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Obasanjo doesn’t want anybody to outshine him – Debo Adeniran



Comrade Debo Adeniran is the Chairman and Head of Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL). In this interview with Prestige International Magazine, he opens up on various issues including emergence of various coalitions against 2019 elections and President Muhammadu Buhari’s fight against corruption. According to him former president Olusegun Obasanjo does not want anybody to outshine him politically.

What is your view on the emergence of Coalition for Nigeria Movement floated by former President Olusegun Obasanjo?

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo suggested Coalition for Nigeria Movement in his open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari. There is nothing wrong with it but the issue is those who now crystallized it are his former lieutenants.  Those people have nothing new to offer people in act of good governance. The promoters of Coalition for Nigeria movement have had their own fair or worst share of holding public office. Apart from Donald Duke who did something worthwhile in the area of tourism and put in place some infrastructural development, you cannot compare him to Olagunsoye Oyinlola who governed Lagos state and all the infrastructure collapsed and went to Osun State where he did nothing. He was in Osun State for eight years to engage in frivolities. Coalition is not going to be reliable and Obasanjo who suggested it is trying to promote what is beyond him. He wants to be relevance on the issue of good governance and the issue of good governance is beyond Obasanjo. He wants to be relevant in public arena that is the reason why he came out with coalition. What he expressed in his statement is what that has been expressed by ordinary analyst within the polity. That is his own style to attack any government in power that does not dance to his tunes. He always wants to dictate to any government in power. What Obasanjo is trying to engineer is self serving; it is not going to serve the interest of the public. Obasanjo has not served in anything that would not protect his selfish interest. He always wants to dictate to any head of government that he cooperate it. I believe he has not found the fertile ground in Buhari. Obasanjo does not want anybody to outshine him. Any coalition against Buhari will collapse. All the coalitions are dead on their arrivals.

Before the emergence of Obasanjo’s Coalition for Nigeria Movement, Nigeria Intervention Movement, the third force was formed, what is your take on it?

I am aware of Nigeria Intervention Movement too; it is purely a political organization. I am not going to be part of it because members are activists turned politicians, some of them have contested for elections at one point in time and lost. The difference is that there are more activists in NIM than CNM. Obasanjo Coalition for Nigeria Movemment is self serving. In the same vein Olisa Agbakoba’s Nigeria Intervention movement is also self serving. All of them are activists turned politicians. They have not harmonized their position before they went into that coalition. They think they can achieve their political dreams with that coalition. Their own coalition may not going to work like how it worked for APC because people in APC are experienced and renowned politicians. Those who were in CPC, APGA, and ANPP were experienced politicians; it was their experience that made it possible for them to capture power within eighteen months of its formation.

What is your assessment of President Buhari’s fight against corruption?

Nobody could have been able to fight corruption better than the way Buhari is doing it. We know that Buhari is disciplined in military and he is disciplined in the civil populace. But people are not disciplined, that is why they may not want to cooperate with Buhari and people don’t want to be disciplined. We must imbibe self discipline for fight against corruption to succeed. Babangida that took over from Buhari during the military era democratized corruption by declaring himself the military president which is akin to the activities of Idiamin of Uganda. If people are disciplined we wouldn’t have had corruption in high and low places as it is today. The reason the corrupt politicians moved against Buhari in his three times quest for civilian presidency is because they knew that if he gets to power he will fight corruption and they know that they have a lot of skeleton in their cupboard. It is because they don’t have a hiding place that is why they are raising flimsy allegations against him. They want to discredit him because they don’t want him to succeed in his fight against corruption. They have deployed all their arsenals to discredit him in his fight against corruption. Even his illness was meant to render him impotent so that he would not be able to fight corruption. They were disappointed because he came out even stronger. Corrupt elements will not want to be in a sane and corrupt free society, they will always want to live in a corrupt society. They will not support any law that will curb corruption. That is why we are where we are. Even if Buhari is not doing it well, he has done it better than others. Honest people find it difficult to get to the helm of affairs because they don’t have the resources to buy their ways into power. If we continue with Buhari, we are going to get to Eldorado but if we support his opponents those who are going to come after him are those who will condone corruption. Supporters of Buhari and anti-corruption elements should come out and defend their future and future of their children’s children; if they don’t do it they will regret it.

Some stakeholders are of the view that President Buhari’s fight against corruption is one sided, what is your take on that?

It is not true that Buhari’s fight against corruption is one sided. If you talk about prosecution, the first culprit of prosecution is Bukola Saraki, the president of the senate; he is a member of APC, the ruling party. There was a former governor from north central that was jailed; he is also a member of APC. The allegation that the probe is tilted towards PDP cannot hold water, because it is supposed to be so because PDP was in power for sixteen years. Those who escape justice cannot escape it forever; they are just escaping it momentarily. The prosecution cannot be tilted towards the APC that is just coming to the government. It is supposed to be tilted towards PDP that was in government for sixteen years. It is not true that it is lopsided. The former SGF is being prosecuted now and also the former NIA DG is being prosecuted. Buhari has touched where his predecessors didn’t touch in the fight against corruption. He started from the army, his constituency. What else do you want him to do? He went to the judiciary and prosecuted the guilty ones. The incoming government is also bound to prosecute the past government. It is not possible to catch all the thieves in one day and try all of them; it has not happened all over the world.

There is an allegation against President Buhari that all the security apparatus of the country are being controlled by northerners and that he did not follow federal character in their appointments, what is your view on this?

If they think that President Buhari did not follow federal character in the appointment of service chiefs, they should go to court and challenge it. Or they can go to national assembly as the case may be to challenge it based on the evidence they have. Obasanjo himself, most of the heads of security agencies when he was president were from the north, about two of them were from the south. It is not the fault of Fulani that Obasanjo didn’t do anything in the south west when he was the president. It is not their fault that he didn’t construct all the major roads in the south west. It was not the fault of Hausa Fulani that Obasanjo seized our water ways and sea ports in 1976. It was not their fault when Obasanjo preferred shagari to Awolowo. What did Obasanjo do when Abiola was killed, when Bola ige was killed, when Rewane was killed and when so many people were killed in his presence. They should not blame anybody that is taking care of his people. Buhari came to power through coalition of various political parties; he had to appoint people he thinks he can trust to work with. He cannot entrust the security of the country and his own security in the hands of those he does not trust. Is it where somebody comes from that matters or his capacity to perform? If somebody is performing well will you need to bother about which side of the country he comes from? Look at the ministers; we have more major ministers from southern part of the country. If they are qualified to be where they are, so be it. If they have better candidates they should bring them forward or go to court to challenge it if they have contrary opinion. There is no government that has not experienced massacre of human beings; it was so under Obasanjo regime. In the south west Obasanjo ordered shoot at sight at OPC members who were agitating for a good lease of life.

What is your view on the battle between EFCC Acting chairman, Magu and the Senate?

I stand with Magu because he is forthright in discharging his constitutional duties. He has not been technically empowered. He has not been morally empowered. Magu has not been politically empowered yet ha has been able to achieve success in prosecution more than all his predecessors. He has shown uncommon courage. Magu has committed his life to the fight against corruption. He goes after those he has evidence of corruption against. He will succeed. Senate is controlled by the corrupt elements that may not want Magu to succeed. Many of the former governors in the senate have skeleton in their cupboard. Many of them are under investigation and prosecution. Whatever they are doing is to weaken the anti corruption drive and that is why we cannot support them. We are satisfied with what Magu is doing.

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