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Obasanjo rates Buhari low on economy


President Buhari receivingformer President Olusegun Obasanjo at the State House, Abuja on Thursday, Arpil 7, 2016. PHOTO: State House

• Gives Pass Mark On Fight Against Corruption, Insurgency
• ‘Wole Soyinka Is Not God’
• ‘Presidential Library Project Shows Touch Of Madness’

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo reviewed the performance of the President Muhammadu Buhari government in the last 21 months and concluded that the government has not performed creditably well in the area of economy and foreign affairs.

He however noted that the Buhari administration has stepped up efforts on the foreign policy segment and gave kudos to the President in the way he has been piloting the affairs of the country.

Speaking in an interactive session with The Guardian at his HillTop Presidential Mansion in Abeokuta, Friday, Obasanjo noted that leadership was not about age, but quality of the individual, stressing that Buhari has performed creditably in the areas of fighting insurgency and securing the country.

His words: “I don’t know about what is your direction or wrong direction. But what I know is that President Buhari has not disappointed me. From what I know of him and what he has done, he has not disappointed me.

“You can come to whatever conclusion you want to. In my book I said, and that is not running him down; I said he is not strong on the economy and he is not. In fact, I also said he is not strong on foreign affairs, although he has somewhat improved on foreign affairs.

“But in the areas we know he is strong, he is doing his best. He is doing his best in fighting insurgency; he is trying his best in trying to fight corruption. So where you are facing is entirely unto you. You may be facing east or west or north.”

On the issue of youth empowerment, the former President expressed dismay at the absence of commensurate opportunities for the teeming population of young people, pointing out that quite unlike during his own time when there was only one university, there are more than 150 universities in the country.

“I pity the youths, they have more facilities than in my time, but they lack opportunities. What we need is to create more opportunities,” he added, recalling that when he left secondary school, he got employment offers from five establishments, including a teaching job.

The former President also clarified his position on the issue of zoning of the presidency to the Southeast in 2019, pointing out that it was merely a passing allusion to the underlying factors that give rise to agitations leading to the Southern Kaduna crisis.

He stated: “The Christian Association of Nigeria, (CAN) Abeokuta chapter, came to meet me about the situation in Southern Kaduna. Before then, I had been briefed by the governor (of Kaduna State, Malam Nasir El-Rufai), Bishop (Matthew Hassan) Kukah, General (Martin Luther) Agwai (retd), who hail from the area.

“So I gave them my own understanding of the situation. I said the Southern Kaduna issue is historical, cultural, religious and political. That if you want to resolve the issue, you now take all these issues together. And I said, the problem is that when we fail to attend to what is important at the time that we should attend to it and then it boomerangs on our face, we don’t have anybody to blame.

“I said here in Ogun State, we have a bit of Southern Kaduna problem. I said since Ogun State was created, we have had four elected governors. We have three senatorial districts, East, West and Central; it (the governorship) has rotated between East and Central. And I said the West has not produced the governor, I don’t know when you will get there, but if you don’t get there when you should get there and the West decides to go into agitation, you have yourself to blame.”

Speaking on the age-long animosity between him and the Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, dating from when Soyinka opposed his aspiration for the position of Secretary General of the United Nations (UN), Chief Obasanjo noted that contrary to public perception, he does not hold grudge.

“I don’t hold grudge, he added. “(But) Wole Soyinka is not God and I don’t believe that there is any human being that is absolutely right. Wole Soyinka, has what I believe he has, he is a gifted person in his own way.

“But Soyinka is not an orator. I cannot accept it when Wole Soyinka makes cathedral statements on everything. When he does what is right I will commend him, when he does what is not right I will criticize him. Wole Soyinka is a populist I am not a populist, so you got it wrong and you should get it right.”

On the development of his Presidential Library project, which is the first in the country and Africa; the former President said some observers may describe what he is doing at the Presidential Library as madness, saying it is not something you do because you want to make money.

“If you want to do something that is not popular, you must have a touch of madness. History is very good, it is like memory. I have continued to say it, that as a country we have been careless about institutional memory, for instance, if you go to what we call the national museum, you will weep,” he surmised.

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  • Demo

    What unique contribution has Obasanjo made to the economy? Were there infrastructures,jobs, electricity when he was there?. Wonders will never end

    • Wole Babayeju

      ye built the lagos to ibadan expressway, all the refineries in nigeria, he brought mobile phones to nigeria, cleared all the country’s debt and left a healthy economy, he was the first nigerian to ever peacefully transit power … do you want me to go on?

      • Guttano

        Are you high? Which Lagos-Ibadan expressway did he build?

        • Wole Babayeju

          yes, lagos ibadan express way was built by obasanjo, lagos ibadan was built b/w 1977/1978, obasanjo was the nigerian president from 1976-1979, you clearly do not know the history of your own country. …

          • Guttano

            At least, you should have mentioned the condition he left it. Nonsense.

        • Wole Babayeju

          lagos ibadan was built in 1977/78, obasanjo was president from 1976-79, so, tell me, who built lagos ibadan, na ya pa build am?

      • Demo

        Is it the Lagos, Ibadan road under construction now,or which one,he should wait and let Buhari spend 8 years like he did before analysing his achievements.

        • Wole Babayeju

          the original lagos ibadan road was built by obasanjo’s military regime, that is a matter of public record, kanji dam was built by obasanjo, that is a matter of public record, gsm was brought to nigeria by obasanjo, that is a matter of public record, warri reginery was built by obasanjo, that is a matter of public record, nigeria’s debt was wiped out by obasanjo civilian regime, that is a matter of public record, the list is endless, it is not a matter of my opinion or your opinion, these are things that you can easily check, they are all on record ……. what will buhari achieve in the future that he has not achieved now, can you say that you can see signs that buhari will achieve anything? what has he done in the last 2 years that fills you with confidence, he talks about kwaruption kwaruption all the time …. look at the people fighting kwaruption, rotimi amaechi, Tukur Yusuf Buratai who is looting army money to buy mansions in dubai, babachir lawal, who is sitting in the sfg office and awarding contracts to himself, buhari said that he only had a million naira in his account during the election, since he won he and his family have been living life like lottery winners ….. buhari will do nothing, obasanjo himself said that buhari does not know anything about the economy, during buhari’s military regime his economic policy was doing trade by barter with brazil … guy, you know nothing

      • Osanebi Osakuni

        OBJ certainly did some you listed but disgracefully transmitted power the second time. The 3rd term agenda and its catastrophic failure makes it unwise to list power hand over any longer. However, anybody can be a better president than Buhari.

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    • peter archibong

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  • Christopher Adodo

    Whether you like him or not, he’s a
    true statesman. His contributions to the development and unity of Nigeria is immense.
    And he may not be perfect, but it’s important that credit should be given to whom credit is due.
    Probably at the end of day, history may be kind to him in comparison to other Nigeria leaders.

  • Ige

    Obasanjo should leave Buhari alone , he should mind his farm in otta , he was not the MESSIAH, that Nigeria is waiting for , I too know chief .

  • olabisisho

    Yes, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo did very well in the area of infrastructure. But, naturally, as human he has his shortcomings, which include his inability to recognise his limitations, his delusion of grandeur, his opportunism and his know-it-all mentality. Here is a man who wants to dominate his environment and his intellectual superiors. That explains why he is at loggerheads with Prof. Wole Soyinka.