2003 Nigerian General Elections
EXCHANGE OF LETTERS BETWEEN
THE TWO PRINCIPAL CANDIDATES,
OLUSEGUN OBASANJO AND MUHAMMADU BUHARI
Sent: April 18, 2003 10:50 AM
Subject: [edo-community] NIGERIA IN "ELECTORAL WAR", AND TENSION BUILDS
From President Olusegun Obasanjo, PDP Candidate,
to General Muhammadu Buhari, ANPP Candidate
April 16, 2003
Dear General Buhari:
I feel constrained to write you this letter on an issue which I presume to be of common concern to you and me, first as members of the National Council of State, and as presidential candidates of our respective parties in the current general elections.
May I remind you that the responsibility for ensuring the success of these elections transcends our individual ambitions at the polls. It is a national responsibility by which all Nigerians expect us to assure them of peace and stability during these elections and beyond
I am alarmed at the reports reaching me of utterances by yourself which seem to convey consequences that are disruptive to law and order by your political supporters and members of you party, the ANPP. It is my sincere hope that the suggestion of a call to civil disobedience, and even violence, is a misinterpretation of these utterances by a former Head of State and a Presidential Candidate who aspires to govern a democratically united and peaceful Nigeria.
You are reported to have cited the remarkable success of the Peoples Democratic Party at the election of last Saturday as basis for the utterances. The facts, which are readily available to all observers, is that, whereas the PDP did indeed make dramatic gains in some parts of the country, this is equally true of ANPP making gains in other parts of the country, all at the expense of PDP. The details, I believe, are sufficiently familiar to you, and are therefore not worth mentioning here.
I would only like to point out to you that the PDP has been most willing to accept being losers where ANPP has gained. On your part, while you savour the victory of your party, you may as well concede defeat where other parties were victorious. This attitude, apart from being sportsmanlike, would be extremely helpful for our nascent democracy that all Nigerians are demonstrably keen to establish for this nation. In any case, it is certainly illogical, if not irresponsible, to portray instances of victory by the other side as evidence of electoral malpractice, while total victory on your part goes unmentioned. Furthermore, it is on record that the PDP in relevant states has vigorously protested against manifestations of irregularities and malpractices that attended its defeat, and the party is in the process of dealing with such situations according to electoral regulations.
Let me emphatically urge you not to incite the society and law enforcement agencies. You know, both as military leader and former head of state that direct appeal and incitement of law enforcement agencies and the military against lawfully constituted authority is both reprehensible and extremely unfortunate. So also is your encouragement of civil disobedience rather than pursuit of redress in accordance with laid-down electoral regulations.
I am sure that you do not need reminding that, I, as the elected president, have the responsibility for maintaining peace, law and order, at any time and in every part of this country. This responsibility transcends party politics. This is a constitutional responsibility that I owe to this nation. And I intend to use all constitutional means and authority to discharge this responsibility to the full, election time or not".
I am taking the liberty to make the contents of this letter available to members of the National Council of State and all other persons that I believe need to know because they share the concerns hereby expressed.
President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria And Commander-in-Chief
Response From ANPP (For General Muhammadu Buhari, Prsidentail Candidate) to President Olusegun Obasanjo, PDP Candidate
April 16, 2003
The contents of the President's letter to General Muhammadu Buhari got to the media even before the ANPP Presidential Candidate received it. We find that very inappropriate and quite out of order. We have also noticed from the contents of the letter that it is either the president has misunderstood the Press Conference of April 16, 2003, which was delivered by the ANPP Presidential candidate on behalf of the Presidential Candidates of the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) or has deliberately chosen to view it out of context. Either way, General Buhari cannot be held responsible for that.
The ANPP Presidential Candidate who is a former Head of State himself will not seek to incite the public against a constituted authority as the President's letter imputes. In all his public service life be has been known to be disciplined and law abiding. For the purpose of this election, it is the considered opinion of the Buhari-Okadigbo Presidential Campaign Organisation that Chief Olusegun Obasanjo is simply another candidate in the race. We have noted that in the conduct of the 2003 elections, the President who to all intents and purposes is in charge of the election process has behaved less as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and more as an interested party in the elections. We have therefore addressed ourselves appropriately to that fact. The respected views of the Catholic Church in Nigeria and the several observer groups on the just concluded National Assembly elections are instructive.
We have noted the threats of the President in his letter. But the position of the ANPP Presidential Candidate remains unchanged. He will continue to maintain that Nigerians should promote democracy by exercising their rights to vote during elections. He will also continue to insist as he did in the press conference of 17th April, 2003 that the people should protect their votes with all they have. After all, as the PDP National Chairman, Mr. Audu Ogbeh once said himself, and we fully agree, "a fraudulent democracy is worse than a military dictatorship". We are at one with the President, that he as President has the responsibility for maintaining peace, law and order. But this responsibility does not in any way vitiate the people's responsibility or even the right to defend the nation's hard-earned democracy even against an elected President.
ANPP Deputy Director General Media and Publicity