Week In Review: Obasanjo’s Explosive Statement, Blame Game, And More
2018 Week Four: January 22– 28
Unlike the previous weeks, last week was clouded with blame game following a statement from former President Olusegun Obasanjo which sparked controversy.
The week, however, began on January 22 with a meeting between President Muhammadu Buhari and the Board of Directors of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group in Abuja. As part of efforts to end the attacks by suspected herdsmen across the country, the President said security forces have been deployed to the vulnerable areas.
In another meeting with the President, a delegation of the All Progressives Congress (APC) from the South East asked President Buhari to seek re-election. The Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, who was part of the delegation, told State House correspondents that they endorsed the President for a second term because of his performance.
Reacting to the lingering fuel crisis, an economic expert explained why the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) should be privatised. Mr Muda Yusuf, who is the Director-General of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), believes the NNPC is crippled with structure and governance irregularity and should be disconnected from the Federal Government.
Still in the nation’s capital, a Federal High Court in Abuja adjourned the arms deal trial of a former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Olisa Metuh. The trial was adjourned after Metuh’s counsel, Mr Emeka Etiaba, informed the court that his client was on admission over an undisclosed ailment. Meanwhile, the Monetary Policy Committee meeting of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for the month of January was cancelled after the Senate refused to confirm the Presidency’s new nominees.
The education atmosphere in Kaduna State is returning to a normal state as the government asked sacked teachers to reapply for job in the ongoing recruitment of 25,000 new qualified teachers for public primary schools in the state. President Buhari also condoled with traders at Yan Kifi Market in Kano State who suffered heavy losses as dozens of shops were razed by fire. The President described the fire incident as ”economically destabilising for the victims”.
The Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) in Kogi State was thrown into mourning following the death of one of its members, Dr Victor Idowu, who was diagnosed with Lassa fever. Idowu was diagnosed on January 19 as he was said to have contracted the virus in the line of duty at the Irrua Specialist Hospital in Edo State. The Ondo State government also confirmed 24 cases of Lassa fever and five deaths from the disease in four Local Government Areas (LGAs) of the state. According to Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Yemi Olowolabi, affected LGAs are Owo, Akoko South/West, Akure North and Akure South.
Also in Owo, students of the state-owned Rufus Giwa Polytechnic protested against the decision of the school management to prevent students who are yet to pay their schools fees from writing examinations. Elsewhere, a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Olu Falae, accused a group of people of malice and hatred. Falae said this one day after his farm in Akure was set on fire by yet to be identified persons. Far from Nigeria, Liberians took to the streets in celebration as their newly elected president was sworn in. President George Weah, a former international footballer, took over from Nobel laureate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who ruled the country for 12 years.
The Explosive Statement
Nigeria was thrown into controversy on Tuesday following a statement issued by former President Olusegun Obasanjo. The former president, in the 13-page document, called the attention of the Federal Government to the nation’s security condition among other burning issues. He also said President Buhari has performed far below expectation and should honourably join the league of the country’s former leaders.
Obasanjo, however, called for a new movement by well-meaning Nigerians which he believes will “salvage and redeem” the nation from its challenges. Meanwhile, President Buhari received his counterpart from Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Mbasogo, at the Presidential Villa in Abuja. At the meeting, President Mbasogo called for collaborative efforts to ensuring Africa’s peace and development. The President also held a closed-door meeting with the national leader of the APC, Bola Tinubu, as well as a chieftain of the party and former governor of Osun State, Bisi Akande, in Abuja.
Former President Obasanjo and President Buhari
In the economic sector, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) upgraded Nigeria’s GDP growth forecast to 2.1 percent in 2018 from 1.9 percent in 2017. In its World Economic Outlook for 2018, the Washington based fund, however, predicted a lower economic growth of 1.9 per cent for the country in 2019.
In the fight against corruption, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) asked the Federal High Court in Abuja to revoke the bail being enjoyed by Mr Metuh. The former PDP spokesman and his company are being prosecuted for allegedly fraudulently receiving the sum of N400million from the Office of the National Security Adviser in 2014. Elsewhere in the nation’s capital, police officials accosted and arrested some members of the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) campaign group who are protesting against what they call ‘high-level of insecurity’ in the country.
