Obasanjo and Buhari
By Our Reporter
The animosity between President Muhammudu Buhari and former president, Olusegun Obasanjo once again, came to the front burner few days ago when the latter said Nigeria is becoming a failed state and getting disintegrated under President Buhari’s watch.
This outburst by the former president did not go down well with the presidency which issued a statement vilifying Obasanjo. National WAVES serves you the response, signed by Buhari’s SSA Garba Shehu, unedited.
‘In his most recent statement former President Olusegun Obasanjo attempts to divide the nation while President Muhammadu Buhari continues to promote nation building and the unity of Nigeria.
The difference is clear. From the lofty heights of Commander-in-Chief, General Obasanjo has descended to the lowly level of Divider-in-Chief (to adapt the coinage of Time).
Before responding further to the unfair attacks on President Buhari and his administration by the former President, it is important that we categorically state that contrary to the assertions by a few analysts, the recent speech in which President Buhari advised West African Presidents against tenure elongation beyond constitutional limits has been consistent with his long held views on the need to adhere to the rule of law.
Even though he tried it and failed, the recent uptick in the number of such leaders proposing to do, or actually carrying on in office beyond term limits is sufficient to cause concern among democrats in the sub-region given its prospects of destabilising the states and the region.
President Buhari’s advocacy is consistent with his principles and in line with the current policies of his administration and indeed that of the ECOWAS Charter which is that term limits must be respected and that the change of government is only permissible through the ballot box.
Having cleared this misperception, we hope that Chief Obasanjo would once again sheath the sword and rest the pretentiousness about the Messiah that has (mis)led him to pronounce often wrongly, as he disastrously did in the 2019 elections, about the life and death of Nigerian governments.
As some commentators are already suggesting, Chief Obasanjo should, in accordance with his mantra as a statesman, get involved with problems solving, when and where they exist instead of helping the mushrooming of a poisonous atmosphere of ethnic and religious nationalism.
Surely, he must have disappointed many of his local and foreign admirers by showering commendations on a few extremist groups who have vowed to shun the invitation to the National Assembly to participate in the process of constitutional amendment.
No doubt, he must have left those admirers confused in announcing the support for the boycott of a democratic process of changing the constitution, at the same time calling for dialogue and engagement.
The fact that the process he ushered in under his administration with the dubious intention of amendments that sought tenure elongation failed-as did two other attempts by the successor administrations of the same political party- does not in any way justify his dismissal of the exercise by the 9th Assembly as a another waste of time and resources.
To the credit of the All Progressives Congress-led 8th Assembly, the process of constitutional amendment was kickstarted and carried through, paving the way for, among other benefits, the financial independence of local government councils, States Houses of Assembly and the country’s Judiciary. These changes have already been signed into laws by the President as mandated by the constitution.
The recent decisions by the administration as they relate to subsidy withdrawal, helping to plug some of the most horrendous notorious holes and release of scarce resources for the more pressing needs of the people has also not escaped the ire of the former president.
It’s a known fact that the withdrawal of subsidies had been on the wish list of the Obasanjo-led Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. They failed in achieving these measures because, one there was a shared greed. They plundered the treasury as much as anyone could in the name of either subsidy or waiver with reckless impunity.
Two, is to say it takes courage and rare statesmanship on the part of a leader to do as President Buhari to shun populism and seek the best interest of the people and the state, providing the kind of reform and development that Nigeria urgently needs.
This President has run an administration focused on infrastructure and development. He has repaired our damaged relations with neighbours and our traditional allies such as the UK, US, China, Russia, France, Germany, Saudi Arabia and the others with lots of benefits to the country.
It is a pro-business administration that has used diplomacy to unlock bilateral trade and investment.
He leads a government that has liberalized the investment climate and market access by achieving reforms that have placed the country in the list of the world’s top reforming economies.
Nigeria, which other nations had mocked and ridiculed for so many things that were wrong is today progressing at a pace reflecting its size and potential.
