Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has questioned President Muhammadu Buhari’s competence to rule Nigeria further, advising him to forget his second term bid.
He spoke on Tuesday in a special press statement titled, ‘The Way Out: A clarion call for coalition for Nigeria Movement.’
The former President told Buhari not to test the patience of Nigerians, advising him to consider a deserved rest after the completion of his first term.
He said, “I continue to wish him robust health to enjoy his retirement from active public service. President Buhari does not necessarily need to heed my advice. But whether or not he heeds it, Nigeria needs to move on and move forward.”
Obasanjo said he supported Buhari in 2015 over the then incumbent president, Goodluck Jonathan, adding that his decision to go against Jonathan, who was in the same party with him, was the right decision then.
He said, “Even the horse rider then, with whom I maintain very cordial, happy and social relationship today has come to realise his mistakes and regretted it publicly and I admire his courage and forthrightness in this regard.”
Likening the present state of the nation to lice-invested clothes, Obasanjo noted that the country’s fingernails were stained with blood as it tried to kill the lice by pressing them in-between two fingernails.
He said, “The lice of poor performance in government – poverty, insecurity, poor economic management, nepotism, gross dereliction of duty, condonation of misdeed – if not outright encouragement of it, lack of progress and hope for the future, lack of national cohesion and poor management of internal political dynamics and widening inequality – are very much with us today.
“With such lice of general and specific poor performance and crying poverty with us, our fingers will not be dry of blood.”
Though he commended Buhari’s effort in rolling back the Boko Haram insurgency and his fight against corruption, Obasanjo said he had failed in other areas.
Obasanjo noted that he knew Buhari was weak in handling the economy, but he voted for him because at the time “it was a matter of any option but Jonathan.”
He said he had thought Buhari would appoint competent hands to handle the economy.
The former President said Buhari had not done enough to check corruption within his government, lamenting nepotism in his appointments, as well as his lack of understanding of dynamics of politics.
‘‘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 are they? Culture of condonation and turning a blind eye will cover up rather than clean up. And going to justice must be with clean hands,’’ he said.
On the upsurge in herdsmen/farmers clashes, Obasanjo berated Buhari for allowing the clashes to continue unchecked and lashed out at some state governors who asked him to seek re-election barely 24 hours after 73 people killed by herdsmen in Benue State were given mass burial.
He described the governors’ action as “a sad symptom of insensitivity and callousness.”
He said, “But there are three other areas where President Buhari has come out more glaringly than most of us thought we knew about him.
“One is nepotic deployment bordering on clannishness and inability to bring discipline to bear on errant members of his nepotic court.
“This has grave consequences on performance of his government to the detriment of the nation. It would appear that national interest was being sacrificed on the altar of nepotic interest.
“What does one make of a case like that of Maina: collusion, ineptitude, incompetence, dereliction of responsibility or kinship and friendship on the part of those who should have taken visible and deterrent disciplinary action?
“How many similar cases are buried, ignored or covered up and not yet in the glare of the media and the public?
“The second is his poor understanding of the dynamics of internal politics. This has led to wittingly or unwittingly making the nation more divided and inequality has widened and become more pronounced. It also has effect on general national security.
“The third is passing the buck. For instance, blaming the Governor of the Central Bank for devaluation of the naira by 70 per cent or so and blaming past governments for it is to say the least, not accepting one’s own responsibility.
“Let nobody deceive us, economy feeds on politics and because our politics is depressing, our economy is even more depressing today. If things were good, President Buhari would not need to come in.
“He was voted to fix things that were bad and not engage in the blame game.”
The former president also submitted that neither Buhari nor the All Progressives Congress had the answer to the nation’s challenges.
He advised Buhari to step down at the end of his first term to attend to his health.
He said, “President Buhari needs a dignified and honourable dismount from the horse… His place in history is already assured. Without impaired health and strain of age, running the affairs of Nigeria is a 25/7 affair, not 24/7.”
Obasanjo further said that both the APC and the Peoples Democratic Party were still wobbling political parties.
He said, “If neither APC nor PDP is a worthy horse to ride to lead Nigeria at this crucial and critical time, what then do we do? Remember Farooq Kperogi, an Associate Professor at the Kennesaw State University, Georgia, United States, calls it “a cruel Hobson’s choice.”
Obasanjo called for a movement he termed Coalition of Nigeria (CN), which he offered to be a part of, to wrest power from the present ruling class and lead the country into the path of rebirth.
He added, “We can collectively save ourselves from the position we find ourselves. It will not come through self-pity, fruitless complaint or protest, but through constructive and positive engagement and collective action for the good of our nation and us and our children and their children.
“Let us accept that the present administration has done what it can do to the limit of its ability, aptitude and understanding.
“To ask them to give more will be unrealistic and will only sentence Nigeria to a prison term of four years if not destroy it beyond the possibility of an early recovery and substantial growth.
“We need a Coalition for Nigeria. Such a movement at this juncture needs not be a political party but one to which all well-meaning Nigerians can belong.
“That movement must be a coalition for democracy, good governance, social and economic well-being and progress.
“A coalition to salvage and redeem our country; you can count me with such a movement.
“This Coalition for Nigeria will be a movement that will drive Nigeria up and forward… It is a coalition to banish poverty, insecurity and despair.”