26 May 2018

Nigeria: That Subtle Warning From the Presidency - Obasanjo Should Keep Quiet - -Na'abba

Photo: African Arguments
Former president Olusegun Obasanjo.

Last Sunday, the presidency came up with allegations of connivance by some businessmen, the police and other security agencies with the opposition to dislodge President Muhammadu Buhari from the presidency in 2019.

According to presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, those behind the campaign to ensure that President Buhari is sent packing in the 2019 elections include lawmakers, police, customs and immigration officials, and civil servants.

For many, that disclosure was just another statement from the presidency but within the security environment, analysts believe it is a subtle warning to security agents to either shape in(By doing their jobs well) or shape out.

As it is often said, the best form of defence is attack. Now that the security agencies have been accused of conniving with the opposition, it would not be surprising to see the heads of those agencies going high-handed in a bid to ensure that none of their personnel is found wanting. In fact, overzealous personnel who may want to prove their allegiance to the president may even misconstrue the warning from the Presidency. But this is not the topic for this week.

Where is the Power? Yes, that is the topic. Within the week, two elders entered the market square and decided to square it out. It was not as if they had always been the best of friends but the desire to ease out President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015 brought them together. My enemy's enemy is my friend.

That was it. But, that friendship did not last long because it was not built on anything tangible other than the desire to grab power on one side and the inordinate desire to stay relevant in the scheme of things by the other party.

And so it was that on Tuesday, President Buhari, in apparent reference to his 'friend' and former boss, ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo asked, "where is the power". He was querying the reported $16billion spending on the power sector by the then Obasanjo administration.

"Where was the power after a former president claimed to have spent $16billion on the project? You know the rail was killed and one of the former heads of state was bragging that he spent more than 15 billion American dollars on power. Where is the power? Where is the power?" Buhari had asked.

But, the man often referred to as the Ebora of Owu has asked Buhari to read his explanations from his book, 'My Watch' and if not, have his aides read it and break it down for him in a language he would understand!

However, we decided to sample the opinions of three illustrious Nigerians on the altercation between the two leaders vis-à-vis the implications for the 2019 general elections.

Those we spoke to are a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Umar Ghali Na'abba, former senator representing Bayelsa East senatorial district, Clever Marcus Ikisikpo and a former Minister of Education in the Obasanjo administration, Dr Oby Ezekwesili.

Obasanjo should keep Quiet - Na'abba

The former speaker has asked Chief Obasanjo to keep quiet and engage in self-introspection as he had the opportunity to turn around the fortunes of the country, but failed to so do.

"I believe that all the things Obasanjo has been accusing Buhari of, be they commission or omission, he had the opportunity to do or refrain from, when he was the president of this nation. He should therefore keep quiet and engage more in introspection", he declared.

Ikisikpo did not also spare the former president, saying his "usual vibrations" is not the best for the polity as he has continued to attack every president who has come after him.

"Those who live in glass houses do not throw stones. No one is perfect. The usual vibrations of former President Obasanjo are not the best in the polity. He was once a leader and was being tolerated, so he too should give the enabling space to others.

He has done this to all Presidents and Heads of state since after his regime in 1979. Nigerians have seen his tricks of 'only me and no other person in Nigeria is good'. This time around it will not work out and he will fail woefully", he said.

To him, Obasanjo's interventions in the polity will not affect the president's electoral chances in 2019 as there is no aspirant in the north who measures up to the incumbent, while Buhari would also make inroads into the Southeast and South south.

Of Obasanjo's vibrations, Sen. Ikisikpo said; "They will not in any way affect President Buhari's chances of winning the 2019 election. Up to this moment, there is none to be compared to Mr. President from the North. He will surely make it. Mark you, the votes in the South South and South East will go either way, it will not be like the last time. Buhari, for sure, will win in some states in both South south and Southeast.

"We should note that President Buhari was Obasanjo's junior in the military. Not only junior but served as a minister under his regime. Obasanjo has all that it takes to walk in and out of the Villa to continuously advise him. One day advice that is not taken is not enough because all students and people don't learn at the same pace".

Ikisikpo also took a swipe at Obasanjo's Third Force, saying it is of no electoral consequence. "The third force is of no consequence. There are no serious politicians of repute to pilot or navigate it to any appreciable height. It is the normal political noise that is going on".

It's not a joking matter -Ezekwesili

The former Education minister on her part said the issue of $16 billion spent on the power sector was too important to be joked with. She told Road to 2019 that it was not enough to bring up the issue whenever there is a political debate, saying a serious leadership would have launched an independent investigation to actually ascertain how much was spent and on what.

In another development, tweeting with the handle, @obyezeks, the former minister said; "The '$16Billion Power Sector expenditure allegation' has a way of always surfacing for public debate whenever there are squabbles within the political circle. I wish to assert that it is time for Citizens to demand independent and exhaustive expert investigation of that matter.

"The Power Sector is too important a determinant of the level of Productivity and Competitiveness of each Nigerian, Business and Country as a whole to be mired in unresolved controversy among the Political Class. Let's have an independent expert panel inaugurated to investigate", she concluded.

The Buhari Media Organisation, BMO on its part asked the former president "to put away name-calling and long-winded explanations to answer the simple question: Where is the power after the 16 billion dollars your government spent on power projects in Nigeria?"

The BMO said while it acknowledges the detailed information provided by Chief Obasanjo in his response to a query raised by President Buhari regarding the issue, "we note that the lengthy communication still failed to address that one important point".

"Nigerians may be many things, but they are not fools. They would definitely have been able to tell if the $16 billion allocated to power projects was actually expended as proposed.

Even the poorest mathematicians among us would have been able to calculate the disbursement of that amount in the increased number of hours per day their light bulbs, television sets and refrigerators stayed on, and in the decreased hours their generators stayed on. It would have been impossible to not feel the impact of the$16 billion dollars on power, if the money had actually been spent on power.

"Chief Obasanjo exculpates himself by referring to probes and investigations which found him blameless. But, the fact remains that the invisible $16 billion power projects took place under his watch.

As the Commander In Chief at the time, he should have been able to keep an eye on the huge funds he dished out to such a crucial sector of our economy, and monitor those who handled the cash. Most importantly, he should be able to tell Nigeria what became of the funds and why we still have no power after such a huge expense.

"Which brings us back to the question of President Buhari's recent query. Chief Obasanjo, please, tell Nigerians: Where is the power after the 16 billion dollars your government spent on power projects in Nigeria?", they queried.

As 2019 draws near, Nigerians might indeed have so many issues to debate on. Perhaps, the forthcoming general elections could provide us with an opportunity to, for once, focus on real national issues and not ethno-religious sentiments that have been the hallmark of political conversations in the country.

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