President Muhammadu Buhari’s symbolic ‘victory’ with the declaration of June 12 as Democracy Day, and the posthumous conferment of award on the acclaimed winner of the June 12 Presidential election, Moshood Abiola, appears short-lived, as former President Olusegun Obasanjo has once again ‘spoiled’ the fun with his latest accusation that Buhari is after his life.
While President Buhari was still basking in the euphoria of the flurry of widespread commendation over the June12 “masterstroke,’’ Obasanjo, who lately turned into a vitriolic critic of the President Buhari government, raised alarm that the Buhari government is plotting to level phantom allegations of corruption against him and have him arrested and kept in detention indefinitely using the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
In a statement issued by his media aide, Kehinde Akinyemi, Obasanjo said “Impeccable security sources” informed him that his named had been placed on “their Watch List and that the security of his life cannot be guaranteed.”
Obasanjo said since he released his State-of-the-Nation Special Statement in January, there had been unabated “desperation to frustrate, intimidate and blackmail him into abandoning his divine mandate to protect the rights of the people to better life and living.”
Obasanjo had in January written and an open letter to President Buhari in which he detailed the alleged incompetence of the Buhari government in managing the economy of the country, the insecurity ravaging parts of the country under Buhari’s watch and the alleged clannishness of the Buhari government and advised him not to contest the 2019 election.
Obasanjo’s letter was followed by another one in February, this time by another former Military President Ibrahim Babangida, who warned that the ship of the Nigerian state is drifting under Buhari and urged the president to quit the stage for a younger generation. And to strengthen the anti- Buhari movement among his military colleagues, former Minister of Defence, Theophilus Danjuma accused the military of colluding with the Fulani herdsmen to kill indigenous Nigerians in an attempt to grab their land. This was seen as a direct indictment on the Buhari who has often been accused of looking the other way, while his Fulani kinsmen perpetrate the killings across the country in the name of grazing.
But Buhari did not heed this advice to quit the stage as on April 29 , during the National Executive Council (NEC) of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), he told party faithful that he intends to contest the 2019 elections, which allegedly further drew the ire of Obasanjo, who warned Nigerians not to “reinforce the Buhari failure”.
An insider had told BusinessDay that Buhari risks losing the 2019 elections because the combination of Obasanjo,Babangida and Danjuma, who are the visible kingmakers of Nigerian politics have gathered “massive political war machine” to unseat President Buhari, who they accused of derailing the Nigerian project in favour of Fulani “supremacist agenda.”
Parts of Obasanjo’s Friday statement read: “Impeccable security sources have alleged Chief Obasanjo’s name is on their Watch List and that the security of his life cannot be guaranteed. According to these informants, many of who are in the top echelon of the Nation’s security management and close to the corridors of power, the operatives are daily perfecting how to curtail the personal liberties of the former President and hang a crime on him.’’
Obasanjo also drew attention to the consistent pattern of the Buhari administration to allegedly instigate ‘war’ against those who are perceived to be his opponents for fear that they might upstage him in the 2019 elections citing the travails of President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, and the alleged plot against the Speaker of the House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara among others.
“We are currently in a nation where the Number Three citizen is currently being harangued and the Number Four citizen is facing similar threat within the same Government they serve. There is a groundswell of our nationals that live in fear that they could be hounded, harassed, maimed or even killed as the battle for 2019 takes this worrisome dimension,” he said.
Obasanjo added that “the content of the alleged beastly designs, it was learnt are two-fold for now. One, to seize his International Passport and clamp him into detention indefinitely, in order to prevent him from further expressing angst on the pervasive mediocrity in the quality of governance, economic management and in the protection of lives and property by the Government.
“But, since that could expose the Government to a swath of international condemnation, embarrassment and outrage, it is said that another plot being hatched is to cause the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to re-open investigation into the activities of Chief Obasanjo’s administration using false witnesses and documents. This will be a re-enactment of the Abacha era in which Chief Obasanjo was one of the principal victims.”
Obasanjo reiterated in the statement that he has taken a principled position to ensure that the ship of the Nigerian State does not capsize and he remains steadfast in his resolve to turn the tide of maladministration, poor economic management and rudderless governance model that has torn Nigerians apart on account of religion and ethnicity which is a great threat to our democracy.
