Growing concerns from member nations of the G7, (formerly G8 when Russia was a member), European Union, (EU), over the forthcoming elections, economic and political development indices, policy direction, have been identified as major factors that rekindled opposition by former president Olusegun Obasanjo and other retired generals to the second term bid of president Muhammadu Buhari, Sunday Akelicious can authoritatively report.
The alleged possibility of Boko Haram, in collaboration with its Islamic State in West Africa Province, (ISWAP), seeking maritime terror capabilities in Southern Nigeria and what appears to some analysts as presidency’s alleged lack of decisiveness are other factors rallying former President Obasanjo and other retired generals who have held critical positions in the country, Sunday Akelicious further learnt from credible sources at the weekend.
Internal crisis being experienced by some of the members of the groups, particularly, the Brexit debacle, as well as EU, US race against time over China’s trade expansion plans in Africa, call for closer relationship with former colonies in the case of UK, and assurances by EU and US that the person who eventually emerges as the president of the largest economy in Africa, understands global business, it was further learnt.
The G7, made up of the world’s most industrialised nations, which include the US, UK, France, Germany, Canada and others is believed to have reached out to Obasanjo, making their worries known to him over the increasing lack of confidence in the Federal Government. “Africa and the sub region cannot afford a Nigerian melt down at this stage,” explained a highly placed diplomatic source based in Abuja.
Obasanjo’s clout and influence in global power circle has never been in doubt. But in a renewed intensity, the former president has continued slating Buhari whom he whole-heartedly endorsed in 2015 to the utter discomfiture of the presidency. Obasanjo referred to Buhari’s performance as abysmal failure.
In a 16-page release, the former president more or less reinforced the many fears held both nationally and internationally about Buhari and the country. He not only confirmed that insurgency has taken a turn for worse after Boko Haram merged with ISWAP; he gave further credence to reports purporting a down turn in the economy.
He reemphasised Buhari’s penchant for nepotism and entrenched corruption. He sensationally alleged plans to rig the 2019 election. The former president also, in the open missive laid out stage-by-stage plans by Buhari to undermine the electoral integrity of the election umpire, adding, too, that the current trial of Walter Onnoghen, chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, is a ploy to predetermine outcome of the election in February to his favour, vowing that the country would resist it.
The former president is currently in US, reportedly, in a move to pile further pressure on Federal Government to allow a free, fair and credible election in the country in February. As also gathered, the ex-president is also billed to be in the UK and probably Germany on the matter. The newspaper was also informed that Obasanjo may also speak at Chatham House, a global policy shaping and lobby group in the UK.
Though the former president could not be reached to confirm on this later information nor to disclose the specifics of his mission abroad, but a former aide to the president who offered insight on the matter, albeit on a confidential basis, stated that he was aware of the trip to US and probably UK “if the schedule allows.” The aide further confirmed that Obasanjo made up his mind on Atiku mid 2018 after his former deputy’s outing at the Chatham House that same period. “Emissaries of the G7 had been reaching out to Baba to verify some of the reports floating out of the country, especially about the alleged infirmity of the president and that a cabal made up of less than three individuals around Mr President who have taken advantage of his alleged infirmity to perpetuate policies that have left policy wonks uneasy,” he said.
Their worries, the newspaper was told, is believed to have prompted Obasanjo’s decision to back his former deputy, Abubakar Atiku, presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, ahead of Buhari whom he backed against former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015. “If not so, everybody should know enough of Obasanjo to know that he is unforgiving,” explained an EU source in Abuja, to the newspaper.
G7 nations do not interfere in a country’s internal politics except when issues of human right, grave security matters occur in such a country. But on Nigeria, member nations with strong politics and economic ties to Nigeria had availed Obasanjo with their concerns. “UK in particular facing the Brexit debacle feels that in the event that the country eventually pulls out of EU as the referendum result (Brexit) entails, there is need to keep a strong relationship with its former colonies. EU and the US appear to be on a race against time with China’s trade expansion plans in Africa. They need reassurances that whoever is in charge at the helms of affairs in Nigeria understands global trend in governance, trade and economics,” explained the highly placed diplomat in Abuja.
The source further added that worries from the global players emanate from happenings in the presidency that shows that Buhari may not be in charge. Particularly, there are insinuations that Buhari may not have recovered fully from the medical procedures he underwent in the UK. As also gathered from sources, the president is said to have problems with dealing with lengthy reports. “When you submit a memo of more than one page, the Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, will simply ask you to distill the report into one page for the president. Even at that, there is no haste in the matter as those reports could take days before they get attention,” explained the newspaper source.
Akelicious was also told that the worry for Obasanjo and other powerful interests in and out of the country is not about the alleged condition of Mr President. Rather, the so called cabal who are said to be individuals not really trusted by yesterday’s men of power and global interest groups. “The president’s men are not experienced enough to understand unwritten agreements from the past,” said the source.
The bigger worry as a result of these developments is entertained in the security and intelligence sphere. For instance, the presidency is said to have ignored growing pointers that ISWAP, is moving towards growing maritime capabilities so as to strike at offshore targets in Nigeria. Security experts have long held the theory that maritime terror acts are only extension of land based insurgency. With ISWAP having links with Alqaeda In Islamic Maghreb, AQIM, Al Shabab, operating in the East Africa with maritime reach, there are credible reasons to believe that they might have started recruiting renegade elements in the Niger Delta with a view to prosecute maritime terrorism.
Kenya, an East African nation also suffering attacks from Al Shabab, recently acquired 10 Metal Shark boats provided through 500 million Kenyan shillings of grant funding from the U.S. The boats have exceptional capacity to operate in the challenging equatorial maritime environment, while simultaneously being rugged enough to endure extended operations with minimal maintenance. Explaining the reasons for the boat deployment, US Ambassador to Kenya, Robert F Godec, in a US Homeland Security gazette, said, “The Metal Sharks will bolster the Kenya Navy’s capacity to combat al-Shabaab, an effort that will bring about a more stable and peaceful East Africa.” The 10 Metal Shark boats represent the largest U.S. maritime security cooperation program in sub-Saharan Africa and are believed will help the Kenya Navy, to continue forward in the fight against terrorism. Intelligence has since linked Al Shabab with bigger terror originations with maritime capabilities like the Hamas in Palestine, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Al Qaeda.
It is held in some intelligence quarters that Nigeria is not taking this threat as seriously as it ought to. As gathered, the presidency is believed to have ignored this warning in the main. “The aim of the terrorists is not to push Islamism into the region. Rather, it is to disturb the economic mainstay of government so that it does not get enough funding to prosecute the war on terror in the North East,” explained a security expert with a UN affiliated NGO in Nigeria. According to the source, there are moves by funders of ISWAP to co-opt elements in the Niger Delta insurgency into this plan.
This vital intelligence should be taken seriously, given ongoing investment in Deep Sea Ports in Nigeria. For instance, one of the three Nigeria’s ports, Ibom Deep Sea Port, IDSP, currently nearing full operation, is believed to be very strategic both in terms of investment and maritime economy to warrant anxiety over any threat to it. IDSP is situated on 2,565 hectares of land and has a container capacity of Nine million TEUs. It is an integral part of the proposed large Ibom industrial city, which collectively is located on a 14, 000 hectare of land. When completed, it will serve the cargo needs of the following countries like Sao Tome, Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, Angola, Gabon, Republic of Congo DRC, Chad, and Niger apart from serving the South-South, Southeast and Northeast geographical regions of Nigeria.