President Muhammadu Buhari has said that former President Olusegun Obasanjo was wrong in his poor assessment of the present administration which led him to advise the president not to seek re-election in 2019.
The president spoke in Bauchi during a state banquet in his honour on Thursday night as part of his two-day official visit to Bauchi State.
LEADERSHIP Weekend recalls that in a widely publicised letter, former President Obasanjo had chronicled President Buhari’s alleged failures and advised him not to seek re-election in the 2019 presidential poll because of his “poor performance” in office.
Obasanjo pointed at the rising poverty and insecurity in Nigeria as well as Buhari’s poor economic management, nepotism and gross dereliction of duty.
The federal government had issued a reply then, through the minister of information and culture, Lai Mohammed, pointing out the achievements of the Buhari administration.
Now three months after Obasanjo’s explosive statement, Buhari has spoken on the matter for the first time, saying he totally agreed with the information minister’s statement that former president was unaware of the many achievements the present administration had recorded since its inception.
Gave reasons why he refused to reply or allow his aides to make a direct response to Obasanjo’s ‘letter’ to him early this year.
The president, however, said he had preferred to keep silent over the said letter and had vehemently resisted attempts by Lai Mohammed to make a response.
According to him, he was forced to cave in to pressure when the minister strongly insisted that it would be proper to make a veiled response without mentioning Obasanjo’s name but to just outline the achievements of the administration thus far.
The president told the dinner guest: “Tonight, I want to remind the people of what Lai Mohammed, minister of information, did against my wish, in the sense that when a letter was written containing our failures as an administration, Lai Mohammed agitated that he should reply and I said no.
“I said no for two reasons: he (information minister) is much younger than the person who wrote the letter and myself; two, he is from the same constituency as the person who wrote the letter.
“But when Lai Mohammed came, I said he should go out but he said he won’t go. I asked why and he said I should give him a chance to say what he wanted to do. I said go on.
“He said that in what he would do, he would not mention names but only try to remind Nigerians what the country was when we came in, where we are now, and what we have done with the resources available to us.
“Eventually, I had to admit that he was right and I was wrong because a number of people who could get in touch with me have said that Lai had done a good job. A lot of them are in the media who I don’t have time to see – but of course, they are very busy people. Therefore, I am very happy with the performance of our party, the All Progressives Congress.”
Buhari also recalled how betrayal by some of his former political associates informed his insistence on finding a credible platform that would enable him to rescue the country from sinking as it was under the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
“I will like to go down some historical antecedents so that people can assess. When we were in the All Peoples Party (APP), I went through an impartial primary and I won the ticket. I think for the third or fourth time, and while I was in court, because I felt I was ready to be president, the person who was to be my vice president allowed himself to be appointed by the presidency.
“The chairman and vice chairman of the party accepted, even when I was still in court as a presidential candidate. That’s why I got out and formed the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC).”
He further explained that CPC went into alliance with other parties “ when we realised that if we didn’t work together – that is, the opposition parties – and wrestle power from the PDP, this country was going to sink.”
He restated his position that between 1999 and 2014, crude oil prices were above $100 per barrel, yet the PDP administrations could not leave legacies of infrastructure and enduring national development as sectors like the railways and power were allowed to decay or stagnate.
Buhari further expressed for concern for the large number of young Nigerians, 90 percent of them below 30 years, who throng the streets when he visits different parts of the country as they yearn for change in the way things had been done in the past which left the country in a sorry state.
He therefore challenged leaders at all levels never to mislead the people, to make sure their conscience is clear in taking actions, to make sacrifices for the people, and to make special efforts at providing the people access to education, which he stressed was critical to national development.
Meanwhile, President Buhari yesterday in Abuja reassured Nigerians that the unity of the country would remain his paramount objective and that of his government.
The president made this comment while receiving a delegation of the Tijjaniya Movement led by Sheikh Muhammadu Mahi Ibrahim Inyass at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
In a statement by his media aide, Femi Adesina, Buhari said, ‘‘I will continue to do everything within my powers to unite Nigeria.’’
Meanwhile, the president will leave Abuja today on an official working visit to the United States of America on the invitation of President Donald Trump.
According to a statement by his special adviser on media, Femi Adesina, President Buhari will have bilateral meeting with President Trump and a working lunch on Monday 30th April, 2018. He said the meeting was to discuss ways to enhance the strategic partnership between the two countries and to advance shared priorities, such as promoting economic growth, fighting terrorism and other threats to peace and security.
Adesina added that the meeting will further deepen the US-Nigeria relationship as the United States considers Nigeria’s economic growth, security and leadership in Africa as critical aspects of their strategic partnership.
He said: “Later in the day, President Buhari will meet with a group of business persons in agriculture and agro-processing, dairy and animal husbandry.
“Ahead of the visit by President Buhari, meetings have been scheduled between senior Nigerian government officials and executives of major US companies in the areas of agriculture, aviation and transportation.
“In the interim phase, a substantive concession agreement will be negotiated and finalised to provide the consortium the opportunity to invest an estimated $2bn, to modernise the rail line from Lagos to Kano (Western Line) and from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri (Eastern Line). During the meeting, the concession framework and the interim phase framework agreements are expected to be signed.
“The Nigerian officials will also meet with US-EXIM Bank and the US
Overseas Private Investment Corporation to explore competitive financing arrangements.”
He recalled that in 2017, Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment and the United States Department of Commerce had signed a Memorandum of Understanding to promote and encourage commercial and investment ties between Nigeria and the United States, with initial focus on infrastructure, agriculture, digital economy investment and regulatory reforms.
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