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I have read articles and watch on TV the continual criticisms of President Muhammadu Buhari by former President Olusegun Obansanjo and I agree and disagree with him on some aspects. Buhari has failed in the area of security which I stand with Obasanjo on that but in the aspect of financial corruption, he got it wrong. Obasanjo is more corrupt financially than Buhari so he has no moral justification to accuse Buhari of financial misappropriation.
Obasanjo had the second chance to make Nigeria great but he didn’t. He rather institutionalized corruption just like Jonathan did. So my question is why Obasanjo criticize Buhari of corruption when he is to blame as well in the poor socio-economic development of Nigeria.

Olusegun Obasanjo as a civilian president was elected on the 29 May 1999 in the third republic. Although Obasanjo established Independent Corrupt practices and Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), his government was one of the worst in terms of corruption.

In 1999, the World Bank compiled a list of Nigerian funds by depositors in four Western countries and gave the list to President Obasanjo. But he ignored the list. The 2003 election which ushered in the second tenure of Obasanjo and some PDP governors was another peak of corruption. It was characterized by cheating, hijacking of ballot boxes, buying and selling of votes, rigging of results and so on.

The third term agenda of Obasanjo started shortly three months after he had assumed office for the second tenure in May, 2003. On August 23, 2003, THE SUNDAY SUN published a cover story with the title: “Mandela warns Obasanjo- Don’t Try Third Term”. The paper disclosed that Mandela had a hint that Obasanjo was plotting for a third term after May 2007. On September 15, 2003, INSIDER WEEKLY Magazine came out with a cover title: “Third Term Presidency: Nigerians says no To Obasanjo”. In the main story, which was captioned 2007: Obasanjo’s Secret Game, the Magazine stated: “It started as a strong rumour. But assumed a life of its own when venerable Nelson Mandela (of blessed memory), former President of South Africa sent a warning to his friends, President Olusegun Obasanjo not to tread the path of infamy by attempting to run for a third term in office . . . .” According to INSIDER WEEKLY of September 15, 2003, P. 18, source who spoke to the Magazine said, “it was the game plan of Obasanjo to attempt an amendment of the constitution that would enable him seek a third term in office”. He wanted to be life President, if possible.

Titus Terver Mamadu writes in his book titled: “CORRUPTION IN THE LEADERSHIP STRUCTURE OF NIGERIAN POLITY” that for the third term plot to be effective, Obasanjo needed the endorsement of the National Assembly and two thirds of the state assemblies. This was because the section 135(2) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria makes it clear and definite that subject to the provision in this section, “the President shall vacate his office at the expiration of a period  of four years . . .” However, the corrupt mind-set Obasanjo who claimed to be fighting corruption pumped Senators and members of House of Representatives Billions of Naira so as to make his way through and effect the amendment of the 1999 constitution to favour his third term agenda.

THE NEWS of December 5, 2005, P. 33 reports that the Movement for the Defense of Democracy (MDD) reported on November 23, 2005 that in pursuit of the third term ambition, Obasanjo budgeted more than N90 billion to entice lawmakers to facilitate the third term agenda. They gave the following details of the amount of money involved in the alleged bribe: Each member of the 360 Representatives was offered N70 million (a total of N25.2billion). Each of the 109 Senators was offered N140Million (a total of N15.2billion). Every member of each state House of Assembly in the 36 states was offered N50million.

In a survey of the bribe, THISDAY of May 5, 2006 reports that “pro-third term Senators and House of Representatives members in the defunct joint committee of the National Assembly on 1999 constitution review were alleged to have received $37,000 each to encourage them recommend a review of the tenure clause in the Constitution from two to three terms of four years each for the President. VANGUARD of April 14, 2006, P.1 also reports a similar story.

In view of the huge amount used on bribe of Senators and Members of House of Representatives, one can see that Obasanjo upheld corruption during his administration. These are just a few of his many corrupt acts.

I disagree with Buhari on many aspects of his leadership methodology, but I can stand with him when it comes to financial corruption. He is just different in that aspect.

By Terfa Naswem