Far from the northern part of the country, gunmen suspected to be sea pirates attacked Ogbia Marine Police Division in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State. Two police officers were shot dead during the attack which lasted for more than three hours on Monday. In the south-west region of the country, four persons were reported killed while six others were injured following a multiple car accident involving seven vehicles. The accident was said to have been caused by poor visibility as a result of heavy fog on the highway in the early hours of Monday.
One of Nigeria’s best footballers of all time and former Super Eagles coach, Stephen Keshi, was honoured. The ‘Big Boss’, as fondly called, was honoured with a Google doodle on his posthumous birthday. It was also a good day for football lovers as Nigeria qualified for the quarter-finals of the African Nations Championship in Morocco. The home-based Eagles came from a goal down to beat Equatorial Guinea 3-1 in Agadir.
Reactions trial Obasanjo’s letter, amongst which the Federal Government said the former president was too busy to notice the achievements recorded by the Buhari administration. The APC also said while they do not totally agree with Obasanjo’s claims, especially on his assessment of the government and the party, the sundry issues he raised were made in good faith.
On its part, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) described the former president’s advice that President Buhari should not seek a re-election as courageous, timeous and patriotic, adding that Obasanjo’s action has rekindled the fate of Nigerians in the democratic process. However, the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-Corruption (PACAC), Professor Itse Sagay, believes the former President lacks the moral right to fault the present government.
But Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State had a different view as he asked President Buhari to heed the former president’s advice and “go home to rest.” For a second republic senator, Professor Banji Akintoye, he wants President Buhari to immediately resign from office and not wait until the coming general elections.
Meanwhile, Governor Darius Ishaku joined his counterparts in Benue and Ekiti states to ban open grazing throughout Taraba State. About three months after he was sacked over corruption allegations, former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Babachir Lawal, was detained in the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
In Lagos, a lawyer Kingsley Ekwem declined to testify as a prosecution witness in the trial of a former governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu, and two others over an alleged N3.2billion fraud.
The EFCC also asked the Supreme Court of Nigeria in Abuja to upturn the judgment of the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal, which struck out the charges of unlawful enrichment filed against a justice of the Federal High Court, Justice Hyeladzira Nganjiwa. Also in the nation’s capital, the Minister of Communications, Mr Adebayo Shittu, attended the Federal Executive Council meeting, wearing a cap campaigning for President Buhari’s re-election in 2019.
On the lingering fuel queues, NNPC raised an alarm over the sustained nefarious activities of some cross-border fuel smuggling syndicates and hoarders in the country. Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar visited Governor Fayose in Ekiti where he commended the achievements of governor’s administration.
In Imo State, Lassa fever killed three out of seven persons confirmed to have contracted the disease in Orlu Local Government Area and other parts of the state. Suspected robbers also killed a lecturer at the University of Benin, Dr Godwin Omofonwa, when they attacked his home at the Ugbowo area of Benin City, the Edo State capital.
More Reactions On Thursday
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo met with Bill Gate and Aliko Dangote at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Professor told the businessmen that the Buhari administration remained focused on ensuring that there is prudence in Nigeria’s fiscal spending. Meanwhile, a second republic minister for mines and steel Paul Unongo also reacted to former President Obasanjo’s letter. The elder statesman believes the statement is a wake-up call to the President.
In Abuja, the Senate ordered the NNPC to end the lingering fuel crisis in the country within seven days. Elsewhere, the Minister of Works, Housing and Power, Babatunde Fashola, had a faceoff with lawmakers over allegations that the Ministry of Power fraudulently awarded a N42billion contract. The minister faulted the allegations and maintained that the project followed due process.
Former chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega, was worried over the rate of unemployment in the country. He also explained why increased youth unemployment might lead to a crisis in governance processes. Also in the political atmosphere, the PDP accused the APC of cooking up indices to defend its achievements in strengthening Nigeria’s economy since it came to power in 2015.
In an interview with Channels Television, PDP spokesman Kola Ologbondiyan also said the party remains the only relevant party that can save the country. In the anti-corruption war, a Federal High Court in Abuja rejected an application filed by Mr Metuh for an adjournment of his case as a result of ill health.
A former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Mohammed Adoke, asked a Federal High Court to dismiss the suit brought against him by the Federal Government for alleged criminal diversion of funds in the transaction involving Malabu Oil. Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Abuja also adjourned a money laundering case of over N3.9billion involving a former Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Alex Badeh.
