Nigerians have been advised to ignore the letter written by former President Olusegun Obasanjo to President Muhammadu Buhari. Describing the letter as a thrash and full of mischief, former member of the National Assembly, Senator Joseph Waku lambasted Obasanjo whom he described as a serial blackmailer.
In this interview with TUNDE THOMAS, Waku also spoke on other national issues including the recent herdsmen killings, proposed cattle colonies by the Federal Government among others.
What’s your take on the letter written to President Muhammadu Buhari by former President Olusegun Obasanjo?
Obasanjo is an attention seeker who should be ignored. Obasanjo likes playing to the gallery. If Obasanjo is a mature man and a genuine patriot and elder statesman who he wants us to believe he is, that letter he wrote to Buhari is needless.
Why do I say the letter is needless? It is needless because Obasanjo has unfettered access to President Buhari and all those issues he raised in the letter he could have discussed with the President one-on-one, and if Obasanjo didn’t want that option, he could have requested that a meeting should be convened where he, President Buhari and other former presidents and heads of states in the country who are all members of the Council of States would have discussed the issues he raised. But Obasanjo I know very well can never change – Obasanjo is mischievous. He is a blackmailer. Through that letter, Obasanjo wanted to incite Nigerians against Buhari.
Obasanjo is very mischievous. He wrote that letter to Buhari out of mischief and not out of patriotism. If Obasanjo had sought an audience with Buhari or even invite Buhari, and he refused to honour his invitation or if he had been unable to get the Council of States to discuss the issues he raised, it would have been understandable, but Obasanjo had not exploited all these avenues before he wrote his satanic letter to Buhari. Obasanjo is a selfish individual who likes playing to the gallery.
You were saying that Obasanjo lacked the moral right to write the letter …
Yes. As the saying goes, those who live in a glass house should not throw stones. Obasanjo is throwing stones from inside the glass house he is living in, and he deserves to be stoned back.
Without trying to be a spokesman for Buhari, but now speaking the fact as a Nigerian, Buhari compared to Obasanjo is a saint. Obasanjo should keep quiet. Obasanjo was a terrible leader when he was President of Nigeria between 1999 — 2007. He was a dictator, brutal and very incompetent. Obasanjo’s evil deeds are many, but one can mention a few. He introduced political corruption into this country. Although he set up EFCC and ICPC, but he just used the anti-graft agencies to witch-hunt his political opponents. We all remember how Obasanjo used EFCC to persecute his political opponents. The then EFCC boss, Nuhu Ribadu became Obasanjo’s hunting dog – in connivance with Ribadu. Obasajo illegally impeached several state governors including Joshua Dariye in Plateau and Rasheed Ladoja in Oyo State.
Obasanjo also in a brazen act of corruption elevated Ribadu within a period of six months from Assistant Commissioner of Police to Assistant Inspector-General of Police, AIG.
Obasanjo also introduced the privatization programme through which his administration sold Nigeria’s primed assets to Obasanjo himself and his cronies.
What about the Obasanjo’s Presidential Library in Ota, a personal project of Obasanjo but in which Obasanjo ensured that he extorted billions of naira from state governors, business moguls and others to put up the monumental structure. Recently, one of the state governors then, Ayodele Fayose claimed that Obasanjo forced state governors to donate billions of naira to the project, and Fayose had asked Obasanjo to refund Ekiti State donation.
How do you now describe somebody involved in all these scam as a wise man, who is in a position to lecture others or accuse others of corruption? Obasanjo is the father of all corruption.
But some Nigerians are saying that the letter should not just be dismissed with a wave of the hands and that it contains some allegations and issues which, Buhari should address …
That’s why I said earlier that Buhari is not a saint, and that no human being is 100 percent perfect. But I’m still on Obasanjo, I have not finished with him. Obasanjo talking to Buhari about insecurity and killings – for Obasanjo himself, it was worse under his administration when he was the president. Remember Odi killings that took place under Obasanjo’s watch where innocent people were murdered and their properties destroyed based on the orders of Obasanjo to the security agents.
What about the killings in Zaki Biam, the village of the then Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen. Victor Malu. Even though Malu was a senior official in Obasanjo’s administration, yet Obasanjo betrayed him by destroying his village.
What about individuals that were assassinated during Obasanjo’s era. Bola Ige, the then number one judicial officer was killed and up till today, his killers are yet to be apprehended. What about Marshall Harry and others whose lives were wasted during Obasanjo’s years in office? We can go on and on. The list is endless and this is one of the reasons why I said Obasanjo lacks the moral stand to attack Buhari.
Obasanjo was a callous and vindictive man who hounded so many innocent Nigerians into jail during his time in office. At over 80 years, it is sad that Obasanjo is yet to mature. He can never change.
