2019: Buhari Still Blames Obasanjo and Babangida For Nigeria Woes.

By Stephen Ubanna

President Muhammadu Buhari may  find it an uphill task to convince Olusegun Obasanjo a former President and  Ibrahim Babangida, a retired Army General and former military President to support his re-election bid in the 2019 general election This is because of the constant attacks on the duo as having impoverished the country  and their refusal to provide  basic infrastructural facilities in the country  when  the resources was available to execute such projects  without blinking an eyelid.

Buahari, had accused the duo of  having  wasted  the enormous  foreign exchange revenue of the country during their years in office.  The aggrieved President had declared  that if the former political leaders had invested wisely on  infrastructural development  of the country, things could not have been all that too bad.  He noted that Nigeria had the money and human capital that could have turned things around in the country if they had  invested on Infrastructure.

The President may have spoken his mind about duo through Yemi Osinbajo, the Vice President  at Minnesota, United States recently . Armed with official data obtained from the ministry of Finance, Osinbajo  who was rechoing the President’s voice had said  that between 190 and 1998, which falls between the period Babangida and late General Sani  ruled , the country  realised  about $200 million as against  $140.1 billion  got  between 199 and 2009 under the thenPresident Obasanjo and late Musa Yar’Adua Administrations.  Osinbajo also  disclosed  that the Jonathan Administration   generated about $381 million between 2010 and 2014 from oil sales. An angry Vice President was said to have told his listeners that  the former political leaders did not effectively utilise the funds to build on infrastructure in the country.

But political associates of Bangida in particular, may not have  found the  assessment  of the Administration by  Osinbajo funny. Mohammed Jallo, a  former  National Chairman of  the  defunct National Democratic Party, NDP, had  lambasted   Obasanjo for opening his mouth too wide to abuse Babangida nd Obasanjo , who had contributed meaningfully to the infrastructural development of the country.

Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, rtd: Accused of neglecting The Nation’s Infrastructural Development

He disclosed that Babangida set the stage for the infrastructural development in of Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, including the building of Aso Rock, the Seat of power in Nigeria. He also cited other projects that were executed by  Administration  with the country’s oil revenue which included the third Mainland bridge in Lagos,and the Epe power plant. This is in addition to Federal Housing projects , scatered in various parts of Lagos state and the dualisation of Federal roads in the state ‘  The Babangida Administration, he disclosed was also responsible in financing the building of the Nigeria National Petroleum, NNPC,  Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN,  Nigeria Development Insurance Corporation, NDIC, Corporate Headquarters in Abuja.  The aggrieved politician  further cited the multi-million  naira Shiroro, Kanji  and Gembu Dams in Niger, then military President home state. It  was also to the credit of the Administration to have built the Kaduna  Refinery and Petrochemical Company and the Nigeria Liquefied Natural  Gas plant in Bonny, Rivers state. It was not surprising why the Administration was  regarded in both official and unofficial circles as Nigeria’s ”golden era of infrastructural development”.   He was said to have challenged Buhari and Osin bajo to point at  one  project the  Administration had built in the last three  years  instead of pointing accusing fingers on past Administrations for its woes.  ”Everybody in APC wants to be a leader. They want to be President, they want to be governors, they have no plan for Nigeria and the people”, he said.

Interestingly, the same past  political and military leaders, Buhahari had described as failures in their years in office are the same people he needs their support to actualise his re-election bid in  the 2019 general election bid. He was  said  to have sent Orji Uzor Kalu, a former governor of Abia state, and now Chieftain of APC, to Babangida, the former military President at his hill top country home in Minna last   September. It was learnt the politician had met with the statesman behind closed doors  to discuss the Buhari re-election project.The Abia politician who could not hide his mission of being in Niger state said he was in the state  to solicit Babangida’s support for President Buhari’s  re-election bid.  He boasted that he was convinced  of his support  in office to  Buhari in 2019  to finish his second tenure in office.

