6 February 2018

Nigeria: How Obasanjo Praised Buhari

As Nigerians continue to make sense of the controversial public statement by former President Olusegun Obasanjo warning against a second term bid by President Muhammadu Buhari, new details of their official relationship in the late 70s when Obasanjo was Military Head of State and Buhari was one of the cabinet members are now emerging.

The details indicate the extent of confidence, trust and respect for then Federal Commissioner for Petroleum Resources Buhari's work by Obasanjo.

According to a source who has knowledge of what transpired then, Obasanjo put Buhari in charge of the Petroleum Resources Ministry confident of his honesty and dedication to work.

It was under then Federal Commissioner Buhari that the three oil refineries in the country were built and completed on schedule and Obasanjo insisted that he wanted Buhari on the job because of his honesty, adding then "I dont want to go to jail," as the refineries were being constructed with considerable public expense.

Besides building the refineries, then Head of State also asked Buhari, as the Federal Commissioner to ensure the construction and laying of over 3000km of pipelines from one end of the country to the other, adding that he could only trust Buhari with the job, which was also successfully completed in good time.

In fact the sources added that Obasanjo was so convinced of Buhari's competence and honesty that he was not going to let go of Buhari from the federal cabinet at the completion of the projects when the military officer sought to travel to the US in furtherance of his military career.

After much persuasion, Buhari left the job of Federal Commissioner and proceeded on military training abroad, but Obasanjo then simply refused to name a replacement for Buhari even after he had left, convinced that the military officer's depth of honesty and trust in the job was simply outstanding and perhaps tough to replicate.

Sources knowledgeable about this have continued to express surprise why and how come the same Obasanjo would now be so openly critically of someone with whom he has worked in the past and demonstrated a keen sense of admiration for his work and honesty. According to one source, "this is nothing but sour grapes. Those who know this kind of stories can't but wonder what it is that has changed?


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