With so much to show and many more coming, it is little surprise that President Buhari would be the object of envy and harsh unfair challenges by politicians who failed to deliver, but continue to nurse ambitions of delighting the audience long after their curtain has been drawn’
It did not stop there, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed also dismissed as incorrect former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s description of Nigeria as a failing state.
Mohammed admitted the nation faces challenges, but he said they are being confronted headlong by the Buhari administration.
”Nigeria today is not a failed state, but a nation that is courageously tackling its challenges and building a solid infrastructure that will serve as the basis for socio-economic development, a nation that is unrelenting in battling insecurity and working hard to ensure greatest prosperity for the greatest number of people,” Alhaji Mohammed said.
Mohammed’s response on behalf of government was issued in Abuja on Sunday.
He described as ironical that Obasanjo, who was part of a long stretch of rapacious and rudderless leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party, is now turning round to point fingers at the Buhari administration.
“President Muhammadu Buhari’s assumption of office in 2015 prevented Nigeria from becoming a failed state”, Mohammed said.
“President Buhari came into office at a time that a swathe of the country’s territory was under occupation, a period when many Nigerian towns and cities, including the capital city of Abuja, were a playground for insurgents and a moment that the nation’s wealth had been looted dry, with little or nothing to show for the nation’s huge earnings, especially in the area of infrastructure.
“It is therefore a cruel irony that those who frittered away a great opportunity to put Nigeria on a sound socio-economic footing, at a time of financial buoyancy, and those who planted the seed of the insecurity in some parts of the country today, are the same ones pointing an accusing finger at a reformist government.
”Nigeria today faces a lot of challenges. But whatever situation the country has found itself in, things would have been much worse but for the deft management of resources, unprecedented fight against corruption, determined battle against insurgency and banditry as well as the abiding courage of Mr. President in piloting the ship of state,
Mohammed said no government in the history of the country has done so much with so little, as the Buhari Administration is doing presently, adding that with 60% less national income, the Administration is making progress on all fronts and setting the country on the path of sustainable growth and development.
The Minister said while naysayers are hyping the instances of insecurity in the country, they have conveniently forgotten that the country could have been overrun by insurgents and bandits if President Buhari had not rallied regional and international allies to tackle, headlong, the Boko Haram insurgency that saw bombs going off like firecrackers before his assumption of office, and an estimated 20,000 square miles of the nation’s territory occupied by insurgents
”They tout the downturn in economic fortunes without putting things in context. With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing a global shutdown and a drastic fall in global oil demand, Nigeria lost 60% of its earnings, yet the Administration has ensured that not a single worker has been retrenched, has paid salaries as and when due and has continued to build infrastructures like roads, rails, bridges and power, among others, that will serve many generations.
”They aggravate the national fault lines with their angry and unguarded actions and rhetoric, forgetting that while national fissures are amplified at a time of dwindling economic fortunes, what is needed to foster peace and unity is not reckless elocution but responsible and responsive leadership, the kind being offered by President Buhari,” he said.
Mohammed said Nigeria is on the road to greatness, despite the challenges confronting the nation, citing the hard push towards food sufficiency; the modernisation of the rail system; the nationwide construction of roads and bridges; the reform in the oil and gas sector; the unprecedented anti-corruption battle, the diversification of the economy and the renewed effort to ensure a steady power supply, anchored on a three-phase project that is expected to deliver 25,000MW of electricity in the next few years.
The Minister thanked Nigerians for their perseverance and understanding, especially against the backdrop of the stifling effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy, and appealed to them to continue to support the Administration, as it seeks to lift 100 million people out of poverty in the next 10 years.
”In one of the most difficult moments in the nation’s history, Nigeria is fortunate to have at the helm a leader who is not only dedicated, selfless and patriotic, but one who is globally acknowledged for his discipline, integrity and vision. Those who genuinely love Nigeria will support, rather than subvert, this committed leadership,” he said.
The former president has consistently criticized the Buhari administration and is not ready to stop soon, expect, according to him, when Nigerians are seen to be enjoying the dividends of democracy