- Notable citizens react to ex-president Obasanjo’s letter to Buhari
Omoniyi Salaudeen and Olakunle Olafioye
Varied reactions have continued to trail the open letter written by former president Olusegun Obasanjo to President Muhammadu Buhari over the dismal performance of the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led administration. While some have applauded the courage and statesmanship displayed by Obasanjo in making a clarion call for a change of leadership, others have accused him of merely playing to the gallery.
Despite the divergence of the opinions, however, the great majority of stakeholders who spoke with Sunday Sun agreed with the view that there is a need for collective action to save the country from the precipice. For such action to take place, they unanimously maintained that any emerging leader must possess the right qualities to lead the Coalition Movement that would metamorphose into a political party and ultimately take over power from Buhari in 2019. Eminent Nigerians who spoke on the matter have these to say:
Next President must believe in restructuring –Sen Femi Okurounmu
The fact that Obasanjo suggested the formation of a coalition movement does not mean that we are people of like minds. But I give him the benefit of the doubt that we have the same thing in mind. He vividly captured the mood of the nation, the hopelessness of the situation.
However, there is no need for a predetermined leader or predetermined presidential candidate. When you have a movement, circumstance will decide how people will emerge into leadership position. What rallies people in a movement is the ideology and objectives of the movement. The movement will of its own generate its own leadership. So, when the movement gathers momentum, a leader will emerge.
Anyhow the leadership emerges, the person who is going to lead the country must first of all believe in restructuring. He must believe in the equality of all ethnic groups. There is no slave-master race. Each region must to a large extent be autonomous to chart its own way forward. The person must be a selfless leader, who is not thinking of himself alone or his own personal benefits. He must be a humble person. We don’t need megalomaniac; we need a humble person, who is driven by commitment to serve Nigeria, who would put Nigeria on the world map. We need a visionary leader who will lead Nigeria to play its role in Africa. It is quite a long time we have been disappointing the rest of the black race. Now is the time for us to play our role in the world. We need a leader who is aware of that obligation and is committed to provide the right leadership.
A pan Nigerian President is the answer
–Dr Fredrick Faseun, OPC leader
There are many people around who can lead the country to our desired destination. But my own personal view is that a young person should now lead Nigeria. If such a coalition will allow the youths, certain things must be defined. One, ethnicity should not be a consideration, where you come from should not be a consideration. Your consideration must be your oath to keep Nigeria together as a united country. Two, fairness and justice must be the hallmark of such an individual. Even before being voted for, the person must take an oath before all Nigerians that he will be a true Nigerian leader and that his leadership will not be based on ethnic consideration. He must be a pan Nigerian individual.
We need a Mandela to save Nigeria now
I don’t think former President Obasanjo is talking of one man now. We should be talking of assembly of men and women of goodwill across the board, men who will stand like one man to give the leadership option that we need. When Emmanuel Macron, the French President, was giving his acceptance speech, the first set of people he thanked was those who voted to save the Republic. We need to save this Republic now. And we need such men of good standing, character, moral courage and integrity to save this country from disintegration. The stage we are now is not just electoral politics but liberation politics. And we need men of great courage like Mandela to lead the mass movement and get Nigeria out of the woods. It is a battle without gun, but we have to stand up and retrieve the soul of this country from the forces of backwardness. We need a broadminded Nigerian, a leader who does not see Nigeria from ethnic prism, a leader that will truly belong to all, a leader that will not have sacred cow, a leader that will rise above ethnicity and religious divides, a leader who will see Nigeria as his constituency, a leader who has sympathy for the poor, a leader who hates corruption with a passion, a leader who believes in productivity. That is the leader we need at this moment.
North should give us a younger and more cerebral President –Sen Adeseye Ogunlewe
I watched Paul Unongo on television responding to the question of whether the North has somebody in mind who can occupy the exalted position of President of Nigeria and he said: ‘they have over one thousand that are qualified and eminent enough to occupy that position.’ So, it is up to the North. It is their turn to present a candidate that is noteworthy, that is young, vibrant, well educated and articulate to lead the country. That is all. It is up to them. It is for all the Emirs and the leaders in the North to sit down and give Nigerians another person who is younger, more educated, vibrant, and cerebral that can lead this country out of the woods. When you see President Muhammadu Buhari on television, you will notice that he is trying to recuperate. In fact, you will know that this is not the Buhari we used to know. Everybody in Nigeria have a lot of respect for him. The man is the best for any country. But with the present circumstance of his health, he is just not available for Nigeria now. We need somebody that is younger and cerebral. Unongo has said the North has over one thousand of such individual. And I know they have very brilliant people. They should give us one of them. It is their turn; they should sit down and give us somebody.
