Nepotism, Herdsmen Killings, Trading Blames: Obasanjo Tells Buhari Not To Contest In 2019

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Former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo has  advised President Muhammad Buhari not to contest for a second term of office but prepare to rest because of his age and health condition.

He gave this advise in an open letter titled The way out: A clarion call for the coalition for Nigeria movement.

According to him,  President Buhari needs a dignified and honourable dismount from the horse and take his time to reflect, refurbish physically and recoup adding, without impaired health and strain of age, running the affairs of Nigeria is a 25/7 affair, not 24/7.

Obasanjo said that 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.”

According to him,  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.

Obasanjo egretted that the situation of things in the country today were not different from that of 1999 before democracy was ushered in hence,warning to move the country forward.

He said the situation of things in the country during President Jonathan regime forced him
to take the unusual step of going against his 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.

“Even the horse rider then, with whom I maintain very cordial, happy and social relationship today has come to realise his mistakes and regretted it publicly and I admire his courage and forthrightness in this regard.  He has a role to play on the side line for the good of Nigeria, Africa and humanity and I will see him as a partner in playing such a role nationally and internationally, but not as a horse rider in Nigeria again.”

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

He said “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.  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.

“President Buhari’s illness called for the sympathy, understanding, prayer and patience from every sane Nigerian.  It is part of our culture.  Most Nigerians prayed for him while he was away sick in London for over hundred days and he gave his Deputy sufficient leeway to carry on in his absence. 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.  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.  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 does not necessarily need to heed my advice.  But whether or not he heeds it, Nigeria needs to move on and move forward.

“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.  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.

“I believe the situation we are in today is akin to what and where we were in at the beginning of this democratic dispensation in 1999.  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.  At that time, most people were hopelessly groping in the dark.  They saw no choice, neither in the left nor in the right, and yet we were not bereft of people at home and from the diaspora that could come together to make Nigeria truly a land flowing with milk and honey.  Where we are is a matter of choice but we can choose differently to make a necessary and desirable change, once again.

“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.  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. 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.

“What has emerged from the opposition has shown no better promise from their antecedents.  As the leader of that Party for eight years as President of Nigeria, I can categorically say there is nothing to write home about in their new team.  We have only one choice left to take us out of Egypt to the promised land.  And that is the coalition of the concerned and the willing – ready for positive and drastic change, progress and involvement.  Change that will give hope and future to all our youth and dignity and full participation to all our women. Our youth should be empowered to deploy their ability to learn, innovate and work energetically at ideas and concepts in which they can make their own original inputs.  Youth must be part of the action today and not relegated to leadership of tomorrow which may never come.  Change that will mean enhancement of living standard and progress for all.  A situation where the elected will accountably govern and every Nigerian will have equal opportunity not based on kinship and friendship but based on free citizenship.

“Democracy is sustained and measured not by leaders doing extra-ordinary things, (invariably, leaders fail to do ordinary things very well), but by citizens rising up to do ordinary things extra-ordinarily well.  Our democracy, development and progress at this juncture require ordinary citizens of Nigeria to do the extra-ordinary things of changing the course and direction of our lackluster performance and development.  If leadership fails, citizens must not fail and there lies the beauty and importance of democracy.  We are challenged by the current situation; we must neither adopt spirit of cowardice nor timidity let alone impotence but must be sustained by courage, determination and commitment to say and do and to persist until we achieve upliftment for Nigeria.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained and we believe that our venturing will not be in vain.  God of Nigeria has endowed this country adequately and our non-performance cannot be blamed on God but on leadership.  God, who has given us what we need and which is potentially there, will give us leadership enablement to actualize our potentiality.

“The development and modernization of our country and society must be anchored and sustained on dynamic Nigerian culture, enduring values and an enchanting Nigerian dream.  We must have abiding faith in our country and its role and place within the comity of nations.  Today, Nigeria needs all hands on deck.  All hands of men and women of goodwill must be on deck.  We need all hands to move our country forward Obasanjo stressed.

He however suggested the need for a Coalition for Nigeria, CN.staying  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 he said.

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