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Don’t contest in 2019, Obasanjo warns Buhari

By Muyiwa Adeyemi (Ibadan), Azimazi Momoh Jimoh, Adamu Abuh, Terhemba Daka and Kingsley Jeremiah (Abuja) Seye Olumide (Lagos), Charles Coffie Gyamfi (Abeokuta) and Emmanuel Ande (Yola) 
24 January 2018   |   4:30 am
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, yesterday, warned President Muhammadu Buhari not to seek re-election in the 2019 polls.He urged the incumbent not to “over push his luck” or “over tax the patience and tolerance of Nigerians....

• PDP, others concur, presidency, APC silent
• Aso Rock in secret talks with Tinubu, Akande
• Crisis hits CAN over alleged 2019 endorsement

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, yesterday, warned President Muhammadu Buhari not to seek re-election in the 2019 polls.He urged the incumbent not to “over push his luck” or “over tax the patience and tolerance of Nigerians, no matter what his self-serving, so-called advisers” say.

Obasanjo also cautioned that the factors that made Nigerians vote out Buhari’s predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan, was again at play.
In a letter titled, ‘The Way Out: A Clarion Call For Coalition For Nigeria Movement’, he maintained that Buhari needed a “dignified and honourable dismount from the horse. He needs to have time to reflect, refurbish physically and recoup. And after appropriate rest, once again, join the stock of Nigerian leaders whose experience, influence, wisdom and outreach can be deployed on the sidelines for the good of the country.”

He said: “Without impaired health and the strain of age, running the affairs of Nigeria is a 25/7 affair, not 24/7,” and appealed to Buhari to “consider a deserved rest at this point in time and at this age.”He stressed: “President Buhari does not necessarily need to heed my advice,” but insisted: “Whether or not he heeds it, Nigeria needs to move on and move forward.”

Femi Adesina, Buhari’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, had in a recent interview in Abuja disclosed that the state of the President’s health could determine whether he seeks re-election or not. “Health is wealth. ‎The President is not a frivolous person. If he thinks that his health cannot carry anything, he will not do it. So, of course, his health will matter a lot,” Adesina said.

The former president accused the Buhari-led government of “wittingly or unwittingly” allowing the herdsmen crisis to “turn sour and messy.” According to him, “It is no credit to the Federal Government that the herdsmen rampage continues with careless abandon and without an effective solution.”He noted that it was a “sad symptom of insensitivity and callousness” that some governors, barely 24 hours after 73 victims of the Benue massacre were buried, jubilantly endorsed Buhari for a second term.

“The timing was most unfortunate. The issue of herdsmen/crop farmers’ dichotomy should not be left on the political platform of blame game. The Federal Government must take the lead in bringing about a solution that protects the life and property of herdsmen and crop farmers alike and make them live amicably in the same community.”

Obasanjo listed three cardinal sins of the current administration. He cited “nepotistic deployment, bordering on clannishness and inability to bring discipline to bear on errant members of his nepotistic court. It would appear that national interest was being sacrificed on the altar of nepotistic interest, or what does one make of a case like Maina’s?”

The second, according to Obasanjo, was a “poor understanding of the dynamics of internal politics. This has led to wittingly or unwittingly making the nation more divided, with inequality widening and becoming more pronounced. It also has effect on general national security.”

The third, Obasanjo noted, was “passing the buck.” He said blaming the Governor of the Central Bank for devaluation of the naira by about 70 per cent and blaming past governments “is to say the least, not accepting one’s own responsibility. Let nobody deceive us, economy feeds on politics and because our politics is depressing, our economy is even more depressing today. If things were good, President Buhari would not have needed to come in. He was voted to fix things that were bad and not engage in the blame game.”

Pre-empting public response, the former president said: “Some may ask, ‘what does Obasanjo want again? Obasanjo has wanted nothing other than the best for Nigeria and Nigerians. And he will continue to want nothing less.”He called for the establishment of a ‘Coalition for Nigeria’, a body that “needs not be a political party” and which would “salvage and redeem” the nation. “This Coalition will be a movement that will drive Nigeria up and forward. It must have a pride of place for all Nigerians, particularly for our youth and our women. It is a coalition of hope for all Nigerians for speedy, quality and equal development, security, unity, prosperity and progress. It is a coalition to banish poverty, insecurity and despair.”

