Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
Former Minister of Aviation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, Thursday warned the presidency not to instigate a press war, saying taking former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, to the cleaners over his political views could attract a comprehensive retaliation from Obasanjo’s camp.
Fani-Kayode, who served under Obasanjo, said the presidency ought to treat the former president with absolute respect, otherwise his associates would have to respond and that might not augur well for the image of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The presidency rapped the former president over his searing criticism of the Buhari administration, saying it no longer had respect for Obasanjo because he had become inconsistent.
Buhari’s media aide, Malam Garba Shehu, had told State House Correspondent that the administration would no longer take Obasanjo seriously because he had changed his mind severally on the matter of the next president of Nigeria, saying the former president was confused.
But responding Thursday, Fani-Kayode said the presidency was precipitating a messy media war and warned it to pull back.
He gave a hint of what was in the offing, “Actually, if anybody is confused, it is President Buhari, who his own wife says is not in control of the government entrusted to his care.”
He told THISDAY, “One minute he is running the affairs of the country, and the next minute, according to his wife, two powerful, faceless and unelected men have hijacked the government, have taken control and have pushed him aside.”
Fani-Kayode said as a former special assistant on Public Affairs to Obasanjo between 2003 and 2006, there was very little that he did not know about him or his tenure, adding that the former president deserved to be treated with respect.
According to him, Obasanjo remains the father of the nation and one of the most productive and successful presidents in the history of Nigeria.
He said, “I read with dismay the comments from the presidency about former President Obasanjo. I want to serve them a note of warning. They should leave Obasanjo alone and keep him out of their sights if they do not want a really messy press war.
“When they needed him in 2015, they begged him to be their navigator and they bowed before him and kissed his feet. They even called him their navigator but now they say he is confused and not to be taken seriously simply because he has seen through them and dumped them.
“It is not their fault. They reaped where they did not sow and if not for the likes of the Obasanjo that they are now insulting they would never have smelt power in 2015.”
He said the record of the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led federal government in public office stinks as they have failed woefully.
Fani-Kayode further stressed, “Some of us knew it would come to this because we saw through them even then and we knew that they are nothing but a bunch of self-seeking opportunists and ingrates that are not fit to hold power let alone steer the affairs of a great nation like Nigeria.
“Not one of them or their principal is fit to lick Obasanjo’s shoes let alone talk about him that way.
“Respect begets respect. Leave Obasanjo out of your mess and face your election campaign or else we will take the kid gloves off and teach you the lesson of your lives.”
Presidential spokesperson, Shehu, had told reporters that 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.
“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.”