Nigeria’s former president and an elder statesman have said criticism is part of leadership, doing it is ensuring Nigeria leaders are kept on their toes
The former president was reacting to the admonition of the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo, who appealed to him to cease fighting political leaders, especially President Mohammadu Buhari, now that he is 82 years old.
The monarch spoke yesterday in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, at a lecture organised to mark Obasanjo’s 82nd birthday.
Gbadebo suggested that it would be beneficial to the country if Obasanjo would instead be a consultant and an adviser on national issues.
In response to the Alake, Obasanjo explained that in any democratic setting, everyone is free to criticise a policy, government or leader and that is exactly what he had been doing for the benefit of the country.
President of Inkatha Freedom Party, Republic of South Africa, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, delivered the lecture on the theme ‘Colonialism, Apartheid, Freedom and South Africa Rising’.
Oba Gbadebo remarked: “You all know that I was a staff officer under General Buhari, so each time Obasanjo criticises my boss, I would go to him and tell him.
“My senior (Obasanjo), please leave the president alone. At 82, Baba is still fighting on. Please, fight less and be a consultant to everybody.”
According to the Alake, the former president has won many battles for Nigeria. “Obasanjo has been fighting all the way. He has fought for the peace of this country more than anyone. Those who are talking about three terms should check their mathematics because he has gone beyond.”
However, Obasanjo stressed: “In a democracy, you criticise a policy, a government or a leader.
“So if I say any government is not doing well, let that government prove that it is doing well.
“I have been in that position longer than any Nigerian; so I know what I am saying. Anytime you say ‘leave my boss alone,’ I say he is your boss but I am also his boss. So you can also ask your boss to leave his boss alone and do the right thing.”
Meanwhile, Buhari has described Obasanjo as “a passionate and great patriot who deserves accolades for his immeasurable contributions to our democracy and national unity.”
In a statement to mark Obasanjo’s 82nd birthday, Buhari acknowledged that “regardless of our political differences with Obasanjo, I still hold him in high esteem because his contributions to national development overshadow those differences.
“Chief Obasanjo gave a good account of himself and inspired his juniors with his wit and other leadership skills.”
The statement signed by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the president said “Nigeria’s successful transition to democratic rule in October 1979 was one of Obasanjo’s remarkable contributions to national development.