APC kicks as Obasanjo says Buhari behaving like Abacha
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, on Sunday, took a swipe at President Muhammadu Buhari, accusing him and “his hatchet men” of running an autocratic government similar to the administration of the late military dictator, Gen. Sani Abacha.
Obasanjo stated this in his 16-page statement titled, “Points for concern and action,” given to journalists in Abeokuta.
Nigerians witnessed imprisonment of the opposition and a vicious self-succession plan by Abacha between 1993 and 1998, when the dictator died.
Obasanjo said, “It is clear from all indications that Buhari is putting into practice the lessons he learned from Abacha. Buhari has intimidated and harassed the private sector, attacked the National Assembly and now unconstitutionally and recklessly attacked and intimidated the judiciary to cow them to submission.
“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 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. The EFCC, the police and the 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 trademarks of democracy. If democracy is derailed or aborted, anarchy and authoritarianism will automatically follow.
“Today, as in the day of Abacha, Nigerians must rise up and do what they did in the time of Abacha. Churches and Mosques prayed. International community stood by us Nigerians.
“God of Nigeria is a living God and a prayer-answering God. Nigerians must cry out to God to deliver Nigeria. Here again, I have been threatened with arrest and extermination but I will not succumb to intimidation or threats.”
Obasanjo stated that he decided to speak on the state of the nation because he was concerned about the dangerous trend pervading the country.
He, however, came hard on the Independent National Electoral Commission describing its officials as people of no integrity.
Obasanjo stated, “Democracy becomes a sham if elections are carried out by people, who should be impartial and neutral umpires, but who show no integrity, acting with blatant partiality, duplicity and imbecility.
“For all democrats and those carrying out the process of elections, there must be the red line that must not be crossed in tactics and practices of democracy.
“I personally have serious doubt about the present INEC’s integrity, impartiality and competence to conduct a fair, free and credible election.”
The former President scolded INEC on its performance during the governorship election in Osun State last year, describing the rerun election as unnecessary.
He said, “The unnecessary rerun, if viewed as a test for general elections, 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-eyed political party of INEC because the commission’s hands will be tied to enable the hatchet men and women to perform their unwholesome assignment.”
He urged Nigerians to stop INEC from derailing the democracy through its action.
“The track record of the present INEC is fairly sordid and all men and women of goodwill and believers in democracy must be prepared for the worst from INEC and their encouragers and how to get Nigeria out of the electoral morass that the commission is driving us into. To be forewarned is to be forearmed. A battle long forewarned does not embroil the cripple nor catch him unawares,” he said.
The former President also called on the international community to resist Buhari’s alleged plan to rig the coming elections.
Obasanjo said, “From available intelligence, we have heard of how Buhari and his party are going about with his own self-succession project.
“They have started recruiting collation officers who are already awarding results based on their projects to actualise the perpetuation agenda in which the people will not matter and the votes will not count. It is the sole reason he has blatantly refused to sign the revised Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill into law.
“His henchmen are working round the clock in cahoots with security and election officials to perfect their plan by computing results right from the ward to local government, state and national levels to allot him with what will look like a landslide victory irrespective of the true situation for a candidate who might have carried out by proxy presidential debate and campaigns.”
He, however, advised the Chairman of INEC, Prof. Yakub Mahmood, to stand firm and carry out his duties with competence and unbending neutrality.
Speaking on the controversial INEC official, Amina Zakari, Obasanjo said the woman had become too controversial a figure to be able to give assurance of free, fair and credible elections for INEC.
When contacted, the Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Rotimi Oyekanmi, said, “(Response) not immediately my brother. We are studying the essay and we will respond appropriately at the right time.”
But the All Progressives Congress said Obasanjo was being haunted by his past when elections were rigged and government institutions were denied independence.
The National Publicity Secretary, Lanre Issa-Onilu, stated this at a media interaction in Abuja on Sunday.
He said, “For eight years of President Obasanjo, all the elections he held…in fact government policies were determined by whatever mood he found himself. All the institutions of government were heavily influenced by Obasanjo. What he did for those eight years is what is haunting him. He cannot imagine it is possible for a government to allow INEC the statutory independence that it has.”
Onilu said elections conducted under the APC government so far were credible. He said the APC should be commended for allowing institutions to perform their duties without interference.
However, the Presidency dismissed issues raised by Obasanjo, alleging that security crises and impunity were rife under the ex-President’s administration between 1999 and 2007.
The Special Adviser to the President Muhammadu on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, while featuring on Sunday Politics, a news and current affairs programme of Channels Television, said thousands of lives were lost under the administration of Obasanjo.
