Olusegun Obasanjo, Nigeria’s former president, in the second part of his interview granted to the Premium Times, has made more revelations talking about the directio
n Nigeria is heading to under President Muhammadu Buhari.
The former president also speaks about the Boko Haram terrorism, his relationship with Tony Anenih, and people like Reuben Abati and his plans for politics
Obasanjo’s bye bye to politics
Former president said that there will be no more partisan politics.
Obasanjo said: “Now if politics is welfare of the people, in a way, then you cannot say politics no way until you die. But partisan politics? No. I won’t belong to any political party. I won’t.”
Halliburton bribe scandal
“I don’t deny the reports about Halliburton but I don’t take any bribe. I don’t even know what Halliburton was doing here. So what’s your problem? And EFCC looked into it, you read the report of EFCC bordering on Halliburton.”
Obasanjo speaking while he didn’t take steps to bring those officials of his regime to book: “You can make any allegation. Now EFCC you can count number of people who are taken to court. I don’t take anybody to court, Mojeed. And don’t annoy me. Now you have the system that takes them to court. I don’t take anybody to court. Because if I have to be the one to say ‘take this one to court,’ that will be witch hunting. That’s not my job. My job is, set up the system and if anybody in that system is not performing, then look for somebody to perform. So it doesn’t matter what allegation, if you read that report of EFCC, one man was hired, and he went out with all sorts of spurious allegations and EFCC took it one by one.Even Ribadu told me that when he gave that report, because he didn’t give the report to me…I said, look, carry out a critical investigation. I thought that was good. Then when he wrote his report, he gave it to Yar’Adua. And he said Yar’Adua asked him, ‘You can’t find anything at all?’ He brought Metropolitan Police here and he said whenever they are doing investigation in the past, when they get somewhere they will say ‘oh, yes, some people are interested.’ But this is the first time they had free hand to carry out investigation. So what more do you want? And what I put there is what I believe in. Has anybody working under me said to you that ‘oh, he asked me to take bribe’
Relationship with Tony Anenih, who is known as one of OBJ closest political allies
Obasanjo spoke about how Anenih used the money given for building the roads.
He said: “If he didn’t build roads and there is evidence that he didn’t build roads, I will deal with him. You see, you people you just start your imagination to run riot. You make up your mind. I don’t say Tony Anenih is the best human being on earth. I will also not say he’s the worst. He’s probably in between, like most of us. But I will not chastise anybody or condemn anybody unless I have evidence. People make allegation. Anybody can call you and say ‘hey, Mojeed, you are a rogue’. But for what reason should I join him to call you a rogue if he doesn’t show me evidence.”
As to how two fell apart as he Anenih teamed up with Yar’Adua and Ibori to plot Obasanjo’s downfall, former president noted that his memory is not that short.
“I wouldn’t have put it that way,” he said.
Boko Haram insurgency
Obasanjo said that there was no Boko Haram during his term as Nigeria’s president. He said: “Oh! Come off it. You are mad!. There was no Boko Haram then. No! There was no Boko Haram when I was in office.”
He further narrated how Boko Haram sect appeared: “You know (Ahmad) Yerima went and started this thing. That was when they also became their own thing. I went to them. You heard the other day, they said they would have killed me but when I was there they were doing their Sharia and I was doing my own thing. They had no problem with me. And they said that after I left, they started killing their people and hunting them.”
Obasanjo said that the problem of Jonathan’s government was that they were turning Boko Haram to a religious issue, “it is not a religious issue.”
“He was seeing it as a northern plan, it wasn’t. It was a menace waiting to happen, and he didn’t see it that way, which was unfortunate,” former president stated.
“I did everything I could to help him. Look, mine is to give what I believe is genuine advice from the position that I see things and I understand. Now any leader can then decide what to do. You see, the thing is that no leader can say he is short of advice in Nigeria. Unless he doesn’t want to listen. But then, when you get the advice, you do whatever you like with it.”
Obasanjo’s words: “Actually, my advice to Jonathan, if he had acted then, I don’t believe that Boko Haram would have gone against him. Jonathan had a problem. He believed that Boko Haram was a device of the north to prevent him from having a second term. That’s all. That is what… any other thing, forget it. How is it that Jonathan was told by 8 o’clock in the morning after the night that Chibok girls were abducted, and there was no reaction. As I said in my book, I called one Philip Madu to come and brief me on what happened. And if there had been reaction within 72 hours, they would have got, if not all, most of those girls. At what stage did Jonathan and the Governor of Borno speak about Chibok? Let me tell you something that happened during my time. I heard on a Friday, I think we were to have an election on the Saturday. I can’t remember which election, and in Kano, one man was leading his sect in the mosque, 5:30 a.m., he was shot dead. IGP (Inspector General of Police) told me. I phoned the governor immediately, and said ‘what are you doing? Have you heard this?’ He said ‘yes, when the day breaks.’ I said ‘when day breaks? You? Out now.’
“Now, on a Friday, a Muslim cleric leading his own flock being shot? It’s incendiary for anything in Kano. And you know, they would have gone into Sabon Gari. That is the way reactions to incidents should take place. And because of that reaction, we didn’t have any incident. There wasn’t Boko Haram as Boko Haram. It was after I left that Muhammadu Yusuf actually called… and that’s how they got the name Boko Haram. He called some of his followers. Because he had following. Some of them graduates. And then he said, ‘Look, bring your certificates. When did you leave university?’ He himself he’s not an illiterate. He had college education. ‘When did you finish university? ‘Three years ago.’ ‘What are you doing?’ ‘Nothing.’ ‘Your education is useless, tear your certificate.’ Some of them did, some didn’t. That’s how the name Boko Haram came, they don’t call themselves Boko Haram.”
And for conclusion as one of the fathers of our nation Obasanjo spoke about the direction Nigeria country is heading now:
He said: “Well, we are better than where we were. We are not where we should be, but we are better than where we were.”