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Hard knocks for Obasanjo over attack on Buhari govt

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From Bolaji Ogundele, Abuja

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo came under fire on Sunday for criticising the state of the nation under President Muhammadu Buhari.

Obasanjo, who spoke on Thursday in Abuja at a consultative dialogue attended by regional socio-cultural groups, said: “Nigeria is fast drifting to a failed and badly divided state. Economically, our country is becoming a basket case and poverty capital of the world and socially, we are firming up as an unwholesome and insecure country.”

The Presidency, the Federal Government and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in different statements chided the former President.

The Presidency described him as descending “from lofty height of Commander-in-Chief to the lowly level of Divider-in-Chief”.

The Federal Government said Buhari’s election rather saved the country from disintegrating while the APC said the former President and his deputy Atiku Abubakar lack the moral right to chart the way forward for the country.

Obasanjo declined to respond last night. His spokesman Kehinde Akinyemi said he had “no comment”.

But the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said President Buhari should “listen to the voice of reason.”

A statement by Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the President on Media and Publicity, described Obasanjo attack on Buhari as “unfair”, adding that Obasanjo should “in accordance with his mantra as a statesman, get involved with problems solving, when and where they exist instead of helping the mushrooming of a poisonous atmosphere of ethnic and religious nationalism.

“Surely, he must have disappointed many of his local and foreign admirers by showering commendations on a few extremist groups who have vowed to shun the invitation to the National Assembly to participate in the process of constitutional amendment.

“No doubt, he must have left those admirers confused in announcing the support for the boycott of a democratic process of changing the constitution, at the same time calling for dialogue and engagement.

“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 ninth Assembly as another waste of time and resources.

“To the credit of the All Progressives Congress-led 8th Assembly, the process of constitutional amendment was kickstarted and carried through, paving the way for, among other benefits, the financial independence of local government councils, States Houses of Assembly and the country’s Judiciary. These changes have already been signed into laws 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 has 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, PDP. 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.

“This President has run an administration focused on infrastructure and development. He has repaired our damaged relations with neighbours and our traditional allies such as the UK, US, China, Russia, France, Germany, Saudi Arabia and the others with lots of benefits to the country.

“It is a pro-business administration that has used diplomacy to unlock bilateral trade and investment.

“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”, the statement said.

The Presidency said President Buhari’s admonition to ECOWAS leaders to respect term limit is consistent with his principles and in line with the current policies of his administration and indeed that of the ECOWAS Charter which is that term limits must be respected and that the change of government is only permissible through the ballot box.

“Having cleared this misperception, we hope that Chief Obasanjo would once again sheath the sword and rest the pretentiousness about the Messiah that has (mis)led him to pronounce often wrongly, as he disastrously did in the 2019 elections, about the life and death of Nigerian governments.

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