Former President Olusegun Obasanjo said he would not stop criticising President Muhammadu Buhari because he is Buhari’s boss and until he does “what is right.”
Obasanjo, said this in Abeokuta on Tuesday while reacting to a comment by the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Aremu Gbadebo.
Speaking during an event to mark Obasanjo’s 82nd birthday at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL), Gbadebo had appealed to the former Nigerian leader to stop criticizing the current president.
“You all know that I was an officer under General Buhari so each time Obasanjo criticises my boss, I always stand to say my senior (OBJ), please leave the President alone. At 82, baba is still fighting on, please fight less and be a consultant to everybody,” Gbadebo had said
But Obasanjo would have none of such counsel, as he said that there was nothing personal in his criticism of Buhari, adding that democracy involves criticism and not a family affair.
He informed the monarch that he is also Buhari’s “boss”, while noting that he has held the mantle of leadership of the country longer than any leader.
He urged the monarch to tell the president to do “what is right that his boss wants him to do” if he wants to be left alone.
He said, “Governance is not a family affair and democracy involves criticism and considering all sides to an issue. There is nothing personal between President Buhari and I.
“In a democracy, you can criticise a policy, a government or a leader because democracy is not a family affair.
“If it is my brother that is occupying the leadership role and he is not doing what I believe he should do, he must be criticised and that is what democracy is all about.
“I believe that Africa has no alternative to democracy, good governance, development and growth of our economy. And if that is not happening in any country, those who keep quiet about it are accessories after the fact.
“That is what democracy is all about, criticism and seeing the other side. So, if I say anybody in government in Nigeria or any government for that matter is not doing well, let that government prove that it is well.
“So, Kabiyesi, your boss, Buhari, there is nothing personal between me and him. Just as he is your boss, I am his boss, with all due respect.
“Now, the point is that I have been in that position longer than any Nigerian will ever be there. That’s true. If any Nigerian comes in and has two terms, he will not have almost four years of military rule.
“I have been there longer than any Nigerian would ever be. So, when I say something, I know what I am talking about. Kabiyesi, any time you say, ‘Leave my boss alone,’ I agree, he is your boss. But I am also his boss’. So, you might also ask your boss (Buhari) to leave his boss alone or do what is right that his boss wants him to do.”
The guest lecturer at the birthday celebration, who is a South African Freedom fighter, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, delivered a lecture titled “Colonialism, Apartheid, Freedom and South-Africa Rising”.
Buthelezi, in his lecture, identified corruption as the biggest challenge facing the African continent.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has described former President Olusegun Obasanjo as “a passionate and great patriot who deserves accolades for his immeasurable contributions to our democracy and national unity.”
In a statement to mark Obasanjo’s 82nd birthday, President Buhari acknowledged that regardless of his political differences with Obasanjo, he holds the former president “in the highest esteem because his contributions to the development of the country overshadow those differences”.
The President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, in a statement in Abuja on Tuesday, quoted President Buhari as saying that Obasanjo gave a good account of himself and inspired his juniors with his wit and other leadership skills.
He said, “Nigeria’s successful transition to democratic rule in October 1979 was one of Obasanjo’s remarkable contributions to national development.
“As he celebrates his 82nd birthday anniversary, I wish Chief Obasanjo more good health, knowledge and wisdom in the service of Nigeria and humanity.”
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