THE Federal Government on Sunday, took a swipe at former President Olusegun Obasanjo, describing him as the country’s “Divider-in-Chief.”
Obasanjo was reported to have said at a consultative dialogue attended by various socio-cultural groups including Afenifere, Middle Belt Forum, Northern Elders Forum, Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo and Pan Niger Delta Forum in Abuja that, Nigeria is slowly becoming a failed, divided state, and the poverty capital of the world.
According to him, “I do appreciate that you all feel sad and embarrassed as most of us feel as Nigerians with the situation we find ourselves in.
“Today, Nigeria is fast drifting to a failed and badly divided state; economically our country is becoming a basket case and poverty capital of the world, and socially, we are firming up as an unwholesome and insecure country.
“And these manifestations are the products of recent mismanagement of diversity and socio-economic development of our 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.”
Reacting to his statement, the Federal Government in a statement signed by the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, said, “In his most recent statement, former President Olusegun Obasanjo attempts to divide the nation while President Muhammadu Buhari continues to promote nation building and the unity of Nigeria.
“The difference is clear. From the lofty heights of Commander-in-Chief, Obasanjo has descended to the lowly level of Divider-in-Chief (to adapt the coinage of Time).
“Before responding further to the unfair attacks on Buhari and his administration by the former President, it is important that we categorically state that contrary to the assertions by a few analysts, the recent speech in which Buhari advised West African Presidents against tenure elongation beyond constitutional limits has been consistent with his long held views on the need to adhere to the rule of law.
“Though, he tried it and failed, the recent uptick in the number of such leaders proposing to do, or actually carrying on in office beyond term limits is sufficient to cause concern among democrats in the sub-region given its prospects of destabilizing the states and the region.
“Buhari’s advocacy is consistent with his principles and in line with the current policies of his administration and indeed that of the ECOWAS Charter which is that term limits must be respected and that the change of government is only permissible through the ballot box.
“Having cleared this misperception, we hope that Obasanjo would once again sheath the sword and rest the pretentiousness about the Messiah that has (mis)led him to pronounce often wrongly, as he disastrously did in the 2019 elections, about the life and death of Nigerian governments.”
“As some commentators are already suggesting, Obasanjo should, in accordance with his mantra as a statesman, get involved with problems solving, when and where they exist instead of helping the mushrooming of a poisonous atmosphere of ethnic and religious nationalism.
“Surely, he must have disappointed many of his local and foreign admirers by showering commendations on a few extremist groups who have vowed to shun the invitation to the National Assembly to participate in the process of constitutional amendment.
“No doubt, he must have left those admirers confused in announcing the support for the boycott of a democratic process of changing the constitution, at the same time calling for dialogue and engagement.
“The fact that the process he ushered in under his administration with the dubious intention of amendments that sought tenure elongation failed-as did two other attempts by the successor administrations of the same political party- does not in any way justify his dismissal of the exercise by the 9th Assembly as a another waste of time and resources.”
“To the credit of the All Progressives Congress-led 8th Assembly, the process of Constitutional amendment was kick-started and carried through, paving the way for, among other benefits, the financial independence of local government councils, States Houses of Assembly and the country’s Judiciary.”