Obasanjo should stop playing to the gallery; he should bury his head in shame. He should stop trying to project himself as the oracle of the nation. Is this not the same Obasanjo that wanted to run for a third term but who was stopped in his track by some patriots. Obasanjo was a saboteur who wanted to subvert the constitution in order to run for a third term; he should keep quiet. Obasanjo is a hypocrite. He should be ignored. Here is Obasanjo who wanted to run for a third term not allowed by the Nigerian Constitution but he is now asking somebody who is constitutionally allowed to run for a second term not to do so. He is a hypocrite.
But in that letter, Obasanjo stated that he was advising Buhari not to go for a second term based on his performance, and his failing health …
What’s there to write about in Obasanjo’s eight years of failure as Nigeria’s leader. Monumental corruption took place under Obasanjo’s watch whereas Buhari is fighting corruption. Obasanjo should explain what happened to over N60 billion his government earmarked for electrification project, but instead of giving us light, Obasanjo gave us darkness. Buhari is trying his best. For instance, Buhari’s administration has built up Nigeria’s foreign reserve to $40 billion, whereas under the previous administration, our foreign reserve had been depleted to zero level. Where we need to give credit, we should not hesitate to do so, and where we want to condemn or criticize, we should also do so. To me, Buhari has not been a failure, and I believe that there is still room for improvement. Obasanjo has a lot of skeletons in his cupboard; he should keep quiet.
Do you have any words of advice for Obasanjo?
Obasanjo can never change. He is like a leopard who can never change from its dark spots. How do you advise a man that is over 80 years. Even if Obasanjo attain the age of Methuselah, that is, if he lives for over 900 years, he will still remain the same. Maturity has nothing to do with age. Obasanjo, since I know him, has never exhibited any sign of maturity. At times, he behaves childishly. He doesn’t have the traits of a genuine patriot, and qualities required of a statesman. On whether Buhari should seek reelection or not, the president has not come out to make a categorical statement on it. So what’s Obasanjo’s headache all about?
If Buhari decides to seek a second term, it is his constitutional right to do so. The problem with Obasanjo is that he is not happy or doesn’t want anybody to equal his own record. If Buhari decides to seek reelection, then it means he will be equaling Obasanjo’s record, and he is not happy about that. Again Obasanjo is bitter and angry with Buhari that Buhari has not been running to him for advice in Ota. Obasanjo is not happy that Buhari has not become a regular visitor to Ota; he is not happy that Buhari has not been coming to pay homage to him at his Ota farm. He wanted Buhari to be dancing to his own tunes, and all these Buhari has not done.
What’s your reaction to Obasanjo’s call for a coalition movement or a Third Force to wrest power from APC and PDP?
Don’t mind Obasanjo, he is trying in another way to realize what I will call Fourth Term, which he failed to realize while in office. What I mean by this is very simple – Obasanjo should never be trusted. Has he not publicly told Nigerians that he had quit active politics, if that is so, why is he floating another coalition, is that not another political party that he is floating? But yet Obasanjo is saying that he has quit politics. Obasanjo is deceiving Nigerians. Obasanjo double speaks; he is still actively involved in politics and his aims are two -to register that coalition as a political party, and then to get his own surrogate as the leader of the party. His ultimate aim is to get a leader he can manipulate, and who will be ready to dance to his tune anytime. Nigerians should be wary of Obasanjo and his new agenda.
PDP of recent has also been critical of Buhari’s administration, accusing the government of not living up to expectation, what’s your views on that?
What do you expect from PDP? Is PDP not an opposition party? You don’t expect PDP to sing the praise of APC. PDP was in power for 16 years and led Nigeria into economic recession, but with Buhari in the saddle just for two years plus, Nigeria is out of economic recession. The nation’s foreign reserve was seriously depleted under PDP’s government, but today, Buhari’s administration has built up Nigeria’s foreign reserve up to $40 billion, what about the reforms in the agricultural sector, especially in the area of rice production which has saved the nation the agony of rice importation which was to cost Nigeria lots of money.
What is your reaction to the recent killings by herdsmen in Benue, Taraba and other parts of the country?
From all the perspectives, political, social, economic and cultural, the unity of our country is becoming consistently threatened by the relentless attacks by these herdsmen. A large percentage of Nigerians are disenchanted and have lost confidence in the capacity of our security agencies to protect them.
What in your view is the solution to the problem?
Contrary to the cattle colonies idea being canvassed by the Federal Government, the permanent solution to the carnage by the herdsmen who to me are evil marauders is to establish Animal Fodder Farms in different zones, particularly in the northern parts of the country. Let me also state here that some foreign investors with the appropriate technological expertise have expressed their readiness and willingness to engage in beneficial partnership with the Federal Government in this regard, what is left is for the Federal Government to strike a deal with the foreign partners to start production. 5,000 hectares of cultivated land can produce sufficient fodder feeds which can conveniently feed one million cattle per year. We should not condemn Audu Ogbeh over the proposed Federal Government cattle colony’s proposal but we should all try to make useful recommendations that will help us to find ways out of any problem instead of being in the habit of criticizing, condemning or attacking any policy without proposing alternatives which will help us to chart ways forward. What should always be paramount in our mind is how to live together in harmony.