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Obasanjo is wrong, APC is daft

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Olusegun Obasanjo

I disagree with Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. The ex-President is wrong about his scathing attack on the sitting President Muhammadu Buhari. He launched the litany of complaints with the authoritarian vehemence of a school principal over a student. Nobody is saying that Buhari is above criticisms, Pray, do so, but definitely not in a “holier than thou” attitude with a Socratic irony, The style of the criticisms portrays Obasanjo that he is a super human being qualified to be the arbiter in Nigerian politics.

Born on March 5, 1937, Obasanjo had a rare opportunity of serving twice as the Head of State, first in military capacity between February 13, 1976 to October 1, 1979, and later as elected President from May 29, 1999 to May 29, 2007. Altogether he ruled the country for 11 years seven months and 18 days. Through these periods of his rule, what did he achieve to qualify as a messiah for the country? His position, vis-à-vis President Buhari’s, is a matter of the pot calling the kettle black, meaning in Yoruba: “Sago n bu igo”.

To begin with, our robust Daily Times Nigeria Plc, once the flagship of Nigerian newspapers, is today a shadow of its former self, occasioned by the myopia of Obasanjo- administration. It is a shame to Obasanjo’s image that Abeokuta, the citadel of newspaper journalism Iwe Irohin of 1859, and the Daily Times, founded by Sir Adeyemo Alakija, also an Abeokuta son, is reduced to a shadow. One might believe that the railway line passing through Abeokuta, might be resuscitated during the presidency of Obasanjo, but it remains in comatose. What is Obasanjo’s testimonial for good performance? Agriculture was as poor as ever when he relinquished office in 2007; his Green Revolution was a fiasco, as the country was not self-sufficient in rice production. I can recollect that few packages of rice were presented to him by his sycophants to delude Nigerians into believing that they were productive in agriculture. What a failure!. Concerning security, the explosion at the GRA, Ikeja, was an evidence of insecurity. A lady on the spot of the explosion called on Obasanjo: “Go inside the fire”, to which Chief Obasanjo replied: “Shut up!”. That Ikeja GRA explosion pretty indicated that insecurity was prevalent during the Obasanjo Presidency. His reply to that lady’s patriotic frenzy hallmarked his aversion to simple criticism. He laid the foundation of insecurity with Odi and Zaki Biam military operations in 1999 and 2001.

Why is Obasanjo now pointing accusing finger of maladministration to President Buhari? There is a saying: “People who live in glass houses should not throw stone”, meaning “You should not criticise other people, because they will easily find ways of criticizing you.” My contention is that the Chief should have removed the mote in his eyes, before pointing the mote in the eyes of President Muhammad Buhari. There are some pertinent questions to answer. Why did Obasanjo make his statements public? If he did not have ulterior motive, why did he not approach President Buhari one-on-one in the privacy of Aso Rock to discuss issues with him? Secondly, was the Council of State involved in the matter? My observation and conclusion are that the attacks on Buhari are self-serving to Obasanjo. It appears that he has some ulterior motives. His third term agenda is still a vibrant ambition. What he failed to achieve in 2007, he is still much desirous of it. He believes in the antics and tactics of running down the administration of the sitting President, portraying him in bad light to enthrone himself in power. We as Nigerians must resist Obasanjo’s effort to return to power, lest we have another Robert Mugabe. Here is Obasanjo who admonished his erstwhile second-in-command: “What does Yar’Adua forget in Aso Rock that he wants to retrieve?” When the opportunity came for Obasanjo, he seized it tenaciously. Nobody can in like manner advise Obasanjo who sees himself as a messiah.”

This writer is not in anyway holding brief for Muhammadu Buhari. I am not contending that, whilst Rome is burning, Emperor Nero must be fiddling like every Homo sapiens, he has his faults, and he is not working entirely on his own. He must have kitchen cabinet; small group or close advisers, who informally gather to take decisions on government policy. The killing by Fulani herdsmen is the immediate cause of Chief Obasanjo’s tirade on Buhari. If the President did not have the idea of paying condolence visits to Benue State or any other places, his kitchen cabinet should have advised him to do so as the father of the nation. As human beings, there must be fellow feelings. The victims of the herdsmen killings voted for him in 2015, and might vote for him again in 2019. When our famous Cocoa House, Ibadan, got burnt years ago, the first regional premier whose administration built the property paid “condolence” visit of sort to the site.

This writer often complains that the Federal Government has an incompetent Minister of Information, in person of Alhaji Lai Mohammed. The controlling political party, All Progressives Congress (APC) cannot be exonerated. It appears that all is not well with the party. The APC seems to be sick; it requires surgery. The front-page lead of The Guardian, January 25, 2018 is my evidence “Govt takes Obasanjo warning in good faith.” This is a defeatist stance for the APC. In a politically matured country, such a pussy cat acceptance of Obasanjo statements tends to send the party to a political wilderness of no return. Why should the party recoil into its shell in complacency instead of fighting back? I won’t be surprised if the Peoples Democratic Party cashes in on this APC’s stance to campaign against the ruling party. By accepting, with thanks, the APC is laying the foundation for its failure in 2019

During the First Republic, the firebrand National Council of Nigerian Citizens (NCNC) and the indomitable Action Group would not have such sheepish acceptance. Where are the Fred Anyiams, publicity secretary of the NCNC or the Agunbiade Bamishes of the Action Group. These were political parties’ publicity secretaries who knew their onions. Nigerians do not even know that of the All Progressive Congress. In their days, there could be exchanges and counter exchanges of statements, in addition to press conferences. At the federal level, Chief T.O.S. Benson, the Federal Information Minister and the author of the phrase “constructive and destructive criticisms”, would not take things lying low with Chief Anthony Enahoro, the Action Group shadow Information Minister. I doff my hat for those statesmen of competence.

In my piece, The Guardian, September 22, 2017 “Time for Buhari to reshuffle.” By now, the APC should have taken decisive action. Most of the federal ministers are not helpful to Buhari, it is possible that there are intra-party wranglings leading to cleavages in the APC over who should succeed who.

This is why I concluded that all may not be well with the ruling party, much to the detriment of the President, thus, giving leeway for Obasanjo to mercilessly lampoon the former. It is unfortunate. Time is running out. Whatever is the situation, Obasanjo is not a medical expert to be authoritative on Buhari’s health. Buhari knows where his shoes pinch to decide if he is eligible for a second term. I think Obasanjo must be more concerned with his sacerdotal engagement in which he is more qualified and close eyes to politics.

• Oshisada, a veteran journalist, wrote from Ikorodu, Lagos.


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