Fail to listen to Olusegun Obasanjo, at your own peril.
The former president dropped a “letter bomb” on President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday afternoon and everyone is talking about it. Contrary to the response of the Ekiti governor Ayo Fayose that OBJ has “outlived” his political usefulness in Nigeria, the influence of the 80-year old PhD holder is going one notch higher with this explosive missive. Obasanjo does not get the lashes in the political storms he creates.
None of the arguments against Buhari in Obasanjo’s press statement are novel or particularly controversial, but none of the following declarations will be taken lightly anymore after the former president amplified them to the world from his international pulpit.
BUHARI ENCOURAGES MISDEEDS
Obasanjo’s outline of the prevailing issue under the present administration includes “poverty, insecurity, poor economic management, nepotism and gross dereliction of duty”. However, the most embarrassing is what he called the “condonation (sic) of misdeed – if not outright encouragement of it”. Available evidence backs up Obasanjo’s claim even as Buhari’s Attorney General, Abubakar Malami, continues to put his head on the line in protection of the wanted fugitive former pension boss, Abdulrasheed Maina.
BUHARI WAS NOT ACTUALLY GOOD ENOUGH
How does it feel when a spouse learns he or she was married specifically to prevent another suitor from winning the hand? That is exactly what Obasanjo has said to Buhari in this statement, referring to “aobj” (Any Option but Jonathan) as the driving ideology that won Buhari the 2015 election. The bottom line of this styling should not require scientific explanation: Buhari was only good enough as a placeholder in 2015, and now is the time to actually type in the desired text in the box provided.
BUHARI WAS WEAK, REMAINS WEAK
In his statement, OBJ explains that Buhari’s weakness was clear to him even before going to the ballot on March 28 three years ago, but had hoped the president in waiting would assemble a team of experts to help make up for his intellectual shortfall. After 31 months, the former president remains disappointed with his candidate’s management of the economy and his reaction to matters of foreign policy.
BUHARI: MR NEPOTISM
Having appointed heads of agencies for 8 years, Obasanjo should be expected to know when appointments tilt towards a particular region of the country. In Buhari’s case, he sees a clear banner of “nepotic deployment bordering on clannishness and inability to bring discipline to bear on errant members of his nepotic court”. This is the accusation that will not go away for Buhari and with every new appointment – that of the new head of the NIA (a northerner replacing the sacked Ayo Oke) – he seems to provide ammunition to support the claim.
BLAME BUHARI FOR DEPRESSION ECONOMICS
The Princeton University professor, Paul Krugman, explained the return of depression economics ten years ago and won the Nobel Prize for his work. In Obasanjo’s opinion, Buhari’s version of depression economics has very little to do with an illusion of a bubble or boom – because none has existed in the last 31 months – but more to do with the depressing politics of Buhari’s Nigeria. As OBJ puts it: “the economy feeds on politics and because our politics is depressing, our economy is even more depressing today”.
Say BOOM to that?
HEALTHY DOES NOT MEAN READY
President Buhari has not declared an intention to run in 2019 but campaigns have been initiated on his behalf. His supporters cite his “miraculous” recovery as evidence of a divine mandate to proceed with his change agenda. Obasanjo is calling this nonsense.
In 2017, Nigerians tolerated over 150 days of being hushed and silenced on any conversations about the president’s health. This will not be accepted beyond 2019 and the fact that he has, “thank God”, recovered fully should not mean that he should “over-push his luck” next year.
PDP IS NOT BACK
Many Nigerians still do not understand why Obasanjo turned on Goodluck Jonathan in 2015, after supporting him all the way from 2006 till 2011, as he rose from Vice President to President. It would seem there are no hard feelings between Obasanjo and Jonathan after the hostilities have died down, but it has not escaped OBJ that there are contemplations for the return of the immediate past president to bear the flag of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2019.
Obasanjo’s message to his former party is clear: Jonathan can have influence in Nigeria and Africa but “not as a horse rider in Nigeria again”. In any case, on the subject of a rebuilt PDP, he categorically says “there is nothing to write home about in their new team”. This is probably the line that poked at Ayo Fayose’s buttons, triggering the ill-worded “outlived” response from his Twitter account.
ONE CHOICE: COALITION
Should we call Obasanjo a closet member of the Red Card Movement? For one, he shares the ideology of the Obiageli Ezekwesili-led group that a choice between APC and PDP is like choosing between six and half a dozen. Obasanjo does not, in his statement, say if he will raise a red card but described the movement he would be inclined to join: one which is not a political party but one to which all well-meaning Nigerians can belong, which “must be a coalition for democracy, good governance, social and economic well-being and progress, to salvage and redeem our country”.
This coalition of Nigerians, Obasanjo says, is the “only one choice left to take us out of Egypt to the Promised Land”. We have only one choice left to take us out of Egypt to the promised land. And that is the coalition of the concerned and the willing – ready for positive and drastic change, progress and involvement.
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