‘I am a card-carrying member of another political party (PDP). But I have always said that party or no party, what is paramount for me is Nigeria’

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, said nothing was really amiss in the public life of the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd).

Obasanjo made the remark after a cursory review of the records of the APC standard bearer, when he was Minister of Petroleum Affairs under him as military head of state between 1976 and 1979 and as head of the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) in the 1990s, describing Buhari as unblemished.

“When you (Buhari) were going to become manager of PTF, we talked about it and when you finished and I took over, we looked into it.

“I haven’t said this publicly, I would say it publicly now. When we looked into it, there was really nothing amiss except that that organisation went from road building into mosquito net buying and all sorts of thing. And what the investigation discovered is a bit of inconsistency in prices and all that. In one area, mosquito net might have been given for N50; in another, N45. And then, we remarked that this is fishy. We should look into it.

“And I called my brother and colleague (Buhari), I said this and he said ‘look, we are managing billions of Naira and I tried to make sure I see everything. But I will not say that what they have said about this is correct or not correct. But I can assure you, I tried to see everything.’ I said okay. Muhammadu, between me, you and God, was there any personal benefit for you? And you said no. I said that is the end of the matter. Although there was that investigation, its report was not of any material importance,” Obasanjo said.

On the manifestoes of all the political parties, Obasanjo observed that all of them dwelt so much on economy, corruption and security, but he urged them to ensure that infrastructure is given priority in their agenda.

“I will just beg all of you who are contesting to add one to it; you mentioned economy, you mentioned corruption, and you mentioned security. All of you, I will beg of you to add infrastructure. It’s very important. You may take it as part of economy, but I will take infrastructure as special and give it special attention,” the former president said.

He also implored political parties to make their campaigns issue-based so that the electorate would have clear vision and understanding of their programmes for the benefit of the nation.

“I thought that I should say it today that I have this opportunity, because I hope people will face issues rather than trivialities. On an occasion like this, issues are very important. And you have mentioned three areas which are demanding issues in Nigeria today.

“For all political parties that are trying to woo us to vote for them in the coming election, let’s go away from red-herring, let’s go away from trivialities, let’s face issues and tell the people of this country what we will do to deal with the problems of our country.

“There is no political party in the world that is made up of saints and our own political parties in Nigeria will be no exception. All the political parties have saints and devils among them. But because what you are campaigning for are the votes of saints and devils to be able to win an election, I wish you well.

“Having said that, I will also say that while a party must be a microcosm of a nation, in a nation you will have near-saints, devils, rapists, armed robbers and a good party must have all these in them.

“But what matters is that when that party goes into government, it must look for men and women of character. And we have them in all parties; we have them throughout the nooks and crannies of this country. Again, I wish you well as you go around. I thank you for this visit. I cannot end without reminding you, even though I saw some old faces, but some of us will remain firm at least at the ward level where I am very active in my party,” he stated.

Obasanjo, however, insisted that what matters to him is the wellbeing of the nation, saying, “You have kindly underlined what I want everybody to remember; that I am a card-carrying member of another political party (PDP). But I have always also said that party or no party, what is paramount for me is Nigeria; and that will remain paramount as far as I am concerned.”

Earlier, Buhari, who was in Abeokuta for his presidential campaign, had told Obasanjo why he came with his running mate and chieftains of his party to seek his support, saying, “It’s a fact that you know more than all we know about the problem that we are in. But all we’ll do is try to convince you to believe us that we are going to do better.

“We expect your understanding and support, although you insist on remaining in PDP. I have reached a certain degree of frustration in my attempt for you to try to shift a bit but you have refused.”

Reeling out his programmes for the nation, the APC presidential candidate explained that “we have been going around three fundamental issues: security, economy, corruption. This vicious circle is what the APC is determined to break. Because without security, there is no way the country can settle down not to talk of living in it. So many people, educated and uneducated, some said up to 60 percent, will say Nigeria is sitting on a keg of gun powder.

“And then corruption; we believe that if we are able to stop corruption, a lot of resources will be available to invest in infrastructure, get the factories to reopen, get jobs and get goods and services. So, security, economy, in terms of employment, production, manufacturing, goods and services, and then agriculture will again give impetus to employment.

“We have to be systematic and work to make sure that the vast land we have is cultivated not only to produce food, but to produce raw materials for agro-allied industries, which used to be very viable but which we allowed to die because everybody has concentrated on getting oil money. Now, the oil money is dwindling rapidly; I think we better come back to our senses.”

Among the chieftains of the party present were: Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, Chief Bisi Akande, the presidential candidate’s running mate, Prof. Yemi Oshibajo; Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Chief Banabas Gemade, Chief Segun Oni, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora and several others. [Mynewswatchtimesng]

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