The alleged strained relationship between President Goodluck Jonathan and his one time benefactor, former President Olusegun Obasanjo was further stretched, yesterday, after Obasanjo rebuffed the incumbent president’s claims that the army invasion of Odi in Bayelsa State in 1999 was a failure.
In a detailed response to the claim by President Jonathan, Obasanjo asserted that contrary to the claim, the invasion of Odi not only killed the militants but decimated their capacity to wage such acts of terror against the state.
Obasanjo, however, said the Odi treatment would not necessarily be adaptable to the Boko Haram insurgency. President Jonathan had during the presidential media chat on Sunday rebuffed claims of weakness made against him by Obasanjo, asserting that the invasion of Odi ordered by Obasanjo in 1999 was a failure.
“After that invasion, myself and the governor entered Odi…and saw some dead people. Most of the people that died in Odi were mostly old men, women and children, none of the militants was killed,” Jonathan said on Sunday.
He continued: “If bombarding Odi was to solve the problem, then it was never solved. If the attack on Odi had solved the problem of militancy in the Niger Delta, then the Yar’ Adua government would not have come up with the Amnesty programme. So, that should tell you that the attack on Odi never solved the militancy problem and we had more challenges after that attack on Odi.”
Following the presidential media chat, Obasanjo reportedly briefed Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode, who served as his Special Assistant on Public Affairs and subsequently Minister of Aviation.
Upon the briefing, Fani-Kayode rebuffed President Jonathan’s claims that the Odi invasion was a failure.
He said: “During a live broadcast of the Presidential Media Chat to the nation on the evening of November 18, 2012, President Goodluck Jonathan said that the military operation in Odi by the Nigerian Armed Forces in 1999, which was ordered by President Olusegun Obasanjo, did not solve the problem or stop the killing of soldiers, policemen and innocent civilians in the Niger Delta area by the terrorists and militants. He also said that all he saw in Odi after he went there on an official visit as Deputy Governor were the dead bodies of old people. With the greatest respect to Mr. President this is factually incorrect. He has either forgotten the relevant facts or he has been misinformed. Whichever way he is mistaken and it is important for those of us that proudly served the Obasanjo administration to respond to him in order to clarify the issues, clear the air and set the record straight for the sake of history and posterity.