Sesan Olufowobi, Olalekan Adetayo, Kamarudeen Ogundele and Samuel Awoyinfa
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Monday called on President Muhammadu Buhari to stop giving Nigerians excuses, adding that the attitude was why he had not achieved results.
The former President advised Buhari to buckle down, saying he was presently a failure.
He spoke at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, Abeokuta, Ogun State, while playing host to the New Nigeria 2019 Group, led by the convener, Chima Anyaso, in company with Moses Siasia.
As he did in the open letter he wrote about three months ago to the President, Obasanjo accused Buhari and the All Progressives Congress of bringing hardship on Nigerians and running ineffective economic policies which had crippled businesses.
He noted that it was uncharitable for the President and his party to continue to whine about challenges almost three years in office, while they had failed to solve the challenges.
“As I said, stop giving excuses; we met challenges. If there are no challenges, then we wouldn’t need you to come. You come in because you know there are challenges and then giving us an excuse that you have many challenges; that is why you haven’t achieved results.”
Obasanjo warned Nigerians not to re-elect a failed government who always gave one excuse or another for its failure to meet up with Nigerians’ expectations.
He said it would be foolhardy for Nigerians to reinforce failure by re-electing an ineffective and incompetent government in 2019.
“And then you still want to go. The first lesson I learnt in my military training is never reinforce failure. What we have now is failure. Never you reinforce failure. Let failure be failure,” he added.
The former President also criticized the Peoples Democratic Party, urging Nigerians not to be deceived by its apology, arguing that neither the PDP nor the APC could get Nigeria out of its economic mess.
He said all hands must be on deck to mobilise the grassroots and enthrone the kind of government that would take the country to its promised land.
He said, “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.
“…And if you do not see what you should see, you will then be a victim of what you don’t like because it is only when you see what you should see and you do what you should do that you put away what you do not like.
“But 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… never mind about reforms and apology and all that.”
Obasanjo advised the group not to take anything for granted, as there was work to be done. He urged his visitors to be wary of power mongers who might want to divide them using religion, and tribe among others.
He said, “I am happy to meet with you, but don’t take anything for granted. There will be a lot of work that we have to do. 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. And it doesn’t matter where you come from.”
Obasanjo said he believed in a grass-roots movement, adding that Nigeria had never really had any political party with grass-roots flavour.
He said, “I asked one of the foundation members of the PDP; the PDP when we started, was it a grass-roots party? He said it was an elitist party.
“Really, we have never had a grass-roots party. Even NEPU (Northern Elements Progressive Union) which we could say is the nearest was not grass roots enough.
“And I believe strongly that we must have a strong popular grass-roots movement to bring about the change, sustainability and stability that we need in our democracy and development.
He told the New Nigeria 2019 Group, backed by Nigerian Young Professionals Forum, to look closely at the existing political parties, especially APC and PDP as some members still had integrity and could still assist the movement to succeed.
Obasanjo also urged them to work with other movements in actualising their goals, not leaving out his Coalition for Nigeria Movement.
He said, “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 the PDP as it is and APC as it is; but they are not all made of evil people.
“There are good people. I said the PDP is leprous hand, APC is leprous hand, but there are some clean fingers in them. So, let us take those clean fingers in them and graft the clean fingers onto 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.”
We won’t take issue with Obasanjo – Presidency
The Presidency on Monday said President Muhammadu Buhari would not take issue with former President Olusegun Obasanjo over his comment.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said this in an interview monitored on Channels Television.
Adesina said Buhari would not engage Obasanjo who was his senior in the military.
The presidential spokesman, however, said since Obasanjo did not say anything different from what was contained in a letter he released on the administration recently, the response provided by the Federal Government then was still relevant.
He said, “President Muhammadu Buhari will not take issue with former President Olusegun Obasanjo. One, President Obasanjo was his superior in the military.
“President Buhari was made a minister under him during the military regime. So, President Buhari will never take issue with him.
“Two, what President Obasanjo has just said is not different from what he said in his letter of January 23; and adequate response was given to that letter by the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
“So, the response the minister gave to that letter suffices to whatever President Obasanjo has just said.”
When contacted on the telephone, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, also said he would not make a comment on the matter.
Buhari’s integrity no longer sellable, says Fayose
The Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, has said Buhari is presiding over the most corrupt government in the history of Nigeria and protecting looters of the country’s commonwealth.
He said Nigerians had seen through his deceit and would no longer buy the “fake image of integrity they were trying to sell.”
Citing the Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, which indicated that corruption had become more endemic in Nigeria than it was in the last 16 years, Fayose said any honourable government would have stopped using its fight against corruption as its major achievement.
He stated that the released names of people that were still on trial as looters was a cover-up for the government’s failure.
He argued that the first list of alleged looters released by the government was politically motivated while the second one was an afterthought that was done to cover the shame of the government because Nigerians questioned the first list.
Fayose, in a statement on Monday by his Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, reiterated that Nigerians were more interested in their welfare, security of their lives and physical development of the country than tales of concocted lists of corrupt Nigerians, who were only corrupt in the estimation of the government because they did not belong to the ruling All Progressives Congress.
He said, “The Peoples Democratic Party never pretended to Nigerians that it had corrupt people in its fold and the party never protected them. Today, the party has gone ahead to offload the corrupt elements to the APC and they were not only accepted gladly into the party, they were given prominent appointments by the President.
“For any list of alleged looters to be credible, the President, who is protecting looters, should be number one while those looters in his government should follow.
“His nomination form was bought with proceeds of corruption and those who bought the form and financed his election were paid back with the return of all their seized property, ministerial appointments and even disappearance of prosecution witnesses in the EFCC cases.”
According to Fayose, a government that reinstated and promoted a former chairman of Presidential Task Force on Pension Reform, Abdullahi Maina, who was declared wanted for corrupt practices by the International Police Organisation and dismissed in 2013 for alleged N2.1bn pension fraud and used the APC broom to sweep the $25bn contracts scam in the NNPC under the carpet is nothing but a government of plunderers “and that is the clear definition of Buhari’s government.”
He added, “It was in this same government that the Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, suspended the National Health Insurance Scheme Executive Secretary, Professor Usman Yusuf, for alleged corruption and the President recalled him even without the knowledge of the Minister.
“Up till today, nothing has happened to the probe panel on the alleged N500m bribery said to have been paid to the President’s Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, by officials of the MTN to influence government to discontinue its hard stance on the $5bn fine imposed on the company.
“Therefore, no matter how hard they try now, they can no longer hoodwink Nigerians with their deceit of fight against corruption.
“Even an APC Senator, Shehu Sani, once said that the President used insecticide to fight corruption involving his perceived political opponents, but used deodorant when it affected his own men.”