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Obasanjo's letter: Between messenger and message

17 January 2014, 16:37 Abdu Abdullahi

Chief Olusegun Obasanjo literally opened fire on President Goodluck Jonathan when he publicly released a letter castigating the president of undermining the peace,unity and progress of the country.

As expected,mixed reactions have continued to emanate from Nigerians drawn from all walks of life.The much talked about letter which cumulatively depicts Obasanjo's anger,protest,nationalism,you name them has polarized Nigerians into two main camps based on conflicting views.There is the category of the antagonists of the letter.

The members of this group have tagged it provocative terms like"inciting,satanic"etc.      This class of Nigerians which is made up of some members of the ruling class like retired Generals Yakubu Gowon,T.Y.Danjuma and Alhaji Tanko Yakasai,has faulted the moral basis of Obasanjo's message.These Nigerians argue that the driving force behind the letter was associated with Obasanjo losing control of Jonathan.

They buttrest their point by referring to the assertion of Obasanjo in the letter in which he mentions that after God and Jonathan's parents,the next revered person in the life of Jonathan should be him(Obasanjo).

The antagonistic group is also of the view that Jonathan's rule is an extension of Obasanjo's in all ramifications.The antagonists claim that if Obasanjo should bash Jonathan of condoning corruption,lacking the courage to fight insecurity,lacking the moral to elongate power and is responsible for the gradual collapse of the PDP,Obasanjo should also be seen as the former president who for eight years condoned corruption such as the Haliburton scandal,who lost the courage to deal with insecurity as in the cases of the assassinations of top political gurus like Bola Ige,Harry Marshal,Chuba Okadigbo and the Zaki biam massacre,who moved the heaven and earth to perpetuate power beyond 2007,who set the PDP on fire with a particular reference to Chris Ngigie's horrific tale.

Meanwhile,the protagonists of the letter will continue to be excited as they cogently believe that the letter merits commendation.Their central focus is the message and not the messenger.Even though they concede to the fact that Obasanjo's era was also characterised by similar socio-political and economic upheavals yet,they conclude that citing Obasanjo's shortcomings should not in anyway exonerate Jonathan from the prevailing uncertainties that have enveloped the nation

Ever since the letter was laid bare,hardly a day passes without one comment or the other on the battle of the Excellencies in the dailies and the social media.For the meantime,it seems the clash of the duo has temporarily diverted our attention from the real troubles bedeviling the country.It is also worthy of mentioning that Obasanjo's strike was timely calculated so as to generate massive public support.

He tried to make hay while the sun was shining.  In other words,the letter was released for public consumption just after the nation was yet to recover from the prolonged ASUU strike.It also made its debut after Sunusi Lamido's letter to the president alledging the non remittance of 8 trillion naira sales from crude oil.

There was also the public condemnation of the president by Speaker Aminu Tambuwal.And most painful was the defection of the five PDP Governors to the APC.Jonathan was unprepared for another shock yet the letter caught him unawares.Thus,Obasanjo calculated that releasing the letter at that material time would mean making his message to gain cheap popularity.

The focal point of controversy related to the letter has been the relationship between message and messenger.While the protagonists throws more emphasis on the message rather than the messenger,the antagonists hold the view that the messenger
 should critically be examined with a view to determining the realiability and credibility or otherwise of the messager.

This theory posits that if the messenger is not found wanting then the message is credible and must be understood from the point of effective communication.

Looking at Obasanjo's letter vis-a-vis messenger and message connection,it is pertinent to note that both message and messenger are basic elements of communication.

The fact remains that for a message to be effective the source or the messenger has to be credible.     

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