Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Friday June 8, 2018 alleged that there was a sinister plot by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to frame him, saying top security officials had confided in him of the plot to implicate him by hook or crook in the same way people like Senate President Bukola Saraki and others not politically favoured by Buhari, were being hounded.
Obasanjo, an ally-turned critic of President Buhari, made the allegations against the government in a statement issued by his media aide, Kehinde Akinyemi on June 8, 2018, adding that plans to silence him were in two-fold, among which is an alleged plot to cause operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to reopen investigation into the activities of his administration.
He said the Buhari-led administration had also perfected a plan to use fake documents and witnesses against him. He alleged this would be a re-enactment of the late Gen. Sani Abacha era during which he (Obasanjo) was detained on trump up charges. The former president said he had been told that his name was on the government’s “watch list”, and that the security of his life cannot be guaranteed.
The alarm raised by Obasanjo was seen by many as deliberate attempt to curry unmerited public sympathy more so that Obasanjo was reported ti have said he would rather support Buhari and be jailed than throw his weight behind the reelection bid of then President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.
But mid way into the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, Obasanjo, in a special press statement entitled, “The Way Out: A Clarion Call for Coalition for Nigeria Movement” said Buhari has performed far below expectation and should honourably “dismount from the horse” to join the league of the country’s former leaders whose “experience, influence, wisdom and outreach can be deployed on the side line for the good of the country.” Obasanjo accused Buhari of ineptitude and corruption, and advised him not to seek re-election.
Obasanjo, a two-term president on the platform of People Democratic Party (PDP), said he felt disappointed by Buhari, whom he supported during the 2015 election over then incumbent and candidate of his former party, Goodluck Jonathan.
Obasanjo had written a condemnatory open letter in December 2013 titled “Before it is Too Late” where he highlighted the numerous failings of the then Jonathan-led administration. He went ahead to tear in the open glare his PDP membership party card, just to send his message home. Jonathan lost the election.
And by January 13, 2015 after he had secured the ticket Buhari paid a visit to Obasanjo in his home in Abeokuta, Ogun State. Buhari was accompanied on the visit by his running mate, Yemi Osinbajo, APC leader, Bola Tinubu, party chairman, John Oyegun, Bukola Saraki and Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun among others.
Obasanjo said during the meeting: “I’m a card-carrying member of another party but what is paramount is Nigeria so I wish you the best.”
More than anything else, the relationship between the duo of PMB and OBJ is a long one. Infact, Buhari said Obasanjo had appointed him as Minister of Petroleum Resources and tolerated him for three years to succeed. He said this when he visited Abeokuta, Ogun State on the occasion of 40th anniversary of the creation of the state, adding that Obasanjo as military Head of State from 1976 to 1979 tolerated him as Petroleum Resources Minister.
He said Obasanjo appointed him as Minister of Petroleum Resources and tolerated him for three years “because nobody can work as hard as Obasanjo”. With this, Buhari stated that the tenure of Obasanjo in which he served as Petroleum Minister was able to build Warri and Kaduna refineries
On April 7, 2016 Buhari met behind closed door with Obasanjo inside the Presidential Villa, Abuja over Northeast crisis. Before this visit, Obasanjo had toured the Northeast where he had gone to assess the state of things in the insurgency ravaged region. Obasanjo had earlier on October 12, 2015 led a team of security operatives from Colombia to meet with Buhari at the State House, Abuja.
So some Nigerians became surprise that Obasanjo could, inspite of the access he has to PMB to advice him, chose to write an open letter where he condemned the current administration. Some viewed his action as ill motivated.
The sign that it is no longer business as usual between the duo of PMB and OBJ of course became manifest when Buhari responded recently by accusing his OBJ of frittering away $16 billion on phoney electricity projects.
Unconfirmed report has it that their relationship began to crack over the award of the $6 billion the Mambilla Hydro Power Project in which Obasanjo, allegedly, has shown interest for years.
