By Nwangwu Uba
Barely three months to the 2019 general elections, President Muhammadu Buhari appears set to give the ex-Generals opposed to his re-election bid a battle of their life. They are former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Ibrahim Babangida, Theophilous Danjuma, Zamani Lekwot, Nimel Dongoyaro and Ibrahim Gusau, to name but a few.
The ex-Generals may have had their reasons for opposing Buhari re-election bid and throwing their weight behind Atiku Abubakar, the Presidential Candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, to be the next President of Nigeria in 2019 . The grouse of the ex-generals against him is no longer a hidden matter as they speak out at every slightest opportunity.
Many believe that former President Obasanjo may have started the problem to put him in bad light when he allegedly wrote a letter to the retired Army General and incidentally an elected President, urging him to put his re-election bid on hold, on the excuse of ”non performance”.
The Value News Magazine learnt that Babangida and other Generals who also have an axe to grand with him saw it as an opportunity to rally round Obasanjo to” look for someone who will fix the nation”
According to the former President, ” Buhari is weak in knowledge and understanding of the economy,” noting that he ought to have used good Nigerians in that area that could help but failed to do so. The ”economy does obey military orders”, he had said.
Danjuma, a former minister of Defense, who never liked the killings of people of Taraba state by Herdsmen from the core north and other countries in the West African sub-region, particular, Niger and Chad, and had subsequently called on the people of Benue, Plataeau, Kwara, Niger, Nasarawa, Adamawa and Taraba state who make up the Middle Belt never to vote for Buhari in the 2019 elections.
Appealing to the people of the region to throw their weight behind Atiku, the Turaki of Adamawa and Flag bearer of the PDP, he stated that it is only a PDP government in 2019 that would bring peace to the region.
Given his alleged anger against the Buhari led All progressive Congress , APC, government, he had accused the military of colluding with the bandits to kill the people, thus urging them to ”rise and defend themselves outside”, which Mansur Dan-Ali, a retired Brigadier General and minister of Defense did not find funny.
The minister may have considered the statement as an incitement for the people of Taraba state to go against Buhari’s government. He may have his reason for thinking so. This is because Buhari , as the President is their Commander -In-Chief and the statement is an indictment on him.
There are indications that some of the retired Generals opposed to Buhari’s re-election bid were said to have met in an undisclosed location in Abuja recently, according to Mohammad Lawal, a political ally of Buhari, the meeting was ”to perfect plans on how to stop Buhari in the 2019 election”. An aggrieved Lawal had warned that the gang -up by the ex Generals against Buhari ”amounts to treason”, ostensibly to force the government to arrest and try them.
Given the ex-Generals’ gang -up against Buhari, the APC Presidential Candidate to lose the 2019 general elections, Femi Adesina, Special Assistant to the President on Media and publicity, on Thursday, December 6, 2018,declared that ”it will not stand”.
Adesina, was said to have told those that cares to listen that ”Buhari will win the 2019 general elections as all gang ups against him will fail”. The declaration by the Media and Publicity aide to the President, may have been prompted by Atiku’s visit to Obasanjo at his Otta farm on Wednesday, December 5, 2018, for Consultations.
Festus Keyamo, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and Director, Strategic Communications of Buhari Campaign organisation, had described the ex-Generals gang-up against Buhari as a ”criminal offence”. The legal luminary disclosed that the retired military Generals gang -up was a deliberate design because they never liked the ”anti-corruption posture of his government”.
Given an insider information, he said the major grouse the ex-Generals may have against him was” rigidity ‘as they could not have their way to dictate the policy direction of the government . Note that rigidity was the same complaint in 1985 when an alleged clique in the Army led by Babangida, the then Chief of Army Staff and later military President over-threw him.
Keyamo, who recalled that they had accused him of rigidity but said the reason for his overthrow then, was his fight against corruption in the government. Babangida and Gusau were said to have been penciled down for retirement but were saved by the Coup, which forcefully retired Buhari and late Tunde Idiagbon, a Major General and the then Chief of Staff Supreme Headquarters.
Indeed, Adesina, and the other Presidential aides may have spoken the mind of Buhari, as people fear that he may go after the ex-Generals to silence them and subsequently throw the Atiku Presidential Campaign Council and the rival PDP, into confusion. The political aides may want Buhari, to repeat what late General Sani Abacha did in 1995 by framing up Obasanjo and others in a phantom Coup to silence them.
It would be recalled that Buhari was one of the closest aides to Abacha, the then military Head of state in his capacity as the Chairman of Petroleum Task Force, PTF, thus making him one of the most powerful in the government. He may have learnt much from the then Head of State about the use of power that he could deal decisively with the ex-Generals opposed to his re-election bid.
Yemi Osibanjo, the Vice President who confirmed the ex-Generals gang-up against Buhari described them and their political collaborators as ”frustrated people”, stating that they had prayed for his death ” but were surprised to see him” return to the country alive and stronger” to contest the 2019 general elections. He may have told Lawal and Keyamo, the two political aides to the President , to expunge from their mindset, claims that the ex-Generals’ gang -up against the President was a treasonable offence.The Vice President noted that since there is no threat to the President’s life from the ex-General gang-up, there is nothing to worry about it.