Responding to Obasanjo’s allegation that Buhari and the APC planned to rig the general elections, Adesina said, “Imagine that kind of allegation coming from somebody who told us in 2007 that the election would be a ‘do-or-die affair. If somebody had said the election would be a ‘do-or- die’ affair and it was ‘do- or- die’ affair and the beneficiary of that election came out to say that the election that brought him to power was marred; now for that person to allege that elections were not going to be free and fair, were they free and fair when he conducted his own?”
On the allegation that the security crisis in the country was deteriorating, Adesina said, “Under Obasanjo was when we had the Odi massacre; under him was when we had the Zaki Biam massacre; under him there were lots of clashes involving the OPC and other ethnic groups, there were Shari’ah riots under him, and thousands of lives were lost even under his administration.”
Also, in a statement by another media aide to Buhari, Garba Shehu, the Presidency said Obasanjo needed “a good doctor for good treatment and to say to him, “Get well soon.”
He added, “This language of his 16-page letter, likening President Buhari to General Sani Abacha, a man he dreaded and the one who jailed him under military laws is most unfitting from a former President of Nigeria.
“The claim that President Buhari has put in place rigging machinery is both outlandish and outrageous. We are unable to get the words to describe a 90-year old liar, except to say that by the publication of this tissue of lies against the President, he Obasanjo, not the President will fall from everyone’s esteem.”
However, in the statement, Obasanjo said those who were using probes as threats should remember that he had been probed four times by the EFCC, the ICPC, the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Obasanjo stated, “Buhari has access to reports of these probes. But I have also challenged Buhari and the criminals around him to set up a probe on the same allegations and I will face such a probe in public. But I know that these criminals cannot withstand a police inquiry let alone clinical probe on the past public offices they held. My fervent prayer is that President Buhari may live to see the will and purpose of God for Nigeria.”
He, however, commended the President for yielding to popular outcry “to let the former Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, go.”
On electoral violence, Obasanjo recommended stiffer punishments such as withdrawal of culprits’ visas and taking them to the International Criminal Court among others.
Obasanjo also faulted the Federal Government’s loan scheme, otherwise known as Tradermoni, describing it as a sinister move to buy votes of the people.
Obasanjo, who quoted a former Deputy Chairman, South-West of the Peoples Democratic Party, Olabode George, as saying, “You cannot give what you don’t have.
“The other day, the Vice-President of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo – a learned man, an enlightened person in all parameters – was seen at various markets in Lagos State and Abuja distributing N10,000 each to market women. What an absurdity!”
Obasanjo said, “It was indeed an obscene display of executive recklessness and abuse of office. Pray, where did the money come from? Was it budgeted for in the appropriation law? In more civilised nations, Osinbajo would have been impeached and prosecuted for gutting our collective treasury.
“What an act by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, number two man in the Executive hierarchy; and what is more, a pastor of one of the Christian movements led by a revered, respected and upright church leader, Pastor E. A. Adeboye. Osinbajo must have gone for, ‘if you can’t beat them, join them.’
“A great pity indeed and which makes people ask the questions, “Any hope?” Yes, for me, there is hope. Osinbajo has shown the human weakness and proved the saying that the corruption of the best is the worst form of corruption.
“His explanation that it was their government programme can only be construed to be very shallow and lopsided, if not an outright idiotic programme.”
On the alleged corruption charges against the embattled Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, Obasanjo said, “President Buhari and his hatchet men in the coming elections think that the judiciary must be primed in their favour.
“Hence, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen, has been harassed and prosecuted for non-declaration of his assets without following the constitution and the law, just to make him to conform or set him aside for a Buhari man to take over or act, as President Buhari and his people believe no stone should be left unturned to rig Buhari in.
“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.
“Nobody should take such measure against any of the four in hierarchy below the President or any of his ministers without his knowledge and indeed his approval.
“But if that can happen to the CJN, the fifth man in the hierarchy of government, without the knowledge let alone the approval of the President, then it speaks for the type of government we have which means the President is not in charge let alone being in control and no Nigerian must take anything for granted.”
Obasanjo alleged that the present government had empowered the terrorists with the ransoms it paid which it denied.
He said the terrorist group was more brutal than before due to the collaboration with the Islamic State’s West Africa Province.
He said “Let me assert that the security situation has deteriorated with kidnapping everywhere and Boko Haram more in action and nobody should deceive Nigerians about this.
“Boko Haram has also been empowered by the Nigerian government through payment of ransom of millions of dollars which each administration disingenuously always denied.”
However, the PDP said the concerns raised by Obasanjo had vindicated its stand that Buhari was out for a self-succession plot.
The PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement stated that Obasanjo’s submission had also reinforced the PDP’s position that Buhari, and his party, the APC, having realised that there was no way they could win in a free and fair election, were now allegedly besieging all democratic institutions, including the judiciary, the legislature, the INEC, and allegedly engaging in acts that threaten the unity, peace and corporate existence of Nigeria.