Former president Olusegun Obasanjo said on Monday about President Muhammadu Buhari: “He is not a hot person when it comes to economy. He is not a very hot person when it comes to foreign affairs”.
Obasanjo was speaking at the third International Conference on African Development Issues — “Driving inclusive and sustainable development in Africa: Models, methods and policies” — organised by Covenant University, Ota, Ogun State.
His comments shouldn’t have come as a surprise to Buhari watchers who have witnessed the Nigerian economy spluttering on life support under his watch. They have seen him refer to German Chancellor Angela Merkel as “President Michelle of West Germany”.
Buhari’s economic illiteracy had already been highlighted in the past by his close ally and current governor of Kaduna State, Nasir el-Rufai. In 2010, el-Rufai said: “The story of counter-trade and import licensing, the cornerstone of Buhari’s stone-age economic strategy and those whose interests it served, is a tale for another day.”
The former federal capital territory minister was referring then to Buhari’s record as a military dictator in the 1980s. Incidentally, many of the issues Nigerians are struggling to cope with now, foreign exchange shortages, power shortages, fuel scarcity, unaffordable “essential commodities”, etc, are a repeat of the situation in which the country found itself at the time Buhari’s regime was overthrown, to widespread jubilation, in August 1985.
Obasanjo also said: “I know General Muhammadu Buhari. He served under me in the military. His characteristics that I know, his behaviour that I know, he has not deviated from them”. That Obasanjo knew that Buhari wasn’t “hot” on the economic front and still helped package Buhari last year as a solution to Nigeria’s problems, tells us a lot more about Obasanjo than it does about Buhari.