Former president, Dr. Olusegun Obasanjo has observed that federal character principle was not followed in the appointment of the nation’s service chiefs, even as he berated the National Assembly and the Federal Character Commission, FCC, for failing to check the excesses of President Muhammadu Buhari in the uneven distribution of public offices.
He also stated that his exchange of pleasantries with Buhari in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, during the African Union, AU, summit, did not in any way detract from the significance and seriousness of his special press statement which called on the President not to contest the 2019 elections.
Obasanjo stated this on Thursday at the secretariat of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, in Oke Ilewo area of Abeokuta, shortly after the Coalition for Nigeria Movement, CNM, was inaugurated in Ogun State, and he was registered as a member of the movement.
He pointed out that his open letter to Buhari was not borne out malice or ‘bad belle’ as he never condemned the current administration in totality but commended the president in areas where he had performed creditably.
The ex-president, who addressed scores of stalwarts and potential members of the CNM who came for the launch in Abeokuta, said: “Last week, I issued a statement which I did not do lightly or frivolously but out of deep concern for the situation of our country.
“I wonder why some Nigerians were worried why I had to pay respect to the Nigerian president at Addis Ababa. That’s my own upbringing as a well-born and bred Yoruba boy.
“That doesn’t mean that what I have said about the president, which I did not say out of bitterness and hatred… it is evidence that the president has performed, in some areas, good enough.
“In other areas not good and the proper advice I gave, which he may take and he may not take.
“I didn’t do that out of malice or out of ‘bad belle’. I did it out of my respect for that office and my interest and I hope in your interest and the interest of Buhari.”
He said further, “Let me emphasise important areas, programmes, priorities or processes for improved attention. To start with, we seem to have taken nation building for granted. Nation building must be given continued attention to give every citizen a feeling of belonging and a stake in his or her country.
“For instance, the Federal Character principle, as espoused in our constitution, was to guide the leadership to search for competent holders of major offices to be distributed within the entire nation, and avoid concentration in a few ethnic hands or geographical places, as we currently have in the leadership of our security apparatus.
“To avoid such non-integrative situation, we have the National Assembly and the Federal Character Commission, both institutions which must raise the alarm or call for correction of actions by the executive that violates the spirit of our constitution.”
Obasanjo declared that his envisioned Coalition for Nigeria Movement, CNM, was not a third force as being touted, but a popular movement to accommodate all Nigerians, regardless of their political leanings, in order to propel Nigeria forward.
He expressed optimism that the movement would spearhead the processes, programmes, policies and priorities to make Nigeria a great country both in the West African sub-region and on the African continent, as he revealed that the group would mobilise membership all over Nigeria and in the Diaspora.