The National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bolaji Abdullahi, “asked to be given the opportunity to study the statement,” saying: “We shall respond appropriately afterwards.”The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), however, described Obasanjo’s advice as courageous, timeous and patriotic.

The National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondinyan, in a statement, yesterday, said APC’s failure were obvious and that Nigerians had already resolved to vote them out in 2019.

Obasanjo’s counsel, Ologbondinyan said, had rekindled people’s fate in the democratic process. He noted, however, that solution does not lie in creating another political quicksand in a third force but rather consolidating on a rescue mission with the repositioned PDP.

The Action Democratic Party’s National Secretary, James Okoroma, said: “Obasanjo’s description of Buhari as clannish and nepotistic was apt. Buhari’s lopsided appointments in favour of his Fulani kinsmen make him unworthy of leading other Nigerians. He remains a disappointment to the nation. His lack of capacity, vindictiveness, narrow mindedness and shallow understanding of global politics, make him a bad choice for the future of Nigeria.”

The National Chairman of the United Progressives Congress, Chekwas Okorie, described Obasanjo’s warning as timely, noting that the current administration had done more harm to the unity of the country than any other.Also, the Chairman of the National Conscience Party, Tanko Yinusa, advised Buhari to heed Obasanjo’s counsel, adding: “The most surprising thing is the President’s refusal to visit the killing fields in Benue, Numan, Taraba and other parts of the country where his kinsmen unleashed terror on the people.”

President General of the Urhobo Progressive Union, Olorogun Moses Taiga, said: “I reason in line with the former president and I suggest Buhari should start looking out for a younger person to replace him, a person that will be concerned and compassionate about the interest of minorities in the country. The economy is down and it needs someone with strength and ideas to revive it.”The President, Yoruba Council of Elders, Chief Sofola, urged Buhari to “follow the examples of former presidents of South Africa and Tanzania, Nelson Mandela and Julius Nyerere, and leave the podium now that the ovation is louder and go and look after (his) health.” He also warned Buhari not to stretch his luck too far.

The presidential candidate of the National Action Council (NAC), Dr. Olapade Agoro, enjoined Buhari to heed the call not to re-contest.He said with the enormous security and economic challenges facing the nation, “those urging Mr. President to go on are not only his enemies but are also self-interest serving infidels, enemies of humanity, truth and good conscience.”

Also reacting to Obasanjo’s letter, the Executive Director of the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Auwal Ibrahim Musa, said: “President Buhari should take the advice of Obasanjo, to be able to conclude and concentrate on his first term in office and provide quality leadership. If he does this, the international community will see him as another Mandela in Africa.”

Meanwhile, Buhari, yesterday, held a closed-door meeting with APC National Leader, Chief Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and the former Interim National Chairman of the party, Chief Bisi Akande, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.The duo arrived few hours after Obasanjo made his letter to Buhari public.Before the meeting, Tinubu told curious reporters: “Please, go back to where you are coming from. I will not talk to you. Don’t turn me into a talkative.”

After the meeting, which lasted about one hour, the APC leaders left the Villa unannounced. The Presidency has kept sealed lips over Obasanjo’s comments, with the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, saying: “We are not commenting now.”

In a related development, a crisis seems to be brewing between the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the Youth Wing of the Christian Association of Nigeria (YOWICAN) over the endorsement of Buhari for a second term.YOWICAN is alleging a plot by CAN to remove its President, Mr. Daniel Kadzai, for refusing to back Buhari’s re-election, vowing to resist the move.

The group said an illegal election slated for Saturday, this week, was hurriedly fixed after Kadzai rejected the idea of endorsing Buhari in return for alleged financial gratification.In a statement in Yola after an emergency meeting, the group said: “If they insist, we shall resist their manipulations to destroy the structure of the voice of Christian youths in Nigeria. We shall fight and resist to every inch and with the last pint of our blood.”

YOWICAN wondered why a call for election was being made by CAN 10 months before the expiration of Kadzai’s tenure.“We are pleading with our CAN leaders and Nigerian Christian stakeholders to intervene in yet another thick manipulation at the CAN headquarters over premature YOWICAN elections to install a stooge towards the 2019 general elections,” the group said.