Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Four months after former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s ‘letter’ to President Muhammadu Buhari listing his alleged failures and advising him not to seek re-election in the 2019 polls, the President has given reasons why he did not reply or allow his aides to make a direct response.
Obasanjo had last January issued a strongly worded statement, which generated several reactions, before the President eventually declared his intention to run for a second term earlier this month.
Speaking in Bauchi during a state banquet in his honour on Thursday night as part of his two-day official visit to the State, Buhari said he opted for a complete silence to Obasanjo’s letter while also resisting attempts by Information Minister, Lai Mohammed to make a response.
He told the dinner guests that included Governor Abubakar, his wife; the State deputy governor; some ministers and other top officials of the Bauchi State government, how the Information Minister convinced him to respond without mentioning Obasanjo’s name by outlining only the achievements of the administration.
Buhari said, “I want to remind the people of what Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information did against my wish, in the sense that when a letter was written containing our failures as an administration, Lai Mohammed was agitated that he should reply and I said no. I said no for two reasons: He is much younger than the person who wrote the letter and myself; two, he is from the same constituency as the person who wrote the letter.
“But when Lai Mohammed came, I said he should go out but he said he won’t go. I asked why and he said I should give him a chance to say what he wanted to do. I said go on. He said in what he would say, he would not mention names but only try to remind Nigerians what the country was when we came in, where we are now, and what we have done with the resources available to us.
“Eventually, I had to admit that he was right and I was wrong because a number of people who could get in touch with me have said that Lai had done a good job. A lot of them are in the media who I don’t have time to see – but of course, they are very busy people. Therefore, I am very happy with the performance of our party, the All Progressives Congress.”
Buhari also went down memory lane to narrate how the betrayal of some of his former political associates informed his insistence on finding credible platform that would enable him rescue the country from sinking if the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had continued ruling Nigeria.
“I will like to go down some historical antecedents so that people can assess. When we were in the APP, I went through an impartial primary and I won the ticket. I think for the third or fourth time and while I was in court, because I felt I was ready to be president, the person who was to be my vice-president, allowed himself to be appointed by the presidency.
“The chairman and vice-chairman of the party accepted; even when I was still in court as a presidential candidate. That’s why I got out and formed the CPC; when we realised that if we don’t work together, that is the opposition parties, and wrestle power from the PDP, this country was going to sink,” the President recalled.