Don’t take Nigerians for granted, Obasanjo tells Buhari
FORMER President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday told the President-elect Muhammadu Buhari that though God may have given Nigerians another opportunity to make the country “Great again” through his administration, he must not, under any circumstance, take the people for granted.
He also appealed to Nigerians to cooperate with the in-coming administration to make Nigeria great.
Obasanjo, who spoke in beokuta while receiving a delegation of South West Women Leaders under the leadership of the Iyalode of Yorubaland, Chief (Mrs) Alaba Lawson at his Hill Top residence, noted that the new opportunity is God – given.
He said the good thing about the next administration is that the man who would head it, Buhari, is neither “a green horn nor a novice” in governance.
According to him, Buhari had been in the saddle before, even if it was under a “different circumstance” and would therefore use his experience to navigate the country in the right direction.
Maintaining that Nigerians are a clever people, Obasanjo advised Buhari to be honest and truthful with them, saying he should not try to “cover up” or try to “play the ostrich” with them, but to be as honest as possible with them in overseeing the affairs of the country.
The former president, who told his visitors that he believed in the political acumen of the President-elect in leading Nigeria, noted that the country had been poorly managed in the last eight years.
He contended that it would take some time for Buhari’s government to correct the anomalies, asking him not to be frightened by the situation.
He said: “When I came in 1999, there was no fuel and power. The situation was like this and I thought we have put that one behind us. The man that is coming on board has a lot of experiences in terms of governance.
“He is not a green horn. We have both worked together in administering, then as a military Head of State and we did it well. Nigerians need to exercise patience because what has been destroyed in eight years cannot be re-built in a day.
“Let’s give him time. Let’s pray for him and let’s cooperate with him. We are all concerned about the present situation of Nigeria. The expectation is very high but at the same time, there is a lot of goodwill internally and externally for the in-coming government.
“Once the in-coming administration realises this and takes every step, particularly in the first three months when people will be watching and counting, for me, I think, we will get there.”
Speaking further, Obasanjo said: “God has provided a new opportunity for Nigeria and Nigerians and I believe God does not make mistake.
“There are two things I believe the in-coming President appreciates: he knows that the expectations of Nigerians are high and that he should not be frightened by the situation on ground.
“All he has to do is to be honest with Nigerians, and try not to be too clever with them.
“There is a lot of goodwill for the in-coming administration from within and outside the country. What is important is that steps have to be taken that will not lead to the squandering of the goodwill and I believe the in-coming government will be able to take care of that.”
In her response, Lawson said the country was currently experiencing agony in terms of corruption, insecurity, high crime rate, lack of power and fuel.
She noted that Obasanjo took over reins of leadership in 1999 when Nigeria was in a critical situation “like what is being experienced now.”
She urged Obasanjo to continue to play the advisory role towards ensuring the success of this administration.
She said: “We are aware that you also took over the reins of power of this country at a critical time and with the help of the Almighty, you were able to bring us back from the brink. The same goes for now.
“We therefore appeal to you not to leave this incoming government alone. Though we are confident in the time-proven abilities of our incoming President Muhammadu Buhari, we also believe that two heads are better than one and where there is a gathering of wise ones, wisdom will issue forth from there.”