“We would like the Government and its supporters to understand that no amount of campaign of calumny, no matter how well contrived, orchestrated or marketed would deter Chief Obasanjo from calling a spade by its name. Chief Obasanjo is a patriot whose sole agenda is to ensure that the country’s unity, progress and democracy are not negotiated on the altar of incompetence and provincialism and mediocrity, the statement added.
…Federal Government reacts
A statement credited to the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, on Friday debunked Obasanjo’s claims saying, “this administration will never engage in a frame-up of innocent citizens. That is neither in the character of President Muhammadu Buhari nor in that of his administration.
“Only the guilty should be worried. To paraphrase an African proverb, a man who has no wife cannot lose an in-law to the cold hands of death.”
Mohammed suggested that Obasanjo may have been irked by the declaration of June 12 as democracy day and the conferment of national honours on the winner of the annulled June 12 presidential election, late Chief MKO Abiola; his running mate, Babagana Kingibe; and human rights and pro-democracy activist, late Gani Fawehinmi; stressing that it was curious that Obasanjo’s allegation came a day after a well-received presidential proclamation reversing the injustices of the past.
“Apparently, the impact of this proclamation was too much to bear by those who, through acts of omission or commission, helped to deepen the wounds inflicted by the blow of injustice that followed the annulment of an election that was widely acclaimed to be free, fair and credible, hence they felt the need for a red herring that will distract the nation,” the statement said.
Atiku, PDP, others react
Reacting to the alarm raised by Obasanjo, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar on Friday issued a statement warning President Buhari to avoid aggravating the already overheated polity, which could threaten democracy in the country even as he appealed to the President to call the security agencies to order in order to douse the tension in the land.
“I wish to advise that government and its agents should retrace their steps to avoid aggravating the already overheated polity.
“The alert by President Obasanjo is coming against the backdrop of earlier alerts by some leaders, especially those of the opposition, of deliberate and orchestrated attempt to intimidate and frame them up.
“I wish to state without equivocation that President Obasanjo is a historical figure in Nigeria’s democracy and that the primary purpose of government is to provide security of lives and property of all citizens and residents irrespective of their status, political affiliation, religious inclination and ethnic leanings.
“Our nation has lost so much precious lives and property that we can no longer afford to travel that road again,” he said.
The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) also expressed worries over Obasanjo’s alarm. The main opposition party in a statement issued on Friday by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said “the revelation coming from a Nigerian of Chief Obasanjo status is terrifying as it has heightened the tension in the polity and confirmed our fears that our dear nation has descended into a police state where any Nigerian, who holds a divergent view to President Muhammodu Buhari 2019 re-election bid, becomes endangered.
“The alarm by Chief Obasanjo has further shown that the PDP has not been crying wolf regarding the plots by the APC Federal Government to frame, arrest, detain and arraign political opponents of the APC, including regular Nigerians, for holding or canvasing opinions that are divergent to the interest of those in power.
“We invite Nigerians to note the travails faced by perceived opponents of Buhari Presidency including Senate President Bukola Saraki, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, Senators Shehu Sani and Dino Melaye, who had raised similar alarms in the past,” it said.
PDP noted in the statement that noted that “no amount of coercion, intimidation and illegal arrests will alter the determination of Nigerians to vote out the dysfunctional APC and rescue our nation from the shackles of the Buhari Presidency and its misrule, come 2019.”
A Chieftain of the ruling APC, who wishes to remain anonymous, told BusinessDay on Friday that even among the party circles, people are beginning to fret over the leadership style of President Buhari which has become highhanded and aimed at intimidating opponents both within and outside the party.
“There is deep concern in the party and elsewhere that people considered as strong threat to President Buhari’s ambition or even those who have criticized his government, have been harangued. Just look at the travails of Saraki in the hands of the police, look at what Dino Melaye went through in the hands of the police on trumped up charges and many others. This is not healthy for our democracy and certainly not good for the party,” he said.
These developments would probably further deepen the feud between Buhari and former President Obasanjo, Babangida and Danjuma on one hand, and the PDP and other concerned citizens on the other hand.
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