Shola Oyeyipo and Oghenevwede Ohwovoriole in Abuja
The presidency was full of harsh words for former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, yesterday, dismissing his recent utterances on President Muhammadu Buhari and his government as unworthy of credible consideration, and an evidence that the former president was confused.
Speaking to journalists in Abuja, presidential spokesperson, Malam Garba Shehu, said whoever Obasanjo chose to support in the 2019 elections was irrelevant, as the former president had publicly changed his mind on the matter several times over the past few months.
He said, “Former President Obasanjo denounces one person today and supports that same person the next day. When it pleases him, he brings God into the matter and uses that as his excuse for whatever position he has chosen.”
Shehu added that he was not surprised that newspapers reported Obasanjo expressing neutrality at a weekend forum, only for the former president to take a completely different position after a day or two.
“We have learnt not to take his utterances seriously anymore. We know that the slightest wind can make him change his mind again. After all, this is the same man who publicly tore his party registration card barely four years ago, and he now claims to be backing the same party,” Shehu said.
Obasanjo had last week rapped Buhari, saying the president was heading an incompetent and corrupt government that must be changed in 2019.
The former had since declared support for the main opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, contending that he was the best choice in the circumstances that the nation had found itself.
In a related development, Senator Abdullahi Adamu (Nasarawa West), yesterday expressed concern over Obasanjo’s “indecorous” and “undignified” criticisms of Buhari, saying while the former president was entitled to criticise and campaign against the re-election bid of the president, he shouldn’t be pedestrian in doing that.
Obasanjo was reported to have denied being neutral in the choice of who emerges as president of Nigeria in the impending 2019 presidential election, stating that he would not sit on the fence when he needs to be out and active for people to know where he stands in the best interest of the country.
According to a statement by his media aide, Mr. Kehinde Akinyemi, Obasanjo had said, “Only a fool will sit on the fence or be neutral when his or her country is being destroyed with incompetence, corruption, lack of focus, insecurity, nepotism, brazen impunity and denial of the obvious.”
However, reacting to the statement in a chat with newsmen in Abuja yesterday, Adamu stated, “Chief Obasanjo is pushing his luck too far by using indecorous language in criticising the president.
He wondered what Obasanjo’s record in Office was when he ran the country first from February 1976 to October 1979, and subsequently from May 1999 to May 2007.
The lawmaker claimed that under Obasanjo’s watch, most of Nigeria’s strategic investments were sold without much to show as returns to the nation.
He asked, “What happened to all our steel rolling mills and other strategic investments that were sold by (former vice president) Atiku (Abubakar) under Obasanjo’s supervision? What about the $16 billion spent under his watch supposedly for electricity? Where is the electricity today?
‘’He also acquired stupendous wealth during his second coming as president. How did he acquire that? Could that have come from his salaries as president from 1999 to 2007?
Going down memory lane, the former Nasarawa State governor said no Nigerian of repute who knows Obasanjo’s antecedents would be surprised at his current criticism of Buhari.
He added, “He had done it to Alhaji Shehu Shagari shortly after he handed over to him. Obasanjo citicised Babangida when he was in power; he did same to Abacha. And so, nothing is surprising.”
Adamu, who is a frontline campaigner for Buhari said, “Ordinarily, we wouldn’t have bothered about Obasanjo’s criticisms given what is already out in the public space about the morally questionable happenings within his household.
‘’But he is going off the tangent of fair comment in this circumstance, and I believe eminent citizens of this country need to call him to order before some of the young people he thinks he can fool start casting slur on him.”
He said Obasanjo needs to learn some lessons in decorum from past leaders like Gen. Yakubu Gowon (rtd), Shagari, as well as Gen. Ibrahim Babangida (rtd) and Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd), stating that it was an abuse of rights for someone who was regarded as a statesman to be indecorous in his use of language.