Obasanjo leaves Buhari out of African presidents offering transformational leadership

President Buhari (L) in a meeting with former President Obasanjo

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo commended some African leaders during a major speech on leadership at Oxford University on Monday but left out the president of his own country.

The former president named three African countries whose leaders, he said, are taking progressive economic measures and recording giant strides in line with the demands of the 21st century.

He specifically cited President Allassane Ouatarra for “focusing on transformative potential in Côte d’Ivoire.”

Mr. Ouatarra took immmeidate steps to heal the country following the violence that greeted his election in 2011, Mr. Obasanjo said.

Over 3,000 deaths were recorded in the post-election violence that hit the French-speaking West African country after the incumbent Laurent Gbagbo refused to step down, citing irregularities in the polls.

But the international community, including ECOWAS, rejected Mr. Gbagbo’s claim, which had initially been affirmed by the country’s constitutional court, and recognised the victory of Mr. Ouattara, then leader of the opposition.

Mr. Ouattara was subsequently inaugurated as president. He won a re-election in 2015 with 84 per cent of the votes.

Mr. Gbagbo was arrested in April 2011 and was transferred to the International Criminal Court where he has been facing charges since 2016. He pleaded not guilty to all charges, which include murder and rape.

Mr. Ouatarra “changed the narrative to get ahead of the economic curve by posting a double-digit GDP growth, exporting electricity to neighbouring Ghana and Mali and exporting processed versions of Ivory Coast’s rich raw materials and agricultural produce like cocoa, cotton, rubber and palm oil and making his country live with the largest percentage of middle class market in all of Africa,” Mr. Obasanjo told his audience at the Africa Initiative for Governance at Blavatnik School of Government.

Mr. Obasanjo said deep economic literacy had long been identified as a key requirement for any African leader to implement pragmatic economic solutions.

“It is not surprising that at the commanding heights of the economies doing well in Africa today are some of the best economic managers who had proven their mettle in major international financial institutions and focused professionals who know their onions,” Mr. Obasanjo said while listing Rwanda and Ethiopia as the two other countries doing well alongside Côte d’Ivoire.

It was not immediately clear why Mr. Obasanjo left out Mr. Buhari, whom he backed for president during the 2015 elections.

But Monday’s speech was not the first time Mr. Obasanjo would decline to see Mr. Buhari as an economic heavyweight.

In a September 2017 interview with African Arguments, Mr. Obasanjo scolded Mr. Buhari for not doing enough to stymie the country’s growing unemployment crisis.

If “youth empowerment, skill acquisition and youth employment – education are provided, the ticking bomb of possible youth explosion out of restiveness and anger will subside,” Mr. Obasanjo told the Liberia-based publication.

Similarly, during an interview he granted to a restricted number of journalists, including PREMIUM TIMES in February 2017, Mr. Obasanjo pointedly stated that Mr. Buhari was not strong on economy.

“In my book, I have said that Buhari is not strong on the economy and I did not write this to run him down,” Mr. Obasanjo said in the interview which held as part of his 80th birthday celebrations.

The National Bureau of Statistics estimated in December that 7.9 million Nigerians lost their jobs between January 2016 and September 2017, sending the unemployment rate north of 18 per cent.

But Mr. Obasanjo praised the exploits of Mr. Buhari in other areas, including where he had hitherto thought the president might not do well.

“I also used to think that he is not strong in the area of foreign affairs, but I have realised that he has improved very well,” he said. “He has actually done his best in the areas where we know him to be strong.”

It was also not immediately clear how Mr. Obasanjo’s latest omments would be seen by Mr. Buhari, who has already commenced groundwork for re-election.

Presidential spokespersons Garba Shehu and Femi Adesina did not respond to PREMIUM TIMES requests for comments Tuesday morning.

It emerged last Wednesday that the president had appointed Rotimi Amaechi, his minister of transport who ran his campaign in 2015, as the director of his 2019 campaign.

The move was immediately seen by the president’s critics as insensitive and diversionary, especially since Mr. Buhari had barely returned to work in August, having spent several months on a sickbed in London.

His supporters, on the other hand, see the president as an achiever who should be compensated with a second term.

