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Seven things we learnt from Obasanjo’s letter to ‘brother Buhari’
The most dominant feature of Olusegun Obasanjo’s ‘special press statement’ issued on Tuesday is without doubt his advice to President Muhammadu Buhari to consider retiring after the expiration of his tenure in 2019.
However, the former President raised several other salient points in the statement that resonate with majority of Nigerians. Here are a few of them.
DISAPPOINTMENT WITH BUHARI
Obasanjo expressed regrets at how Buhari’s administration has fared, especially given that he took over at a time when Nigerians were totally fed up with bad governance.
“The situation that made Nigerians to vote massively to get my brother Jonathan off the horse is playing itself out again,” he said.
“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 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.”
Alas, Obasanjo’s expectations were dashed.
BUHARI’S GOVT REEKS OF POOR PERFORMANCE
Obasanjo did not mince words when he said that Buhari’s administration is characterised by “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”.
The last straw that seemed to have broken the camel’s back was the New Year’s Day massacre in Benue State by suspected Fulani herdsmen, where over 80 lives were lost.
“It is no credit to the Federal Government that the herdsmen rampage continues with careless abandon and without finding an effective solution to it,” Obasanjo wrote.
“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.”
For Obasanjo, Buhari’s abysmal performance can be summarised in three subheadings namely:
- His “nepotic deployments’ and inability to discipline “errant members of his nepotic court”.
- His “poor understanding of the dynamics of internal politics” which has further divided the country.
- His penchant for “passing the buck”; always blaming everything on past administrations.
“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,” Obasanjo stated.
IT IS TIME TO REST
Obasanjo advised Buhari that what he needs at this time is “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 service.
“President Buhari’s illness called for the sympathy, understanding, prayer and patience from every sane Nigerian. 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 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.”
NEITHER APC NOR PDP IS THE ANSWER
While Obasanjo stressed the need for Nigeria to keep moving forward as a country, he was quick to point out that none of the two major political parties in Nigeria – APC and PDP – can offer the credible leadership required for this forward movement.
“I have had occasion in the past to say that the two main political parties – APC and PDP – were wobbling. I must reiterate that nothing has happened to convince me otherwise. If anything, I am reinforced in my conviction,” he said.
“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.”
COMPLAINTS ALONE WILL NOT HELP
“Wherever I go, I hear Nigerians complaining, murmuring in anguish and anger. But our anger should not be like the anger of the cripple,” Obasanjo advised.
“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.
“This is no time for trading blames or embarking on futile argument and neither should we accept untenable excuses for non-performance.
“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.”
COALITION IS THE ANSWER
Only one choice is left to take Nigerians “out of Egypt to the promised land”, according to Obasanjo, and that is a “coalition of the concerned and the willing – ready for positive and drastic change, progress and involvement”.
“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.”
SACRIFICE IS INEVITABLE
Obasanjo acknowledged that for things to begin to normalise, the citizens need not only to pray, but also to be willing to make sacrifices.
“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.
“What is called for is love, commitment and interest in our country, not in self, friends and kinship alone but particularly love, compassion and interest in the poor, underprivileged and downtrodden.
“It is our human duty and responsibility so to do. Failure to do this will amount to a sin against God and a crime against humanity.
We all “must be ready to make sacrifice for the nation and pay the price of being pioneers and good Nigerians for our country to play the God-assigned role for itself, for its neighbours, for its sub-region of West Africa, for its continent and for humanity in general.”