Nigeria is back to the days of Abacha under Buhari ― Obasanjo

Former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, has said that Nigeria under the President Muhammadu Buhari -led government is back to the days of the military dictator, Gen. Sanni Abacha, over what he termed self-succession project.

Obasanjo stated this on Sunday while addressing journalists in Abeokuta, in a text of address titled “Points for Concern and Action”, that many actions of Buhari tend towards what the country witnessed under Abacha.

He alleged that Buhari and his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), had started recruiting collation officers who are already awarding results based on their projects to actualise the perpetuation agenda.

The former President said this action was one of the sole reason why Buhari declined to sign the revised Electoral Reform Bill into law.

He submitted that all actions deployed by Abacha to perpetually remain in power were now the order of the day under Buhari with the abused and misused of all security institutions.

He said, “What is happening under Buhari’s watch can be likened to what we witnessed under Gen. Sani Abacha in many ways. When Abacha decided that he must install himself as Nigerian President by all means and at all costs, he went for broke and surrounded himself with hatchet men who on his order and in his interest and at high costs to Nigeria and Nigerians maimed, tortured and killed for Abacha. Buhari has started on the same path in mad desperation.

“From available intelligence, we have heard of how Buhari and his party are going about his own self-succession project. They have started recruiting collation officers who are already awarding results based on their projects to actualise the perpetuation agenda in which the people will not matter and the votes will not count. It is the sole reason he has blatantly refused to sign the revised Electoral Reform Bill into law.

“His henchmen are working round the clock in cahoots with security and election officials to perfect their plan by computing results right from the ward to local government, state and national levels to allow him what will look like a landslide victory irrespective of the true situation for a candidate who might have carried out by proxy presidential debate and campaigns.

“The current plan is to drape the pre-determined results with a toga of credibility. It is also planned that violence of unimaginable proportion will be unleashed in high voting population areas across the country to precipitate re-run elections and where he will be returned duly elected after concentration of security officials as it happened in Osun State. We are monitoring them and we call on all democrats across the world to keep an eye on the unfolding anti-democratic agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari. This is the time for preventive measures to be taken otherwise Nigeria may be presented with a fait accompli with impunity and total disregard of all pleas.

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“His scheme bears eloquent testimony to this road similar to Abacha whom he has praised to high heavens and as an arch-supporter and beneficiary from Abacha, he has seen nothing wrong done by him. It is clear from all indications that Buhari is putting into practice the lessons he learned from Abacha. Buhari has intimidated and harassed the private sector, attacked the National Assembly and now unconstitutionally and recklessly attacked and intimidated the Judiciary to cow them to submission.

“I was a victim of Abacha’s atrocities against Nigeria and Nigerians – high and low. At the height of Abacha’s desperation for perpetual power, he did not brook any criticism because Nigeria was seen as his personal property. You must go along with him or be destroyed. All institutions for ensuring security, welfare and well-being of Nigeria and Nigerians particularly the Police, the Military and the Department of State Services (DSS) were abused and misused to deal with critics of Abacha and non-conformists with Abacha.

“Today, another Abacha Era is here. The security institutions are being misused to fight all critics and opponents of Buhari and to derail our fledgling democracy. EFCC, Police and Code of Conduct Tribunal are also being equally misused to deal with those Buhari sees as enemies for criticising him or as those who may not do his bidding in manipulating election results. Criticism, choice and being different are the inherent trademark of democracy. If democracy is derailed or aborted, anarchy and authoritarianism will automatically follow.

“Today, as in the day of Abacha, Nigerians must rise up and do what they did in the time of Abacha. Churches and Mosques prayed. International community stood by us Nigerians. I was a beneficiary and my life was saved. Well-meaning Nigerians took appropriate actions and made sacrifices, some supreme, some less than supreme but God had the final say and He took the ultimate action.

On INEC

He expressed doubt about the credibility and competence of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to conduct fair, free and credible elections.

Obasanjo noted that the outcome of the governorship election in Osun State was clear evidence that the electoral body was partial in the conduct of the election.

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Obasanjo said INEC declared the Osun election inconclusive despite all advice to the contrary, saying “from what we saw and knew about Osun State gubernatorial election, what was conclusive was declared inconclusive despite all advice to the contrary.

