By Vincent Ujumadu, Dapo Akinrefon, AbdulSalam Muhammad & Daud Olatunji
•Accuses his government of being incompetent, ineffective
•This is unfair of Obasanjo; he should put things in perspective — APC
•Afenifere, Yakassai, Ikedife, Mbazulike, Amechi react
ABEOKUTA—The Presidency kept mum, yesterday, as former President Olusegun Obasanjo again lampooned President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, describing it as an incompetent, ineffective and non-performing government.
Reacting to President Obasanjo’s assertions, the All Progressives Congress, APC urged him to always put things in perspective, noting that someone could also negatively assess his first term between 1999 and 2003 because of the challenges he faced at that time.
Obasanjo, who reiterated his earlier declaration that the All Progressives Congress, APC, and Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, cannot take the nation to the promised land, urged Nigerians not to be deceived by the reforms promised by the APC or accept the recent apology tendered by the PDP.
His declaration was amplified by Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, and elder statesman, Tanko Yakassai, who said the former President had merely stated the obvious.
The former president spoke at Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, OOPL, Abeokuta, while receiving a joint delegation of Nigeria Young Professionals Forum, NYPF, and New Nigeria 2019.
Obasanjo said: “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, the 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 are 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 for second term.
Don’t reinforce failure
“The first lesson I learned in my military training is to never reinforce failure. What we have now is failure. Never reinforce failure; let failure be 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’s only when you see what you should see and you do what you should do that you put away what you do not like.
“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.
“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.
“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 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 grassroot enough.
“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.”
Obasanjo should put things in perspective — APC
Speaking through its National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, the APC said: “I think it is important for an elder statesman like former president Obasanjo to always put things in perspective. No doubt there are areas that even President Buhari would wish things had been done better.
“But to dismiss a government as failure after less than three years is grossly unfair. I am sure there are those who would come to a similar conclusion based on the performance of his government in its first term between 1999 and 2003.
“Those were turbulent times. But the benefit of another term enabled President Obasanjo to correct some of his mistakes and consolidate on his achievements. This is why someone of his calibre, with his experience should be more considerate.
Obasanjo’s remarks apt—Afenifere
Reacting, the pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, said Obasanjo’s remarks were apt.
Afenifere’s National Publicity, Mr Yinka Odumakin, said: “Those are apt words to describe what is going on in the country in the last three years. The former President captured it quite succinctly. The primary responsibility of any government is to protect the lives and property of its citizens.
“Has this government done that in the last three years? Everyday, people are being killed in droves and now, they are talking of granting amnesty to Boko Haram insurgents, who have continued to kill in thousands. So, I agree with the former President.”
OBJ said nothing new—Yakasai
In his reaction, Elder statesman, Tanko Yakasai, said Obasanjo’s latest attack on President Buhari reinforced his earlier position and assessment of Buhari’s Presidency.
He said: “Chief Obasanjo’s latest attack reinforced my earlier stand on Buhari government’s crass ineptitude and gross incompetence.
“I have said this before, there is nothing new compared to the position of other well-meaning Nigerians who have spoken on the government’s crass incompetence.
“Chief Obasanjo, who knew these weaknesses well, connived with others to foist him on the nation, and collectively, we are reaping what they sowed on our behalf today.
“I have made my point on the subject matter in the past. At a point, Chief Obasanjo and others for want of reasons, failed to see it my way, and I want to make it clear, I’m done with honest critique of Buhari’s Presidency.”
Reacting, spokesman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan declined comments, saying “we will issue a formal statement; let’s leave it at this for now.”
It’s a mixed baggage – Ikedife
Former President- General of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Dr. Dozie Ikedife, said he finds it difficult to agree with former President Obasanjo on the issue of President Buhari’s performance, arguing that there were areas he had done well and there were other areas he failed.
He said: “If you look at the whole gamut of governance, President Buhari might get pass mark in some areas and total failure in other areas. For instance, he came with the mantra to fight corruption, but there are areas he had encouraged corruption. Take the issue of his lopsided appointments and one would agree that he encouraged corruption.
“He can also claim that his hands are tied on the issue of herdsmen as the Fulanis had said that it was General Yakubu Gowon that signed the agreement for the herdsmen to enter any part of the county.”
“On the other hand, Obasanjo cannot absolve himself from many bad things that had befallen the country. Let me give one example: Obasanjo could not do anything on the issue of ceding of Bakassi to Cameroon because he (Obasanjo) said his hands were tied.
“Some people also say that Buhari’s government is marginalizing some sections of the country and that he is concentrating infrastructural development only in the northern part of the country, but I don’t agree, after all, there is federal presence on our highways where there are numerous check points by the federal police. Are those ones not federal presence?”
Ikedife, however, added that Obasanjo’s recent criticisms of the Buhari administration might not be unconnected with 2019 presidential election in which he wants to position his allies to take over the government.
Let Nigerians judge — Mbazulike Amechi
First Republic minister, Chief Mbazulike Amechi said Nigerians should judge between former President Obasanjo and the incumbent, President, Muhammadu Buhari.
He, however, declined to speak further on the issue, saying he would not like to be dragged into the issue between the two retired soldiers.
“Please leave me out of Obasanjo and Buhari. I am in a meeting right now and I am not even in my home town,” he replied.