Mr Peter Obi, the immediate past governor of Anambra State, is a honorary adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan. Obi shares his perspective on the 2015 polls in this interview with Vanguard Newspaper.
The APC has said that Buhari is the best Nigerian leader ever, that he did it once and can do it again. What do you say about this?
At the age of 41, which was 31 years ago, Buhari staged a coup d’état and removed the democratically elected government of Alhaji Shehu Shagari and tried visibly to instil discipline and order in our society. This was both commendable and his greatest achievement. But the economic policies and actions of that government were disastrous, as Nigeria nearly turned into a pariah nation that no one wanted to deal with globally.
At the time, under the Buhari’s government, confirmed Letters of Credit were rejected, because no one wanted to deal with Nigeria. Though I disagree that he was one of the best Nigerian leaders, even if we assume that he was the best 31 years ago, that is not the reason we should clone him back today at 72. The Singaporeans are not asking Lee Kwuan Yu to come back. Malaysians are not asking Mohamad to come back.
The Americans are also not asking Bill Clinton, who came to office ten years after Buhari’s first outing and who had the best economic performance in the 21st century, to come back. Are we saying that Nigeria has not produced anyone who can do the job today?
Do you agree that Buhari has the capacity to stop Boko Haram if elected?
Buhari-declaresGen. Buhari, as a respected, retired general and as an elder statesman, does not need an invitation, an appointment or an elective office to intervene on any national issue, especially issues of national security like the one facing the country at the moment. Elder statesmen all over the world do not wait to be invited before they step forward on matters of grave concern to their fatherland.
President Jonathan is running round sleeplessly and working with security agencies, in addition to forging bilateral ties to solve these problems. He will certainly be very glad to receive any suggestions from Buhari and I can assure you that Nigerians will be glad if he helps solve the problem as an elder statesman. He has said that he will summon a meeting of serving and retired generals to help solve the problem if elected, but he does not need to be elected to do so.
But some people are saying that he can deal with Boko Haram, the way he dealt with the Maitatsine unrest decades ago.
I have read in some places where the APC said that because Buhari stopped Maitaitsine in the 80s, he will also stop Boko today. I disagree entirely with this claim, because the stable global environment of the 80s cannot be compared with the volatile and terror-enveloped global environment of today. The socio-religious realities that threw up the Maitaisine group are different from the realities that threw up Boko Haram.
In the 80s, most countries were stable, but today the global instability, cutting across nations like Iraq, Syria and the Middle East, has created a labyrinth of terror. This is in addition to our African neighbours, , like Libya, Egypt, Somalia, Sudan, Kenya, Tunisia and others, which are all facing various forms of instability and terrorist activities. The level of sophistication in technology and military hardware is also totally different today. No one would have ever imagined in the 80s that terrorists would go into the US and bomb the World Trade Centre, or attack the Pentagon. But we all saw it happen.
These are realities that need to shape our understanding of the world of today. What is happening has a global coloration, because the ISIS flag is the flag you see with Alshaba in Somalia and Boko Haram in Nigeria. You can now see why we cannot compare yesterday with what we are seeing today. Who would have thought that Nigerians would turn into suicide bombers?