•You’re Nigeria’s ‘Divider-in-Chief,’ presidency tells former president
•Listen to voice of reason, PDP urges president
•APC: Actors that midwife rot can’t chart way forward
By Omololu Ogunmade, Chucks Okocha, Olawale Ajimotokan and Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari’s election in 2015 saved Nigeria from becoming a failed state, the federal government said yesterday in a stern reply to former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s last week rebuke of Buhari’s administration as heading the country towards failure.
It said contrary to the former president’s claim, Nigeria was on its way down the slope after 16 years of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) rule before Buhari ascended power and brought the country back from the brink.
Obasanjo had on Thursday said Nigeria was slowly becoming a failed state and a basket case that urgently needed to be pulled from the brink of collapse.
Speaking while delivering a speech titled: “Moving Nigeria away from tipping over,” at a consultative dialogue in Abuja, the former president said he had never seen Nigeria so divided, adding that many of the problems plaguing the country today were due to the recent mismanagement of Nigeria’s diversity.
But in an apparent response to Obasanjo’s claims, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, in a statement yesterday, said that Buhari took office at a time some parts of the country’s territory were under occupation and many cities, including the capital city of Abuja, were a playground for Boko Haram insurgents.
The presidency too backed Mohammed yesterday, coming down hard on Obasanjo over his comment on the state of the nation, describing him as the country’s “Divider-in-Chief” even as the All Progressives Congress (APC) joined the fray and said it was ironic that political actors that midwife and institutionalised corruption, impunity and eroded the country’s value systems are the same characters posing as voices on the way forward.
Mohammed, who described the leadership of the opposition as ”rapacious and rudderless,” said until now the nation’s wealth had been looted dry, with little or nothing to show for the nation’s huge earnings, especially in the area of infrastructure.
The minister described as a cruel irony that those who frittered away the country’s resources at a time of financial buoyancy and planted the seed of insecurity in some parts of the country, were the same people now lashing at a reformist government.
He said: ”Nigeria today faces a lot of challenges. But whatever situation the country has found itself in, things would have been much worse but for the deft management of resources, unprecedented fight against corruption, determined battle against insurgency and banditry as well as the abiding courage of Mr. President in piloting the ship of state.
”Nigeria today is not a failed state, but a nation that is courageously tackling its challenges and building a solid infrastructure that will serve as the basis for socio-economic development, a nation that is unrelenting in battling insecurity and working hard to ensure the greatest prosperity for the greatest number of people.”
The minister noted that in spite of declining revenue at 60 per cent less of national income, the present administration had made progress on all fronts and set the country on the path of sustainable growth and development, adding that no government in the history of the country had done so much.
He berated the opposition for playing up the instances of insecurity in the country, insisting the country could have been overrun by insurgents and bandits had President Buhari not rallied regional and international allies to retard the insurgents who at a time, controlled an estimated 20,000 square miles of the nation’s territory and were recklessly bombing many targets without check.
”They tout the downturn in economic fortunes without putting things in context. With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing a global shutdown and a drastic fall in global oil demand, Nigeria lost 60 per cent of its earnings, yet the administration has ensured that not a single worker has been retrenched, has paid salaries as and when due and has continued to build infrastructures like roads, rails, bridges and power, among others, that will serve many generations,” he said.
Mohammed accused the opposition of aggravating the national fault lines with angry rhetoric, failing to realise that when national challenges are amplified at a time of dwindling economic fortunes, it is the kind of responsive and responsible leadership being offered by Buhari that is needed to foster peace and unity rather than reckless elocution.
He insisted that the country is on the road to greatness, despite several hiccups, citing the hard push towards food sufficiency; the modernisation of the rail system; the nationwide construction of roads and bridges; the reform in the oil and gas sector; the unprecedented anti-corruption battle, the diversification of the economy and the renewed effort to ensure steady power supply, anchored on a three-phase project that is expected to deliver 25,000MW of electricity in the next few years.
He lauded Nigerians for their perseverance and understanding, especially against the backdrop of the stifling effects of COVID-19 on the economy, and appealed to them to continue to support the administration as it seeks to lift 100 million people out of poverty in the next 10 years.
”In one of the most difficult moments in the nation’s history, Nigeria is fortunate to have at the helm a leader who is not only dedicated, selfless and patriotic but one who is globally acknowledged for his discipline, integrity and vision. Those who genuinely love Nigeria will support, rather than subvert, this committed leadership,” Muhammed said.
You are Nigeria’s ‘Divider-in-Chief,’ Presidency Tells Obasanjo
Also reacting to Obasanjo’s criticisms, the presidency yesterday described him as the country’s ‘Divider-in-Chief.’
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, stated this in a statement titled: “Obasanjo is Nigeria’s Divider-in-Chief.”
Shehu said with Obasanjo’s comment, which he described as unfair attacks on Buhari and his administration, the former president had descended from the lofty heights of a commander-in-chief.
“In his most recent statement, former President Olusegun Obasanjo attempts to divide the nation while President Muhammadu Buhari continues to promote nation-building and the unity of Nigeria,” he said, adding: “The difference is clear. From the lofty heights of Commander-in-Chief, General Obasanjo has descended to the lowly level of Divider-in-Chief (to adapt the coinage of Time).”
