By Femi Ogbonnikan in Abeokuta
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday said he would not sit on the fence or be neutral in next year’s general elections, emphasising his commitment to a change of a government he thinks has hindered the economic development of the country.
Obasanjo’s position was made known in a statement by his media aide, Mr. Kehinde Akinyemi, in which he denied media reports that he had decided not to support any candidate for next year’s presidential election.
The former president, who already declared his support for the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, said he would not sit on the fence when he needed to be out and active for people to know where he stands in the best interest of Nigeria.
He accused the President Muhammadu Buhari administration of incompetence, corruption, lack of focus, insecurity, nepotism and brazen impunity, saying that only a fool would sit on the fence or be neutral when his or her country is being destroyed.
The statement explained that Obasanjo’s comment during a recent function in Owu, Ogun State did not suggest his neutrality, asserting, “Only a fool will sit on the fence or be neutral when his or her country is being destroyed by incompetence, corruption, lack of focus, insecurity, nepotism, brazen impunity and denial of the obvious.”
According to the statement, “While Chief Obasanjo is in Cairo to attend the maiden edition of the Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF), of which he is Chairman of the Advisory Council, his attention has been drawn to a report by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) with the headline ‘Atiku: Obasanjo Shifts Political Gear to Neutral.’
“It is disingenuous, if not malicious, for anyone to suggest that Chief Obasanjo was being neutral when he chose not to use the Owu Convention as a platform for political campaign but instead adopt a communal and familial approach in talking to members of his Owu family.
“For the records, and as accurately reported by some media organisations, what the former president said at the convention in Iwo was that while he would not impress any candidates on them, Nigerians should vote for credible candidates who will drive growth and development and make their lives better than it is now.
“Obasanjo is no such fool nor is he so unwise.”
It said the former president urged Nigerians to stop complaining about their current situation and advised that they should go out to get “beneficial change,” knowing that, “such change will not come if they remain inactive just complaining and complacent and they allow themselves to be deceived by sycophants and enemies of Nigeria.”
It quoted the former president, “If they do not become active and get much needed change of the current administration to a government that will improve the economy, regain the confidence of investors and generally drive growth, development and economic progress with security, what is coming will be much worse than what Nigerians currently suffer.”
He said he would continue to speak against poor governance and nobody should manipulate his stance on the 2019 presidential election.
Obasanjo was an ally of Buhari, whom he supported for the 2015 general elections.
He had, however, accused the president of nepotism, poor performance, and sectionalism and declared his support for the PDP presidential candidate.