The honeymoon between President Muhammadu Buhari and former President Olusegun Obasanjo seems to have ended.
For the one and a half year that Mr. Buhari has been in power, Mr. Obasanjo remained one of his staunchest backers, visiting him repeatedly and publicly defending most of his actions.
But speaking in Lagos Wednesday, Mr. Obasanjo served signal that the era of being soft on the administration Mr. Buhari leads is over.
Delivering the keynote at the First Akintola Williams Annual Lecture, Mr. Obasanjo lashed at the Buhari administration for repeatedly lumping the country’s three previous administrations (including the one he, Obasanjo, led) together and then accusing them of misgovernance.
He also advised Mr. Buhari to stop dwelling on the past, saying since he was elected to change the country, he should concentrate on clearing the mess he inherited.
“The blanket adverse comments or castigation of all democratic administrations from 1999 by the present administration is uncharitable, fussy and uninstructive. Politics apart, I strongly believe that there is a distinction between the three previous administrations that it would be unfair to lump them all together.
“I understand President Buhari’s frustration on the state of the economy inherited by him. It was the same reason and situation that brought about cry for change, otherwise there would be no need for change if it was all nice and rosy.
“Now that we have had change because the actors and the situation needed to be changed, let us move forward to have progress through a comprehensive economic policy and programme that is intellectually, strategically and philosophically based,” Mr. Obasanjo said.
“It is easier to win an election than to right the wrongs of a badly fouled situation. When you are outside, what you see and know are nothing compared with the reality.
“And yet once you are on seat, you have to clear the mess and put the nation on the path of rectitude, development and progress leaving no group or section out of your plan, programme and policy and efforts. The longer it takes, the more intractable the problem may become.”
The former president also criticised plans by Mr. Buhari to take about $30billion loan.
“I am sure that such a comprehensive policy and programme (that will move Nigeria forward) will not support borrowing US$30 billion in less than three years. It will give us the short-, medium- and long-term picture.
“Adhocry is not the answer but cold, hard headed planning that evinces confidence and trust is the answer. Economy neither obeys orders nor does it work according to wishes. It must be worked upon with all factors considered and most stakeholders involved.
“The investors, domestic and foreign, are no fools and they know what is going on with the management of the economy including the foreign exchange and they are not amused. The Central Bank must be restored to its independence and integrity. We must be careful and watchful of the danger of shortermism.
“Short-term may be the enemy of medium- and long-term. We must also make allowance for the lessons that most of us in democratic dispensation have learned and which the present administration seems to be just learning.”
The former president did not spare the National Assembly which he says stinks to high heavens and the Nigerian military, which he said needed to be purged.