The presidential spokesman said as some commentators were already suggesting, 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.”
He said the former president 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 by the National Assembly to participate in the process of constitution amendment.
Shehu added that Obasanjo must have left his 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.
He added: “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 9th Assembly as another waste of time and resources.
“To the credit of the All Progressives Congress-led 8th Assembly, the process of constitution 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 have 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 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 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.”
Shehu boasted that Buhari has run an administration focused on infrastructure development.
The president, he said, has repaired the nation’s damaged relations with neighbours and traditional allies such as the United Kingdom, the United States, China, Russia, France, Germany, Saudi Arabia and the others with lots of benefits to the country.
He said with his achievements and more to come, it was not surprising that Buhari would be the object of envy from politicians who he said failed to deliver.
According to him, “It (Buhari’s) is a pro-business administration that has used diplomacy to unlock bilateral trade and investment.
“He leads a government that has liberalised the investment climate and market access by achieving reforms that have placed the country in the list of the world’s top reforming economies.
“Nigeria, which other nations had mocked and ridiculed for so many things that were wrong is today progressing at a pace reflecting its size and potential.
“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.”
Shehu also faulted the views of some analysts on Buhari’s recent advice to West African leaders to avoid tenure elongation.
He said contrary to the assertions by the few analysts, Buhari’s recent speech in which he advised West African presidents against tenure elongation beyond constitutional limits has been consistent with his long-held views on the need to adhere to the rule of law.
The presidential aide said he hoped the former president would once again sheathe 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.”
Actors that Midwifed Rot Can’t Chart Way Forward, Says APC
Also reacting to the criticisms by Obasanjo, PDP and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, APC said it’s ironic that those political actors that midwifed and institutionalised corruption, impunity and eroded the country’s value systems are the same characters posing as voices on the way forward.
APC Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Yekini Nabena, in a statement issued yesterday, said these political actors probably only listen to their own voices because Nigerians have long stopped taking them seriously.
He said the political actors simply lack the antecedents and moral credentials to guide Nigeria and Nigerians to the path of prosperity and progress.
Nabena stated: “It is baffling that the same political actors that midwifed and institutionalised the national rot, corruption, impunity and eroding of our value systems are the same characters posing as voices on the way forward in our national life. How ironic!”
Listen to Voice of Reason, PDP Tells President
Meanwhile, PDP has called on Buhari to come down from his high horse and listen to advice from eminent Nigerians, who are advising him against allowing the nation to tumble from the cliff under his watch.
The party stated that the Buhari presidency is worsening the sorry state in which it has plunged the nation by choosing to haul insults on Nigerians, including Obasanjo and other well-meaning leaders, who are patriotically calling on the administration to end its divisive, suppressive and insensitive style of leadership that has ruined the nation.
PDP, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, said from the presidency’s reactions to patriotic counsel, it’s clear that the Buhari’s presidency has become bereft of the fundamentals of governance as well as overwhelmed by its own failures and burden of guilt for the disunity, bloodletting and anguish that have enveloped the nation in the last five years.
The party said: “It is incontrovertible that the Buhari administration is leading Nigeria into a failed state, where citizens are not guaranteed of their safety; cannot afford the basic necessities of life and where governance has been crippled by incompetence, unbridled nepotism, promotion of injustice, executive high handedness, abuse of human right, disobedience to court orders, brazen violation of constitutional provisions, acute corruption and violent muscling of elections.
“Under Buhari, all sectors of our national life are in shambles; the productive sectors have been crippled; the nation has been pushed into the reverse gear; bandits, insurgents and marauders are freely ravaging communities and our citizens live in constant fear and extreme poverty.”
PDP said never in the history of the nation has the situation been this pathetic.
“While President Buhari recedes in the comfort and safety of the Presidential Villa and reneges in his promise to lead from the front, Nigeria is being pushed to the fringes by marauders who are pillaging our citizens in various parts of our country, including Mr. President’s home state of Katsina,” it said.
Furthermore, the main opposition party said it smacks of shamelessness for the Buhari administration to be talking about corruption in PDP’s subsidy regime, when it has been caught neck-deep in unprecedented oil corruption that had ruined the economy, turned the nation into the poverty capital of the world and put the citizens in a dire strait.
According to PDP, “Nigerians know it as a fact that before he was elected President, Buhari, a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, had publicly told Nigerians that subsidy was a fraud and that it never existed. Five years down the line, trillions of naira have been discovered to have been stolen under the subsidy regime of an administration over which he presides.
“Today, life has become traumatising for Nigerians as resources from the sale of crude oil have either been wasted or stolen by officials of the Buhari administration.”
Furthermore, the party explained that it’s undebatable that the biggest achievement of constitution amendment in modern administration of our country is the entrenchment of a credible electoral process, which enabled President Buhari to win the election in 2015 from an opposition standpoint, explaining that unfortunately, this noble achievement is being washed away in five years under the watch of President Buhari.
PDP said it, therefore, amounts to pretending to sanctimony for Buhari to be preaching on term limit, whereas, his administration has done everything possible, broken all known democratic norms and rules to debase credibility in our elections.
“Our party implores President Buhari to pause, think of Nigeria and its people and heed wise counsel to save our nation from an imminent collapse, which this idling administration has foisted on all our people,” it said.