Tinubu, Oshiomhole Tackle Obasanjo over Letter to Buhari

  • Former president playing politics with letter, says Tinubu  
  • You’re not Buhari’s special adviser, Oshiomhole tells Obasanjo

Former governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole, yesterday in Abuja stopped short of asking former President Olusegun Obasanjo to mind his own business, saying he had not at any time been named as an adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari.

Oshiomhole, who was at the Presidential Villa made this remark, while reacting to a 13-page statement issued by the former president on January 23, in which he told Buhari to forget a re-election bid in 2019 as a result of his alleged failure in many areas.

On the same day, a chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), and former Lagos State Governor, Bola Tinubu, also came down on Obasanjo, saying he was playing politics with the letter he wrote to Buhari.

The former president had accused the incumbent of running a government of nepotism and literarily running the economy aground while showing indifference to mindless killings by Fulani herdsmen in various parts of the country.

But Oshiomhole, who said he was in the Presidential Villa yesterday to reassure the president of his perpetual loyalty and support not only to his government but also for his re-election come 2019, recalled that having warned his erstwhile advisers that he was not bound to heed their advice, Obasanjo also lacked any right to offer Buhari any advice.

“I’m not sure when I see the list of the advisers, that Obasanjo is one of the advisers. But I also recall with respect that the day Obasanjo was swearing in some of his advisers, he did say that anybody who is his adviser can advise him, he will make his own decisions. And I think that principle still stands,” he stated.

Affirming the necessity of his visit to Buhari this precarious moment in the nation’s history, Oshiomhole stated that it was important for the president to know that he still has men and women who believe in his leadership.

According to him, the president has had to contend with acute challenges which he said heralded his advent to the seat of power as he blamed the prevalent case of stagnation, underdevelopment and abject poverty in Nigeria on corruption which he claimed the president had had to contend with in the past two years.

He also argued that the president’s decision to identify the pitfalls of corruption threatening peace and progress in the country and battling it, underscores that he was focused as he proceeded to blame the previous administrations for the acute challenges confronting the nation today.

Claiming further that the president had done well, Oshiomhole reasoned that his administration’s policy of giving a stipend of N5,000 to poor and aged persons in the society was second to none and hence, described it as an important decision in the annals of the country’s corporate existence.

“Let’s trace the route of poverty. It is not something that developed over the past few weeks or few years. If you review all your newspaper editorials from my days as president of the NLC, the challenge has been how do we ensure that the Nigerian economy work for the betterment of the majority of the people particularly the forgotten rural majority?

 “I think people have to realise the amount of damage done by the previous governments. You know when people say no blame game, maybe yes, maybe no. But where I am come from, people say that it is only a fool who will be working on the road, get into a pot hole and fall and then get up and continue the journey, go to the hospital and treat himself. 

“But a wise man must interrogate how and why did I fall? And maybe in the course of doing that, find that there is a pothole. The first and simple thing to do is to fill that pot hole before you continue your journey and then go ahead and treat yourself.

“Nigeria was below ground level and from what you guys reported that I read, we have always had challenges but never, in terms of scale, magnitude, what President Buhari inherited is difficult to describe. So, 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.

 “So, yes there are challenges. There are 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. There is no miracle in the life of a nation. So, the fact that the president has lean resources and huge debts that he inherited, and despite the cost of servicing those debts, the president insists that the poorest amongst us who are victims of these several years of misrule, that they must have something to give them a sense of belonging under the social programme which seeks to transfer cash of N5,000 and several other instruments that have been put in place, that is to recognise that they are really people who are so poor that N5,000 can make a difference. That recognition for me is important in a country where nobody has discussed this category of people before. 

“However, the challenge of getting that done is huge given the paucity of data. All the investments we have made in national identity card, you guys know how much previous governments have spent, trying to organise a national data without which really, you can’t deliver a couple of things because you need a data base that is reliable to be able to identify who is poor, where is he located and how do we deliver something to him? 

“But for me, there is a commitment. I can see a heart that cares for the poor. But that doesn’t mean caring for the poor will make the poverty disappear overnight. But that is a starting point because if you don’t recognise that we have these people amongst us and they are in millions, then you are not even likely to reflect on how to deal with their problems. For me, in terms of values, I can see a lot,” Oshimhole said.

