Friday, December 5, 2014 4:47 am
Abiodun Onafuye/ Abeokuta
Former Nigerian leader, Olusegun Obasanjo has explained that his criticism of President Goodluck Jonathan was not meant to ‘castigate’ or ‘bad mouth’ him , but was borne out of his genuine concern about the situation in the country.
Obasanjo said the Nigerian situation at the moment was ‘bad, but not irretrievably bad’.
He spoke Thursday after a three-hour closed door meeting with five PDP Governors who visited him in Abeokuta, capital of Ogun state.
At the end of the visit, Obasanjo told a horde of newsmen eager for insight into what was discussed:
“First of all I thank my colleagues and my brothers who have decided to pay me a special visit. They were concerned about what you may call the situation of the nation, the security, and the economy. What we have discussed, most of them I have raised in my own public pronouncement in recent times, not to castigate anybody, not to bad-mouth anybody, not to run anybody down, but out of genuine concern for the situation of this country and that is the same thing that has brought them and I want to thank them.”
The former President noted that the situation in the country currently was bad, but added that it was not totally irretrievable.
“When we look at these issues closely, very objectively and we came to the conclusion that yes, we have a bad situation but not irretrievably bad. Something can still be done and what now is required is the will and the courage to do something when and how it needs to be done,” he said.
Obasanjo who appreciated the governors for their concern for the nation, said the task to save the country was not for one man or group but for all Nigerians.
“I appreciate their coming to me because of the respect and honour they have for me. But this task is not for one man and it is not even a task for one group. It is a task that requires all hands on deck. And as they have said and as they have assured me that this type of consultation, they would have with other leaders so that this country which is ours and for which we have no alternatives, will move forward.”
Commenting on the economy, especially the slump in oil price, Obasanjo noted that the leadership failed to prepare for the rainy day, and that was why the economy was tottering.
“When we had surplus, we did not remember the rainy day, now that the rainy day is staring us in the face, we must be honest and courageous enough to do what is right, to let the nation know and then to take the steps that will put it right as quick as possible.
“You do not need to be an oracle or a World Bank expert or an International Monetary Fund expert to know that our economy is not what it should be and this is not the first time we would hear it, we have heard it in the past.
“When of course I came in 1999, the price of fuel was about $9 and we realised that we have a problem, we even made budget that we could not fund, but we realised that we are in a serious situation and we took steps.
“Within two to three years, we were able to sail through, the price of fuel started moving up. Do not forget that there was a time during the Iraqi war, price of fuel rose to $42 and then it came down to $9.
“The one that we have now, we do not know when it would bottom and at what price it would bottom but we can weather the storm, if we take measures that we should take and when to take it,” Obasanjo warned.
Speaking on behalf of the visiting governors, both Akpabio and Aliyu Babangida of Akwa Ibom and Niger States explained that the governors came to consult the former President due to his wealth of experience and his influence both nationally and internationally.
Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State said: “We decided that it is important for us to come and consult with him, as he said. Pay our respect, discuss the affairs of the nation and then to tap from his wealth of wisdom.
“The intention here is that all Nigerians are determined to reposition the country, we have no other country than Nigeria and so, no matter the challenges, we may face today, we must work together as a team to redeem the situation,” Akpabio advised.
Apart from Babangida Aliyu and Akpabio, the other governors who visited the former president were Governor Isa Yuguda of Bauchi, Sule Lamido of Jigawa, Liyel Imoke of Cross River.