Over the weekend, former President Olusegun Obasanjo made headlines again as he criticized the present APC-led government of Muhammadu Buhari’s woeful and divisive performance as quite unprecedented in Nigerian history.
In a consultative dialogue attended by various sociocultural groups, on the need for the country to jettison its ethnic and religious sentiments to actualize a united and progressive Nigeria, Obasanjo made comments that went viral, to the effect that, “Nigeria is fast drifting to a failed and badly divided state”
In a quick reaction to that, Garba Shehu, a presidential spokesman, described Obasanjo’s comments and habitual anti-government statements, as calculated attempts to divide the nation, whereas President Buhari has made sacrificial efforts to promote nation-building and the unity of Nigeria. While rejecting allegations of poor management of Nigeria by President Buhari, he described Obasanjo as a former commander-in-chief who has degenerated to a divider-in- chief. He advised that the former president should get involved in problem-solving, where necessary, instead of helping the mushrooming of a poisonous atmosphere of ethnic and religious nationalism.
Alluding that whereas Obasanjo’s dubious political machinations while in office, which sought to achieve tenure elongation for him failed, Buhari has proven to be the expected Messiah. He has shunned populism by demonstrating rare courage and statesmanship to seek the best interest of the people, particularly by stopping the fuel subsidy hegemon, and undertaking other reforms that Nigeria urgently needs. Lending a voice to Garba’s, Lai Mohammed, current minister of information, equally said President Muhammadu Buhari has rather prevented Nigeria from being a failed state. He said the president’s verifiable projects and people-centred interventions that are uplifting Nigerians cannot be compared to the 14 years of PDP jamboree as a ruling party.
Also in a statement issued on Sunday, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) said the former president Obasanjo lacks the moral justification to lament the country’s growing political and social decadence which his own administration enormously contributed to. According to the party: ” It is baffling and ironic that the same political actors that midwifed and institutionalized the national rot of corruption, impunity and eroding of our value systems, are the same characters posing as voices on the way forward in our national life”. It further said that Obasanjo could start by telling Nigerians the state of the country’s electricity project and the whereabouts of the $16 billion purportedly spent on the power sector. The APC also called on the former president and his deputy, Atiku Abubakar to account for the privatization of Nigeria’s assets, allegedly sold to friends of the PDP-led administration.
Reactions to OBJ’s incessant comments should be on point by point basis. It should not be reduced to a shouting match or crossfire invectives by political opponents. That way, the gist of the arguments on both sides would be appreciated. Obviously, Obasanjo’s administration did not do well, especially on the electricity issue and other major infrastructures projects, which are telling negatively on us today. But that does not mean Buhari is infallible or beyond criticism. The essence of credible opposition in for direction and correction. The ruling APC government cannot be said to be incorruptible or all-knowing; neither should the opposition be demonized.
John Daniel Obioma.