Former President Olusegun Obasanjo last week, passed a damming verdict on the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and said the party and President Muhammadu Buhari do not deserve another term in office.
This may not best of time for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). Since the beginning of this year, the party and the presidency which it produced, have received bouts of attacks from angry Nigerians.
Few days to the beginning of the year, President Muhammadu Buhari, after nearly three years of delay, released the list of members appointed into federal parastatals and agencies.
Surprisingly, about six dead persons made the list. This was greeted with much uproar and condemnation.
Then came the New Year attacks in Benue State by Fulani herdsmen that left about 73 people dead. The silence of the presidency was deafening. The general belief was that this was because President Buhari is the grand patron of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association.
The public letter by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, to President Buhari release last week seemed to be the anti-climax.
Obasanjo who is well known for his penchant for writing letters to both his predecessors and successors in government since 1979 when he handed over, as military Head of State, to Alhaji Shehu Shagari, passed a damming verdict on the APC-led Federal Government.
The former president played prominent role in the emergence of Buhari as President in 2015. He admitted that he took ”the unusual step of going against my own political party, PDP, in the last general elections to support the opposite side.”
But now, Obasanjo, like other Nigerians, said the “Change” he saw presently was not the type he voted for. ”The situation that made Nigerians to vote massively” against former President Goodluck Jonathan and his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), “is playing itself out again.”
He even went further to say that he thought he knew the areas President Buhari was weak but unfolding events had proved him wrong.
Said the former President: ”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. Although, I know that you cannot give what you don’t have and that economy does not obey military order….
“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.”
Obasanjo also faulted President Buhari in the areas of appointments into his government, describing it as “nepotic deployment bordering on clannishness.” the President, he further noted, failed “to bring discipline to bear on errant members of his nepotic court,” which he blamed on the poor performance of his government.
“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 (Abdulrasheed) 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?
“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. 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,” Obasanjo cautioned.
While thanking God for the speedy recovery of the President after over 100 days of hospitalisation abroad, Obasanjo advised Buhari not to over-push his luck too far or over-tax the patience and tolerance of Nigerians for him.
He said 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 side line for the good of the country.”
But the Federal Government said it has taken his admonition in good faith but said it might have been too busy to notice the improvement the administration had made in the area of economy and social infrastructure since it assumed office in 2015.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, in a statement he issued a day after Obasanjo’s letter, indices have shown that the nation’s economy is recovery and looking better.
He listed the Federal Government achievements to revamp the economy to include increase in foreign reserves to the tune of $40 billion, the implementation of Treasury Single Account (TSA), resulting in N108 billion saved from removal of maintenance fees payable to banks, elimination of ghost workers, which saved the nation the sum of N120 billion, as well as about $1. 8 billion capital inflows.
Alhaji Mohammed further noted that the nation’s currency, the naira has been stabilised while the National Bureau of Statistics (NBC) said inflation figure has fallen for 11 consecutive months, standing at 15.37 per cent as at Dec. 2017.
“This is the lowest inflation rate since Jan 2017, and it has met and surpassed the target set for inflation in the Administration’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP),” the minister added.
He disclosed that Nigeria rose 24 places on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business ranking, and earned a place on the list of top 10 reformers in the world.
“According to Q3 2017 figures, agricul ture export is up year-on-year by 25 per cent, solid minerals exports are up year-on-year by 78 per cent, raw materials exports are up 70 per cent year-on-year and manufactured goods exports are up 22 per cent year-on-year.
“Government agencies such as the Nigeria Customs Service are reporting highest-ever revenue collection, while JAMB, under the new management appointed by President Buhari in 2016, remitted N7.8 billion to the coffers of the federal government. The total amount remitted by JAMB between 2010 and 2016 was a paltry N51 million!
“These positive indices may not have immediately impacted positively on Nigerians, but Nigerians will definitely get a new lease of life a short while from now.
This is because the good news from the agricultural sector, which is recording a bumper harvest, will bring down the cost of foodstuffs, especially such staple as rice, and our massive Social Investment Programme will ease the pain of the most vulnerable in the society,” he assured.
Though Obasanjo had written several letters to both former military heads of state and civilian presidents, this time around, about 75 per cent of Nigerians seemed to be on the same page with him.
Unlike in 2013 when the former President accused Jonathan of training snipers for the 2015 general elections, Nigerians agreed everything Obasanjo said about Buhari.
The PDP said Nigerians overrated President Buhari in 2015, adding that now they have “seen that he never possessed the capacity and the required aptitude to effectively govern our great nation and pilot a healthy economy.
“This accounts for the reason former President Obasanjo, just like most Nigerians today, is concerned about the quality of presidential candidates to be presented by various parties for the 2019 election.
“The fact is that while the APC is already caught up with President Buhari, the PDP is open for a new engagement that will throw up the president, which our nation truly deserves at this crucial moment.”
PDP added that Nigerians have already taken an irrevocable position against President Buhari and the APC because they have irredeemably failed the nation.
An APC member, Senator Dino Melaye, said the party has failed Nigerians, and therefore no longer qualified to remain in power. Melaye who represents Kogi West in the Senate admitted that the political class has failed the people.
”Unfortunately, we the leaders, myself inclusive, have failed this nation and have failed the younger generation, myself inclusive. The reason why we are where we are today, is because there is a disconnect between leadership and followership” he said.
Dino said the nation presently practises ”greediocracy,” as against democracy, adding that just as the political class is greedy, the followership also is greedy. “They accept money to vote. So, head or tail, there is a need for attitudinal change, and this is affecting everything,” he noted.
Human rights lawyer, Mike Ozekhome, said Obasanjo’s call was coming too late but said he share the same view with him. He thanked Obasanjo for advising Buhari not to seek re-election in the 2019 general elections.
“Even if you give Buhari another 20 years, he will only take Nigeria backward more and more. It is better to save Nigeria from him. That is why some of his supporters in the ruling party are backing off because they have realized that he’s a wrong horse to back.
“Some APC governors are still playing the proverbial ostrich, saying this man is doing well even when they know that he is not doing well,” Ozekhome added.
Secretary General of Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE) , Dr. Kunle Olajide took a swipe at the Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu for campaigning for Buhari’s re-election. The minister, at last week’s Federal Executive Council (FEC), distributed Buhari’s re-election caps to ministers and other members of the council.
But Dr. Olajide described such as height of sycophancy, especially at a time the nation is mourning the death of innocent people killed by Fulani herdsmen.
“I am surprised that some of our political leaders are engaged in criminal height of sycophancy completely oblivious of the mood of the people they claim to represent. People are talking about 2019 elections and 2023 presidential elections as if it is somebody’s birthright.
“People should stop taking Nigerians for granted for God’s sake. We are in the 21st century and not the 20th century. The insult is too much.
“It is unfortunate and I am sad that someone could be pre-occupied with such thought and action. When you are talking about timeliness and consideration of the plight of other persons, Yoruba stands out because we are our brother’s keeper. We are liberal and that is why we are always ready to accommodate others and sympathise with their plight.
“It is sad that a Yoruba man should be doing this. Moreover, it violates the regulations of the Independent National Electoral Commission on elections. I want to consider it a rumour until the minister refutes it,” he said.
Former Minister of Education, Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili, on her twitter handle said the APC was insulting the sensibility of Nigerians by launching its 2019 campaign. “Of all days that APC and its stalwarts could assault our sensibilities with the announcement of launch of 2019 re-election bid for President @MBuhari…!
“Same day that Citizens were traumatised by the images of butchered by bodies of our fellow citizens,” Ezekwesili asked.