Obasanjo’s Letters To Buhari, ‘Cheap Publicity’ – Dr Junaid Mohammed
Academic, social commentator and politician, Dr Junaid Mohammed has faulted the controversial letters published by former President Olusegun Obasanjo regarding the state of the nation.
Chief Obasanjo wrote some open letters to the current President Muhammadu Buhari listing concerns, worries about security situations in Nigeria, a move which Dr Mohammed didn’t really think were altruistic.
Dr Mohammed who was a guest on Channels Television’s News Night was of the opinion that Obasanjo should have given his advise to Buhari in whispers, because of his place in the society.
The Second Republic lawmaker said, “I am very cautious in reading or defining meanings into what people say or try and treat their own motives. Fundamentally, I believe in a democracy everybody must have his say that includes those who are perverse of majority view or those who are perverse in minority view.
“They say the minority will have their say, the majority will have their way but that is not to say that one part is important the other one is not important, everybody is important.
“What Obasanjo says is as important as what somebody who is walking the land, the fields in his farm and certainly what he says is as important as somebody who works in a factory or works in a government office. Why I take issues with Obasanjo and we have been friends for a very long time since 1976, I could go to him, see him anytime when he was in the cabinet office, we have a number of friends in common.
“What I find difficult is this obsession with making public matters that ought not to be made public because by making them public, you are in fact going into a contradiction and what you say may in fact be counter protective.
“Secondly, even though Buhari was his junior in the military, and they fought the civil war together even though Buhari did not work directly under him, and it is not my headache, it is not my business to defend Buhari and I’ve never defended him because I believe if you are in public life, you are fair game whether you are president, whatever public office you are holding in a democracy, and I always underline ‘in a democracy’.
“Now if you may want letter public, it creates whatever it was it wanted to create, you make a second one, again it hasn’t had much of an impact, you also have seen him in between the first and the second one and you also have seen him in between the second and the third one. That shows that you are not giving him advice in public because you don’t have access.
“People like me who are commoners or like you may not be able to go in and see the president but he (Obasanjo) can see him anytime, he can talk to him anytime, the only thing he cannot do perhaps for security considerations might be to simply ask him to come and see him but if it were the reverse before Buhari became head of state first time he is the president and now the second time, he could actually ask Buhari to go to Otta or Abeokuta to go and see him.
“And if you want to advise somebody and you are really truly sincere about it and you are not out for cheap publicity, you do it in whispers, you go and whisper at him so and so cannot be right, my experience is that so so is also not right but if you decide to go the pompous way, write a big letter and quote A, B, and C, tell how much history you know, how many geographies you know, how much connections you have with the heads of state and heads of government it becomes counterproductive and what you say may be very important, so you can see that the man you are advising will not be able to benefit, the country will also not benefit from some of these things and that is why I thought enough is enough of this public letters.
“And if you write somebody a public letter, by definition you are not advising him, you are making cheap publicity for the country to organize and your own relevance either in the scheme of things or in what happened or you are trying also to cultivate your own place in history come what happens in the future, you may also be trying to say, after all, I got it right everybody else got it wrong and that is unfortunate especially when you are talking about the destiny of 200 million people.”
Though Dr Mohammed agreed that Obasanjo made some highly valid point in his letters to Buhari, he, however, notes that the messenger and the manner in which the message is passed is as important as the message itself.
He said, “In the words of late Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, no man is entirely evil and you cannot dismiss a man who has been a president twice, no. but the manner of conveying a message is as important as the messenger himself and the topic which he tries to address.
“So I will be the last person that has known him intimately in terms of very serious discussions about the future of this country. But the way and the manner and the style of presentation is as important as the message itself and that is what we learn in public life, I have no doubt in my mind that a lot of what he has been saying is important but it is important only if it is going to be utilized for improvement and for good of the country.
“If it’s going to be used like in the market place, then at the end of the day, we are going to get ourselves into unnecessary skirmishes and vulgar language and people taking positions on primordial sentiments and not necessarily on what is ought to be rationally advisable for the good of the country.”