We need a departure from the old order –Prof Remi Sonaiya
Nigeria needs a clear departure from what we have known so far. And that will include former President Olusegun Obasanjo himself. Nigerians are now recognizing that they cannot continue to elect the people with a proven lack of interest in the common good and expect that the country would move forward. What we have seen so far with both of these two frontline parties, including those in the National Assembly, is about personal interest or interest of some particular groups. People need to use the power they have to ensure that they choose the right people. Personally, I do not wish to see anybody who has been in any position of government before. I don’t want to see them again. I don’t want to see anybody coming to play godfather for us. Let us as a people think and reflect on what will bring us good. Very soon campaigns are going to pick up and the moneybags are going to dominate the airwaves, newspaper pages, because they can pay with the state resources. They are the ones the public will keep hearing about again. Those of us who don’t have money to pay for advertorial won’t get known. I am ready to offer myself again for the position of president. But my party will not adopt a consensus candidate because that will not help our democracy.
Emerging leader must subscribe to the credo of a new Nigeria
The coalition of political parties that will constitute a veritable Third Force is still ongoing. When that happens, the issue of candidate(s) will be decided because we are not going to throw up a sole candidate. That will be a wrong way to go. We will be looking at two or three people who meet the requirements. One, the person has to believe in the restructuring of this country. Two, the person must agree that the unity of this country is negotiable, he must subscribe to devolution of power, he must agree to self-determination of ethnic nationalities in this country. The person has to agree to state police and community policing. It will be more desirable if the person is of the younger generation than those who are ruling now. I don’t think anybody close to 70 should be allowed to run. We should be looking at 60 years and below. These are the high points that will make Nigeria different from what it is now. And all these things must be contained in the manifesto of political parties that are coming together.
Moneybags will still have a field day
We cannot have the leaders we want because the leaders we want will not even be able to emerge. For the leader we need to emerge, you must have money, stolen money in particular. So the role of money in politics and election will make it very impossible for the kind of leader we desire to emerge.
We need a dynamic leader –John Kennedy Osuala, former Presidential aspirant
What we need now is a person who will unite Nigeria and play the role of a father to all, not a sectional leader who will promote the interest of one ethnic group above another. Secondly, a leader Nigerians crave for must be ready to address the insecurity in the country. My friends call me to say their foreign business partners are embarrassed the way people are being killed in the country. They are complaining that they cannot bring their money into a country where human lives do not mean anything to some people. People are getting killed and you keep quiet. We need a leader who will give the issue of security the seriousness it deserves. Beyond security, we need a leader, who has an idea of how to solve the problem of poverty in Nigeria. The leader we need must understand that any country that continues to export primary products will never develop. We must go beyond export of primary products and hasten the process of industrialization. So, we need a leader who understands how these dynamics of development and politics work.
No to recycled politicians –Comrade Ibuchukwu Ezike, Executive Director, CLO
What we have on our hands are those who are expected to offer leadership but who are not. We have people who occupy offices but are not interested in the welfare of the people. They are not interested in offering good governance to arrest the crisis in our country. We need leaders who are ready to take the country to a higher level. We need leaders who are ready to harness the resources, both human and material, that God has given to us as a nation. As we talk today, there are millions of Nigerians who go to bed hungry, people whose children are out of school. Nigerians cannot afford to continue to recycle people who have been tested and failed. What is Buhari doing in office? Nigerians have been gnashing their teeth since he came to power in 2015. They claim they are fighting insecurity, yet you see herdsmen declaring war on the Nigerian people, raping their women and killing them and setting their communities on fire in the dead of the night and the government is keeping quiet. We are yet to see those who are interested in 2019. Until we see those who are interested, we may not be able to say this is the best man for the job. We need people who are not interested in looting the resources of this nation but who are interested in making Nigeria a great nation. Nigeria has a lot of people who are qualified.