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Thursday, 25 January 2018

OBASANJO VERSUS BUHARI: THE VICTIM IS TURNED CULPRIT

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday berated President Muhammadu Buhari. Among other things, he advised him not to seek re-election in 2019.

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) believes that Obasanjo’s tirade would have been right had he fired it at the National Assembly which has been holding Buhari by the hand. But alas! Obasanjo has chosen the victim instead of the culprit. Although Obasanjo’s epistle is profound, recondite and arcane, we are constrained to conclude that certain germane correlates have not been put into consideration by the respected retired general and ex-head of state.


Such factors include the circumstances under which the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) was formed; the congressional booby trap into which the Buhari administration was welcomed ab initio, which, regrettably, is still in operation; the merger agreement which compelled the running of government with moles and saboteurs (e.g. electricity discos which are still in the hands of the opposition party); Buhari’s prolonged health challenge allegedly occasioned by deliberate poisoning; etc.

The crux of all these factors is the National Assembly (NASS) which has constituted itself into a clog in the wheel of progress for the Buhari administration. Buhari is therefore the victim, not the culprit. Buhari is the victim of a well-knitted political conspiracy. Never in the history of Nigeria has any president been entrapped by a hostile and belligerent parliament. This is a NASS ostensibly led by his own party men but who, in reality, are better described as Messrs Jekyll and Hyde.

Short of playing the ostrich, we opine that what Obasanjo considers failures of the Buhari regime are areas that have been so unpatriotically designed and inhumanly conditioned by the immediate past ruling party, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP). The North was virtually shut down during the Jonathan regime and any appointment given the North went to minority Christians. We still note that Buhari has appointed quite a number of Northern Christians in the present administration. Clannishness is therefore not in Buhari’s character.

We cannot understand the parameter used in arriving at the allegation of corruption against the Buhari regime. This is a president who clamped his personal friend in jail over allegations of graft. Former Secretary of the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal, is now in EFCC cell.

Can we compare ex-President Jonathan of the stealing is not corruption fame to Buhari’s “kill corruption before it kills Nigeria?” Can we compare Jonathan’s pomp, pageantry and fanfare to Buhari’s prudent and low-key approaches? Can we compare Patience Jonathan who used the presidential jets even for shopping in Dubai to Aisha Buhari’s use of commercial planes each time she travelled?
Buhari has performed fairly well in spite of all encumbrances. Foreign reserves have hit $40 billion despite falling oil prices. For the first time in the history of this country, sacred cows were rendered accountable. An ex-governor was jailed. Corrupt judges were docked. Again for the first time, the Nigerian customs realized up to one trillion naira in 2017. The Joint Matriculations Board (JAMB) made N7 billion naira within one year. Jonathan’s Boko Haram put Nigerian soldiers on the run and occupied more than 15 local governments. Buhari’s Boko Haram is on the run and surrendering in droves.

We are apprehensive of Obasanjo’s suggestion of a completely new arrangement, a third force. This may plunge Nigeria into chaos. The devil we know is better than the angel we do not know. We do not see a better alternative yet. Nigerians must be wary of made-in-Israel alliances and MOSAB infested youth groups. We have seen the deep animosity with which Muslims are treated in such groups particularly on social media. We will not accept those who treat Muslims like lepers and never show interest in our predicaments.
Make no mistake about it, President Muhammadu Buhari is not the Muslim president who is passionate about redressing the wrongs done to Nigerian Muslims in the past. We knew that even before he won the election. He is not ready to visit those issues. He is not the type of Muslim committed to righting wrongs done to Muslims. Buhari will not fight for Muslims. But he will not steal. He will not condone stealing. He will not allow any faith to come under the hammer of persecution. That is enough for us. We therefore want to make it clear that we are not routing for Buhari’s second term because he is a Muslim.
  
Yet it must be noted that the concern of the Muslim Rights Concern is not Buhari. Our concern is Nigeria. Any transparent and credible Nigerian is welcome. Any Nigerian of any faith is alright for us as president so long as he gives Muslims their Allah-given fundamental human rights. We are neither for APC nor for PDP. We are party-blind. We will not cry louder than the bereaved if Buhari’s party finds him marketable for a second term. Neither shall we take a plunge into the lagoon because a credible alternative has been found either by the opposition or by Buhari’s party.  

As a parting shot, we urge ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo to take another look at his thesis, to eschew perception and to turn his hose towards the fire, not towards the smoke. NASS is the snake under the green grass. Buhari can take Nigeria to El Dorado if he is given a second term without this conflagration on the roof. As a highly experienced and versatile ex-head of state, Obasanjo can assist Buhari in reducing this risk. We leave the matter to Buhari to decide if he feels strong enough to continue in power, particularly under a new, improved congressional atmosphere.


Professor Ishaq Akintola, is the Director, Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)

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