Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, on Sunday, took a swipe at President Muhammadu Buhari, accusing him and “his hatchet men” of running an autocratic government similar to the administration of the late military dictator, Gen. Sani Abacha.
Obasanjo stated this in his 16-page statement titled, “Points for concern and action,” given to journalists in Abeokuta.
Nigerians witnessed imprisonment of the opposition and a vicious self-succession plan by Abacha between 1993 and 1998, when the dictator died.
Obasanjo said, “It is clear from all indications that Buhari is putting into practice the lessons he learned from Abacha. Buhari has intimidated and harassed the private sector, attacked the National Assembly and now unconstitutionally and recklessly attacked and intimidated the judiciary to cow them to submission.
“I was a victim of Abacha’s atrocities against Nigeria and Nigerians – high and low. At the height of Abacha’s desperation for perpetual power, he did not brook any criticism because Nigeria was seen as his personal property.
“You must go along with him or be destroyed. All institutions for ensuring security, welfare and well-being of Nigeria and Nigerians particularly the police, the military and the Department of State Services were abused and misused to deal with critics of Abacha and non-conformists with Abacha.
“Today, another Abacha era is here. The security institutions are being misused to fight all critics and opponents of Buhari and to derail our fledgling democracy. The EFCC, the police and the Code of Conduct Tribunal are also being equally misused to deal with those Buhari sees as enemies for criticising him or as those who may not do his bidding in manipulating election results. Criticism, choice and being different are inherent trademarks of democracy. If democracy is derailed or aborted, anarchy and authoritarianism will automatically follow.
“Today, as in the day of Abacha, Nigerians must rise up and do what they did in the time of Abacha. Churches and Mosques prayed. International community stood by us Nigerians.
“God of Nigeria is a living God and a prayer-answering God. Nigerians must cry out to God to deliver Nigeria. Here again, I have been threatened with arrest and extermination but I will not succumb to intimidation or threats.”
Obasanjo stated that he decided to speak on the state of the nation because he was concerned about the dangerous trend pervading the country.
He however came hard on the Independent National Electoral Commission describing its officials as people of no integrity.
Obasanjo stated, “Democracy becomes a sham if elections are carried out by people, who should be impartial and neutral umpires, but who show no integrity, acting with blatant partiality, duplicity and imbecility.
“For all democrats and those carrying out the process of elections, there must be the red line that must not be crossed in tactics and practices of democracy.
“I personally have serious doubt about the present INEC’s integrity, impartiality and competence to conduct a fair, free and credible election.”
The former President scolded INEC on its performance during the governorship election in Osun State last year, describing the rerun election as unnecessary.
He said, “The unnecessary rerun, if viewed as a test for general elections, would lead people to expect incidences of deliberately contrived, broken or non-working voting machines or card readers, confusion of voters as to their voting stations, inadequate supply of voting materials to designated places, long line to discourage voters and turning blind eyes to favour the blue-eyed political party of INEC because the commission’s hands will be tied to enable the hatchet men and women to perform their unwholesome assignment.”
He urged Nigerians to stop INEC from derailing the democracy through its action.
“The track record of the present INEC is fairly sordid and all men and women of goodwill and believers in democracy must be prepared for the worst from INEC and their encouragers and how to get Nigeria out of the electoral morass that the commission is driving us into. To be forewarned is to be forearmed. A battle long forewarned does not embroil the cripple nor catch him unawares,” he said.
The former President also called on the international community to resist Buhari’s alleged plan to rig the coming elections.
Obasanjo said, “From available intelligence, we have heard of how Buhari and his party are going about with his own self-succession project.
“They have started recruiting collation officers who are already awarding results based on their projects to actualise the perpetuation agenda in which the people will not matter and the votes will not count. It is the sole reason he has blatantly refused to sign the revised Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill into law.
“His henchmen are working round the clock in cahoots with security and election officials to perfect their plan by computing results right from the ward to local government, state and national levels to allot him with what will look like a landslide victory irrespective of the true situation for a candidate who might have carried out by proxy presidential debate and campaigns.”
He, however, advised the Chairman of INEC, Prof. Yakubu Mahmood, to stand firm and carry out his duties with competence and unbending neutrality.
Speaking on the controversial INEC official, Amina Zakari, Obasanjo said the woman had become too controversial a figure to be able to give assurance of free, fair and credible elections for INEC.