“The unnecessary re-run, if viewed as a test-run for a larger general election, would lead people to expect incidences of deliberately contrived, broken, or non-working voting machines or card readers, confusion of voters as to the voting stations ,inadequate supply of voting materials to designated places, long line to discourage voters and turning blind eyes to favour the blue-eye political party of INEC because the Commission’s hands will be ties to enable hatchet men and women to perform their unwholesome assignment.

“Thr transmission and collation of results are subject to interference, manipulation, and meddling. If INEC’s political party wins with all the above infractions, the result will be conclusively declared and if not, there will be a ‘rerun’, the result of which is known before it is carried out.

“I know that am not alone in being skeptical about the integrity of INEC and its ability to act creditably and above board. But we are open to be convinced otherwise.”

Obasanjo faulted the remarks of INEC chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, that is the body is ready for the elections, including the results, therefore, calling on international community to warn INEC against any misconduct in the elections.

The former President also called on Nigerians to be vigilant so as to safeguard the nation’s democracy by defending their votes, saying it is the price of liberty and sustenance that must be taken for the democracy not to be derailed.

“I personally have serious doubt about the present INEC’s integrity, principles, morality impartiality and competence to conduct a fair, free and credible election.

“The joke about INEC would seem real. The INEC was asked if the Commission was ready for the election and if it expects the election to be free, fair and credible. The INEC man is reported as saying in response, “we are ready with everything including the results!” It is up to Nigerians to ensure that the redline is not crossed in safeguarding our fledgling democracy. And if crossed, appropriate action must be taken not allow our democracy to be derailed.

He said as a realist, he could not hold Buhari to his words on the conduct of free, fair, credible and peaceful elections, as some religious leaders would do, insisting that the track record of INEC presently is fairly sordid.

“A friend of mine who is more credulous and who claims to be close to the Chair of INEC keeps telling me that INEC will retrieve its image and reputation by conducting the coming elections with utmost integrity and impartiality.

“I am not sure as I believe more in action than in words and in the past record than promise. The track record of the present INEC is fairly sordid and all men and women of goodwill and believers in a democracy must be prepared for the worst from INEC and their encouragers and how to get Nigeria out of the electoral morass that the Commission is driving us into. To be forewarned is to be forearmed. A battle long forewarned does not embroil the cripple nor catch him unawares.

“A word is sufficient for the wise. The labour of Nigerian democracy heroes must not be in vain. Some men of God would hold President Buhari to his word on free, fair, credible and peaceful elections. I am a realist and I reiterate that I go by track record. Therefore, I am not persuaded by the track record of hollow words, impunity, insensitivity and ‘I couldn’t -care-less attitude, or by the sanctimonious claims of any candidate and his campaign staff. I will only believe what I see,” he added.

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Appointment of Amina Zakari

The former President advised Amina Zakari who was appointed by Buhari as INEC National collation officer for the presidential election to toe the path of honour by resigning her appointment.

He insisted that Zakari is not the only INEC Commissioner that could be at the national collation centre, adding that her relationship with Buhari by virtue of marriage is enough for her to step aside.

“Amina Zakari has become too controversial a figure to be able to give assurance of free, fair and credible election for INEC. President Buhari and her family have declared that there is no blood relationship but there is relationship through marriage and that is more than enough for the good lady to step aside.

“A judge does not sit in judgement over a case once he or she becomes a cause for controversy or one side in the case has strongly objected to the judge. Madam Amina Zakari should, in honour, stay out and not be seen as a source of contamination of the election,” he said.

Onnoghen’s trial

Obasanjo faulted the trial of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, for non-declaration of assets, saying such move was a ploy to intimidate the judiciary in preparation for all elections cases that may need to go before it.

He said that the CJN who is the fifth man in the hierarchy of government is being harassed and persecuted so as to make him conform with the alleged rigging plan or set him aside for Mr President man to take over.

The former President equally faulted the comment of Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, on a television show that Buhari the President knew about the action late, saying such development was an indication that Buhari is not in charge of affairs of the country.

“Buhari’s apologists will not stop at anything to try to cover up his administration’s inadequate performance and character. A constitutional liberal democracy cannot thrive without an independent and insulated judiciary from the executive and the legislature.

“Nigerians must wake up and stop these acts of wanton desperation tantamount to mental incapacity to run the affairs of Nigeria wholesomely, ” he remarked.

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