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2019: Buhari, go home and rest –Obasanjo

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday asked President Muhammadu Buhari not to seek re-election in 2019. Obasanjo told Buhari to go home and rest instead of contesting the 2019 presidential election. He advised the president not to over-push his luck or over-tax the patience and tolerance of Nigerians “no matter what his self-serving, so-called advisers, who would claim that they love him more that God loves him would say.” Obasanjo, in a special statement titled “The way out: A clarion call for Coalition for Nigeria Movement,” said the president has already given his best and should consider a deserved rest instead of running for Presidency again.

The former president, who practically took Buhari’s administration to the cleaners, called for a “Coalition for Nigeria” to urgently salvage and redeem the country. Obasanjo 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.

“President Buhari needs a dignified and honourable dismount from the horse. He needs to have time to reflect, refurbish physically and recoup and after appropriate rest, once again, join the stock of Nigerian leaders whose experience, influence, wisdom and outreach can be deployed on the side line for the good of the country.

“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. “I only appeal to brother Buhari to consider a deserved rest at this point in time and at this age. 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 Nigerians are not ready to accept untenable excuses for nonperformance. The former president that given the APC another term in 2019 is like sending Nigeria to a four-year prison term. He said: “Let us accept that the present administration has done what it can do to the limit of its ability, aptitude and understanding…

“Nigeria deserves and urgently needs better than what they have given or what we know they are capable of giving. 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.” He condemned the Federal Government’s handling of the clashes between herdsmen and farmers, saying the issue continues with careless abandon and without finding an effective solution to it.

Obasanjo also lampooned some state governors who endorsed the president for a second term in office barely a day after 73 victims were being buried in a mass grave in Benue State without condolence. According to him, the president’s endorsement is a sad symptom of insensitivity and callousness.

“It is no credit to the Federal Government that the herdsmen rampage continues with careless abandon and without finding an effective solution to it. And it is a sad symptom of insensitivity and callousness that some governors, a day after 73 victims were being buried in a mass grave in Benue State without condolence, were jubilantly endorsing President Buhari for a second term! The timing was most unfortunate,” the former president stated.

Obasanjo said though he knew Buhari before he became president, there are three areas which glaringly gave him the President away. These, according to him, are nepotism, poor understanding of dynamics of internal politics and buckpassing. He said: “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, condonation, 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… 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.”

The former president likened the current situation in Nigeria to 1999 when the nation was tottering and citizens became hopeless, adding: “Already, Nigerians are committing suicide for the unbearable socio-economic situation they find themselves in.” He noted that if things were good, Buhari would not be needed to come in during the last general elections. “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,” he noted.

Obasanjo said he took the unusual step of going against his own political party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2015 general elections to support the All Progressives Congress (APC). He contended that the situation that made Nigerians to vote massively against ex-President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015 is playing itself out again ahead of 2019 elections. The elder statesman recalled how Jonathan ignored the “voice of caution” in a letter he wrote to him titled “Before it is too late.”

He, however, said he would not be bothered by criticisms or verbal attacks as a result of his stance on Buhari. “I know that praise-singers and hired attackers may be raised up against me for verbal or even physical attack but if I can withstand undeserved imprisonment and was ready to shed my blood by standing for Nigeria, I will consider no sacrifice too great to make for the good of Nigeria at any time,” Obasanjo stated. The former president equally took a swipe at the opposition PDP, saying “there is nothing to write home about in their new team.”

He said: “I have had occasion in the past to say that the two main political parties – APC and PDP – were wobbling. I must reiterate that nothing has happened to convince me otherwise. If anything, I am reinforced in my conviction. “The recent show of PDP must give grave and great concern to lovers of Nigeria.

To claim, as has been credited to the chief kingmaker of PDP, that for procuring the Supreme Court judgement for his faction of the party, he must dictate the tune all the way and this is indeed fraught with danger. “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? “We have only one choice left to take us out of Egypt to the promised land. And that is the Coalition of the concerned and the willing- ready for positive and drastic change, progress and involvement.”

While advocating the emergence of a movement to save the country, Obasanjo noted that if leadership fails, citizens must not fail. He said: “We need a Coalition for Nigeria, CN. 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. Coalition to salvage and redeem our country. “You can count me with such a Movement. Last time, we asked, prayed and worked for change and God granted our request.

This time, we must ask, pray and work for change with unity, security and progress. And God will again grant us. When contacted, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said the presidency will not react to the letter for now. “We will not comment on it for now,” Garba said.

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