Brushing aside their rather not too chummy relationship, President Muhammadu Buhari has showered encomiums on former President Olusegun Obasanjo as he turns 82 years old, saying that he is “a passionate and great patriot who deserves accolades for his immeasurable contributions to our democracy and national unity.” The President who last week won a massive
Brushing aside their rather not too chummy relationship, President Muhammadu Buhari has showered encomiums on former President Olusegun Obasanjo as he turns 82 years old, saying that he is “a passionate and great patriot who deserves accolades for his immeasurable contributions to our democracy and national unity.”
The President who last week won a massive victory for a second berth, ahead of his main challenger, Mr Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), says he will continue to accord Obasanjo respect, in spite of their political differences. Obasanjo has been the arrowhead of a coalition against Buhari’s second term, saying the latter was not competent to deserve such.
But in a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, Buhari says, “regardless of our political differences with Obasanjo, I still hold him in the highest esteem because his contributions to the development of the country overshadow those differences.”
Recalling their days together in the country’s Armed Forces, Buhari notes, “Chief Obasanjo gave a good account of himself and inspired his juniors with his wit and other leadership skills.”
On Obasanjo’s indelible marks, the President says, “Nigeria’s successful transition to democratic rule in October 1979 was one of Obasanjo’s remarkable contributions to national development.”
“As he celebrates his 82nd Birthday Anniversary, I wish Chief Obasanjo more good health, knowledge and wisdom in the service of Nigeria and humanity.”
Obasanjo however says he will continue to criticise President Muhammadu Buhari, stressing that, democracy involves criticism.
Obasanjo who was born on march 5, 1937, says the issues between him and Buhari were not personal.
The former President stated this on Tuesday during his 82nd birthday anniversary celebration held at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, in Abeokuta, in reaction to the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Michael Gbadebo, who advised him to stop attacking Buhari as he clocks 82.
The monarch had said that he was never comfortable whenever Obasanjo verbally attacked Buhari, urging him to stop.
Obasanjo says, “Governance is not a family affair and democracy involves criticism and considering all sides to an issue. There is nothing personal between President Buhari and I.”
“If it is my brother that is occupying the leadership role and he is not doing what I believe he should do, he must be criticised and that is what democracy is all about.”
“I believe that Africa has no alternative to democracy, good governance, development and growth of our economy. And If that is not happening in any country, those who keep quiet about it are accessories after the fact.”
“That is what democracy is all about, criticism and seeing the other side. So, if I say anybody in government in Nigeria or any government for that matter is not doing well, let that government prove that it is well. It’s not anything personal.
“So, Kabiyesi, your boss, Buhari; there is nothing personal between me and him. Just as he is your boss, I am his boss, with all due respect.”
“Now, the point is that I have been in that position longer than any Nigerian will ever be there. That’s true. If any Nigerian comes in and has two terms, he will not have almost four years of military rule. So, I have been there longer than any Nigerian would ever be.”
“So, when I say something, I know what I am talking about. Kabiyesi, any time you say, “Leave my boss alone,” I say, ‘He is your boss. But I am also his (Buhari) boss.’
“So, you might also ask your boss (Buhari) to leave his boss alone or do what is right that his boss wants him to do.”
In his scarthy letter to Buhari on Janaury 2018 in which Obasanjo sought to promote a national coalition movement, he says,
“I knew President Buhari before he became President and said that he is weak in the knowledge and understanding of the economy but I thought that he could make use of good Nigerians in that area that could help. Although, I know that you cannot give what you don’t have and that economy does not obey military order. You have to give it what it takes in the short-, medium- and long-term. Then, it would move.”
“I know his weakness in understanding and playing in the foreign affairs sector and again, there are many Nigerians that could be used in that area as well. They have knowledge and experience that could be deployed for the good of Nigeria.”
“There were serious allegations of round-tripping against some inner caucus of the Presidency which would seem to have been condoned. I wonder if such actions do not amount to corruption and financial crime, then what is it? Culture of condonation and turning blind eye will cover up rather than clean up. And going to justice must be with clean hands,” Obasanjo says in a letter which attracted the ire of the government.