BY SONI DANIEL
ABUJA— Against the backdrop of insinuations in political circles that former President Olusegun Obasanjo has endorsed Governors Sule Lamido and Rotimi Amaechi of Jigawa and Rivers states respectively as President and Vice President in 2015 elections, Special Adviser on Political Matters to the President, Mr. Ahmed Gulak yesterday warned the former president to desist from dabbling into the political future of President Goodluck Jonathan but to join hand with him in delivering his electoral promises to Nigerians.
Obasanjo has, however, denied working towards installing anyone in the next polls, saying he has been pre-occupied with more pressing national issues such as security, poverty, malaria, polio and infant and maternal mortality, to have time for politics.
Governor Amaechi had also denied he was running with Lamido, while some northern groups had received the news of Lamido’s choice with jubilation.
Gulak, who handed down the warning in an exclusive interview with Vanguard in Abuja, asked Obasanjo to stop distracting the president by unnecessarily stirring the political waters.
The 27 Local Government Areas in Jigawa State are reported to have burst into dancing and singing when the news of the governor’s consideration for the nation’s top job, filtered into Dutse, the state capital on Monday.
Jonathan’s political adviser, who was apparently irked by the development, said it was unfortunate for the former President to be involved in the alleged endorsement of the two serving governors, when there was a sitting President and leader of the party.
Gulak said, “If it is true that Obasanjo is fronting Lamido and Amaechi for 2015, I assume it is not true, I would say that he has his own right. But the question is in what capacity would he do that?
“Is it as the father of the nation or the President of Nigeria or what? First, Obasanjo is not the president of Nigeria and secondly, although he is one of our leaders, nobody has arrogated the monopoly of anointing candidates to him.
“Having said that, if it is true that Obasanjo has done what has been credited to him, then it is safe to say that he is not fair to this country and I believe that what this country needs to do is to deliver on the promises made to the electorate in 2011″.
“Obasanjo was part of the system from 1976 to 1979 and then from 1999 to 2007. Obasanjo should play the role of a father-figure, to advise and not to keep on pock- nosing into the affairs of the nation by choosing people who should run and who should not.
“He had played his role, everybody gave him their support. One good turn deserves another. It is therefore incumbent on him to support President Goodluck Jonathan to deliver on his electoral promises to the people and not to distract the system by stirring the political waters unnecessarily.
“When we reach the bridge we shall cross it. But we are only in 2012, just one year after the last election. Are we therefore telling Nigerians that everything is just about election? Why are we relegating to the background our promises to the nation?” Gulak queried angrily.
Turning to some northern elders said to be opposed to the re-election of President Jonathan in 2015 as prescribed by law, Gulak described the call as the ‘greatest joke of the century’, saying that nobody had the right to stop the President from contesting if he decides to do so in 2015.
According to him, “President Jonathan has that constitutional right and nobody can abridge it; it is left for him to decide whether to contest or not. But no individual, group or institution can take away that right if we agree we are running a constitutional and democratic government.
“It is his right to run or not. No individual or group has the right to warn President Jonathan not to aspire to lead the nation as provided by the law of the land. You can’t ask him not to pick the party’s nomination form.
“Nobody can intimidate President Goodluck Jonathan; absolutely nobody because by the grace of God, he is the president of Nigeria. The fact that the man is simple, humble and does not abuse executive powers like some of our past leaders does not mean that he is weak,” he declared.
The political aide also took on former FCT Minister, Malam Nasir el-Rufai and former parliamentarian, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, for recently asking Jonathan to resign over his inability to solve the nation’s rising security challenges, saying that they were not fit to speak for the north.
Obasanjo denies 2015 plot
Meanwhile, apparently worried by the furore triggered by his endorsement of two serving governors to vie for the Presidency come 2015, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, yesterday denied working towards installing anyone in the next polls.
Obasanjo said he was preoccupied with more pressing national issues to have time for politics, enumerating such challenges to include national security, poverty, malaria, polio and infant and maternal mortality.
The former President in a statement made available to Vanguard by his media aide, Garba Deen Muhammed, said however that he recognised the rights and privileges all Nigerians including the two governors who were mentioned as having been endorsed by him, to vie for any office of their choice in the country.
He pointed out that although individuals might aspire to any office of their choice; it is the political party that eventually determines who flies its flag.
Obasanjo pleaded with Nigerians to be mindful of the present challenges the nation was passing through and to contribute their quota towards finding lasting solutions rather than speculating on an election that is still far away.
He took exception to the statement credited to the former Oyo State Governor, Lam Adesina, to the effect that the former president’s battled against corruption was deceitful and cited the award of contract for the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway as an example of corrupt practice.
Part of the statement read, “Former President Obasanjo feels it was sad and unfortunate that at his age, Lam Adesina would make statements that can only ridicule him and make nonsense of his elderly status.
“It is self-evident that no government after former President Obasanjo has fought corruption with the same commitment as his regime. It is equally self-evident that the institutions for fighting corruption that the country relies on today were set up by the Obasanjo regime, likewise some of the individuals manning those institutions today were nurtured by the same Obasanjo regime that Adesina so mischievously described as “deceitful”.
“Lam Adesina’s attribution of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway contract to the Obasanjo regime shows how puerile, or perhaps how senile the former governor has become. The contract in question was not awarded by the Obasanjo regime. It was in fact awarded after Chief Obasanjo had left office.
“As for the oft-repeated issue of the amount purported to have been misappropriated in the power sector during the regime of Obasanjo, it is significant that today, it is those who made those false allegations against former President Obasanjo regime that are being prosecuted for corruption. Interestingly the current power reform that is now being pursued was laid down by the Obasanjo regime.
“If Adesina was not consumed by the wicked desire to cast aspersions on former President Obasanjo, he would have known these simple details and would not have ridiculed himself by making the pedestrian comments he made.
“Adesina would put his elderly years to better use by telling the people of Oyo state how many jobs he created while in office, what environmental policies he developed that would have prevented the tragic incidence of flooding plaguing Oyo state, how many kilometres of road he built, how many poor people he helped to own their own houses, etc, rather than peddling lies in the quest for relevance.
“ Obasanjo remains one of the world’s most respected statesmen of all times. No amount of slander and false accusations can change that,” he said.
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