Mr. Obasanjo has not openly disclosed his preferred candidate for president in 2019, but the election is widely expected to pit Mr. Buhari against Atiku Abubakar, a retired Customs officer-turned-businessman who served as vice-president throughout Mr. Obasanjo’s tenure.

Mr. Obasanjo led Nigeria between 1999 when the country returned to civil rule and 2007, heralding the first civilian-to-civilian transmission of power since the country attained independence in 1960.

His tenure was largely deemed an era of substantial economic growth for the country, which had languished under the whips of successive military juntas in the preceding decades.

The introduction and liberalisation of mobile telecommunication, increased volume of international trades and implementation of debt reliefs were amongst the key economic strides that drove the economic growth under Mr. Obasanjo.

But endemic corruption and human rights abuses were largely adjudged to have been left unrestricted during Mr. Obasanjo’s tenure, although he established anti-graft agencies and improved public funding for the human rights commissions.

Mr. Obasanjo said Africa should position itself for at least 25 per cent of foreign direct investment.

“Only $55 billion came to Africa” out of about $1.6 trillion in foreign direct investments in 2016, when the continent should have canvassed at least $400 billion, he said.


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  • AryLoyds

    Buhari is only good at managing Cows and killer fulani herdsmen!

    • STAND OUT

      It a pity an animal is your president. Then who are you?

      • AryLoyds

        You are right and absolutely correct , he is an animal in human skin.

        • Julius

          Moron, he is being sarcastic …I know you can’t understand that…way over your numskull.

          • AryLoyds

            Aboki , the smarty pants 🙂 I was only making mockery of his Sarcasm !
            So why have you been quiet all this while when your fulani brothers are committing all these atrocities ?

          • Julius

            Otile, you are indeed a moron. I’m a Yoruba when it suits you and a Fulani when you want to insult the Fulanis. lolz..Like I said, that’s what you do best..tribal insults…keep at it.

      • Tunsj

        An animal. Period.

      • Julius

        A riverline monkey !

  • thusspokez

    Mr. Gbagbo was arrested in April 2011 and was transferred to the International Criminal Court… where he has been facing charges since 2016.

    Mr. Ouattara should be prosecuted too for his role in the atrocities. In 2016, the ‘Human Rights Watch’ warned that by only prosecuting one side of Ivory Coast’s conflict the ICC gave a “perception of victor’s justice”.

  • thusspokez

    He pleaded not guilty to all charges, which include murder and rape.

    This is a LIE !!! Gbagbo has not pleaded guilty to any of the four charges of crimes against humanity against him and others. He remains in ICC detention since 2011.

    • MP-001* [Joint Chief]

      He pleaded not guilty to all charges, which include murder and rape.
      /////
      “This is a LIE !!! Gbagbo has not pleaded guilty to any of the four charges of crimes against humanity against him and others. He remains in ICC detention since 2011”
      ——
      But you and Obasanjo are saying the same thing. You both are saying he pleaded not guilty to all, so Where is the lie?

      • thusspokez

        My bad. Thanks.

  • thusspokez

    But the international community, including ECOWAS, rejected Mr. Gbagbo’s claim, which had initially been affirmed by the country’s constitutional court, and recognised the victory of Mr. Ouattara, then leader of the opposition

    Thanks for reminding us about how France with Obama’s help twisted the hands of ECOWAS leaders to support Ouattara – the French stooge.

  • thusspokez

    It was not immediately clear why Mr. Obasanjo left out Mr. Buhari, whom he backed for president during the 2015 elections.

    Economic management is not a strong point of northern head of states. Indeed, I warned about this during the presidential campaign. Everyone of the head of states from the North had left Nigeria in worst economic situation than they found it.

    • A.A.Ngalos

      Like the way GEJ has done?

      • thusspokez

        You must be a Nigerian – known for their disregard for facts and logic – otherwise I would have suggested that you read the various economics analysis and statistics on Nigeria published by reputable (non-Nigerian) organisations on the Internet.