The Katsina state born  politician and President Federal Republic of Nigeria, was said to have sent another group to Obasanjo’s country home at Otta, Ogun state. The Magazine learnt that the team had entered into  the former President’s Otta home and requested to have  a closed door audience with him but was turned  down.

It was gathered that Obasanjo had asked the Buhari emissaries to disclose their mission of coming to see him before his visitors but kept quiet.  A source privy to the visit disclosed that Obasanjo left the entourage  to another  room where he had  a private political meeting with  a set of politicians  who had visited him.

Eye-witness account disclosed that  when he came out of the meeting and the Aso Rock visitors were still waiting for him , he joking asked : You have not gone, you are still around. The Buhari foot soldiers were forced to leave when it became obvious that the former President would not grant them audience.

Babangida and Obasanjo were central to Buhari’s victory in the 2015 general election and may have made up their mind  to withdraw their support from him in  2019 because of their estranged relationship.

This is evident going by the responseS of Babangida to Kalu’s plead for support for Buhari re-election bid. According to him, Babangida ‘s response to his appeals to support the incumbent President’s re-election bid was ” blue and white”.  Kanu , who was never hot of words  to say  when cornered for an interview with Journalists   volunteered ”we have discussed and he said he is thinking about it, ” stressing that” February 16, 2019  is still a long way to go” as to make any commitment to any politician.  Babangia may have tactically spoken the mind of Obasanjo  other retired military Generals when he said  ”we will continue to talk” without making a categorical statement of  going to back him up.

It would be recalled that in the 2015 general election, Buhari   had visited Obasanjo, Babangida and Theophilous Danjuma, a retired Army General and former Chief of Army Staff and  whoalso served as  former President Obasanjo’s minister of Defense to solicit for their support. He never sent any foot soldier  to these statesmen  to solicit their support. Take his visit to Babangida’s hilltop home where the duo made rib cracking jokes :” old Generals  never die”. All that jokes  appear to have gone as Buhari may not have  seen any need to solicit for their as he believes  he could win the 2019 Presidential election  without their support because of his alleged  achievements which is there for people to see.

Bukola Saraki, Senate President and and one  of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, Presidential Aspirants in the 2019 general election  fears that Nigeria would be more divided than ever  if the Katsina born politician  is re-elected in   2019.  He noted that at present the country was not united under him, insisting that  what the country need now is someone who could  make everybody  feel a sense of belonging. Attahiru Bafarawa, a former governor of Sokoto state and another PDP,  Presideential Aspirant said it would be wrong for  anyone to canvass for support for Buhari Presidential ambition, with the”damaged the economy” while he watches with his economic management team.

Notwithstanding the retired  Army Generals and other political allies withdrawal of  their support to Buhari in the 2019 general election, Nuhu Rbadu, a former  Chairman  of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC,  who contested the 2011 Presidential election on the platform of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, said” it would in the best  interest of the country  for Buhari to win the 2019 general election. He described  the Administration ant-corruption  war  as the most difficult job to do , adding that  ”it takes a man of integrity  to make a success of it”.

But the fear that Buhari of the ruling APC may want to win the 2019 Presidential election at all costs may have sent a wrong signal to the international Community that Nigeria may disintegrate . Abdulsalami Abubakar, a retired Army General and former Head of State  shares the same view .

At a recent  maiden lecture  orgagnised  by the Staff  and Students of Abubakar  Post Graduate  Students’ Hall of University of Ibadam,  titled  ” Collaborative peace Building  in Nigeria” , the former Head of State  cautioned politicians  against disrupting 2019 general elections, saying ”we have no other country to run to should the country be engulfed on fire”.  He noted that ” no matter how good those managing the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC  are, if things are  well managed as they are , it might be difficult  to have  a credible election in 2019”.

Appealing to oliticians to be  conciliatory in their relationship and utterances , he stressed  that it is the only way  to have acceptable election results in 2019.

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