Suspected kidnap kingpin, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike, popularly known as Evans, asked the Federal High Court in Lagos to compel the police to immediately and unconditionally release 25 Mack trucks allegedly seized and confiscated from him without a court order.
The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) reopened the runway of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja after a private jet skidded off it, losing its landing gear in the process. The Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON) also pledged the support of its members for the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) towards ensuring a smooth switchover to digital broadcasting in the country.
A Tragic Friday
The people of Lagos were thrown into mourning following the death of Special Adviser to Governor Akinwunmi Ambode on Commerce and Industry, Deji Tinubu. Tinubu was said to have slumped and died while playing a football match with fellow participants at the retreat of members of the State Executive Council and Permanent Secretaries in Epe area of the state. The state government, in a statement, described the death as shocking and a huge loss to both his family and the state.
In the northern part of the country, at least three people were confirmed killed while eight others sustained various degrees of injuries in Bassa Local Government Area of Plateau State. This followed an attack on Jebbu Miango village by suspected herdsmen. In Benue State, Governor Samuel Ortom criticised the Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan Ali, for allegedly blaming herdsmen killings in the state on the implementation of the anti-open grazing law.
Meanwhile, A Federal High Court in Abuja dismissed an application filed by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) seeking to compel the Chief of Army Staff to produce its leader, Nnamdi Kanu. In the political space, Governor Nyesom Wike assured the people of Rivers State that the forthcoming general elections would not affect the delivery of projects in the state.
Security operatives from the Nigerian Army and Department of State Services (DSS) rescued a businesswoman who was reportedly kidnapped by gunmen on her way from a church service in Port Harcourt, the state capital. In the world of sports, defending champion Roger Federer eased into his seventh Australian Open final in a bitter-sweet win after South Korean Young Gun Chung Hyeon retired injured in their last four showdowns.
Weekend In Retrospect
President Buhari called for support from the global community to tackle insurgency in Nigeria while addressing African leaders at the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council meeting on Saturday in Addis Ababa. In Borno State, the military said troops of Operation Lafiya Dole have killed remnants of Boko Haram terrorists in Sambisa forest and other parts of the state.
Barely one week after Mr Metuh was reportedly admitted to the hospital, his doctors said his health condition is still not stable. Meanwhile, the Minister of Health, Professor Issac Adewole, visited the Federal Medical Centre in Umuahia, Abia State where he said the nation’s health sector has the potentials to attract medical tourism in different fields of medicine.
In Oyo State, four persons were reported killed while several others sustained various degrees of burnt following a fire which started from a power surge. The incident occurred in Olomi community in Ibadan, the state capital. In the local government elections in Osun State, polls were disrupted at a ward in Ife as there were shootings by some suspected political thugs.
Meanwhile, a group of APC members in Kano State – Kwankwasiyya movement – has said that nothing will stop Senator Rabi’u Kwankwaso from visiting the state after the police had advised the former governor from visiting the state. Fans of Big Brother Naija gushed with excitement as they gear up to meet the new set of housemates (for another nearly 90 days) in the third season of the reality television show.
Nigerians witnessed a different scene on Sunday as President Buhari and former President Obasanjo exchange pleasantries at the AU summit in Addis Ababa. Both leaders met five days after Obasanjo wrote a letter to Buhari, an act while sparked controversy in the country.
Earlier at the summit, President Buhari informed African leaders about the need to curb the flow of terrorism financing. Back in the country, Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State wants the Federal Government to establish a rehabilitation centre aimed at reforming politicians who have siphoned the nation’s resources over the years.
In Rivers, security operatives killed one Oluchi Igwedibia who had since been declared wanted. The deceased is said to be the younger brother of slain suspected cultist and mass murderer, Don Wani, the mastermind of the killings that recently took place in the state.
In the world of sports, President Buhari congratulated the home-based Super Eagles on their victory over Angola and for booking a spot in the semi-finals of the 2018 CHAN in Morocco. Roger Federer also powered home to beat Marin Cilic in five sets to win his sixth Australian Open and 20th Grand Slam title in a riveting final.
Now that former President Obasanjo has highlighted the shortcomings of the Buhari administration, Nigerians hope to see government address the issues to defend its reaction to the claims.