  • Tola

    It should not surprise you that those mentioned are already doing second term and more. OBJ is looking at result, not predictive analysis. For a malformed economy like ours I am only unhappy that PMB is not maximising the opportunity of the recession to take very far reaching reforms, which OBJ himself did not do. Deregulate fully like Ghana, allow market based exchange rate, plough the savings into health, education and agriculture. Many will shout and protest and talk nostalgically about N10k Thai rice but in 5-6 years they will hail you like Quattarra. Cote Divoire today does 1.6m mt of Cocoa, we were at 0.3m together in the 70s. Malaysia does 20m mt of palm oil while we do less than 1m mt. They were at 150k mt in 1963 while we were doing more than 500k mt. Take painful decisions today, reap it later. Follow NLC and the pseudo socialists today and continue crying in ten years.

    • Eldorado

      Tola, I thank God that there are still educated minds like yours in/from this country.
      I had lost hope.
      I will start praying that God preserve, bless and give us more like you in Jesus name,
      Amen

  • Joe

    hahahahaha…..hehehehehe, Nigerian politicians from south that voted PMB thought that the man buhari should have gone to his ancestors by now because of his failing health for Osinbajo to takeover. Now, all of us are suffering from the selfishness of the southern politicians. Who doesn’t know that Buhari have no competence whatsoever to handle complex economic situations like ours?. You guys said you don’t care of his academics, but let he present NEPA bills. These are the results of NEPA bills: Nepotism, religious intolerance, economic recession, Fulani herdsmen Janjaweed killings, insulting those that voted him as “impatient people”. By 2019, buhari will use his Janjaweed Fulani herdmen to annihilate many tribes, particularly middle belts. He is slow in achieving his ambition for now because he wants second term, which he will get, for only GOD can stop buhari.

  • bola

    We are all carried away with the fight against corruption to an extent that we never asked how the recovered loot will be spent, strong in this though but looked sectional. this administration has not prepared for what it met on assuming office and this greatly exposed the incompetence of this administration. His key appointments are part of the problems we are facing which is highly sectional. But i strongly believe it may have been worse with last administration.

    • share Idea

      Just as your perception was wrong in voting in the current administration, same with your assertion that it could have been worse if the last administration had been in power.

      The 7UP is there for any discerning minds to know that last administration performance can never be compared with the clueless and hypocritical administration currently governing us.

      Last administration have they obvious flaws like every administration but they sure know how to galvanise the nation and seek the best 11 in administration. Does it mean that first 11 will always win a football match -no, but they stand more chances of winning several games than club that continuously present 3rd 11 team. Nigeria we hail thee

    • Factsayer

      Last administration worked with known and respected technocrats while this administration works with illiterates and half-educated people

    • Bola Ajibola

      most times our possibilities guess (what would have be) are usually zero

  • MP-001* [Joint Chief]

    “It was not immediately clear why Mr. Obasanjo left out Mr. Buhari, whom he backed for president during the 2015 elections.”
    —–
    Oh please, it’s not rocket science, Obasanjo takes foreign perception about himself very seriously, he will therefore not sell a lie to his Oxford and global audience by advocating someone he knows is dull, uninspiring, clueless and lacking in leadership and managerial traits

  • emmanuel

    1. Mama Taraba
    2. Baby Obi E….
    3. Father Mbaka
    4. Pastor Tunde B.
    5. And now the Chief Assassin… (24 ynsolved political assassinations between 1999 – 2007)

  • blaisap

    Obasanjo ha become PRO of Ouattara utterring nonsense on the ivory-cost complex political story of these last years. I don’t know if he is paid for doing so, but it so shameful for an ex- president of a great country like Nigeria to display such an ignorance of french speaking countries politics in Africa. But all his saying about ivory coost ang Gbagbo’s fate is cheer nonsense ! De la bêtise pure !

  • blaisap

    Obasanjo has become PRO of Ouattara; utterring nonsense on the ivory-cost complex political story of these last years. I don’t know if he is paid for doing so, but it is so shameful for an ex- president of a great country like Nigeria to display such an ignorance of french speaking countries politics in Africa. But all his saying about ivory cost and Gbagbo’s fate is cheer nonsense ! I am sure he could say the same thing about Thomas Sankara of Burkina! bThis old man is working for France” in Africa : Shame on him ! ériè opé ! agbaya opouni niè baba ! De la bêtise pure !

