Obasanjo denies being neutral, says he wants Buhari out

FORMER President Olusegun Obasanjo said on Sunday he will never be neutral in the choice of a president for Nigeria in 2019 election, faulting reports which imputed that he had dropped his support for the Peoples Democratic Party's presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar. .

Obasanjo said that the need to change the present President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration at the centre to one that would “improve on the economy, regain investors' confidence and generally drive growth” is too compelling in the face of incompetence and brazen impunity.

The elder statesman, who is presently in Cairo for the maiden edition of the Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF) of which he is chairman of the Advisory Council, spoke through a statement by his media aide Kehinde Akinyemi.

In the statement titled, “2019 elections and reports of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo's neutrality”, Obasanjo said he was in Cairo to attend the maiden edition of the Intra-African Trade Fair where he acted as the Chairman of the Advisory Council when his attention was drawn to the report (not in The PUNCH) with the headline, “Atiku: Obasanjo shifts political gear to neutral”

Obasanjo said in the statement that Nigeria was being destroyed by incompetence, lack of focus and nepotism.

He said while he chose not to use the Owu convention in Iwo, Osun State on Saturday as a platform for a political campaign, he adopted a communal and familial approach in talking to members of his Owu sub-ethnic group.

According to the statement, the former President “ believes that only a fool will sit on the fence or be neutral when his or her country is being destroyed with incompetence, corruption, lack of focus, insecurity, nepotism, brazen impunity and denial of the obvious. Chief Obasanjo is no such fool nor is he so unwise”.

The statement reads, “It is disingenuous, if not malicious, for anyone to suggest that Chief Obasanjo was being neutral when he chose not to use the Owu convention as a platform for political campaign but instead adopted a communal and familial approach in talking to members of his Owu family.

“For the records, and as accurately reported by some media organisations, what the former President said at the convention in Iwo was that while he would not impose any candidates on them, Nigerians should vote for credible candidates who would drive growth and development and make their lives better than it is now.

“Chief Obasanjo's statement did not suggest his neutrality. In fact, the former President believes that only a fool will sit on the fence or be neutral when his or her country is being destroyed. Chief Obasanjo is no such fool nor is he so unwise.

“The former President reassures Nigerians that he will not sit on the fence when he needs to be out and active for people to know where he stands in the best interest of Nigeria.

“Chief Obasanjo reaffirms that he is on the side of what is best for Nigeria and what we have currently, at the helm of affairs of Nigeria, is not the best for Nigeria, so nobody should fool himself or deceive others about Chief Obasanjo's position.

“The former President further urges Nigerians, who are victims of what we have for now, to stop just complaining and go out to get beneficial change.

“They must know that such change will not come if they remain inactive, just complaining and complacent and allow themselves to be deceived by sycophants and enemies of Nigeria.

“If they do not become active and get the much-needed change of the current administration to a government that will improve the economy, regain the confidence of investors and generally drive growth, development and economic progress with security, what is coming will be much worse than what Nigerians currently suffer.

“On his part, Chief Obasanjo will remain consistent in speaking out whenever and wherever he sees evil as he is known to do no matter whose ox is gored. Nobody should manipulate Chief Obasanjo's position, particularly on the 2019 presidential election and what he said in Iwo, to perpetrate or perpetuate continued destruction of our country, “the statement said.

Obasanjo, had in a letter to the President in January this year, asked Buhari to shelve his re-election bid, accusing the incumbent president of incompetence in many areas, including the economy.

He had said, “There are other areas where President Buhari has come out more glaringly than most of us thought we knew about him. One is nepotic deployment bordering on clannishness and inability to bring discipline to bear on errant members of his nepotic court. This has grave consequences on the performance of his government to the detriment of the nation. It would appear that national interest was being sacrificed on the altar of nepotic interest.”