A group of elder statesmen in Nigeria has expressed concern over the response of the Muhammadu Buhari presidency to their meeting with ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, stressing that they “have no regrets or apologies to offer for making ourselves available to dialogue”.
The statesmen under the aegis of Nigerian Elders and Leaders said while they were not mouthpieces of Obasanjo, it was regrettable that their responsible and constructive effort to douse tensions in the country, build bridges and restore hope Nigeria would “attract the type of childish vitriol from the Presidency”.
The elders said this in a statement on Tuesday by Yinka Odumakin (Afenifere), Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed (Northern Elders Forum), Chief Guy Ikokwu (Ohanaeze), Senator Bassey Henshaw (Pan Niger Delta Forum), and Dr. Isuwa Dogo (Middle Belt Forum).
Obasanjo had, during a book launch attended by socio-political groups, said Nigeria had become a failed state under President Buhari, asserting that many of the problems plaguing the country were due to the recent mismanagement of Nigeria’s diversity.
The Presidency responded by describing Obasanjo as the country’s ‘divider-in-chief’, urging him to get involved with problem-solving instead of helping the “mushrooming of a poisonous atmosphere of ethnic and religious nationalism”.
Coming to the defense of Obasanjo, Nigeria’s elder statesmen said; “The statement read, “To say that the Presidency chose to react in the manner it did to a responsible and credible initiative by our groups and a former President, is, to put it politely, deeply disappointing and worrying. Our groups are not mouthpieces of President Obasanjo, and we will leave it to him to choose how he responds to the lamentable response of President Buhari to his initiative.
“For us, it is sufficient to say that we have no regrets or apologies to offer for making ourselves available to dialogue with each other, exchange ideas, and re-commit ourselves to pulling our nation from the brink of precipice of no return.
“The communiqué released at the end of our meeting, which we are confident is only the first of many, is a loud testimony to our levels of responsibility and maturity. We have received countless commendations from many responsible Nigerians for supporting and participating in this initiative to make our country a democratic and united entity
“We are even more worried at this stage that a responsible and constructive effort to douse tensions, build bridges and restore hope in the potentials for the survival of our country as democratic and united entity will attract the type of childish vitriol from the Presidency, including labelling us as terrorists.
“Clearly, our current leaders are living in very deep denial if they do not recognize that our current situation represents an existential danger to the nation,” their statement read.