Femi Ogbonnikan In Abeokuta
In his usual characteristic manner, former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Monday, again picked holes in the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration, stressing that, it reeks of failure and engaged in a needless blame game.
In addition, Obasanjo issued a warning signal to Nigerians not to reinforce failure as the country inches towards 2019 general election, while stressing that the two major political parties, All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), cannot take the nation to the promised land.
To avoid falling into the booby trap of deceit and dishonesty ahead of the next general election to elect new leaders, the former president cautioned Nigerians not to allow themselves to be hoodwinked by the reforms promised by the ruling APC or accept the recent apology being tendered by the opposition PDP.
In his first public statement on Buhari, Obasanjo had last January issued a 13-page treatise criticising President Buhariâ€™s performance and calling for a new movement to salvage the country from its challenges.
He had also warned the president against seeking re-election, alleging that the present government has failed in one of the areas it pitched as its â€˜key point of actionâ€™ when it assumed office â€“ the anti-corruption fight.
He made the disclosure at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL), Abeokuta, while receiving the audience, a joint delegation of Nigeria Young Professionals Forum (NYPF) and New Nigeria 2019 who paid him a courtesy call.
The two groups, led by Moses Siasia and China Anyaso, had visited the ex-president, to consult him on the state of the nation and assure him of their preparedness to respond to his clarion call for a popular movement to rescue Nigeria from the present doldrums
While Obasanjo canvassed for the need for the citizens to actively participate in the nation’s affairs by making informed choices about leadership, he said the citizens would always be victims if an ineffective and incompetent government gets to power.
Making a veiled reference to the Buhari-led government, the former president noted that the administration was indulging in giving flimsy excuses.
He argued that the current administration would not have been voted into power if there were no challenges to address as a result of the lapses in the past administration of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.
According to him, he said he wondered why the president was scheming for re-election, having allegedly failed to deliver on his electioneering promises to Nigerians.
“What those I call power addicts would want to do is to divide you based on gender, age, tribe, religion and region. You have one commonality – interest of Nigeria. And it doesn’t matter where you come from. We had that interest.
“The truth is this: when you have an ineffective and incompetent government, we are all victims. And don’t let anybody deceive you. Those of you who are in business, your business could have been better today if we have a competent and effective and performing government.
“As I said, stop giving excuses; we met challenges. If there were no challenges, then we wouldn’t need you to come. You came in because you know there are challenges and then giving us excuse that you have many challenges, that is why you haven’t achieved results. And then you still want to go back.
“The first lesson I learnt in my military training has never reinforced failure. What we have now is a failure. Never you reinforce failure. Let failure be a failure.
“And if you do not see what you should see, you will then be a victim of what you don’t like because it is only when you see what you should see and you do what you should do that you put away what you do not like. And if you don’t see what you should see and you don’t do what you should do, you will be a victim of what you don’t like,” averred Obasanjo.
While admonishing youths to come out and participate in active politics, Obasanjo enjoined them not to allow themselves to be divided by the powers that be.
“What those I call power addicts would want to do is to divide you based on gender, age, tribe, religion and region. You have one commonality – interest of Nigeria,” he added.
The former president, however, noted that the country required a popular grassroots movement to bring about the change, sustainability and stability needed in its democracy and development.
And he stressed the imperativeness of bringing and forging together all the movements seeking a better Nigeria in the interest of the citizenry.
According to him, “This time, for us to make it, we need all hands on deck. You see, I have publicly said and I mean it, that as a party, neither PDP nor APC can get us there, as they have been. Never mind about reforms and apology and all that. And yet we have to get there.
“I asked one of the foundation members of PDP, that when we started, was it a grassroots party? He said it was an elitist party. Really, we have never had the so-called grassroots party. Even NEPU which we could say is the nearest was not grassroots enough.
“And I believe strongly that we must have a strong popular grassroots movement to bring about the change, sustainability and stability that we need in our democracy and development.”
“But let us bring together all these movements because we are pursuing the same thing. If we allow ourselves to be taken piecemeal, it is finished.
“Yes, I said you cannot take PDP as it is and APC as it is; but they are not all made of evil people. There are good people among them. I said PDP is leprous hand, APC is leprous hand, but there are some clean fingers in them.
“So, let’s take those clean fingers in them and graft the clean fingers in our own. That is the way to go and if we go that way, we will get there, we will move together, and we will move fast and we will move far,” added Obasanjo.
Last January, Obasanjo, in a 13-page statement, blasted President Buhari and advised him not to seek re-election in 2019.
In the special press statement titled, â€œThe Way Out: A Clarion Call for Coalition for Nigeria Movementâ€ Obasanjo said Buhari has performed far below expectation and should honourably join the league of the countryâ€™s former leaders.
He said Buhari should not toy with the patience of Nigerians but should in a dignified way dismount from the horse (seat of power).
â€œWe 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 Buhariâ€™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.
â€œPresident 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 sideline 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,â€ he said.