Obasanjo Writes Buhari, Offers Hand of Fellowship

By Ibidapo Balogun

Former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, on Wednesday reached out to President-elect Muhammadu Buhari, in a possible sign that he is prepared to help the country’s leader-in-waiting.

“I am sure there are men and women of goodwill, character and virtue… that you can mobilise to join hands with you in the reform, repairs and re-direction that will be imperative to put Nigeria back on fast lane,” Obasanjo said in a letter to Buhari.

Both Obasanjo, 78, and Buhari, 72, are former military rulers of Africa’s most populous nation who have gone on to become elected civilian president.

Obasanjo, head of state from 1999 to 2007, fell out with the beaten presidential candidate Goodluck Jonathan and has launched a series of public attacks on the outgoing president.

In mid-February, he publicly tore up his PDP membership card and refused to back Jonathan’s re-election campaign, despite having been widely believed to have helped his initial rise to the top job.

His public letter to Buhari so soon after his election win will likely be interpreted as a pitch for a job, after he made encouraging noises to Buhari’s candidacy on the campaign trail.

“With so much harm already done to many national institutions, including the military, which proudly nurtured you and me, you will have a lot to do on institution reform,” he wrote.

Although once seen as a political godfather in Nigeria, Obasanjo’s influence has been on the wane and he retired from front-line politics to his chicken farm.

But he still enjoys international respect outside the country.

He is a member of the Africa Progress Panel advocacy group on equitable and sustainable development and was UN special envoy to war-torn DR Congo.

He also headed an African Union observer group to the Zimbabwe election in 2013.