    • Nkem

      What is your point?

      • Ajayi Ifayemi

        He is probably one of Gbagbo’s country folks. You know the 16% who still wants him.

    • KEVIN EBELE ADINNU

      I am not a fan of OBJ but his comments on Cote d’Ivoire are as clear as the sky. I have been in Cote d’Ivoire from 2011 to date, that is from the end of their political crisis to date.

      The country still has issues with army mutiny but Cote d’Ivoire has been growing at an average of 9 % (GDP) since 2011.

  • Verdict

    I pity Premium Times and their selective style of exposing corruption. In their opinion, OBJ is an anti-corruption crusader. Somebody should please tell OBJ to stop opening his mouth at an inconvenient radius to sermonize against corruption as he is the MOTHER of corruption. Obasanjo of Halliburton, Malabu, Third Term bribery of Lawmakers and other corruption and criminal actions too numerous to mention!!!. OBJ is the mother of corruption who equally gave birth to Nuhu Ribadu, one of the most corrupt public officer in the history of Nigeria who re-looted hundred of billions of forfeited assets and used same to acquire properties including the one he dashed to a female head of a revenue generaing agnecy in Lagos which she later sold at a princely sum of over a billion naira to the MD of an oil company now being hunted by EFCC. One of the numerous Nuhu Ribadu’s girlfriend he recruited illegally into EFCC is in the Media Unit and she writes against corruption too. What a pity. OBJ please shut up!!!!

    • Nkem

      You are sounding like the Buhari-era version of the Jonathan defenders-on-the-internet who in their desperation (as the walls began to crack around Jonathan) became obsessed with Obj as their problem instead of facing their real problems which was the serial self-destructive habits of their hero and benefactor in Aso Rock.

      • Verdict

        why not counter me with facts??? I have laid the facts bare. What a watery response to my comment!

        • Gaskiya

          What facts have you laid? Where are your evidences to prove that your accusations are nothing more than what we’re used to in this country; “rabble rousing”?

  • Dr Pat Mumuwole Awosan

    Life has become meaningless under Buhari. Even the life expectancy of Chickens is now much higher than those of Nigerians who live in Benue states and to a large extent those of the central states of Taraba and Southern Kaduna. Over 80 persons killed at the outset of a new year. And there is no presidential visit. No presidential broadcast to address the nation because they are not Rohinja Muslims. Mr Buhari has not dissappointed at all. All you need is to watch that video on youtube captioned “The real Buhari”. The Zebra does not change its spots. A man who never refers to Boko haram as Islamist or Muslim extremists or terrorists can not be a sincere man. He never speaks of capturing Abubaka Shekau. Never. He does not discuss it. Neither does he send military against herdsmen who have turned the streets to rivers of blood of the Baboons. Shame on Buhari.

    • Tony Ezeifedi

      If you are really a Yoruba man as your name indicates, address your fine write-up to your people most of who don’t see any fault in Buhari.

      • BABUYANMA

        You think a Yoruba will name his child Mumuwole?. Its another IBO FRAUD.

  • Nagari Nakowa

    is obasanjo the referee between development and under development in Africa? After ruling without accountability?

    • Nkem

      You obviously do not know the meaning of ACCOUNTABILITY. The last time I checked, he (Obj) was the president who established the major accountably institutions in the country – EFCC, ICPC, BPP etc. Government MDAs and their officials were ACCOUNTABLE to these institutions. Government officials were arrested and prosecuted by these institutions.

  • JasV

    Who cares about what this hypocrite of a caricature says? Charity begins at home. Two separate periods as a president what did you transform? You can be sure that the clown has business interest in at least one of the three mentioned. YEYE THING

    • princegab

      You may not like the messenger but the message is the truth sir

  • Iskacountryman

    obasanjo is looking for our trouble…

  • Gbazi Ayogba

    It’s heavily disappointing to us that stand solidly behind Buhari hoping things will improve and be impressive. Alas! all we get is daily embarrassment and crass incompetence.