They were former comrades in arms. But they were equally involved in overthrowing civilian governments and usurping their posititons.
In 1976, when General Olusegun Obasanjo was military head of state, Colonel Muhammadu Buhari was military governor of the newly created Borno State. Later, in 1978, Buhari was appointed Petroleum Minister in Obasanjo’s government.
At one time or the other, Obasanjo and Buhari had served as Nigerian military head of state. While in 1979, Obasanjo retired from the Army as a four-star General after handing over power to a democratically elected President, in 1985, Buhari was compulsorily retired from the Army as a two-star General after being overthrown in a palace coup.
In 1999, following the return to democratic governance in the country, Obasanjo contested as civilian President, and won. In 2003, Buhari challenged Obasanjo for the same position, and lost. In 2007, Buhari came challenged Obasanjo’s anointed candidate, Umaru Yar’Adua, and also lost. In 2011, Buhari once again challenged another Obasanjo’s anointed candidate, Goodluck Jonathan. He equally lost.
However, in 2015, Obasanjo switched camp, and vigorously campaigned for Buhari to challeng his former political godson, President Goodluck Jonathan. This time around, Buhari won the election.
Now, the two men are at daggers drawn, and they are dancing naked in public arena. Obasanjo had in January this year written a lengthy letter to Buhari, asking him not to seek reelection in 2019 because, according to him, Buhari had woefully failed to deliver. He cited the incessant killings going on in different parts of the country, which, he said, Buhari made no serious effort to stem.
Obasanjo was equally not happy about the state of the country’s economy, which he said, Buhari had failed to manage well, as well as the alleged nepotic rule by the President by appointing only his kinsmen into key offices of the administration, among other charges.
Obasanjo did not just end there. He followed this up by establishing what he called the Coalition Movement for Nigeria, CMN, and aligned it with other political groups aimed at chasing Buhari out Buhari of Aso Rock.
Be that as it may, and against the insistence of Obasanjo, Buhari said he was going to recontest the 2019 reelection. Obasanjo was uncomfortable and saw this as a challenge. He began to traverse across the length and breadth of the country campaigning against Buhari’s reelection.
But Buhari would no longer keep quiet. He decided to throw on punches on past leaders who ruled the country from 1999 and 2015, in other words, on Obasanjo, Yar’Adua and Jonathan, for “lack of imagination”. He said that these leaders had failed to provide the needed infrastructure in spite of the huge revenues at their disposal
Buhari specifically picked on Obasanjo and said, “one of the former presidents was bragging that he spent 15 billion American Dollars, not Naira, on power. Where is the power? Where is the power? And we have to pay the debt”.
Not the one to keep quiet over what he may consider was an insult, somehow bordering on ignorance, Obasanjo fired back. While declaring that he was ready for probe, he told Buhari to read Chapters 41, 42, 43 and 47, of his book, My Watch, for insights and perspectives of the power sector and what had transpired.
Sort of saying that our President is not too comfortable with written words, and in particular, the English Language, Obasanjo wrote: ” If he cannot read the three volumes of the book, he should detail his aides to do so and surmarise the chapters in a language he will easily understand “.
Indeed, the war has begun, and the battle line drawn. But who blinks? Only time and future will tell.