Sunday, October 17, 2021

13 takeaways from Obasanjo’s ‘letter’ to Buhari

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Ibrahim Sha’aban
Jaafar Jaafar is a graduate of Mass Communication from Bayero University, Kano. He was a reporter at Daily Trust, an assistant editor at Premium Times and now the editor-in-chief of Daily Nigerian.
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It’s like the season of letters has come back again. Olusegun Obasanjo, a former president who recently turned a Doctor of Philosophy is at it again. This time round, the former president took time to scribble a 15-page statement which he titled: ‘Way Out: A Clarion Call for Coalition for Nigeria Movement’. In the all-encompassing statement, the former president clearly dismissed Buhari as being the last option for the country to be great. He therefore called for a coalition of all Nigerians to choose their destinies.

Below are some of the key takeaways out of the letter:

Nigeria is not living up to its ‘giant of Africa’ position

Mr Obasanjo said he is worried how Nigeria is not living up to its ‘giant of Africa’ position. He therefore said that “for Africa to move forward, Nigeria must be one of the anchor countries, if not the leading anchor country.

“It means that Nigeria must be good at home to be good outside. No doubt, our situation in the last decade or so had shown that we are not good enough at home; hence we are invariably absent at the table that we should be abroad.

“All these led me to take the unusual step of going against my own political Party, PDP, in the last general election to support the opposite side. I saw that action as the best option for Nigeria.

“As it has been revealed in the last three years or so, that decision and the subsequent collective decision of Nigerians to vote for a change was the right decision for the nation.

“For me, there was nothing personal, it was all in the best interest of Nigeria and, indeed, in the best interest of Africa and humanity at large,” he said.

What pushed Nigerians to get Goodluck Jonathan out is playing out again

Mr Obasanjo said: “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).

“But my letter to President Jonathan titled: “Before It Is Too Late” was meant for him to act before it was too late. He ignored it and it was too late for him and those who goaded him into ignoring the voice of caution.”

Obasanjo is ready to put his life on the line for saying things as they are

“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,” Mr Obasanjo said.

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Buhari has weak understanding of politics, economy and foreign diplomacy

No human leader is expected to be personally strong or self-sufficient in all aspects of governance. The former president said he knew President Buhari before he became President and said that he is weak in the knowledge and understanding of the economy.

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“Although, I know that you cannot give what you don’t have and that economy does not obey military order. You have to give it what it takes in the short-, medium- and long-term. Then, it would move.

“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,” Mr Obasanjo said.

Buhari shouldn’t have allowed herdsmen/crop farmers issue to turn messy

Mr Obasanjo regretted how president Buhari handled the issue of herdsmen/crop farmers’ crisis, saying, “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,” Mr Obasanjo emphasized.

Nepotism is prevalent under Buhari

Mr Obasanjo said President Buhari has glaringly showed Nigerians that he is nepotic for his “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?

“How many similar cases are buried, ignored or covered up and not yet in the glare of the media and the public?,” he said.

Buhari’s administration is a regime of blame game

Mr Obasanjo said, wittingly or unwittingly, Buhari’s administration has made the nation more divided and inequality has widened and become more pronounced.

He said the culture of passing the buck in this administration has effect on general national security.

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“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. 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.

READ ALSO:   Blame state governments for menace of almajiri education system — Buhari

“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.

Buhari needs to retire from public service

Mr Obasanjo urged president Buhari to dignifiedly and honourably dismount from the horse, (presidency) because he is seemingly not fit for the tedious job.

“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.

APC and PDP not the answer

“The recent show of PDP must give grave and great concern to lovers of Nigeria. To claim, as has been credited to the chief kingmaker of PDP, that for procuring the Supreme Court judgement for his faction of the Party, he must dictate the tune all the way and this is indeed fraught with danger.

“If neither APC nor PDP is a worthy horse to ride to lead Nigeria at this crucial and critical time, what then do we do? Remember Farooq Kperogi, an Associate Professor at the Kennesaw State University, Georgia, United States, calls it “a cruel Hobson’s choice; it’s like a choice between six and half a dozen, between evil and evil.

“Any selection or deflection would be a distinction without a difference.” We cannot just sit down lamenting and wringing our hands desperately and hopelessly,” Mr Obasanjo said.

Buhari’s administration is like a rocking chair, moving but taking Nigerians nowhere

Mr Obasanjo believed that the situation in the country remain the same since 1999, the beginning of democratic dispensation.

“The nation was tottering. People became hopeless and saw no bright future in the horizon. It was all a dark cloud politically, economically and socially. The price of oil at that time was nine dollars per barrel and we had a debt overhang of about $35 billion.

“Most people were confused with lack of direction in the country. One of the factors that saved the situation was a near government of national unity that was put in place to navigate us through the dark cloud. We had almost all hands on deck. We used people at home and from the diaspora and we navigated through the dark cloud of those days,” he said.

READ ALSO:   A dozen reasons for President Buhari’s re-election, by Garba Shehu

Hopelessness, hunger, despair pervade every nook and cranny of the country

“Wherever I go, I hear Nigerians complaining, murmuring in anguish and anger. But our anger should not be like the anger of the cripple. We can collectively save ourselves from the position we find ourselves.

“It will not come through self-pity, fruitless complaint or protest but through constructive and positive engagement and collective action for the good of our nation and ourselves and our children and their children. We need moral re-armament and engaging togetherness of people of like-mind and goodwill to come solidly together to lift Nigeria up,” Mr Obasanjo said.

APC is not the solution to Nigeria’s problems

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“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. They have given as best as they have and as best as they can give.

“Nigeria deserves and urgently needs better than what they have given or what we know they are capable of giving. 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,” he said.

Nigeria needs a collective movement

The former president said that Nigeria needs a coalition of non-partisan platform where all well-meaning Nigerians can belong, “that Movement must be a coalition for democracy, good governance, social and economic well-being and progress.

“This Coalition for Nigeria will be a Movement that will drive Nigeria up and forward. It must have a pride of place for all Nigerians, particularly for our youthand our women. It is a coalition of hope for all Nigerians for speedy, quality and equal development, security, unity, prosperity and progress. It is a coalition to banish poverty, insecurity and despair.

“Our country must not be oblivious to concomitant danger around, outside and ahead. Coalition for Nigeria must be a Movement to break new ground in building a united country, a socially-cohesive and moderately prosperous society with equity, equality of opportunity, justice and a dynamic and progressive economy that is self-reliant and takes active part in global division of labour and international decision-making.

“I, therefore, will gladly join such a Movement when one is established as Coalition for Nigeria, CN, taking Nigeria to the height God has created it to be. From now on, the Nigeria eagle must continue to soar and fly high. CN, as a Movement, will be new, green, transparent and must remain clean and always active, selflessly so,” he concluded.

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