2019: OBJ’s red card stuns Aso Rock
*Accuses him of incompetence, nepotism, corruption
*No comment – Presidency
*Tinubu, Akande storm Aso Rock
By Chesa Chesa
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s letter asking President Muhammadu Buhari, not to seek re-election next year has disoriented Aso Rock.
Obasanjo hinged his position on Buharia��s alleged inability to perform to the expectation of majority of Nigerians.
Although the letter became public knowledge since late yesterday morning, Buhari’s image makers were yet to configure appropriate responses to the issues raised, preferring to keep mum.
The former Nigerian leader had maintained a studied silence in recent times as criticisms mounted from Nigerians against the perceived lackluster performance of Buhari ahead of another election in 2019.
Known for his vitriolic open attacks against sitting Nigerian leaders, Obasanjo fell out with former President Goodluck Jonathan when he started with open letters to him on his performance.
Obasanjoa��s criticisms of the late head of state, Gen. Sani Abacha, earned him a place in the prison.
Obasanio, who received a doctorate degree (PhD) in Christian Theology from the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) last weekend, bared his mind on Buhari’s performance in a press statement he titled – “The Way Out: A Clarion Call for Coalition for Nigeria Movement”.
In the 14-page statement, Obasanjo highlighted local and international humanitarian engagements that had kept him busy since he quit partisan politics four years ago, before delving into several issues that prompted his decision to part ways with Buhari and shoot down any likely support for his second term bid.
Obasanjo cited the disappointment, anger and hopelessness that have engulfed the country following Buhari’s failure in several aspects despite the desperation of Nigerians to kick out Jonathan off the presidential horse in the 2015 elections and vote him in instead.
Stressing that he had been forced to speak out now in the interest of Nigeria, he said: “The lice of poor performance in government – poverty, insecurity, poor economic management, nepotism, gross dereliction of duty, condonation of misdeed – if not outright encouragement of it, lack of progress and hope for the future, lack of national cohesion and poor management of internal political dynamics and widening inequality – are very much with us todaya�?.
Obasanjo insisted that he had no regrets quitting the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on which platform he became President between 1999 and 2007, but expressed his disappointment that Buhari’s weaknesses which he was very much aware of before the 2015 election, have far outweighed his strengths in fighting corruption and insurgency.
While also clarifying that he would not support the return of Jonathan, who has since courageously realised his mistakes, to return to the presidential saddle, Obasanjo said that “the situation that made Nigerians to vote massively to get my brother Jonathan off the horse is playing itself out again.”
He continued: “I knew President Buhari before he became President and said that he is weak in the knowledge and understanding of the economy, but I thought that he could make use of good Nigerians in that area that could help.
“I know his weakness in understanding and playing in the foreign affairs sector and again, there are many Nigerians that could be used in that area as well. They have knowledge and experience that could be deployed for the good of Nigeria.
“There were serious allegations of round-tripping against some inner caucus of the Presidency which would seem to have been condoned. I wonder if such actions do not amount to corruption and financial crime, then what is it? Culture of condonation and turning blind eye will cover up rather than clean up. And going to justice must be with clean hands.
“The herdsmen/crop farmers issue is being wittingly or unwittingly allowed to turn sour and messy. It is no credit to the Federal Government that the herdsmen rampage continues with careless abandon and without finding an effective solution to it.
“And it is a sad symptom of insensitivity and callousness that some governors, a day after 73 victims were being buried in a mass grave in Benue State without condolence, were jubilantly endorsing President Buhari for a second term! The timing was most unfortunate.
“The issue of herdsmen/crop farmersa�� dichotomy should not be left on the political platform of blame game; the Federal Government must take the lead in bringing about solution that protects life and property of herdsmen and crop farmers alike and for them to live amicably in the same community,” he said.
Obasanjo further accused Buhari of nepotism and condoning corruption by close aides as happened in the controversial reinstatement of alleged corrupt Pension Reform Committee boss, Abdurasheed Maina; even as he alluded to the administration’s penchant for laying blames elsewhere for its own errors of judgement.
According to him: “There are three other areas where President Buhari has come out more glaringly than most of us thought we knew about him. One is nepotic deployment bordering on clannishness and inability to bring discipline to bear on errant members of his nepotic court.
“This has grave consequences on performance of his government to the detriment of the nation. It would appear that national interest was being sacrificed on the altar of nepotic interests.
“What does one make of a case like that of Maina: collusion, condonation, ineptitude, incompetence, dereliction of responsibility or kinship and friendship on the part of those who should have taken visible and deterrent disciplinary action? How many similar cases are buried, ignored or covered up and not yet in the glare of the media and the public?
“The second is his poor understanding of the dynamics of internal politics. This has led to wittingly or unwittingly making the nation more divided and inequality has widened and become more pronounced. It also has effect on general national security.
“The third is passing the buck. For instance, blaming the Governor of the Central Bank for devaluation of the naira by 70% or so and blaming past governments for it; is to say the least, not accepting onea��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 need to come in. He was voted to fix things that were bad and not engage in the blame game.
“Our Constitution is very clear, one of the cardinal responsibilities of the President is the management of the economy of which the value of the naira forms an integral part. Kinship and friendship that place responsibility for governance in the hands of the unelected can only be deleterious to good government and to the nation,a�? Obasanjo stated.
“President Buharia��s illness called for the sympathy, understanding, prayer and patience from every sane Nigerian. It is part of our culture. Most Nigerians prayed for him while he was away sick in London for over hundred days and he gave his Deputy sufficient leeway to carry on in his absence.
“We all thanked God for President Buhari for coming back reasonably hale and hearty and progressing well in his recovery. But whatever may be the state of President Buharia��s health today, he should neither over-push his luck nor over-tax the patience and tolerance of Nigerians for him, no matter what his self-serving, so-called advisers, who would claim that they love him more than God loves him and that without him there would be no Nigeria, say.
“President Buhari needs 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 side line for the good of the country.
“His place in history is already assured. Without impaired health and strain of age, running the affairs of Nigeria is a 25/7 affair, not 24/7.
“I only appeal to brother Buhari to consider a deserved rest at this point in time and at this age. I continue to wish him robust health to enjoy his retirement from active public servicea�?.
In proffering an alternative to Buhari in 2019, Obasanjo suggested the emergence of a credible candidate through a new political group aside the PDP and APC, either of which he said were no “worthy horse to ride to lead Nigeria at this crucial and critical time”.
He christened the new group Coalition for Nigeria (CN) Movement, of which be affirmed his full participation till whenever it decides to become a full-fledged political party. (Read full text of Obasanjoa��s press statement on www.the authority.com).
When asked to respond and state the position of the Presidency on Obasanjo’s salvo, Buhari’s Senior Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said: “We will not comment now. That is the position.”
Tinubu, Akande in secret talks with Buhari in Aso Rock
Meanwhile, hours after Obasanjo’s statement was made public, the National Leader of the APC, Bola Ahemd Tinubu and former interim National Chairman of the party, Chief Bisi Akande, dashed into the Aso Rock Villa where they held closed-door talks with Buhari at his official residence.
On their way, Tinubu was approached for comments by State House correspondents, but he declined to speak. He simply said: a�?Journalists, please go back to where you are coming from. I will not talk to you. Don’t turn me into a talkativea�?.
After the meeting which lasted for about an hour, both party leaders were chauffeured out of the Villa through another exit in a bid to avoid the journalists who were waiting for them.