This article is part of our #FirstWord series to provide context on trending news.
Nigeria’s former President, Olusegun Obasanjo on June 8, 2018, raised alarm over an alleged plot by President Muhammadu Buhari to frame him for a crime. He claimed in a press statement signed by his spokesman that Buhari was trying to silence him for his criticism of the current administration.
According to the ex-President, he heard about the plot from several reliable security sources, claiming he is on the government watchlist.
What’s this about?
Obasanjo’s public beef started with President Buhari in January, when he asked him not to seek re-election in the 2019 election. In a 13 paged letter, Obasanjo expressed his lost hope in Buhari and insinuated that he was unfit to lead.
Subsequently, Obasanjo launched the Coalition for Nigeria Movement (CNM), which he said would engage well-meaning Nigerians in democratic practices that will move the country forward. The movement later merged into a political party, constantly throwing criticism at Buhari’s way at any chance given.
President Buhari on 22 May 2018 kicked back, raising questions over the $16 billion allegedly spent on power projects during the Olusegun - Obasanjo administration. While speaking at the Presidential Villa, Buhari subtly threw a jab at the former president, demanding for what was done with the $16 billion as there was no power to show for the amount spent. In response to the accusation, Obasanjo described Buhari as ignorant on the subject matter.
Following all of this, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) launched a probe into the controversy surrounding the money allegedly spent on power projects during the Olusegun - Obasanjo led administration. The investigation is supposed to look into the total cost of the projects, how much was withdrawn from the excess crude account, the total number of contracts awarded and status of the execution of all projects. Obasanjo, amidst all of this, says he has no problem with being probed.
What is Obasanjo concerned about?
For someone who claims to be okay with being investigated, Obasanjo seems to be drawing a lot of attention to his case. It is hard to tell why.
In response to Obasanjo’s claims, the Federal Government assured him that he has nothing to worry about if he is truly innocent. According to a statement by the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, the Presidency is too busy trying to fix the country and has no time for distractions like this one.
“...We are curious that the frame-up and witch-hunt allegations came a day after a major presidential proclamation reversing some past acts of injustice was made, to the relief and acclamation of a long-expectant nation. Apparently, the impact of this proclamation was too much to bear by those who, through acts of omission or commission, helped to deepen the wounds inflicted by the blow of injustice that followed an election that was widely acclaimed to be free, fair and credible, hence they felt the need for a red herring that will distract the nation…” - Lai Mohammed
Nobody for sure can guess what direction the allegations on both sides and probe will go next. For now, fingers crossed till the next move is made.