Barely 24 hours after former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s, scathing comments on President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, alleging sundry misgovernance and accusing the All Progressives Congress-led government of plotting to compromise the general election, the presidency found its voice, saying the former president is playing his last political game.
The presidency received support from the APC National Leader, Senator Bola Tinubu, who said Obasanjo was an expired politician that had become irrelevant in the scheme of things.
Speaking yesterday on Arise News Network, a sister broadcast arm of THISDAY Newspaper, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said Obasanjo would be demystified by the outcome of the February 16 election.
According to him, the outcome of the forthcoming presidential election would lead to the end of the political relevance of the former president.
“We thank him for whatever he has done – positive or negative, but what Nigerians are going to say in a couple of weeks at the polls, is what matters most. I tell you, Obasanjo is playing his last political game. He is going to be defeated; he is going to be worsted; he is going to be ridiculed; and he will have no voice again after the election,” he boasted.
Adesina argued that Obasanjo had been playing God in Nigeria, which stopped with the coming of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“Every administration that came after his own in 1979, he played God. He tried to lead them by the nose; he tried to direct them, which way to go. But he met a different person in President Buhari. He is now saying, ‘rather than have this person that refuses to listen; that refuses to kowtow to me, I will work against him.’ He has been working against him since last year. Again, it is democratic liberty,” he said.
The presidential spokesman insisted that the problem was that the former president was behaving like a man, who defeat was starring in the face; hence the desperate action he had resorted to. “When defeat stares people in the face, they react differently. Remember in those days when we play boyhood soccer, when you are being badly beaten, at a stage during the game, you can say I’m not playing again,” he said.
Adesina however, regretted that Obasanjo had refused to throw in the towel in defeat.
“Chief Obasanjo sees defeat ahead in the polls. Instead of raising his hands in surrender, he has decided not to. Rather, he has gone into the panic mode. He wants to incite Nigerians, not just Nigerians, but the international community against President Buhari. It’s a lost battle. Nigerians know who to believe, they know who to trust, they know who to vote in. It’s not for him to say vote for this person or not. He has just one vote. He has the liberty to cast that vote whichever way he wants,” he told Arise TV.
Adesina said Buhari had abiding respect for Obasanjo not only as his former boss when the president was Minister of Petroleum Resources, but as his Commander-in-Chief in the Armed Forces where respect for seniors is sacrosanct.
He said Obasanjo was simply being a hypocrite by crying foul against a possible electoral fraud, saying the former president conducted the worst election in the political annals of the country to the point that even the beneficiary of the election admitted that the election was mired in irregularity.
“He is not in a position to talk about free and fair election,” Adesina stated.
Asked if the government would use the opportunity of the latest attack on Buhari to investigate the $16 billion allegedly spent on power by the former president and possibly prosecute him?
Adesina said it was sometimes necessary to use discretionary powers in the fight against corruption and move on.
He also said it was a House of Representatives’ panel constituted in 2009 to probe the power sector under Obasanjo which uncovered the figure, insisting that the claim has been in public domain since then.
“At times, you need to use discretion and move forward. It was a panel that came up with the sum of $16 billion and it is in public domain,” he said.
Asked if discretion is applied in the war against corruption, Adesina said, “There is nothing you don’t use for,” emphasising that in certain battles, the use of discretion is sacrosanct.
Also reacting to the former president’s searing attacks on Buhari, Tinubu and a couple of leaders of the ruling party yesterday came down heavily on the former president.
The APC bigwigs who gathered in Maiduguri, Borno State for the party’s presidential campaign in company with the president, took turns to attack Obasanjo for his tongue lashing of their standard bearer.
Leading the attack was Tinubu, who described Obasanjo as one of the expired leaders that should have retired to his Ota farm and remain quiet.
He said, “It is unfortunate that expired leaders like Olusegun Obasanjo is ranting and lying. Don’t trust him. We are sweeping all the cobwebs of corruption away with broom out of Nigeria. Ota farm should be enough – a retirement place for Obasanjo to keep quiet.
“Who among Nigerians will not recall how the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) government under Obasanjo had been notorious for rigging elections. No government has upheld the tenets of democracy like the government of President Buhari. We asked for the recognition of June 12 from Obasanjo; he refused. But President Buhari as an honest man with integrity heard our cry and recognised June 12.
“Even if the forum of association of angry old men refuses to vote for Buhari, we will give him 95 per cent votes.”
Tinubu noted that four years ago, the APC had promised to put the ship of Nigeria to the right direction, adding that the party had fulfilled the promise.
The National Chairman of the APC, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, said Obasanjo’s attack was out of frustration.
He said the former president was unsettled when he saw what happened in Delta State during the APC campaign there and hurriedly went to the toilet five times over running stomach.
He said, “The people writing epistle now watched how money meant for security was appropriated by not only the PDP but generals. Under their watch, over 20 local government areas of Borno State was taken over by the Boko Haram terrorists before the coming of President Buhari.
“Today no matter what they want to say, there is no local government where Boko Haram is hoisting their flag. All the 27 local government areas of Borno have been liberated by APC government.”
Also speaking at the rally, the Director General of APC Presidential Campaign Council and Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, said his security details were withdrawn under PDP government.
He added that due to the PDP rigging formula, vote did not count in South-south during past elections except announcement of results as the party wished.
In his remarks, the Borno State Governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, assured Buhari of over two million votes from the state during the election.
He said, “We in Borno State, we don’t know any other party than the APC. Allah brought President Buhari to deliver people of Borno from the hands of our oppressors. By the grace of Allah! Allah! Allah!, come February 16, 2019, if we are not the first highest voters for you, we will be the second.”
Buhari, who addressed the crowd in Hausa, thanked them for their support and restated the commitment of his administration to fight against corruption, insecurity as well as improve the economy if re-elected in next month election.
The campaign team was welcomed to the state by unprecedented crowd, which was aided by the declaration of a public holiday by the state government.
One of the low points in the campaign was when one of the pavilions collapsed injuring dozens of people during a stampede.
The people who came to see the president as he mounted the podium to give an address were stampeded.
Rescuers from the Red Cross moved several wounded persons to the State Specialist Hospital for treatment.