Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Wednesday, articulated three reasons he is backing Atiku Abubakar for the 2019 presidential contest among which is the fact that he would not cede power to a cabal. Obasanjo spoke at the Island Club as the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, presidential candidate enunciated his plans to get Nigeria working again.
The Island Club Guest lecture addressed by Atiku had Senate President, Bukola Saraki, PDP national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, among others as guests.
Noting how he turned towards Atiku, despite his earlier castigation of his former deputy, Dr. Obasanjo said: “Atiku has done three things which are absolutely imperative for a leader to be followed and believed. First, know who you are and present yourself as you are – a human being in blood and flesh and susceptible to human mistakes and human frailties.
”Don’t cover up with sanctimonious veneer of bogus integrity, incorruptibility, uprightness, goodness and false figures and statistics, all of which are contrived to deceive, to cheat, to plunder and to destroy.
“Second, a leader must be honest to himself and to the people he serves, or he wants to serve. He must identify and acknowledge his situation, mistakes, shortcomings, and inadequacy; show remorse where and when he has erred, seek forgiveness and repent; and not passing the bulk or keep blaming others and fail to accept responsibility.
”Atiku accepts responsibility for his mistakes shows remorse and seeks forgiveness from his political party and subsequently from Nigerians.
“Third, as a leader, you must understand the fundamentals of the problems you have to solve and be courageous, visionary and ready to reach out sufficiently to build a credible team of experts, knowledgeable men and women, concerned and interested citizens and non-citizens to work hard and tirelessly for solutions that will benefit all Nigerians and, indeed, Africans and humanity. From my personal knowledge of Atiku, he has these qualities.”
Reiterating why Atiku would make a better president than Buhari, Obasanjo said: “We now know that both Buhari and Atiku have issues and all of us as human beings have one issue or the other in different magnitude but judging both of them empirically, and for the task at hand, Atiku will perform much better than Buhari, and he will seek for good and able people around the country and beyond and make use of them to achieve his mission and vision for the general good of Nigerians and the country.
“He will be a team leader but will not allow the seizure of his mandate by a cabal. A system to prevent impunity and ‘I can do what I like’ attitude and action must be put in place for all concerned. It is more than check and balance; rather it is for the good of all stakeholders and equity-holders.”
The former President used the forum to dismiss insinuations that he did not trust Atiku as vice-president to preside over Federal Executive Council meetings.
He said: “That was not correct because he had occasions to preside on a few times that I was out of the country on duty. On those occasions, he was in charge of the Federal Executive Council meetings. And no Nigerian Chief Executive has devolved to his deputy as much as I did to Atiku.
”I did not need to designate him Acting President because the Constitution is clear, once the President is not available, the Vice-President automatically acts with full powers, and he consults where and if he considers it necessary. But since I was not absent from home for 104 days at a time, people may not know that Atiku actually stood in for me whenever I was out.”
Before he enunciated his economic plans to reinvigorate the economy, Atiku in an aside used the opportunity to again raise concerns about the state of Nigeria’s democracy.
“After unsuccessfully abusing the instruments of state to remove the leadership of the legislature, President Muhammadu Buhari has turned his sights on the judiciary.
“The action of unilaterally suspending the Chief Justice of Nigeria by President Buhari is unconstitutional. The Constitution provides laid down rules for the suspension or removal of the CJN and this has not been followed. This is a grave attack on our constitution and the people of our country.
“As someone who has vigorously defended our constitution over a number of decades you can be rest assured that I will to do all in my power to ensure the matter is resolved in accordance with our constitution. A key part of my vision for Nigeria is respect for the rule of law because without it, you can have no society.
The PDP candidate subsequently asserted that Nigeria was not working as he used United Nations parameters and recent national statistics on poverty, unemployment and job losses to present the problems of the economy.
Remarkably, Atiku affirmed that the problems were underpinned by a defective political structure which he said should be immediately redressed to ensure productive economic flow.
He said: “On the political front, our unity as a nation has been fatally bruised. Social cohesion is being eroded, democratic consolidation being undermined and national unity and security threatened by ethno-religious tensions, agitations, restiveness, and disputes over titles and entitlements.
“Over the years, Nigeria has promoted, tolerated and indeed celebrated a defective political structure. Our states and local governments are too weak to meet their constitutional responsibilities. Consequently, the Federal Government has succeeded in emasculating them and taking away those responsibilities and, along with these, the resources which belong to them.
“If we are to develop into a United, Secure and Prosperous nation we must be bold enough to stitch all the structural faults lines that have arrested our development as a nation. We must adopt a new economic management model and a new political structure that will cure all the federating units of their addiction to oil revenues. We must re-structure the polity and the economy.”
The candidate subsequently unfolded his plans which he encapsulated to include privatisation of the four refineries, liberalisation of the productive sector of the economy, and politics of inclusiveness that minimises the spirit of frustration that spurs citizens into rebellion.
Atiku particularly lamented that Ghana with 14% of Nigeria’s population was attracting more Foreign Direct Investments, FDIs, as he promised to enunciate policies that would spur growth and restore confidence in the economy by citizens and the international community.