Posted by News Express | 11 September 2020 | 594 times
A top official at the Presidency took a swipe at a former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, over his recent comments on the state of affairs under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, describing him as a “yesterday man”.
Though the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, did not respond to a message sent to him on the subject, the top official who did not want to be named said: “Obasanjo is yesterday’s man. After he had come against President Buhari and lost the election, you don’t expect anything positive from him.”
Chief Obasanjo had said Thursday that Nigeria was fast drifting into a failed and badly divided state under President Muhammadu Buhari.
This, he said, were the products of recent mismanagement of the diversity and socio-economic development of the country.
“Old fault lines that were disappearing have opened up in greater fissures and with drums of hatred, disintegration and separation and accompanying choruses being heard loud and clear almost everywhere,” Obasanjo said.
He was delivering a paper titled; “Moving Nigeria Away From Tipping Over’ at a consultative dialogue in Abuja.
The dialogue was held behind closed doors between September 9 and 10.
He, however, called for concerted efforts of all stakeholders towards “moving Nigeria from tipping over.”
The former president also called for a national dialogue, saying it would save Nigeria from disintegration.
He expressed concern that some Nigerians had been obsessed with the 2023 general elections, despite the challenges of debt, death, destruction and disease across the country.
You are not a prefect to supervise other leaders – Audu Ogbeh
Reacting to the comment, the chairman of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) and former Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, said in an exclusive interview with Daily Trust on Sunday that “Advertising us as a failed state is not mature. Let me in all fairness say something to Obasanjo: There is a tendency for him to always think that if he were there, there would be perfection. He had his own challenges. What about Zaki Biam and Odi? Were those democratic expeditions? You are not a prefect appointed by anybody to supervise the conduct of other heads of state.”
Reminding Obasanjo that he (Ogbeh) was chairman of the then ruling party (PDP) when he was president, he said: “I think if Gowon, Abdulsalami and Shagari (before he died) continued lashing out at incumbents the way Obasanjo does, people would have tagged them irresponsible.
“I think he enjoys this policy of mischief, going around and looking for audience that would applaud him saying nasty things about those who came after him.”
Admitting that Nigeria has problems and has to deal with them, Ogbeh said: “I respect him (Obasanjo) as a former president, he is a very intelligent man, but he should also avoid mischief.”
Indices of failed state apparent in Nigeria – Afenifere
The spokesman of the pan Yoruba socio-cultural group, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, agreed with Obasanjo that Nigeria is drifting towards a failed state, saying, “All the indices of a failed state are very apparent in Nigeria.”
He said this was made worse because of the leadership of the country which he noted is not “unifying” and “treats some sections of the country as if they don’t matter.”
“There is a clear and present danger in the country now which we must address,” he said.
He said the president had in the past five years failed to fulfill his promises anchored on three cardinal programmes to Nigerians, wondering how he would achieve the nine-point programme he recently unveiled in the about two years left for him in office.
He said the government must set its priorities right, adding that the president must bequeath in the country a “proper constitution that will make every part of the country productive.”
“Remember in 2015, he campaigned on three key areas which he has failed to deliver in five years. Now that he has two years to go, he said he wants to address nine. We must get clear priority areas,” he said.
You’re as guilty as Buhari – Kari
An associate professor of Political Sociology in the University of Abuja, Dr Abubakar Umar Kari, said Obasanjo was as much a cause as those he was accusing.
Reacting, the varsity don said Obasanjo was not the first person to make such a claim.
“It is common these days to hear and read about Nigeria being a failed state. It is a pretty weighty claim made often in frustration or outrage or by opposition elements and those with an axe to grind with the powers that be,” he told our correspondent on Saturday.
According to him, a proper interrogation of the concept of a failed state would reveal that it is very controversial, subjective and even confusing.
He said based on some definitions and measurement criteria, countries like South Africa and Brazil also fit into the failed state bill.
“Serious scholars and analysts have abandoned the concept because it is problematic. What is not in doubt, however, is that all is not well with Nigeria, and that is putting it mildly.
“It is also true that Nigerians are sharply and deeply divided along all sort of cleavages, but in this, Obasanjo is as much a cause as those he was accusing.
“I have a problem with Obasanjo playing the social critic and concerned statesman, because it does not add up. He can hardly mask his bitterness towards Buhari.
“His utterances on the present administration had of recent lacked the requisite objectivity and constructiveness and sometimes border on the pathological. And remember, he was addressing a meeting of ethnic and regional leaders with a well-known antagonistic disposition towards Buhari and his government,” he said.
But a political scientist, Dr. Kayode Esuola, agreed with Obasanjo that Nigeria is drifting towards a failed state, saying the Buhari administration’s “lack of ideological and policy directions will fast track the failure of the Nigerian State.”
He said: “Nigeria started drifting towards a failed state immediately she was created in 1960, but the drift merely inconsistently galloped till 2015 due to a plethora of policy efforts – some appropriate but mal-applied, some inappropriate but appropriately applied- made by different administrations.
“Buhari’s emergence in 2015 has consistently shut upward the drift, and the country is much closer and clearer to a failed state than it ever was. The last one year had been particularly scary for anyone who understands what it means for a state to fail.
“Division is a major symptom of state failure. It destroys social order and causes crisis of hegemony (we witness both at present).
“So, Obasanjo’s observations are correct in social context. However, the same Obasanjo cannot claim to be unconnected to all the crises,” he said.
Also speaking, Dr. Gbade Ojo, an Associate Professor of Political Science, said Obasanjo’s concerns were valid. However, he said Nigeria’s federal arrangement since 1960 had been convoluted.
According to him, Nigerians are more divided today than they were in 1967 before the civil war. He said if a referendum was to be conducted today, most Nigerians would prefer to go their separate ways.
“Today, it is the federal might that is still holding us together, not nationhood,” he said.
The political scientist said if care is not taken, Buhari might be the last president of the country and Nigeria could break into five, stressing that Nigeria is running “a bastardized federal arrangement and the federal character principles are being observed in breach.”
He said Obasanjo being a civil war hero was pained that the unity he fought for is severely threatened.
He advised the president to implement the recommendations of previous national confabs. (Daily Trust)
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