…stop playing politics with death, says Presidency
Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo Monday complained about the continued insecurity in the country which he says is “eroding the root of our Nigerian community.”
“The issue I am addressing here is very serious; it is the issue of life and death for all of us and for our dear country, Nigeria,” Obasanjo said in the open letter addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari and signed by Obasanjo’s spokesman Kehinde Akinyemi.
“This issue can no longer be ignored, treated with nonchalance, swept under the carpet or treated with cuddling glove,” Obasanjo added.
Obasanjo accused Buhari of “poor management or mismanagement of diversity” leading to a “very onerous cloud is gathering”
“And rain of destruction, violence, disaster and disunity can only be the outcome,” Obasanjo said.
Frequent violent crimes have grown to form a major threat to Nigeria’s national security. These include instances of militancy, insurgency and banditry such as kidnapping for ransom. In fact, Nigeria has one of the world’s highest rates of kidnap-for-ransom cases.
The Islamist militants, who operate chiefly in Nigeria’s restive north, have carried out numerous deadly attacks on mosques, churches and businesses and even on the Nigerian troops.
Listing out the “four avoidable calamities” looming, Obasanjo said he is deeply worried about abandoning the country to the “hands of criminals” suspected to be Fulanis and terrorists of Boko Haram.
He said the conflict may lead to a “planned reprisal attacks against Fulanis which may inadvertently or advertently mushroom into pogrom or Rwanda-type genocide that we did not believe could happen and yet it happened.”
“Violent uprising beginning from one section of the country and spreading quickly to other areas and leading to dismemberment of the country,” Obasanjo pointed out this to make his four avoidable calamities list.
Obasanjo wants the Buhari-led government should open up discussion, debate and dialogue as part of consultation at different levels.
He suggested that Buhari should contacts “traditional rulers, past heads of service, past heads of para-military organisations, private sector, civil society, community leaders particularly in the most affected areas, present and past governors, present and past local government leaders, religious leaders, past Heads of State, past intelligence chiefs, past Heads of Civil Service and relevant current and retired diplomats, members of opposition and any groups that may be deemed relevant.”
“The President must be seen to be addressing this issue with utmost seriousness and with maximum dispatch and getting all hands on deck to help,” Obasanjo noted.
Obasanjo and Buhari, both former military heads of state in the country, were allies in the run-up to the 2015 polls that brought in the latter into power.
But their relationship went sour in 2018 with Obasanjo labelling Buhari incompetent and accusing him of nepotism.
Obasanjo has doubled down on the criticism of his former ally in subsequent statements and open letters.
Weeks before Nigeria’s last general elections, he accused Buhari of desperation to retain power, comparing him to the late Nigerian despot General Sani Abacha.
Meanwhile, the Presidency has appealed to those playing politics by capitalising on the killing of Mrs Funke Olakunrin in Ondo state, to stop it.
In a strong statement issued Monday night by Garba Shehu, the SSA Media, the Buhari government said: “Times of tragedy like these are not the time for politics. It reveals only disrespect for the departed and her family. And we hope that those who stand in positions of influence recognise and understand this”.
Although the statement did not identify those who have been exploiting the tragedy to hit the Buhari administration, in the last 72 hours some critical remarks have been credited to former president Olusegun Obasanjo, Professor Wole Soyinka, Pastor Tunde Bakare, former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar and a host social media commentators, with sympathy for the opposition Peoples Democratic Party.
In the statement issued by the presidency on Monday night, government made a pointed appeal to the critics and appealed for national unity.
“It is incumbent on all leaders across the country to consider their language and its potential consequences. Insecurity is an issue that Nigeria must face together as one nation – united”.
The statement noted public concerns on the unfortunate attack and recalled the concern of President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
“The President has already issued a statement expressing his heartfelt condolences to the family of Mrs Funke Olakunri and followed up with a telephone call.
“The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo has in addition, paid a visit to the grieving family in Akure, Ondo State.
“Her death is a tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family”, it said.