I thought I knew Buhari but I was wrong, says Obasanjo

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Ex-President Obasanjo has lamented his decision to throw his weight behind the candidature of President Buhari in the 2015 general elections.

Obasanjo said with the benefit of hindsight, he now knows that he overrated Buhari’s strengths as a former member of his cabinet during his (Obasanjo) reign as a military ruler.

The ex-president, who spoke on Sunday in a virtual interview with academic and historian, Toyin Falola, noted that the president should, by now, be thinking on how posterity would judge his time as the commander-in-chief of the armed forces.

He said, “I thought I knew President Buhari because he worked with me. But I used to ask people that is it that I have not read him well or read him adequately or is it that he has changed from the Buhari that I used to know? I am not subscribing to the people who say we have a new Buhari from Sudan and all that nonsense.

“I know what I believed was his limitations and I have written about it –he wasn’t strong in economics, not all of us are strong in anything but you need to have sufficient knowledge of it for you to direct the affairs. He wasn’t particularly too strong in foreign affairs but I thought he was strong enough in the military.

“From his performance in his first outing as head of state, I thought he would also do well in fighting corruption. I did not know the nepotistic tendencies of President Buhari, maybe because he was not exposed to that sort of situation when he worked with me.

“But with what I have seen now, I believe that maybe he will be thinking of a legacy. Maybe he will also learn from what has happened in recent times. If you are the commander-in-chief and banditry is taking place in your backyard, then you have to wake up.”

Reacting to the appointment of the new service chiefs, Obasanjo said it’s premature to start celebrating the move.

He added that that the success or failure of the new commanders would be known in the next six months.

He said, “Recently, the president changed his service chiefs after they have been there for more than five years without any perceptible improvement and some people started jubilating.

“Somebody spoke to me and said, ‘Oh, you are not enthused’, and I said, ‘I am not’. The person said, ‘Why?’ And I said I don’t know any of those people that have been appointed as service chiefs but you will hear my comments three to six months from now because within that period, we should be able to show what they can do. And if they cannot bring about any perceptible change or improvement then you can write them off as failures.”

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