Dr. Usman Bugaje and Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, two Nigerian academics, criticized the former president Olusegun Obasanjo for interfering in Nigerian politics by favoring a particular candidate.
Both men were interviewed on Sunday night’s episode of Politics Today on Channels TV.
Former Nigerian foreign minister and pro-democracy campaigner Akinyemi criticized Obasanjo’s interference and said he was a major cause of the nation’s issues.
“Once you have occupied the post of president and served your term, go home, be quiet, be like General Gowon, General Abdulsalami. You have had your term, you have had your innings, to use a cricket language. Let others get on.
“For you to create problems for us and then you come back and present yourself as a problem solver, I find it difficult to swallow.
“Some people say it is not the messenger, focus on the message. That doesn’t rub with me as political scientist. Whoever says that must be a politician, who does not want people to look into his record.”
Former National Assembly member and Obasanjo adviser Bugaje claimed he did not comprehend the objective standards Obasanjo used to make his judgment.
He urged Nigerians to consider Obasanjo’s record before blindly accepting what he said.
“His (Obasanjo’s) record doesn’t encourage me to take whatever he says objectively. I was in the National Assembly when he tried to extend his tenure by changing the constitution. We have to stand up to him in that respect.
“I won’t find him as a person to trust on things he says. He is free to say those things. What we need to do is to guide voters to make the right decision.
“We are at the precipice. We need a leadership that can pull us back from the precipice. A leader that can strengthen the institutions, by fostering more cohesion. A leadership that can build elite consensus around which direction the country could go.
“Part of the problem is that every part of the country is pulling in its own direction. We need a leadership that can unite us, that can focus on where the country should go in the next 10 or 20 years. We are in the 21st century, a very competitive century. The consensus is not there at present”.
Although Akinyemi agreed with Bugaje that reaching elite consensus would be a significant step forward, he claimed that the partisan politics we currently engage in are not intended to do so, contrary to what Bugaje has argued.
“Of the growing economies in the world, how many of them are practising competitive partisan politics?, Akinyemi asked as he recalled the frustrations leaders have with the establishment or the civil service, that he said a former leader described as ‘evil service’.
He also faulted Obasanjo’s presidential choice on the basis of character.
“The system we have now is capable of defeating a man of character”, Akinyemi declared..
He cited how the recommendations of Justice Uwais panel on electoral reforms were put on ice by the establishment. He also cited how the recommendation of another panel on the need to establish a Marshall plan for the whole country was distorted.
“The economy of the country was in tatters in 2013. We recommended a Marshall plan. But what came out was North East Development Commission”.