Obasanjo’s letter is timely. Now is the time to deal with the flaws in the Buhari administration

It is tempting to dismiss former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s rebuke of President Muhammadu Buhari for maladministration, clannishness and condoning of corruption as the rant of an over-pampered power monger. While the motive of the writer and timing of the statement may indeed have everything to do with politics, the content nonetheless raises matters of grave public concern. Therefore, this is one important moment we must ignore the character of the messenger and reflect deeply on the message. For us, the issue for determination is whether Obasanjo is correct in his assessment; and we answer that question, without any hesitation, in the affirmative.

However, we must commend both the federal government and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) for the matured manner in which they responded to Obasanjo’s statement. To that extent, the unfortunate vituperations by Prof Itse Sagay and others who chose to deflect what the issues are by attacking Obasanjo should not frighten the public from insisting on responsible leadership in the country. Defenders of both the president and his government on sundry vexatious issues should not labour so hard to find excuses for what can only be summed up as a growing incompetence.

According to Obasanjo, whose statement touched on several issues including the conflicts between herdsmen and farmers, the state of the economy, the fight against corruption as well as the creation of a Coalition for Nigeria (CN) Movement to challenge the status quo, Buhari’s “poor understanding of the dynamics of internal politics” in the country has not only impacted negatively on the national security situation, his “nepotic deployment bordering on clannishness and inability to bring discipline to bear on errant members of his nepotic court,” is also “wittingly or unwittingly making the nation more divided”.

For sure, Obasanjo’s expression of discontent cannot be ignored first on account of his position as someone who shares similar status with Buhari as a retired General, former military Head of State and civilian President. More importantly, the message in his communication happens to tally roughly with the feelings of a broad section of Nigerians. In sum, there is an emerging consensus that the quality of leadership being provided by President Buhari falls far below public expectation.

Needless to say, some of the allegations made by Obasanjo in his statement are quite weighty. For instance, the former president insinuated that the Supreme Court was deliberately manipulated by some characters within the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to pervert the course of justice in a bid to achieve some political objectives. Although the PDP has disputed the claim as unsubstantiated, that the allegation is coming from a former president underscores the need for the judiciary to put its house in order.

However, it is the Buhari government to whom the statement was particularly directed that needs to exercise more introspection. Whereas Boko Haram insurgency has been helmed in to the fringes of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States, a more deadly security challenge has erupted with some violent and heavily armed herdsmen running riot across the entire landscape. To this must be added the upsurge in the spate of violent kidnappings and cult killings in several parts of the country.

Unfortunately, the president has been largely muted on these severe onslaughts on the right to life and property of Nigerians while his government has not provided any workable solution on how to defend our citizens against non-state actors who have turned our country into a killing field. Meanwhile, his Defence Minister, Mansur Dan-Ali and some other officials are making reckless and irresponsible statements that can only further worsen the crisis without anybody calling them to order.

In a sense, therefore, Nigerians ought to be grateful to Obasanjo. His choice of an open critique of President Buhari as against a private memo is ultimately a national service. Prior to that intervention, the fear was real that the administration had become too cocooned in the flattering image presented by its propagandist communicators and army of sycophants to hear the loud wailings across the land. Obasanjo has shredded that veil of falsehood. The challenge now is for Buhari to confront the inconvenient truth of the shrinking credibility of his administration and, of course, correct accordingly.

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Nigerians ought to be grateful to Obasanjo. His choice of an open critique of President Buhari as against a private memo is ultimately a national service. Prior to the intervention, the fear was real that the administration had become too cocooned in the flattering image presented by its army of sycophants to hear the loud wailings across the land