Hakeem Aderemi, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has accused former President Olusegun Obasanjo of using his open letters to President Muhammadu Buhari to divert public attention from the ‘ills perpetrated by his administration’.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo recently wrote another open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, the second of such letters in less than two years. Again, he is warning about the high rate of insecurity, nepotism in governance and mis-governance among other issues. What is your take?
It is unfortunate because if any body had written Obasanjo such a letter while he was in power, whether it was while he was military Head of State or civilian president, he wouldn’t have condoned it. I think Obasanjo’s letter was just a show-off to let people know that he is still there. Several lives were lost during his administration and ideally, a genocide case should have been filed against him by now at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) because he gave the order for the military to overrun Odi community in Bayelsa State. Obasanjo should not be talking because there was no freedom under his administration and while he was in power he did not tolerate or welcome any dissenting voice.
He should purge himself of his excesses because President Buhari is not Gooduck Jonathan.
The fact of Obasanjo’s letter is not Buhari or Jonathan but the reality of the insecurity and the declining economy and threat to our corporate existence. These are the real dangers Nigeria in facing today. Don’t you agree?
I maintain it is a distraction. Obasanjo was asked a simple question; to explain what happened to the $16billion power project fund under his administration and he started abusing every body. He should give account of how the fund was spent. He thinks that Nigerians are stupid; we should not waste time dwelling on his diversion tactics. Nigerians should be sick of his ploy of always trying to be relevant. Nigeria will resolve its problem. God did not create this country as Obasanjo’s property. There are challenges all over the world. As secure as the United States of America is, they still have problems of insurgency everyday. Nigeria is a blessed country and we are lucky. What is happening in the country will be looked into and our problem is not about Fulani herdsmen. Obasanjo has a ranch and it is Fulani herdsmen that take care of it. The herdsmen are merely employees of the elite that own these cattle and cannot buy an AK 47. So where do they get their weapons and ammunition from? Nigerians need to think deeply about these problems. Let us focus right if the elite don’t have a hand in these herdsmen crisis they won’t succeed.
Are you saying there is no credence to Obasanjo’s letter?
I am saying that Obasanjo should leave Nigeria to resolve its problems. He has no conscience; if he did, he will know of the ills his administration did to Nigeria. Nigeria should have been a well developed country by now, but as it is, it will take us the next 30 years to undo all the ills he put in place. Whatever problems Nigeria has will be resolved as quickly as possible.
It has been three months now since President Buhari began his second term and there is still no cabinet in place. How can the country run smoothly with out a cabinet?
I think Nigerians are impatient. It is not easy for a man who is a crusader of anti-corruption to just pick people as members of his cabinet. Buhari needs time to assess the people he will appoint. The stakeholders in the All Progressives Congress (APC) and those putting pressure on him are also there. The security agencies have to screen the people to be appointed into the cabinet, so I think Nigerians should give Buhari time to put together men of integrity who will constitute the cabinet.
The issue of Ruga settlements for cattle herders is generating tension across the country. What do you think of the now suspended programme?
Many people misinterpreted the programme. While growing up, I know the then Western region had investments in grazing reserves. The Oodua Investments owned by the South West Region had investments in ranches and grazing reserves and these ranches are still there. States of the South West should revive these investments because they were sources of revenue. Every reasonable person should embrace Ruga because it is a noble project. It is not limited to the Fulani alone, any person with herds of cattle can tap into it. Obasanjo has farm settlements all over the country and nobody is stopping him.
The agitation for 2023 presidency is creating tension between the North and the South. Which geopolitical zone do you think should produce the president? Do you think the South East is justified in its agitation that it deserves the presidency for equity and fair-play?
People should think of how they can contribute to Project Nigeria and not which region should produce the president in 2023. Four years is a long time and it is enough for people to prove what they can do. We should be aiming at a level where everyone has to prove himself. We are not in a regimented situation. If for example Lagos State did not contribute anything to the centre why should it expect to benefit from the centre? The South East has not contributed anything to the centre; they should go and put their house in order. If you want to come to equity, your hands must be clean.
Bola Tinubu’s has held the South West in his grasp since 1999, but of late his dominance is being challenged by groups who feel he exercises over-bearing influence. What do you think?
I will say that such people have the right to their opinion. But the truth is that a man who has been sleeping will never be the same with the one that has been planning. Nobody will knock on your door and beg you to be a leader. A leader will always behave like a leader. Tinubu did not become a leader by accident. Tinubu’s political influence has gone beyond the South West. He is a force in the South East, South South and the North. You cannot become a leader on a platter, Tinubu has paid his dues.