The Presidency has berated former President Olusegun Obasanjo over his comment on the failing state of the nation under President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Presidency in a statement issued by Garba Shehu, Buhari’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, described Obasanjo as a ‘divider-in-chief’.
In the statement titled “Obasanjo is Nigeria’s divider-in-chief”, the presidency said that by his attack on President Buhari and his administration, he had descended to the lowly level of divider-in-chief .
“In his most recent statement, former President Olusegun Obasanjo attempts to divide the nation while President Muhammadu Buhari continues to promote nation building and the unity of Nigeria,” the presidency said.
“The difference is clear. From the lofty heights of Commander-in-Chief, General Obasanjo has descended to the lowly level of divider-in-chief (to adapt the coinage of Time),” the statement added.
Former President Obasanjo had last week Thursday knocked President Buhari over the poor state of the nation. He said that Nigeria was slowly becoming a failed state and a basket case that urgently needed to be pulled from the brink of collapse.
Obasanjo stated this while delivering a lecture titled “Moving Nigeria away from tipping over”, at a consultative dialogue in Abuja. He noted that many of the problems plaguing the country were due to the recent mismanagement of the nation by President Buhari.
The Presidency however berated Obasanjo, saying that he should, as an elder statesman, get help in solving the problems in the nation instead of helping the “mushrooming of a poisonous atmosphere of ethnic and religious nationalism.”
“The fact that the process he ushered in under his administration with the dubious intention of amendments that sought tenure elongation failed–as did two other attempts by the successor administrations of the same political party– does not in any way justify his dismissal of the exercise by the 9th Assembly as another waste of time and resources.
“To the credit of the All Progressives Congress-led 8th Assembly, the process of constitution amendment was carried through, paving the way for, among other benefits, the financial independence of local government councils, state Houses of Assembly and the country’s judiciary. These changes have already been signed into law by the President as mandated by the constitution.
“The recent decisions by the administration as they relate to subsidy withdrawal, helping to plug some of the most horrendous notorious holes and release of scarce resources for the more pressing needs of the people have also not escaped the ire of the former President.
“It’s a known fact that the withdrawal of subsidies had been on the wish list of the Obasanjo-led Peoples Democratic Party. They failed in achieving these measures because, one there was a shared greed. They plundered the treasury as much as anyone could in the name of either subsidy or waiver with reckless impunity.
“Two, is to say it takes courage and rare statesmanship on the part of a leader to do as President Buhari to shun populism and seek the best interest of the people and the state, providing the kind of reform and development that Nigeria urgently needs.”
Mallam Shehu noted that Buhari’s administration is focused on infrastructural development. He added that Buhari had become an object of envy from politicians who failed to deliver.
“It (Buhari’s) is a pro-business administration that has used diplomacy to unlock bilateral trade and investments.
“He leads a government that has liberalised the investment climate and market access by achieving reforms that have placed the country in the list of the world’s top reforming economies.
“Nigeria, which other nations had mocked and ridiculed for so many things that were wrong is today progressing at a pace reflecting its size and potential.
“With so much to show and many more coming, it is little surprise that President Buhari would be the object of envy and harsh unfair challenges by politicians who failed to deliver, but continue to nurse ambitions of delighting the audience long after their curtain has been drawn.”
Meanwhile, apex socio-political groups in the country differed on the Presidency’s attack on former President Obasanjo.
The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) said that Obasanjo was not a saint and should consequently stop parading himself as one. While the Ohanaeze Ndigbo and Afenifere noted that Obasanjo’s administration was more credible than the current administration of President Buhari.
In its reaction, the pan-Yoruba group, Afenifere, through its spokesman, Yinka Odumakin, said that Mallam Shehu must be referring to Buhari when he called Obasanjo a divider-in-chief.
“They must be referencing their boss. You can say anything about Obasanjo but you can’t accuse him of dividing Nigerians the way this government has been setting herdsmen against farmers, north against south or Muslims against Christians,” Afenifere spokesman said.
Also, the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, described the Buhari’s government as one without ears to hear the voice of wisdom.
Prince Uche Achi-Okpaga, the National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze, asked “What has this government offered Nigerians? described Buhari’s government as a government that took over in 2015 with deception.”
“The administration of Obasanjo and the present one are incomparable.
“There was security in Nigeria during Obasanjo’s administration but this government condones insecurity. His (Buhari) kinsmen are encouraged to terrorise the rest of Nigerians why unarmed Nigerians are hounded by security agents.
“Was it not Obasanjo that brought technocrats irrespective of where they came from? Is Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala from Yorubaland? She is Igbo. He brought Mrs Oby Ezekwesili. He brought Professor Chukwuma Soludo. These are Igbo. He knew that they could deliver and he went for them. Was it not Okonjo-Iweala that got debt relief for Nigeria? Was it not Ezekwesili that introduced due process? During Soludo (time at the CBN) you could put your money in the bank and go home to sleep, before then it wasn’t so.
“Obasanjo brought the best brain irrespective of where they were coming from. Didn’t he have his kinsmen from Yorubaland who would have done the same thing? But he appointed Nuhu Ribadu as the EFCC chairman. Is he from Yorubaland? He is a northerner. Nasir Ahmad El-Fufai was the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory. He is a northerner. He is not from Yorubaland. You can’t compare. Obasanjo is a Nigerian but they are not.
“Look at Buhari’s ministerial appointments, the choice positions were allotted to his kinsmen. Military and para-military agencies are headed by the North. Everything in Buhari’s regime government is pro-North.”
The Northern Elders Forum also spoke about the consultative dialogue.
Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed noted that the NEF participated in the dialogue which was reportedly organised by former President Obasanjo to address the challenges bedeviling the country.
Speaking in an interview with Daily Trust, Baba-Ahmed said; “many things transpired.
“There were a lot of things about the state of the nation. Every group expressed serious reservations and concerns about the state of the country, and we all committed ourselves to see all that we can do to pull out the country from the brink.
“We had problems with each other, we had the same problems in the past, but we agreed to rediscover the resolve to work for Nigeria and offer the groups’ services and the meeting ended on a very positive note.”
The meeting was also reportedly attended by Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Governor Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti State), Chairman of the APC Governors Forum, Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi State) and Chairman of the PDP Governors Forum, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal (Sokoto State).
Ogbodo ThankGod is currently the Managing Director/CEO/Group Chief Editor at Naija Buzz News Network. He was the Chief Editor at NaijaBuzz.News before his new top leadership role. Ogbodo has years of experience in the Nigeria Media Industry and has co-founded some media companies. He is the founder of Ogbodo Solution Nigeria and 1Push.Ng. He loves playing football and is a strong supporter of Lionel Messi who he describes as the greatest footballer of all time.