Tinubu: Obasanjo’s Playing Politics with his Letter to Buhari

In a related development, former Lagos State governor, Bola Tinubu, yesterday alleged that Obasanjo was playing politics with the open letter he wrote to Buhari.

Tinubu said that if the former president meant well, he would have met with Buhari to talk about the issues he raised in the letter since he was senior to Buhari both in the army, as head of State and as President.

Tinubu, who spoke after visiting Governor Rochas Okorocha in the company of the pioneer National Chairman of APC, Chief Bisi Akande at the Government House Owerri, noted that Obasanjo could have, in several ways, met with Buhari to discuss the issues raised.

He said: “They both had the same background. So, I believe that would have been the conversation of retired Military Heads of State. They have unfettered access to each other either through the Council of States or any other means; he could see the current President privately. 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 what brought him to Owerri, Tinubu said: “I am here to see a very good friend of mine, the governor, Owelle Okorocha and then pay respect to the gentleman, nationalist, great leader of our generation, late Alex Ekwueme”.

Falana Picks Holes in Obasanjo’s Letter

Also yesterday, Lagos lawyer and human rights activist, Femi Falana, called on Obasanjo to “desist from insulting the collective intelligent and memories of Nigerians having instituted the culture of impunity under the democratic dispensation in Nigeria while serving as the president of the country. 

Falana also picked holes in the recent judicial pronouncements on Magu, the EFCC acting chairman, saying there was nothing to celebrate “because it is still the prerogative of the president to make such appointment so long as the man does not act beyond the statutory period.”

Falana, who spoke in Benin City, while reacting to questions bordering on the state of the nation, said Obasanjo had the opportunity to make the country great “by providing good leadership and getting rid of corruption, but he failed to do that as a president.”

He said: “If Obasanjo who ruled this country for eleven and half years had institutionalised democracy, rule of law, respect for human rights, we will not be in this mess.

“So, please, let Obasanjo and others be honest to admit that they brought us to this shameful episode. So, nobody should grandstand when it comes to the misgovernance of Nigerian.

“Nobody has apologized. The fact is that between 1999 and 2007, this country made close to $500 billion from the sale of oil. What is there to show for it? Permanent darkness?

“The more they spend on energy, the more darkness we get. What is there to celebrate? Mass unemployment, sale of the assets of the country to a few boys who were closed to the presidency and rigging of elections.

“Obasanjo is entitled to form his own political party or his own movement but he should please desist from insulting the collective intelligent and the collective memories of Nigerians.

“With great respect to former Obasanjo, apart from the allegations of nepotism and clannishness against Buhari, which cannot be disputed, every other allegation made is nothing to write home about. In other words, all the other allegations took place under Obasanjo and in fact, he institutionalised the culture of impunity under a democratic dispensation in Nigeria.

“Many of us have forgotten about the abduction of the then governor Chris Ngige. Many of us have forgotten the fact that the National Assembly displayed bales of Naira with which the presidency allegedly wanted to use to bribe the legislators.

“Many of us have forgotten about the third term agenda or the fact that many people close to the seat of power then were treated like sacred cows even in the fight against corruption. I do not want to join issues with Obasanjo for now on his letter so that one would not be seen as endorsing impunity in our country. Other than the allegations of nepotism and clannishness which the presidency is notoriously noted for, I think, they are birds of same feathers.”

On the judicial pronouncements on Ibrahim Magu, Falana said the court never made any pronouncement on the appointment of Ibrahim Magu as the acting chairman of the EFCC, and as such, there was nothing to celebrate.

“It is not a judgement to celebrate with great respect. I have read the judgement of the case filed by a private lawyer based in Abuja, Mr. Tolu Ajaomo, against the Attorney General of the Federation and the Senate. Mind you, EFCC is not a party. Magu was not a party, so no court in Nigeria can make order against a person who was not joined in any suit.

“But having read the ruling, with great respect, the case was struck out. If a case was struck out, you cannot rely on it. The court held that the lawyer has no locus standi to have filed the action and therefore struck it out. 

“However, in an academic exercise, the court said, having regard to section 2, 3 of the EFCC Act, the Senate has the power to confirm or reject the nomination of the president. The court never ever made any pronouncement on the appointment of Magu as the acting chairman of the EFCC.