A former Nigerian president, Olusegun Obasanjo, who sought for a third term at the expiration of his second term in office by attempting to amend the country’s constitution has urged President Muhammadu Buhari not to contest for a second term at the expiration of his first term next year.
Obasanjo who served the country for two consecutive terms, from 1999 to 2007, had made frantic effort to get the National Assembly to alter the 1999 constitution (as amended) to pave way for him to remain in office for a third term.
But his hope of remaining in power beyond 2007 was dashed by the federal legislature, with the two chambers of the National Assembly quashing the bill seeking to extend his stay in office.
In a letter similar to the one he wrote to former President Goodluck Jonathan in December 2013, Obasanjo yesterday pointed out that Buhari would be more effective should he decide to forget seeking reelection.
He alleged that some of Buhari’s policies were not striking the right chord with Nigerians.
In the 14-page missive, Obasanjo recalled why he supported Buhari’s aspirations to become president, which had to do with the prevailing circumstances at the time when he expressed the hope that the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), would be able to turn the country around for the better soon.
He alluded to what he called the “lice of poor performance in government which has given rise to 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”.
Obasanjo stated: “All these led me to take the unusual step of going against my own political party, PDP, in the last general election to support the opposite side. I saw that action as the best option for Nigeria.
“For me, there was nothing personal, it was all in the best interest of Nigeria and, indeed, in the best interest of Africa and humanity at large. Even the horse rider then, with whom I maintain very cordial, happy and social relationship today has come to realise his mistakes and regretted it publicly and I admire his courage and forthrightness in this regard.
“The situation that made Nigerians to vote massively to get my brother Jonathan off the horse is playing itself out again. First, I thought I knew the point where President Buhari is weak and I spoke and wrote about it even before Nigerians voted for him and I also did vote for him because at that time it was a matter of “any option but Jonathan”.
On corruption, Obasanjo frowned at the pervasive levity with which the presidency handled allegations of graft against members of his cabinet.
He said, “There were serious allegations of round-tripping against some inner caucus of the Presidency which would seem to have been condoned. I wonder if such actions do not amount to corruption and financial crime, then what is it”.
The former president raised issues over what he perceived as culture of turning blind eye to deliberate acts of abuse of office with the intention to cover up rather than clean up.
On the rise in the incidences of herdsmen killings across the country, especially the Benue massacre, Obasanjo said the situation has not been handled well.
He condemned the action of the APC governors who endorsed Buhari for second term while the nation mourned, describing it as the height of insensitivity.
He said, “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 herdsmen/crop farmers issue is being wittingly or unwittingly allowed to turn sour and messy. It is no credit to the Federal Government that the herdsmen rampage continues with careless abandon and without finding an effective solution to it.
“The timing was most unfortunate. The issue of herdsmen/crop farmers’ dichotomy should not be left on the political platform of blame game; the Federal Government must take the lead in bringing about solution that protects life and properties of herdsmen and crop farmers alike and for them to live amicably in the same community.”
Obasanjo further faulted Buhari on his appointments, calling it nepotistic and inability to discipline his inner circle. He said national interest has been sacrificed on the altar of selfish considerations.
He how commended Buhari on certain aspects he said the president has performed remarkably.
He said, “But there are three other areas where President Buhari has come out more glaringly than most of us thought we knew about him. One is nepotistic 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”
The former leader also asked the president to take responsibility and stop blaming past administrations, saying he should stop deceiving Nigerians.
According to him, if things were right there would not be need for him to be voted in explaining the was voted in to fix things.
While sympathising with Buhari on his health challenge, Obasanjo said it was time Buhari retired to attend to his health, saying he should not over push his luck.
Meanwhile, the presidency yesterday maintained silence on Obasanjo’s missive to President Buhari, as none of the presidential media aide issued a statement to that effect.
Also, when contacted for its reaction to the ex-president’s letter, the APC said that it should be given time to study the letter.
The party in a statement by its national publicity secretary, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, asked that it be given time to study the document.
“The APC has asked to be given the opportunity to study the statement. We shall respond appropriately afterwards”, the statement said.
We Have Been Vindicated- PDP
But the leading opposition party in the country, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), yesterday described the counsel by Obasanjo that Buhari should not seek reelection in 2019 as courageous, timeous and patriotic.
The opposition party, while reacting to the Obasanjo’s statement on Buhari’s administration, said it has been vindicated on their position on President Buhari and the APC.
PDP however rejected the call by Obasanjo for a third force, saying that such would amount to repeating the same blunder that brought in the ideologically vacuous APC and the Buhari presidency which has now wrecked havoc on the nation in its almost three years of governance.
PDP’s national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said the fact that President Buhari and the APC have irredeemably failed the nation is obvious to all, adding that Nigerians have already taken an irrevocable position against them ahead of the 2019 elections.
According to the PDP, Obasanjo’s counsel has rekindled the faith of the people in the democratic process, stressing however that the solution does not lie in creating another political quicksand in a third force but consolidating on a rescue mission with the repositioned PDP, which Nigerians have already embraced.
It said, “Nigerians would recall that in the heat of 2015 elections, many citizens, who claimed to have become tired of the PDP and its government, opted for a coalition of strange bedfellows who had little or no experience in governance as a vehicle for electoral victory.
“Expectedly, in their confusion, they have plunged us into this regrettable situation that has brought our nation to its knees.”
In the same vein, another opposition party, Action Democratic Party (ADP) said Obasanjo was right entirely in the said letter.
