By Lateef Ibrahim
Former Governor of Nasarawa State and serving Senator, Abdullahi Adamu, on Monday, berated former President Olusegun Obasanjo and former military leader, General Ibrahim Babangida, rtd, over their recent advice to President Muhammadu Buhari not to seek re-election in 2019.
Senator Adamu pointedly declared that it is a taboo, under a civilized political culture, for former Presidents to openly take a sitting president to the cleaners.
Adamu, a former ally of Obasanjo and Governor of Nasarawa State between 1999 and 2007, declared that he (Obasanjo) ought to have been in the dock presently on trial on charges of corruption arising from the corrupt practices in the pursuit of his third term agenda in the National Assembly in 2006.
The former governor specifically alleged that Obasanjo bribed each member of the National Assembly, who signed in support of the constitution amendment to allow room for third term, with a whopping sum of N50million to make the amendment scale through.
He equally said that nearly all the nation’s present economic and political problems are traceable to Babangida’s transition programme.
According to him, “We cannot forget SAP (Structural Adjustment Programme) that sapped the economy or the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election for which the nation is still paying a stiff price. It is not always advisable to be holier-than-thou.”
The Nasarawa Senator, who is serving for the second term in the red chamber of the National Assembly, although admitted that nobody can deny former President Obasanjo the right to criticize the sitting President, stressing however that the method employed by him (Obasanjo) to do that “leaves much to be desired.”
“Chief Obasanjo said that President Buhari is selective in his anti-corruption war. I agree with him because if the president were not selective, Chief Obasanjo himself would be in the dock today on trial on charges of corruption arising from the corrupt practices in the pursuit of his third term gambit in the national assembly in 2006.
“Today he denies that he ever nursed such ambition. And being a man much favoured by God, he has repeatedly said that if he had wanted it and asked the almighty for it, he would have given him the third term.
“He knows, as well as I, and other leading members of the PDP that he badly wanted it and initiated the process of constitution amendment.
He bribed each member of the national assembly who signed to support the amendment, with the whopping sum of N50 million to make the constitution amendment scale through.
“The fresh, mint money was taken in its original boxes presumably from the vaults of the Central Bank of Nigeria and distributed among the legislators. The money was not his, and it was not appropriated by the national assembly as required by law. I, therefore, agree that in failing to make former president account for that money, President Buhari is waging his anti-corruption war selectively,” he said.
Continuing, Adamu said, “He (Obasanjo) cannot, therefore, escape the charge of impure motive and that he took this step, not to try and set things right for the sake of the nation, but to promote Obasanjo for the sake of Obasanjo.
“Being a former President, he has an unimpeded access to the President and can, therefore, seek to influence him in the privacy of the seat of power. Indeed, in the early years of Buhari administration, Chief Obasanjo was a frequent presence in Aso Rock. I believe he frequented the seat of power in support of this administration. I now wonder why he suddenly decided to turn a friend into an enemy and rubbish everything the President has done so far, in a little over two and half years.
“I do not intend to comment on Obasanjo’s entire letter seriatim. I will deal with three of his allegations, namely the president’s alleged clannishness, his management of the economy and his anticorruption war. Before I do so, let me say at this point that I am worried by the antics of Chief Obasanjo and his penchant for promoting himself as the only competent Nigerian leader.
“Since he left office on October 1, 1979, to local and international applause Chief Obasanjo has systematically sought to undermine every federal administration after him. He has today set up himself as the moral conscience of the nation.
“He believes he has acquired the wisdom of King Solomon and has consequently imposed on himself the right to decide who rules us and how we should be ruled. Perhaps, part of the reason is that before leaving office in 2007, his party, the NSF, conferred on him the titles of Maker of Modern Nigeria and Father of the Nation. Such titles do have a heady way of making a man seeing his head bedecked in the halos of self-righteousness.
“There is a process for changing our governments through the instrumentality of elections. Chief Obasanjo, one of the architects of that process and a beneficiary to boot, ought to support that process and let the generality of Nigerians”, he said.
“In a civilized political culture, it is a taboo for former Presidents to openly take a sitting president to the cleaners. Our former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, has faithfully kept to his time-honoured culture of a former ruler, not washing the dirty linens of a current ruler rather gleefully in the public. So, have former President Shehu Shagari and former Head of State, General Abdusalami Abubakar.
“The implications, for the polity, of a former president regaling the public with a litany of the failures of a sitting president is a calculated and unholy effort to destroy him politically.
“The question is, if Chief Obasanjo meant well for Buhari, his administration and Nigeria, why did he not choose the option of quietly offering his advice to the president? In taking his case to the rowdy market place of sensationalism, he clearly intended to score cheap political points at the expense of the president.
“He intended to undermine the Buhari administration, subject the president t public ridicule and impugn his moral strength and integrity to lead the nation.
“As he must have obviously expected, his statement was intended to heat, and is heating up, the polity and causing confusion at this critical time when the myriads of our national challenges commend themselves to our statesmen and women for sober reflections rather than indulgence in crass sensationalism. It is a disservice to the country.
“No one, not even Buhari’s most rabid supporters, would be unfair to themselves enough to suggest that everything is right with the administration. It is true that the government has not met the expectations of the generality of Nigerians. But it is not for lack of capacity or the unwillingness on the part of the president to respond to the needs of the people and those of the country.
“I know that we invested high expectations on the Buhari administration, but is it fair and realistic for us to expect the administration to solve all the problems it inherited in less than three years?
“President Buhari inherited an economy that was unsteady on its feet. He also inherited the security problems such as Boko Haram, armed robberies and kidnappings. Yes, I agree, that under his watch these problems should grow less, not more. But the solution to problems such as these is a slow and agonizing process. He has no powers to simply make them disappear overnight.
“I think the president, in the circumstances, deserves support and encouragement rather than antagonism from a constituency that should give him that support and encouragement as he seeks to address these and other problems in his own way.