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Laide Raheem (Abeokuta); Sola Ojo (Kaduna); Chinelo Obogo (Lagos)
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo publicly dumped President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday when he told him to consider a deserved rest at his age, rather than heeding the calls of re-contesting in 2019.
He called for a coalition of movement of well-meaning Nigerians to salvage and redeem the country, saying national interest was being sacrificed on the altar of nepotism by Buhari’s administration.
This was contained in his 18-page letter entitled: “The Way Out: A Clarion Call for Coalition for Nigeria Movement”, made available to newsmen in Abeokuta, Ogun State.
Obasanjo likened Buhari’s government to “lice in the clothes,” saying that the lice of poor performance in government heightened poverty, insecurity, poor economic management, nepotism, gross dereliction of duty, condonation of misdeed, lack of progress and hope for the future.
He added that lack of national cohesion and poor management of internal political dynamics and widening inequality, also bedevilled Buhari’s administration.
He said: “Wherever I go, I hear Nigerians complaining, murmuring in anguish and anger. But our anger should not be like the anger of the cripple.
“This is no time for trading blames or embarking on futile argument and neither should we accept untenable excuses for non-performance.
“Let us accept that the present administration has done what it can do to the limit of its ability, aptitude and understanding. Let the administration and its political party platform agree with the rest of us that what they have done and what they are capable of doing is not good enough for us.
“To ask them to give more will be unrealistic and will only sentence Nigeria to a prison term of four years if not destroy it beyond the possibility of an early recovery and substantial growth.
“Einstein made it clear to us that doing the same thing and expecting a different result is the height of folly. Already, Nigerians are committing suicide for the unbearable socio-economic situation they find themselves in. And yet Nigerians love life.
“We must not continue to reinforce failure and hope that all will be well. It is self-deceit and self-defeat and another aspect of folly.
“The situation that made Nigerians to vote massively to get my brother Jonathan off the horse is playing itself out again. First, I thought I knew the point where President Buhari is weak and I spoke and wrote about it even before Nigerians voted for him and I also did vote for him because at that time it was a matter of “any option but Jonathan” (aobj).
“I know that praise-singers and hired attackers may be raised up against me for verbal or even physical attack but if I can withstand undeserved imprisonment and was ready to shed my blood by standing for Nigeria, I will consider no sacrifice too great to make for the good of Nigeria at any time.
“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.
“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 farmers’ 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 properties of herdsmen and crop farmers alike and for them to live amicably in the same community.
“But 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 interest. 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?
“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 one’s own responsibility.
“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.
“Notwithstanding Buhari’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 sideline for the good of the country.
“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 service.
“President Buhari does not necessarily need to heed my advice. But whether or not he heeds it, Nigeria needs to move on and move forward.”
Obasanjo also took a swipe at the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), for the recent show of shame where Supreme judgement was “procured” by a faction of the party, asking “if neither APC nor PDP is a worthy horse to ride to lead Nigeria at this crucial and critical time, then what do we do?
“We need a Coalition for Nigeria, CN. Such a movement at this juncture needs not be a political party but one to which all well-meaning Nigerians can belong.
“That movement must be a coalition for democracy, good governance, social and economic well-being and progress. Coalition to salvage and redeem our country. You can count me with such a movement.
“Last time, we asked, prayed and worked for change and God granted our request. This time, we must ask, pray and work for change with unity, security and progress. And God will again grant us.
“Of course, nothing should stop such a movement from satisfying conditions for fielding candidates for elections. But if at any stage the movement wishes to metamorphose into candidate-sponsoring movement for elections, I will bow out of the movement because I will continue to maintain my non-partisan position. Coalition for Nigeria must have its headquarters in Abuja.”
In a similar development, Second Republic federal lawmaker, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, pointedly asked Buhari to resign his position before the 2019 general elections.
Junaid, a member of Northern Elders Forum (NEF), told Daily Sun in a telephone chat that, Buhari and his current team lacked the competency required to turn the country around close to three years in power.
He said: “Nigerians have to decide who leads them come 2019. I don’t believe APC under Buhari has anything to convince Nigerians in 2919.
“It will be better if Buhari can resign before that time because he has failed us as a people and as a country. That will save him from possible embarrassment he may witness.
“Those endorsing him here and there for second term when he has nothing to show for the first term did not love him but want to use him to return too.
“But Buhari should allow the people to elect who they want to lead them and he should also be reminded that, Nigerians would not condone any form of rigging.”
He said Buhari did not consult well before coming out with his colony idea as a means of resolving the Fulani/farmers crisis:
“What does he know about colony? He should have consulted widely, he should have called for people who can think right, people who have the deeper knowledge of colony and its modus operandi.”
But the national chairman of the United Progressives Party (UPP), Chekwas Okorie, said: “Obasanjo is delving into an area which is within the personal purview of President Buhari. To me, the advice comes across as though Obasanjo is being a busy body because it is not his business if Buhari chooses to run or not.
“After all, didn’t he (Obasanjo) want to perpetuate himself in office when he did everything in his power to get a third term for himself?
“However, Buhari himself has not governed well. If he were a fantastic president, no one would say that he doesn’t have the capacity to run again.”
The spokesperson of Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, disagreed with Okorie: “For once, I agree with Obasanjo that Nigeria needs a fresh pair of hands in 2019. This country cannot survive another four years of Buhari.
“As for the fears that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) may not conduct a free and fair election, all I can say is that Nigerians should brace up and ensure that we have free and fair elections whether INEC wants it or not. When Nigerians are ready, a million INECs cannot stop them from enforcing their will.
“It happened in Kano in 2003 when the powers that be tried to rig out former Governor Ibrahim Shekerau, but the will of the people prevailed because he was the one the people wanted.”