Last week Tuesday was a day President Muhammadu Buhari and those around him will not forget in a hurry.
It was a day the former President Olusegun Obasanjo decided to come down hard on Buhari’s democratic governance.
Obasanjo, who had spent two terms of four years as a democratic President, criticised the Buhari’s administration, which just crossed two and half years mark.
The former President said that the Buhari’s administration and his party, the All Prgressives Congress (APC) have failed Nigerians.
Stressing that Buhari’s administration was not different from those of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) before his assumption of office, Obasanjo believed that the present administration is also enmeshed in corruption.
The long and short of his Letter was that President Buhari should take a well-deserved rest and not contest the 2019 Presidential election, when his first term of four years expires.
Following the release of the letter, the mood in the Presidential Villa that Tuesday remained very dull till sunset when workers closed for the day.
None of the President’s media handler was also willing to take on the elder statesman over the letter that day.
Last Tuesday was not the first time the former President was releasing such letter to the public. Obasanjo had written such open letters to former President Goodluck Jonathan.
Those letters, many Nigerians believed, played a great role in the defeat Jonathan suffered at the polls in 2015.
Even though, the President Buhari’s administration had disclosed that it received Obasanjo’s latest letter in good faith, the letter no doubt have caused a great division among Nigerians.
While some Nigerians hailed Obasanjo for being courageous, patriotic and hitting the nails on the head, others felt that his criticism was misplaced.
Apart from others believing that the economy under Obasanjo’s eight years rule was nothing to write home about in spite of the higher prices of oil in the international market, some Nigerians were also of the view that Obasanjo, in government, will never allow himself to be tele guided by anybody.
For the National Secretary of Action Democratic Party (ADP), James Okoroma, Obasanjo’s letter has set the stage for a new Nigeria.
He said: “The damage caused by the Buhari Government is enormous and we must endeavour to rebuild our country. The former President made it clear in his statement that the Buhari government is a monumental failure.
National Chairman of United Progressives Congress, (UPP) Chief Chekwas Okorie described the letter as timely, adding that the Buhari administration has done enormous danger to the unity of the country than any administration before it.
He said: “The fact remains that Buhari is non performing, nepotism, sectional and very clueless. He has put Nigeria in more danger than any President before him. He doesn’t behave like one who fought during the civil war. Nigeria is more divisive under Buhari.”
Also, National Chairman of Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN) National Chairman Alhaji Ganiyu Galadima said “The advice of President Olusegun Obasanjo to President Mohammad Buhari not to contest in 2019 is apt and sincere. President Obasanjo is a former Nigerian President known for his truth and bluntness.”
The PDP, through a statement by the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Kola Ologbondiyan said that Obasanjo’s letter has vindicated PDP’s position on Buhari and the APC.
A former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and leader of the National Intervention Movement (NIM) Dr Olisa Agbakoba (SAN) said President Buhari has nothing more to offer, describing Obasanjo’s suggestion for Buhari not to run for second term as “great”.
Activist-lawyer Femi Falana (SAN), supporting Obasanjo’s statement, said it was a wake-up call for President Buhari.
Falana said: “President Olusegun Obasanjo’s intervention is a vivid expression of the frustration of the Nigerian people with the Buhari administration.
“The statement is a clarion call on President Buhari to remove the incompetent and corrupt cabal of power mongers that has hijacked political power from him. Through sheer nepotism and cronyism, the regime has lost the massive goodwill that heralded it to power.
“The success recorded in the fight against insurgency in the northeast zone has been eroded in the wave of kidnapping and reckless killing of unarmed Nigerians by AK47-bearing herdsmen.
“The success of the fight against corruption and impunity has been rubbished by the inability of the regime to remove corrupt public officers.”
Although Vice President, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Monday Ubani felt Obasanjo’s letter was long overdue, he warned that Obasanjo should not see himself as the determiner of Nigerians’ fate.
Ubani said “Recall that former President Obasanjo has written such letters to virtually everyone that took over from him and if you will remember such letters were even written to former military leaders like IBB and Abacha. Such scathing and virulent attacks on leaders before and after him are therefore not novel.”
Rooting for the incumbent, the National Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) Dr. Victor Oye, said that Buhari does not need Obasanjo’s advice.
He said: “Obasanjo’s opinion and Nigerian’s opinions differ. People might have different opinion. What we need now in Nigeria is for us to remove unnecessary tension.
“Even if Buhari is not going to run in 2019, we shouldn’t create unnecessary tension because the man himself knows what to do and he doesn’t need Obasanjo’s letter to take such decision. It is Buhari’s entitlement to run for second term, but if he is saying he cannot run, he knows what to do.
“When Obasanjo was president what did he do? Was he a wonderful leader? Did he tar road in South-east? Enugu to Port-Hacourt road he didn’t do it. Okigwe to Oga he didn’t do it, and so on, and he is busy talking about nepotism. Obasanjo does not have moral justification to say such a thing,” he said.
Also the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), declared that Obasanjo cannot stop Buhari from running for Presidency in 2019.
A member of the House of Representatives Alhassan Ado Doguwa (APC, Kano), in a press briefing had said Obasanjo lacks moral and political credibility to advise Buhari not to contest in 2019 considering Obasanjo’s own attempt at returning to the Presidency contrary to the provision of the nation’s constitution.
He said, “The former President, who was used to engaging in very unreasonable political comments should know that he cannot in any way be a stumbling block against the popular desire of Nigerian to give President Buhari a second term to rule this great nation, which unfortunately was put to a state of economic and political quagmire by the likes of Obasanjo and his cohorts.
“After all a man who is involved in all sorts of corruption issues in his administration and indeed his unpopular bid to violate our respected constitution by wanting to take a third term is not any way a credible democratic voice to count on.
“Nigerian should consider him as mere confusionist, mischievous and an enemy of true democracy in Nigeria as he has always been,” he said.
The APC also said that weit remained the best option for Nigerians in spite of Obasanjo’s criticism.
The party’s National Publicity Secretary Mallam Bolaji Abudullahi, said “We acknowledge our challenges as a new political party, even as we believe that APC remains the best option at this time for all Nigerians who are genuinely committed to the country’s progress and development.
“While we do not agree with everything the former president said, especially on his assessment of the government and our party we note the sundry issues raised by the former President, and we assume these were made in good faith,” he said.
Although the Buhari’s government had disagreed with most of Obasanjo’s positions and criticism of the administration, but many Nigerians will really want to know if Buhari, at the end of the day, will not re-contest in 2019 as a result of the letter.
Only time will tell as events towards 2019 general elections unfold.
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