Former president Olusegun Obasanjo hit back on Sunday with a “state of the nation” broadcast targeting various issues ahead of the 2019 polls.
It comes barely a year after he penned his famous letters calling on President Muhammadu Buhari not to stand for the 2019 polls.
He said he was “concerned as a democrat” and believed that with “faithful and diligent practice of democracy, we can get over most of our political problems and move steadfastly and surefootedly on the course of stability, unity of purpose, socio-economic growth and progress for all.”
The full text of his address is public but analysts are dissecting its contents in various ways.
Here are highlights:
Obasanjo questioned with “serious doubts” the impartiality of the elections regulator to conduct free, fair and credible polls.
INEC’s declaring voting inconclusive last year in Osun didn’t help its image in the former president’s eyes.
“The unnecessary rerun, if viewed as a test-run for a larger general election, would lead people to expect incidences of deliberately contrived, broken or non-working voting machines or card readers, confusion of voters as to their voting stations, inadequate supply of voting materials to designated places, long line to discourage voters and turning blind eyes to favour the blue-eye political party of INEC because the Commission’s hands will be tied to enable hatchet men and women to perform their unwholesome assignment,” said Obasanjo.
“The transmission and collation of results are subject to interference, manipulation and meddling. If the INEC’s favourite political party wins with all the above infractions, the result will be conclusively declared and if not, there will be a ‘rerun’, the result of which is known before it is carried out. I know that I am not alone in being sceptical about the integrity of INEC and its ability to act creditably and above board. But we are open to be convinced otherwise.”
Obasanjo said the Buhari administration had condoned corruption and encouraged nepotism, divisiveness and incompetence,” said Obasanjo.
“It is no use to keep lamenting about it…[as] there is neither redeeming feature nor personality to salvage the situation within that hierarchy
Tradermoni “outrightly idiotic”
Obasanjo blasted the Tradermoni, a programme of the federal government to provide N10,000 loans to artisans and petty traders.
Vice president Yemi Osinbajo leads the programme, but Obasanjo called it “idiotic”.
He said there was something “sinister” about recording the PVC number of the recipients.
“Osinbajo, of all people, should know that. With collusion of the INEC officials and card readers not made to work, anybody quoting the PVC number may be allowed to vote as the revised Electoral Bill was not signed,” he said.
“And if that happens all over the country, it will be massive rigging indeed.”
Obasanjo said the summons on Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen was the administration’s move to prime the judiciary ahead of general elections.
Said Obasanjo: “It seems to be a ploy to intimidate the judiciary as a whole in preparation for all election cases that will go before them. Where and how will all these stop? Typically, with overwhelming outrage and condemnation, we are told that the Presidency denied knowledge of the action. But the Vice-President told us that the President knew of the action on Saturday night for everything that has been prepared for Monday morning. Haba VP, it doesn’t happen that way.”
No fools anymore
Said Obasanjo: “Life and living are anchored on trust. But if I trust you and you deceive, cheat or disappoint me the first time, it is shame on you. However, if I allow you to do so the same thing for me the second time, I do not only have myself to blame, I must be regarded as a compound fool.
“Buhari has succeeded in deceiving us the first time and we will be fools to allow ourselves to be deceived the second time.”
Another era of Abacha
Obasanjo also likened the Buhari administration to late head of state Sani Abacha’s.
“I was a victim of Abacha’s atrocities against Nigeria and Nigerians – high and low. At the height of Abacha’s desperation for perpetual power, he did not brook any criticism because Nigeria was seen as his personal property. You must go along with him or be destroyed. All institutions for ensuring security, welfare and well-being of Nigeria and Nigerians particularly the Police, the Military and the Department of State Services (DSS) were abused and misused to deal with critics of Abacha and non-conformists with Abacha.
“Today, another Abacha Era is here. The security institutions are being misused to fight all critics and opponents of Buhari and to derail our fledgling democracy. EFCC, Police and Code of Conduct Tribunal are also being equally misused to deal with those Buhari sees as enemies for criticising him or as those who may not do his bidding in manipulating election results. Criticism, choice and being different are inherent trade mark of democracy. If democracy is derailed or aborted, anarchy and authoritarianism will automatically follow.”
A combination of Boko Haram and Islamic State has worsened security, noted Obasanjo.
“The security situation has deteriorated with kidnapping everywhere and Boko Haram more in action and nobody should deceive Nigerians about this. With the teaming up of Boko Haram and Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP), Boko Haram is stronger today militarily than they have ever been. Boko Haram has also been empowered by the Nigerian government through payment of ransom of millions of dollars which each administration disingenuously always denies. With ISIS being liquidated in Iraq and Syria, Africa is now their port of concentration. Soon, they may take over Libya which, with substantial resources, is almost a totally failed state. When that happens, all African countries North of Congo River will be unsafe with serious security problems. The struggle must be for all West African, Central African, North African and most East African States. Nigeria has to play a vanguard role in this struggle as we have much to lose. This administration has reached the end of its wit even in handling all security issues, but particularly Boko Haram issue, partly due to misuse of security apparatus and poor equipment, deployment, coordination and cooperation.”