Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has described President Muhammadu Buhari as “nepotic” and that the state governors are taking advantage of his leadership style.
Obasanjo said this on Sunday during a close to three hours interaction with Nigerians on: “The Toyin Falola Interview,” which was broadcast simultaneously on Zoom, Facebook and YouTube.
The two-time Nigerian president was responding to a question on the despondency of Nigerians at this time.
Asked if there was any hope for the country, Obasanjo said: “As I always say, I’ve seen a lot in my short time in this life.
“So many times, we have gone to the President.
“But like I always say, God is a Nigerian.”
Obasanjo then recollected part of his conversation with his friend, Ahmed Joda, who said Nigerians are throwing to God for solution what they should tackle themselves.
He then added: “Should we be in despair?
“Should we be concerned?
“How concerned should we be?
“I believe we should be fairly concerned.
“I thought I know President Buhari because he worked with me.
“And I used to ask: Is it that I have not read him well?
“Or read him adequately?
“Or is it that he has changed from Buhari that I used to know?
“I am not subscribing to the people who say we have a new Buhari from Sudan or something or that nonsense.
“But, yes I know what I believe to be his limitation and I have written about this.
“Yes, he wasn’t strong in Economics.
“Not all of us are strong in anything, but you need to have sufficient knowledge of everything in order to be able to direct the affairs.
“He wasn’t particularly too strong in Foreign Affairs.
“But I thought the military, he was strong enough.
“But from his performance when he was military Head of State, I thought he would also do well in fighting corruption.
“I did not know the ‘nepotic’ tendencies of President Buhari.
“Maybe because he was not exposed to that type of situation when he worked with me.
“But from what I have seen now, I believe may be he will be thinking of a legacy.
“What will be his legacy, may be.
“Maybe he will also learn from what has happened in recent times.
“If you are the Commander-in-Chief and banditry is taking place in your backyard, then you have to wake up.
“I believe that because of his style of leadership, even some of the governors are taking advantage of him and of the situation in the country.
“Some have shown concern to the point of being in a state of hopelessness.”
Obasanjo then went on to highlight a discussion he had in Benin, Edo State with someone who said he had an interaction with a minister.
He said the minister told the person that whatever decision he takes was final as the person won’t be able to see the President.
He then told a former presidential candidate, Obadiah Mailafia, who asked the question: “Obadiah, don’t be despondent.
“Tomorrow will be better and that tomorrow will be in my lifetime and your lifetime.”
Speaking on another question on the troubles of the country, Obasanjo said: “The foundation for peace in any society is justice, fairness and equity.
“Now if you remove justice, fairness and equity from any society, then that society is in trouble.
“Because what do you have?
“You have inequality, you have inequity, you have lack of integrity, you have injustice.
“You have all the bad things that do not augur well for a country or a state.
“I said it the other day, it is not only what you do, it is also what people assume you do.
“When President Buhari had election in 2015, he came up and said those who did not vote for him will not enjoy his patronage, which is an unfortunate statement to make.
“So, having made that statement and there were two zones that didn’t vote for him: South East did not vote for him.
“South South did not vote for him.
“So anything he does, it is like: Oh, don’t you see that he has said those who do not vote for him will not enjoy any patronage, so he’s punishing us because we did not vote for him, even though it may not be so.
“So that becomes an albatross around the Presidency.
“And whatever the President does, he is seen as he is punishing us because we did not vote for him.
“And I said in 1999, the Yoruba didn’t vote for me.
“They didn’t vote for me.
“And I am a Yoruba through and through.
“Except the other day somebody said I’m an Ibo man.
“And I don’t know which part of my name sounds like I’m Ibo.
“But I believe we in Nigeria have to go back to leadership re-arming.
“We have to re-arm ourselves and our leaders the way that they should run the society.
“In a way that will show that they are mindful of justice, fair play, equity and mindful of making everybody feeling that they have a stake in this project called Nigeria.
“That they belong, no matter where they come from, that they have this very sense of belonging.
“That is very important.”
On the recent change of Service Chiefs, Obasanjo said he will not make any comment because he does not know any of them.
He said he would give them between three and six months before assessing them.
On those they replaced, the former two-time leader of Nigeria said they had “no perceptible achievements”.
He said what the military requires include training, motivation and equipment.
Obasanjo, who was reacting to a question on whether there was the need for a National Guard to bridge the gap between the Police and the Armed Forces for tackling internal security challenges, answered in the negative.
He expressed his preference for State Police.
On things he would have done differently if he was in power, Obasanjo said: “When you are in power, you do things you can do.
“And when you are out, anybody who comes in can do and can undo many things.
“Look at what happened in America, when (Donald) Trump was there, he used Executive Powers to change many things.
“The first few hours of President (Joe) Biden in power, he signed 17 Executive Orders to undo what President Trump did.
“We did a lot of things that we thought others coming after us will build upon.
“Take the debt relief we are talking about.”
Obasanjo said his government reduced the debt of the country from over $36 billion to about $3.6 billion and that now, it has gone up to over $30 billion.
“Look at the railway, we started it.
“They came and stopped it.
“Look at power. We did 10,000 megawatts.
“They left the equipment at the port for more than five years.
“Part of the problem of leadership is lack of understanding and knowledge.
“And once you lack knowledge, there is nothing we can do about it.
“When I was looking for debt relief, I was travelling around the world.”
Obasanjo said during his tour of the world, the World Bank told him that the way out was for him to deal with the creditors and then he will write a good report.
He was told that he needed to get a major country to spearhead it.
Britain did after he convinced the country that money saved will be used for good advantage.
He said he vowed to use it for the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals.
Obasanjo also said that owing to numerous factors, investment in the country has gone down.
He said in one day during his administration, a former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Chukwuma Soludo, said the country secured $80 million investment.
He then went ahead to challenge Soludo to increase the daily investment to $100 million.
He said in 2019, the country got just $3 billion in investment, adding: “Money is out there for all the development we want in Africa.
“But the atmosphere must be right.
“Investors are hard headed calculators.
“Boko Haram, kidnappers, unstable environment.
“We have opportunities but we can squander those opportunities if we do not do the right things.”