The National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Senator Bola Tinubu, former governor of Edo State, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, and Lagos-based lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, SAN, have chided former President Olusegun Obasanjo over his recent statement where he advised President Muhammadu Buhari not to seek re-election in 2019.
Tinubu, who said Obasanjo was playing politics with the special statement he wrote to the President, explained that if the former President meant well, he would have met with the President to talk about the issues he raised in the letter.
Tinubu spoke in an interview with journalists when he visited Governor Rochas Okorocha in company with the pioneer National Chairman of APC, Chief Bisi Akande, at the Government House in Owerri, on Friday. He said he was in Owerri to see the governor, Rochas Okorocha, who he described as his “good friend” and to pay his respect to the late Chief Alex Ekwueme.
He said, “I believe that would have been the conversation between retired military heads of state. They have unfettered access to each other either through the Council of State or any other means; he could see the current President privately.
“They both had the same background. He (Obasanjo) was also his senior in the army. I think Obasanjo was playing politics with the public letter. That is all I see. They also met at the African Union meeting too. He has a way of discussing with the President any time he wants.”
On the coalition championed by the former President, Tinubu said it was not yet time to speak on the matter.
Meanwhile, Oshiomhole said Obasanjo was not in the right position to give such advice because he was not a known adviser to Buhari.
Speaking with State House correspondents shortly after meeting with the President behind closed doors at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Friday, Oshiomhole said, “I’m not sure when I see the list of the (President’s) advisers, that President Obasanjo is one of the advisers.
“I also recall with respect that the day President Obasanjo was inaugurating some of his advisers, he did say that anybody who is his adviser can advise him, he will make his own decisions. I think that principle still stands.”
He said it was important for Buhari to know he had men and women who had huge confidence in his leadership ability, especially during trying times.
He said, “Nigeria was below ground level and from what you guys report that I read, we have always had challenges but never in terms of this scale and magnitude.
“What President Buhari inherited is difficult to describe. I have said so before that when you meet such a situation, your first task is to halt the drift. When you halt the drift, then you stabilise before you begin to go. There is no miracle about it.
“I don’t think that anybody who understands the challenge of nation-building, of national economic management and so on will expect that in two years you can fix in a sustainable manner all of the things that have been destroyed over 16 years before this party came into office.
“Yes, there are challenges; there are a couple of things we need to begin to do and reinforce but there is no question that a lot has begun and a lot is being done.”
Also, a human rights lawyer, Falana, took a swipe at the former President, saying he had the opportunity to provide good leadership and make Nigeria great but failed to do so.
Speaking while fielding questions from journalists in Benin, the Edo State capital, on Friday, Falana said, “If President Obasanjo, who ruled this country for 11 and a half years, had institutionalised democracy, rule of law and respect for human rights, we would not be in this mess. So, please, let Obasanjo and others be honest to admit that they brought us to this shameful episode.”
While criticising the former president for not admitting his poor leadership records in different sectors of the economy, including oil and power, Falana said, “Nobody has apologised. The fact that between 1999 and 2007, this country made close to $100bn from the sale of one commodity (oil); what is there to show for it, rather than permanent darkness?
“What is there to celebrate; mass unemployment; sale of national assets to a few boys who were close to the presidency; rigging of elections?”
The human rights lawyer, therefore, called on Obasanjo to stop insulting the collective intelligence of Nigerians.
He added, “With great respect to former President Olusegun Obasanjo, apart from the allegations of nepotism and clannishness, which cannot be disputed, every other allegation made there (in the statement) took place under President Obasanjo and, in fact, he institutionalised the culture of impunity under the democratic dispensation in Nigeria.
“But I do not want to take issues with Obasanjo for now on his letter so that one is not seen as endorsing impunity in our country.”