Its national secretary, James Okoroma, said, “Obasanjo has set the stage for a new Nigeria. The damage caused by the Buhari government is enormous and we must endeavour to rebuild our country. The former President made it clear in his statement that the Buhari-led government is a monumental failure”.
It’s Buhari’s Right To Decide On 2019
Meanwhile, the apex Northern socio-cultural group, Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), has said although it is an expression of democratic right for former President Obasanjo to ask President Buhari not to seek re-election in 2019, it is the sole right of the president to make that decision.
In a statement issued in Kaduna yesterday by its national publicity secretary, Muhammad Ibrahim Biu, the Forum said, “The statement credited to former President Obasanjo that President Buhari should not re-run 2019 election is his democratic right to express his view like any other Nigerian on all issues including democracy.
“Although he (Obasanjo) has expressed his mind and right to freedom of expression, the onus however lies on President Buhari to either yield to the advice or choose to seek re-election”.
The forum further stressed that in spite of the letter, “it is President Buhari’s prerogative and that of his party to decide on whether to re-contest or not”.
Tinubu, Akande Meet With President In Aso Rock
Meanwhile, leader of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Ahmed Tinubu and former interim chairman of the party, Chief Bisi Akande yesterday met with President Buhari at the presidential villa.
But Tinubu’s media aide, Mr Tunde Rahman, said the meeting is unconnected with former President Obasanjo’s letter to President Buhari.
In a statement he issued in Lagos, Rahman noted that his principal and Chief Akande were even unaware of former president Obasanjo’s letter at the time of their meeting with President Buhari.
Rahman said the visit by Tinubu and Chief Akande to the Presidential Villa was scheduled last week.
He said, ”President Buhari periodically schedules talks with Asiwaju Tinubu and Baba Akande, as he does with other Nigerians and APC figures, to discuss substantive issues pertaining to the governance of the country and matters concerning the party.
”This visit was one of such meeting. As such, the meeting had nothing to do with the statement of former President Obasanjo.
”It is totally unconnected. At the time of the meeting, Tinubu and Baba Akande were even unaware that President Obasanjo had released his statement.”
Reps Raise Election Expenses For Presidential Candidates To N5bn
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has increased the limitation of election expenses to be incurred by candidates for presidential candidates from N1 billion to N5 billion.
It also increased that of governorship candidates from N200 million to N1 billion, while Senatorial and Representatives candidates are not to exceed N100 million and N70 million respectively.
State Assembly and chairmanship elections, candidates expenses have been raised from N10 million to N30 million, while that of councillorship candidates has been raised from N1 million to N5 million. Similarly, individual contribution has been jacked up from N1 million to N10 million.
e House altered the schedule weeks for the election after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) released the time table for the 2019 general elections.
Going by the alterations, the first election to be held will be the National Assembly election following which gubernatorial and state assembly elections will hold, with the presidential election conducted last.
The said amendments were made yesterday during the consideration of the report of the House committee on electoral matters on the proposed amendment to the electoral Act 2010 at the committee of the whole presided by deputy speaker, Hon. Suleiman Yussuff Lasun, while considering the report
According to INEC’s time- table, the presidential and National Assembly election is scheduled to hold first, while the governorship and state assembly follow.
The House amended section 25 of the principal act and substituted it with a new section 25 (1) which reads: “Elections into the office of the president and vice president, the governor and deputy governor of a state, and to the membership of the Senate, the House of Representatives and House of Assembly of each state of the federation shall be held in the following order (a) National Assembly elections (b) State Houses of Assembly and Governorship elections (c) presidential elections”.
Similarly, section 87 was amended by adding a new section 87 (11) with a marginal note “time for primaries of political parties” (a) the primaries of political parties shall follow the following sequence (i) State House of Assembly (ii) National Assembly (iii) Governorship (iv) president.
“The dates for the above stated primaries shall not be held earlier than one hundred and twenty days and not later than 90 days before the date of elections to the offices”.
It also amended section 36 to allow running mate of candidate that dies before the conclusion of elections inherit his votes and continue with the process.
350m illegal arms threaten 2019 polls – Dambazzau
Meanwhile, the Minister of Interior, Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau (retd), yesterday made a startling revelation about the level of illicit proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons ( SALW) in Nigeria, saying more than 350 million out of the estimated 500 million of such weapons in West Africa is domiciled in the country.
The minister who also expressed concern about what it termed as devastating increase in the level of drug abuse and Porous nature if Nigeria’s Borders said, the trend must be checked before the 2019 elections.
He spoke at a Consultation meeting on Physical Security and Stockpile Management and drug abuse with major security chiefs in the Country.
The minister lamented that illicit weapons can be found in almost all corners of the country, which explains the rise in incidences of crime and violence in the country at the moment, with the attendant threat to lives and property of the citizenry.
He said, “Following the meeting we had with Governors two weeks back over the violent conflicts that took place in Benue and other places, between herders and farmers, one of the issues that came up in the communiqué, was the issue of the proliferation of small arms, and also the issue of drug trafficking and abuse.
“And we also found that these two issues are triggers to the violence taking place in this country. Without the firearms, without the drugs being processed, the courage of those who partake in violence, we would not have the kind of violence with magnitude we have today. So there is need to take very urgent action in order to ensure that this situation is dealt with accordingly”.
Dambazau continued: “And, as a follow-up, I invited this meeting of experts so that we will be able to deal with the situation, examine and analyse it and see how best we can approach it. From records by the United Nations Centre for Peace and Disarmament, I understand that there are approximately 500 million assorted firearms in West Africa”.
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