LEAKED CABLE: US Tells Jonathan To Keep Away From Obasanjo

L-R: Goodluck Jonathan and Olusegun Obasanjo

L-R: Goodluck Jonathan and Olusegun Obasanjo

Wikileaks, the online news agency which took the world by storm by releasing Secret US documents has revealed how the United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Ms. Robin Renee Sanders, warned President Goodluck Jonathan to keep away from former President Olusegun Obasanjo in order to enjoy the support of Nigerians.

The warning came during a meeting between Jonathan and the US Ambassador on 26 February, 2010 before the death of President Umaru Musa.  Yar’Adua died on 6 May.

In the secret US cable released by Wikileaks yesterday, Ms. Sanders advised Jonathan to keep Obasanjo at arms length and reject any directive from the former president.

According to the US cable: “Ambassador advised the AgP (Acting President), that he needs to publicly demonstrate that he is the sole executor of national issues, not being directed or serving political purpose for Obasanjo or others, so that his leadership would not be in question and the polity would accept that he had the best interest of the nation at hand.”

Sanders wrote further: “The AgP said he appreciated our advice, including publicly holding Obasanjo at arms length. He said he would consider taking steps, including possibly convoking the entire diplomatic corps to brief them on the current political climate, using this and other events to demonstrate that he is his own man, and diminish the appearance that he is a regional leader.”

The ambassador also suggested to his home country to continue to encourage Jonathan on the right path, “help on the push back on Obasanjo through former and current United States Government Officials and if the drum beat calling for the ailing president to resign picks up speed, we should ensure that we indicate our support for this given that it is probably the best thing for the country.”

The cable revealed how Jonathan told the US ambassador that the Northern politicians were uncomfortable with him as President.

In the secret cable, Sanders wrote: “Jonathan noted that the Northern politicians would always be uncomfortable with him as President, and he understood the ruling People’s Democratic Party, PDP, picked him as Yar’Adua’s running mate in 2007 because he represented the Niger Delta.

“Jonathan said he was handling Niger Delta issues until the Ministry of Niger Delta was created in September 2008 allowing him to distance himself from being viewed as someone who could only work on that issue. ‘I was not chosen to be Vice President because I had good political experience,’ he said. ‘I did not. There were a lot more qualified people around to be Vice President, but that does not mean I am not my own man.’

In the cable,  Jonathan also identified former military Head of State, Gen. Abdusalami Abubakar as one of his closest advisers.

The cable also revealed that Nigeria’s late President, Yar’Adua was in a ‘semi-comatose state’ while the country teetered on the edge of a constitutional crisis in February over his illness.

In the cable, the US Ambassador disclosed that Jonathan blamed Turai Yar’Adua and three other advisers of Yar’Adua for the confusion that enveloped the country during the period.

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