On August 30, 2017, the Federal Executive Council (FEC), approved 5.792 billion dollars (about N1.140 trillion) for the construction of the 3,050 megawatts Mambilla hydropower project at Gembu in Taraba. The Minister of Power, Works & Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN), who disclosed later
According to Fashola: “Several efforts had been made to bring it to reality but I’m happy to announce that this government approved the contract today to joint ventures of Chinese Civil and Engineering company for the engineering and turn-key contract, including civil and electro-mechanical works for $5.792 billion’’.
It is a statement of fact that, government after government, Minister after Minister even President after President, all efforts to bring the project, which was conceived in 1972 to improve electricity supply in Nigeria, back to life and meet its set objectives of power generation and job creation, has always been frustrated by a myriad of forces.
Buhari who have to initiate discussions at the level of the President of the Peoples Republic of China, in the course of his State Visit in April, 2016 consequently awarded the contract to a consortium of three Chinese Companies — CGCC, SINOHYDRO and CGCOC. Messrs CGCC-SINOHYDRO-CGOCC Joint Venture was formed to accomplish this landmark project.
Recently, Buhari said that with effect from 2019, the Federal Government and its public corporations would not renew existing oil licensees. Not less than 51 oil bloc licenses are affected; including those owned by some big shots.
No reason has so far been given for this development, but sources within the presidency revealed that the move is in keeping with this electioneering campaign promises, to redistribute income and bridge the gap between the extreme rich and the poor.
There are two types of licenses issued in Nigeria. First is the Oil Prospecting License, OPL, which confers exclusive rights of surface and subsurface exploration for the production of petroleum in an area not more than 2,590 square kilometres (1,000 square miles).
The OPL is granted for three years with option of renewal for maximum of two years. The other license, Oil Mining Lease, OML, is granted to holder of OPL to commence production after discovery of crude oil in commercial quantity of at least 10,000 barrels per day. The duration of the license is for 10 years with option of renewal for another 10 years.
According to Sweetcrude Reports, the licenses expiring in 2019 are of the two categories – OMLs and OPLs. As at July 2017, the DPR in its 2017 Service Requirements release, said oil companies seeking to renew their oil licenses or leases would be expected to pay a statutory application fee of $2 million.
But with Buhari’s government current position, all that must have been put to halt; which equally have caused the bulwarks opposition to his re-election bid in 2019 by some eminent Nigerians including some former presidents.
Recall also that Obasanjo on May 21 this year paid a visit to the leaders of the pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, at the residence of the leader of the group, Pa Reuben Fasoranti in Akure, Ondo State.
The meeting, which lasted for almost 30 minutes, had the former President calling for the cooperation of the group to save Nigeria from collapsing.
In his own case, Fasoranti commended Obasanjo for his struggle to make Nigeria a better place, assuring him of the support of Afenifere to join hands with him in the struggle, “We want to encourage you in your struggle to make Nigeria the best. You are fearless and that is one of the traits of a good leader. We have been watching you; and your dreams of a better Nigeria shall be realised.
“Nigerians are at a crossroads; we are tired of the killings, kidnapping going on across the country and the President is mute about it. We are in full support of all the letters written by Obasanjo to Buhari on the state of the nation,” Fasoranti added.
One fact which remains crystal clear to all discerning minds is that Obasanjo is all out to ensure PMB never gets a second term for reasons that are viewed different by Nigerians depending on where one stands.
While some believe Obasanjo’s opposition to PMB’s reelection is informed by his concern over the alarming failures of the current administration, majority of Nigerians believe the former president is driven by selfish motive which included fear that his past misdeeds, including widespread allegations of corruption, will be made bare should PMB gets second term.
“Obasanjo is afraid of his shadows and he knows very well that Baba will probe all the wrong doings, or atleast most, that happened during his time as president including the controversial presidential libraries, the killing of high profile politicians including the likes of Bola Ige, and a host of other atrocities committed from 1999 to 2007 when the Ota farmer held sway,” Muftau Adebimpe, a public affairs analyst, noted.