Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Saturday in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, tasked Nigerians to brace up for the 2019 general elections and get their Permanent Voter’s Cards (PVCs) to effect a positive and desired change for the betterment of the country.
Obasanjo spoke at the official launch of the Coalition of Nigerian Movement (CNM) during a rally attended by the CNM National Coordinator, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola. Also at the rally were Chief Ahmed Raji SAN; a former deputy governor of the state, Alhaji Taofeek Arapaja; two former Secretaries to the State Government, Chief Olayiwola Olakojo and Mr. Dele Adigun; a former council chairman, Mr. Gbenga Adewusi; and the CNM coordinators across the 33 local governments and 351 wards of the state.
Obasanjo’s veiled reference to the need to unseat President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019 coincided with the declaration by his former deputy, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, that he would investigate arms procurement by the Buhari administration, if he won the presidential election in 2019.
The Ibadan event, where Obasanjo relaunched his move against Buhari, was declared open by Oyinlola. In his welcome address, Oyinlola said the CNM had opened talks with some political parties ahead of the general election. He said over three million Nigerians had registered with the movement since the former president registered in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, few weeks ago.
Obasanjo, who spoke intermittently in English and Yoruba languages that drew applause from the joyful participants, was clad in the CNM attire. He said the movement had started doing things differently. He, therefore, changed its slogan to forthwith read, “CNM for the youths, CNM for the Women and CNM for Nigeria.”
The former president recalled how the 2015 presidential election was won, saying, “If anybody wants Nigeria’s current situation to continue the way it is today, then his head has to be examined. And some people are still saying that this situation should continue. God, the Almighty, will not allow them to have their way; we will neither suffer nor shall we be put to shame.”
Referring to his January 23 statement in which he called on Buhari to step down for lack of performance, Obasanjo said the call was made due to the fact that Nigeria could not continue to totter. He explained that his call emanated from wide-ranging consultations with well-meaning Nigerians.
“I belief at my age I should not continue to complain without finding solutions to the situation in which we have found ourselves. But we can’t do it alone. We will work with all those who are not with those who are not performing. When that time comes, we will tell you the platform,” he said.
He warned that the task ahead was enormous and required concerted efforts.
According to him, “Don’t ever think it will be easy. Tough times never last only the tough people do, and men and women born of noble birth don’t fear any war. It won’t be easy to salvage Nigeria from those profiting from its poor state and current situation but God who did it yesterday, will do it again for us.”
He also spoke on Buhari’s controversial statement about the youth at the recently concluded Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London. Obasanjo said contrary to the president’s claim, Nigerian youths were resilient and hardworking folks, and they could be the best they could if they had half of the opportunities he and a number of elders had in their growing years.
“Give them a small opportunity to excel, they will perform miracle, especially if we are able to give them 50 per cent of what we enjoyed while growing up,” he said.
Concluding, he told his audience, “Get your PVC, it is the instrument and key to chase them away and open the door ahead of us. PVC is the key to open the door. Don’t be intimidated. For me, I don’t think there is anybody in this Nigeria who can intimidate me. I have seen a lot; sent to prison and weathered the storm altogether. So registration is important for all of us.”
Atiku Threatens to Investigate Buhari Administration
In a related development, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has said he would investigate the procurement of arms by the Buhari administration. Atiku explained that it was necessary to review the length of time it had taken to fight Boko Haram terrorists and why not much success had been achieved.
The former vice president, who spoke to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Hausa Service yesterday, wondered why after eight years of engaging the terrorists, the war had not ended.
“I want to be the president of Nigeria because I would be able to do things I could not do as vice president. I will investigate how the government was unable to defeat Boko Haram for years. I will also investigate the procurement of arms bought by this administration,” he told the foreign radio service.
Atiku, who said he was not desperate to become the president of Nigeria, also revealed why he parted ways with Buhari and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), which he helped to bring to power.
Dismissing insinuations that he was desperate to be president, Atiku maintained that he would have contested for the position in 2003 when all the governors rejected the then president, Obasanjo, and wanted him to contest.
He said, “I am not desperate to be president of Nigeria. If you have been following political developments in Nigeria, I didn’t start aspiring to be president today.
“You will recall that in 1993, I contested with the late MKO Abiola, but I stepped down for him and he won, even though at that time it was not my wish to contest, it was our party leaders who asked me to contest.
“In 1999, after I was elected governor (of Adamawa State), I was asked to be Vice President to Obasanjo and we spent eight years in office. In 2007, Obasanjo didn’t want me to contest, but I wanted to prove to him that I have the right to contest, so I contested to prove my right.
“All these were at the preliminary stages, until 2007 when I contested for the presidential primaries.
“If I were desperate to be president, I would not have stepped down for Abiola in 1993.
“Secondly, you recall that in 2003, all the governors said they didn’t like Obasanjo and asked me to contest. If I am desperate, I would have contested.”
Explaining why he was interesting in 2019, Abubakar said having been vice president for eight years, he knew what ought to be done to move the country forward, but as vice president he couldn’t do them.
He spoke about boosting the economy, creating an attractive environment for investors, and creation of jobs to tackle unemployment.
On why he parted ways with Buhari and the APC, Abubakar recalled that after the elections in 2015, he met the president and told him of the need to restructure the party to address the challenges facing it. He added that he advised the president on some aspects of his government but Buhari did not say anything.
“I told him that if things continued like this, I will quit but he didn’t say anything. In this administration, there are some people that are doing things that are not right but they are being protected by the government,” Atiku said.
He said if he was elected president in 2019, 40 per cent of his cabinet ministers will be youths.
The former vice president also reacted to the controversy over the federal government and Intels Nigeria Limited, a company which he has stakes in, saying he was not worried about the matter as he was not part of the company’s management.