LEAKED DOCUMENT! Did Ooni really call Buhari a “jihadist”, and for probe of Atiku?
There are indications that late Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuade, had thought of Muhammadu Buhari as a “fanatic” and “Jihadist” who would rather divide Nigeria along religious and ethnic lines if he became president.
For this reason, the Ooni had said that endorsing Buhari to become president of Nigeria will not come from his lips.
He may have also warned against making former Vice President Atiku Abubakar occupy any public office, even as he had supported suggestions that Atiku be arrested and prosecuted for alleged corruption.
While warning that Buhari was unfit to be president, the revered monarch had also disclosed why prominent leaders of the region had backed Peter Odili, then governor of Rivers state for the presidency in 2007, adding however that they changed course after President Olusegun Obasanjo scuttled Odili’s quest and ‘handpicked’ Umaru Yar’Adua to succeed him.
These details are contained in a declassified US Diplomatic cable revealing details of a meeting between the Ooni of Ife and the US Consul General published on WikiLeaks.
The document titled “Traditional Ruler Supports Yar’Adua; Calls Buhari A “Fanatic””, and marked confidential, dated February 15, 2007 said the meeting held on February 5, 2007.
According to the document, Ooni Sijuade was quoted as saying a Buhari presidency would destabilize Nigeria as against Yar’Adua who he said had a more stabilizing influence.
The document also contained views on Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and insinuations by a former Aviation minister that he ought to be stopped from contesting the 2007 presidential election and jailed for corruption to prevent him from destabilizing Yar’Adua’s government with his wealth.
Read contents of the document:
“In a February 5 meeting with the Consul General, Yoruba traditional leader the Ooni of Ife described the origins of a presidential power-sharing arrangement designed to maintain the delicate balance among Nigeria’s ethnic groups and geographic regions. As a result of a series of meetings between 1993 and 1998, traditional rulers such as the Ooni were instrumental in helping forge the decision that the presidency must go to a Yoruba from the southwest.
“This was to compensate for the annulment of Moshood Abiola’s putative electoral victory in 1993. The proviso to this arrangement was an understanding that the subsequent president would be a northerner. However, Sijuade stated this had not been widely understood by southern political traditional leaders, who clamoured for another southerner to succeed President Obasanjo.
“In a meeting held toward the end of 2006, a group of southern traditional leaders declared the presidency should remain in the south. This agreement cut across partisan lines, attracting adherents from all major parties and across the three southern geopolitical zones. As the campaigning began, it became clear that Rivers State Governor Odili was the southerner with the most resources and thus the region’s most formidable candidate. True to their word, and despite Odili’s closeness to President Obasanjo, prominent Yoruba politicians such as former Finance Minister Olu Falae, former Ondo Governor Adefarati and lawyer Tunji Braithwaite lined up with Odili, according to the Ooni. Their hopes were dashed, however, when Obasanjo steered Katsina Governor Umaru Yar’Adua through to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) nomination and pressured Odili to withdraw from the race.
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“With Odili’s chances extinguished, the three men no longer felt bound to the agreement on supporting a southern candidate. Being ardent opponents of Obasanjo, they were loath to back his hand-picked successor. They also could not side with Vice-President Atiku because of Atiku’s affinity for Lagos Governor Tinubu, who for these Yoruba leaders was only slightly less leperous than Obasanjo. The process of elimination led them to endorse Buhari, the Ooni contended. Buhari, whose support in the south was essentially nonexistent, would soon seek the Ooni’s blessings, predicted the Ooni. He said such blessing would not come forth from his lips.
Buhari Would Not Provide Stability
“Sijuade indicated Yar’Adua would maintain political and ethnic stability in Nigeria. Evaluating the two leading northern political candidates, he declared Buhari unfit for the presidency. Calling Buhari a “fanatic” and “jihadist”, Sijuade said Nigeria needed a president with “good education and family background.” As an example of the desired pedigree, Sijuade pointed to Yar’Adua, whose grandmother was sister of the prince of Katsina. Given his background, Sijuade said, Yar’Adua would not “think of jihad”. In an aside, Aviation Minister Kayode claimed that Buhari would have a difficult time campaigning due to lack of funds. Kayode asserted Buhari had been the beneficiary of subvention from Saudi Arabia and Libya but the GON (Government of Nigeria) had plugged those spigots. Alluding to his much publicized confrontation with Libyan leader Qaddafi at the Abuja airport several months ago, Kayode asserted some of the Libyan’s pique was due to the GON stopping him from discharging large amounts of currency from the airplane. According to Kayode, the funds were intended to support fundamentalist elements in Nigeria, including Buhari.
PDP’s Woes May Be Balanced By Other Parties’ Misfortunes
“Sijuade predicted some PDP gubernatorial candidates would be replaced as a result of corruption investigations by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Kayode said that this would not necessarily weaken the PDP relative to other parties, as other parties’ flagbearers would also be discredited by the EFCC.
Atiku Is A Threat To Future Government
“Vice President Atiku would be a menace to future regimes, Kayode warned. With his ample coffers and extensive political machine, Atiku could destabilize a future government, argued Kayode. To avoid this, the EFCC and Obasanjo administration should imprison Atiku while they had the chance, he advocated. Kayode opined that Atiku should be stripped of immunity from prosecution because should he switch political parties, he should then be arrested and prosecuted on charges of corruption. This would set an example within Nigeria and to the international community that the country is following the rule of law, Kayode said.
(Comment: Kayode’s views on this issue are as important as they are tendentious. Kayode was appointed a member of a special panel that recommended the GON prohibit VP Atiku and several governors from seeking further public office. End Comment)
“The EFCC would likely prohibit Vice-President Atiku from contesting the presidency, Sijuade surmised. Sijuade dismissed the possibility of an adverse public reaction. This is especially the case because the main opposition parties, the Action Congress (AC) and All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP), are comprised of former PDP members, he submitted”.
Consul General’s Comment
“Regarding who they support in the presidential election, President Obasanjo and the Ooni are almost joined at the hip. The Ooni will support the president full tilt. Although once a supporter of Odili, the Ooni has accepted the presidential nomination of Yar’Adua. He will now work for that ticket. The Ooni’s support will help Yar’Adua in Yorubaland, yet the Ooni cannot guarantee Yar’Adua smooth sailing. Even with the Ooni beside him, Yar’Adua remains an unknown quantity to much of the southwest. From what we heard, Buhari might as well forego attempting to coax the Ooni. The Ooni had little decent to say about Buhari. While the statement about Buhari being a jihadist was hyperbolic, the Ooni was more in line with reality with his assessment of Buhari’s popularity in the south as being meager.”
The document was signed by Browne