President Muhammadu Buhari has finally reacted to a widely circulated letter written by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, criticising his leadership style and urging him not to run for another term in office.
Mr Obasanjo in a letter he wrote in January advised Mr Buhari not to seek re-election in 2019 but stay on the sideline as a statesman.
The 13-page statement entitled, “The Way Out: A Clarion Call for Coalition for Nigeria Movement” said Mr Buhari has performed below expectation and should honourably “dismount from the horse” to join the league of the country’s former leaders whose “experience, influence, wisdom and outreach can be deployed on the sideline for the good of the country.”
Mr Obasanjo, a two-term president on the platform of People Democratic Party (PDP), who supported Mr Buhari’s presidential campaign in 2015, said he was disappointed by Mr Buhari.
Since the publication, Mr Buhari has not directly responded to the attacks launched at him in the letter.
The closest to a response from Presidency was that from the Minister for Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, who simply listed the achievements of the current administration.
Speaking in Bauchi during a state banquet in his honour on Thursday night, Mr Buhari said he would have preferred to remain silent on the matter but for Mr Mohammed’s insistence that there ought to be a response from the Federal Government.
He said after his initial reluctance, he consented to Mr Mohammed’s wish after an agreement had been reached that the minister would not mention Mr Obasanjo’s name in his response, a report by The Cable noted.
“Tonight, I want to remind you people of what Lai Mohammed did when a letter was written on our failure as an administration,” Mr Buhari was quoted by The Cable newspaper as saying. “Lai Mohammed was agitated about replying but I said no. I said no for two reasons: one, he is much younger than the person who wrote the letter and myself; two, he is from the same constituency as the person who wrote the letter.
“But when Mohammed came again, I said he should go out but he said he won’t go. I asked why and he said, let me give him a chance to say what he wanted, then I said go on. He said in what he would do, he would not mention names but only try to remind Nigerians what the country was when we came in, where we are now, and what we have done with the resources available to us.
“Eventually, I had to admit that he was right and I was wrong because a number of people who could get in touch with me have said that Lai did a good job. A lot of them are in the media… I am very happy with the performance of our party, the All Progressive Congress.”
Mr Buhari also narrated how the “betrayal” of some of his former political associates informed his insistence on finding a credible platform that would enable him “rescue the country”.
“I will like to go down some historical antecedents so that people can assess. When we were in the ANPP, I went through an impartial primary and I won the ticket. I think for the third or fourth time and while I was in court, because I felt I was ready to be president, the person who was to be my vice-president, allowed himself to be appointed by the presidency,” he said.
“The chairman and vice-chairman of the party accepted; even when I was still in court as a presidential candidate. That’s why I got out and formed the CPC; when we realised that if we don’t work together, that is the opposition parties, and wrestle power from the PDP, this country would have sunk.”