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3 Feb 2018

Northern elders blast Obasanjo, reject El-Rufai committee’s report on restructuring

The Northern Elders’ Forum (NEF) have blasted former President Olusegun Obasanjo for criticising President Muhammadu Buhari’s government despite his failures as president of Nigeria.

The Spokesperson of the NEF, Prof Ango Abdullahi described Obasanjo’s statements to Buhari and his criticism of the All progressives Congress-led government as a shame to the ex-president who once sought third term, yet parading himself as ‘holy father’ of Nigeria.

He told Sun “Nigerians are very good at blame games; blame others for some of their own faults. This is what we have been doing over the years, trading blames, instead of looking at problems objectively together and trying to find common solutions to them. I can give you an example. The former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s letter to President Muhammadu Buhari is one.

“From onset, I am not defending the president or anybody in government, but looking at the letter on the basis of Obasanjo himself – a two times former leader in Nigeria. The thing that is baffling me is that he is claiming to be the, “Holy Father”, of the Nigerian project.

“He was the head of affairs between 1976 and 1979, and he has forgotten that he was the president for eight years, between 1999 and 2007, and even at that, he tried to manipulate the constitution to elongate his tenure beyond what was constitutionally allowed. Here is a man that sees himself as the only perfect former president of Nigeria. I remember very well that he didn’t spare former President Shehu Shagari, who succeeded him in 1979; he didn’t spare Buhari, who toppled Shagari; he also lashed out at Ibrahim Babangida during his own tenure; he still went after Abacha and so on.

“I cannot understand how Nigerians are hailing him, and I couldn’t believe that the only perfect former Head of State is Obasanjo. This is ridiculous. It is even a shame that we allow this kind of space in the minds, and also in the political space of this country; to try and claim this and using it as one of the African leaders and so on, and roam around the world on our behalf. It is really shameful on us, but you see hypocritical politicians going to Ota on pilgrimage, when there are a lot of people for them to go and learn something from, morally and politically. But here is a man, who is busy parading himself, as the righteous “Holy Father” of the Nigerian project. I totally reject that, and I think I know him well enough from 1976 to date.

“It takes a good person to work in a good system to succeed, but unfortunately the president, a good man is overwhelmed by a bad system and that is why he cannot perform. The system is in form of political parties, which has denied us independent candidacy. Like in the First Republic, there were people who won elections as independent candidates because people could not make a choice among parties. But now, these people have insisted that for you to stand for an election, you must belong to a political party even if you don’t believe what the political parties are doing.

“We are waiting for politicians to come and tell us what they have for Nigerians in 2019. I can assure you that the NEF will be watching closely. What we will be looking for, are people who are going to give us good governance. We are not worried about all these political parties that have failed over the years.

“Nigerians should be looking for good governance. From the records we have and the politics we have seen especially in the last 20 years, show that political parties are virtually the same. The same elements that circulate themselves from one party to the other, the damage they caused in the last party is the damage they will be causing in the next party they join, and the same damage they will cause in the party to be formed.

“What Nigerians should be looking for is good governance, which can come from a party or a candidate. The most important thing is that good governance should come from a system. One individual no matter how good he is, if he finds himself in a bad system, he cannot function, and would not succeed no matter how hard he tries. Lets pray that we find good candidates in a good system. The system we have on ground is very suspicious indeed because their records are anything to be proud of – the PDP record is very clear to all of us. They are circulating themselves, the struggle now is the control of government, not necessary for good governance, but for stealing money. We have seen this before, and nobody should deceive us anymore.

The former Vice Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, also dismissed the All Progressives Congress (APC) committee report on restructuring chaired by the Kaduna State governor, Nasir El-Rufai.

According to him, the report was the position of some of the party leaders and not that of Nigerians.

“APC is not Nigeria, or Nigerians. It is a political party. The party is only expressing its opinion on behalf of its members. I question it because the exercise they undertook in terms of consultations around the country, were talking to their party members, especially the leaders of their party. I don’t accept that the report of El-Rufai committee truly reflects the position of APC members as a whole, let alone reflecting the position of Nigerians.

“I think that is beyond us to believe that its recommendations are sacrosanct. I don’t think they should be. Consultations should continue in terms of what Nigeria should be and should not be, and every Nigerian has a stake to contribute to his opinion on this matter. I don’t see why we are rushing over it. This country has been in existence for over 100 years during colonial rule, and has been in existence for nearly 60 years after our independence, and there have been many constitutional conferences in the country; there have been also talks and consultations in terms of how to govern.

“In all the constitutional conferences I have attended, some people were honest enough to say that the core constitutional document is not the problem, the problem are the operators of the constitution; unless you want to change Nigeria into another thing, I don’t think anything could come out of the so-called restructuring. All the elements that would make for good governance are already in our constitution. What has happened over the years is that those who operate the constitution have failed to operate it in such a way that this country would benefit”, he stated.

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