Former President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo says the incumbent President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has done his best to proffer solutions to the security challenges confronting the nation, adding that Nigerians should not expect more from the Katsina-born retired major general.
Obasanjo made this known this week when leaders of socio-cultural organisations met in Abuja at a retreat on inclusive security organised by the Global Peace Foundation in collaboration with Vision Africa.
The elder statesmen including Obasanjo; Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, amongst others, lamented the incessant kidnappings, killings in the country, calling for collective actions to halt the worsening insecurity ubiquitous in the country.
Speaking at the event, Obasanjo said Nigerians should stop wasting time asking for the 78-year-old President to proffer more security solutions but should focus on the post-Buhari era.
The 84-year-old ex-President said, “The truth is this: President Buhari has done his best; that is what he can do, if you expect anything than what he is doing, you are kicking a dead horse and there is no need.
“We must not fold our hands…How do we prepare for post-Buhari era? Buhari has done his best. My prayer is that God will spare his life to see his term through but what do we have after Buhari? What should we do to make post-Buhari era better than what we have now? That is our responsibility. It concerns all of us.”
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Obasanjo was Nigeria’s military head of state between February 1976 and September 1979 and the country’s democratically elected President from May 1999 to May 2007 while Buhari was also Nigeria’s head of state between December 1983 and August 1985 before his return as civilian President in May 2015.
Obasanjo had been one of the fiercest critics of Buhari until recently when he appeared to have softened pedals. In February 2021, the strongman of Hilltop told Buhari to wake up and fight banditry in his backyard – in the North-West.
Many Nigerians are disappointed in the regime of Buhari, who rode to power on the heels of combating the security challenges plaguing the country in 2015 but the situation seems to have been aggravated in the last six years.
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Reacting, the Federal Government faulted former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s assessment of President Muhammadu Buhari’s score card in the last six years.
It disagreed with the former leader’s remark that the President has nothing to offer in office, particularly on the worsening insecurity that has upset the country.
The government warned Nigerians against the use of incendiary and insulting words, especially by leaders, saying that they can overheat the polity and heighten tension.
Government also said that with a recent court declaration, bandits have been declared as terrorists, stressing that no administration in Nigeria’s recent history has provided the security agencies with the hardware to tackle insecurity as that of President Buhari.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made the clarifications at a briefing in Abuja against the backdrop of increasing banditry and kidnappings in the country.
The Minister said: “If anybody is worried today about the security situation of the country, it is Mr. President.
“President Buhari has done so much, under very difficult economic and social conditions, to tackle insecurity in our country.
“Not only has he done so much. President Buhari continues to do much more to keep Nigerians safe. To say he has nothing more to offer is untrue, fallacious and smacks of dirty politicking.
“By boosting the number and capacity of our fighting forces, Mr. President is putting them in good stead to tackle insecurity not just during the life of his administration but long after he would have left office.”
Mohammed assured Nigerians that Buhari will leave the nation better with sustainable achievements.
He added:” President Buhari is leaving a legacy of security, infrastructural development, economic prosperity and social cohesion for Nigeria.
”This may not seem obvious today, amidst daunting challenges, but posterity will be kind to this President.
“Despite all this, President Buhari has not relented, constantly presiding over meetings of security chiefs to get an update and also issue necessary directives, and not missing any opportunity to offer succour to his countrymen and women, when necessary.
“The skewed narrative in certain quarters that the President has not shown enough empathy is glib talk. The President has also continued to work with our neighboring countries and indeed our Western partners to tackle insecurity, especially terrorism.
“With the entire Sahelian region experiencing a devastating surge in terrorist attacks, more so in the wake of the Libyan crisis, it has become even more imperative for Nigeria to step up regional cooperation to more effectively tackle insecurity – and that is what Mr. President has been doing.
“Gentlemen, President Buhari has done so much, under very difficult economic and social conditions, to tackle insecurity in our country. Not only has he done so much. President Buhari continues to do much more to keep Nigerians safe. To say he has nothing more to offer is untrue, fallacious and smacks of dirty politicking.
“By boosting the number and capacity of our fighting forces, Mr. President is putting them in good stead to tackle insecurity not just during the life of his Administration but long after he would have left office. President Buhari is leaving a legacy of security, infrastructural development, economic prosperity and social cohesion for Nigeria. This may not seem obvious today, amidst daunting challenges, but posterity will be kind to this President.
“Please permit me to use this opportunity to commend the military, police, civil defence and other security, intelligence and para-military agencies for their continued service to the nation. It is important to remember that our men and women in uniform sacrifice their sleep and comfort so we can in turn sleep well.
“Even as we continue to battle insecurity, it will be uncharitable on our part to suggest they are not doing enough, or not to appreciate their sacrifices. The recent massive surrendering of Boko Haram terrorists and the huge pressure on bandits represent a testament to the effectiveness of the efforts of our security agencies. We should encourage them to do more, instead of pillorying them.”
The Minister said the use of incendiary and insulting words, especially by leaders of all hues, can only overheat the polity and heighten tension.
He asked Nigerians to appreciate the efforts of the government at addressing security challenges in the country.
Mohammed said: “Finally, while there is nothing wrong in the citizens expressing their concerns over the insecurity in the country, we wish to say that the use of incendiary and insulting words, especially by leaders of all hues, can only overheat the polity and heighten tension.
“While the government provides leadership, all Nigerians have a role to play in securing our nation. Security is not the sole responsibility of the security forces alone.
“We must not only support our security agencies, we must also say something anytime we see something that hampers our safety and security, as encapsulated in the mantra: ‘’If you see something, say something.’’
Asked why the Federal Government’s position on the status of bandits, Mohammed said:” I think the AGF went to court and got a declaration. As far as the law is concerned today, bandits are terrorists. But it is not me or you that will say that they are terrorists, the court has made a declaration.
Regarding gazette on the court declaration, the Minister said: “There is a process for everything, we should be patient. The Attorney-General of the Federation won’t go to court for nothing. For the AGF to go to court, it is the biggest step to declare bandits as terrorists.”
Responding to a correspondent, the Minister insisted that Buhari has improved security architecture of the nation than he met it.
He said: “Since assuming office in 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari has continued to make the issue of security a major plank of his administration’s policy. This is not a surprise, considering the fact that the fight against insecurity is one of the three priority areas of the APC-led Federal Government.
“Yes, the security situation has continued to pose a great challenge, but amidst the cacophony of voices – some genuinely concerned about the situation and others ready to exploit it for selfish ends – it is easy to forget where we are coming from.
“Today, we only look at the current situation, without wondering what would have been had this President not taken the bull by the horns, as far as security is concerned.
“With the way the insurgents were going before this Administration came into office, with their control of a vast swath of land the size of Belgium, with their freewheeling attacks in almost a dozen states, including the Federal Capital Territory which was hit at least five times, perhaps they could have achieved their aim of declaring an Islamic State in Nigeria, if President Buhari had not acted decisively.
“After all, in 2014, Boko Haram declared a Caliphate in Gwoza after capturing Bama and Gamboru as well as other towns and villages in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa. They installed their own Emirs, collected taxes and flew their flag before the military dislodged them.
“Yes, banditry and kidnapping have added to the state of insecurity, President Buhari has also continued to provide quality leadership in order to ensure that our security agencies decisively tackle the cankerworm of insecurity of any hue.”