stability of this country is critical in terms of the economy of this country. Rating agencies downgrade countries that are going into elections because the feeling is that there would be crisis. When you paint the colour of instability for your own nation, you are doing so much injustice to the country because it affects the economy of the country, not just affecting the country in terms of security and social issues alone. It affects the economy directly. So, I plead with very senior citizens that Nigeria is dear to us; we don’t have any other country than Nigeria. So, actions and inactions, or utterances, should be guarded so that we don’t expose our country to the international community as if it is a country in danger, a country that is about to collapse. You are frightening investors, especially those who invest hot cash, to pull out their money from the country and that would affect the stock market and it would affect the economy. For one reason or the other, Obasanjo may disagree with me as his first political son. You can even disagree with your own biological children, as a human being, not to talk of disagreeing with your political children. So, he can agree or disagree with me, but the utterances have to be managed in a way that it does not affect the economy and security of this country," he added.
When asked how he felt watching the former president tear up his PDP membership card on TV, Jonathan said the case had no effect on him because the attacks had been consistent.
The president also noted that it would be immoral for him to stay for 12 years as president while the constitution stipulates only seven years.
He said that his critics cut out a significant part of his statement in Addis Ababa to colour his position.
Jonathan, who also spoke on the attempts of his government to tackle corruption and insecurity, said that corruption could not be fought by simply imprisoning people.
The latest round of bickering and mudslinging between Obasanjo and Jonathan took a new twist when Obasanjo chose the occasion of a CNN interview to condemn Jonathan’s approach to the Boko Haram terrorism. He said: “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”.
Chief Obasanjo parted his ways with PDP last Monday, February 16, when he tore up his party membership card. Some immediately supposed that he would work for covertly for the opposition.