Some retired generals may have formed a secret coalition to defeat President Muhammadu Buhari in the 2019 Presidential Election. Sunday Oguntola reports on the inside details of the plot.
INVESTIGATION has shown that some ex-generals, led by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, are perfecting plans to stop the reelection bid of President Muhammadu Buhari.
It was learnt that because of their disagreements with some key policies of Buhari administration, the ex-generals have formed what a source called “a strong coalition against Buhari’s second term ambition in 2019.”
The army of opposition
Some of the prominent ex-generals presently associated to the coalition, according to our findings, include Lt. General Theophilus Danjuma, former Military President Ibrahim Babangida, former Head of State Abdulsalam Abubakar, General Zamani Lekwot and General Joshua Dongoyaro, among others.
It was learnt that though the ex-generals also have personal issues among themselves leading to mutual suspicion, they may have decided to jettison them for the purpose of fighting a cause they consider fundamental to their individual survival.
All the prominent ex-generals so far linked to the coalition reportedly have personal axes to grind with the current administration over several issues; it was learnt, leaving them no option than to unite against Buhari, who they now consider a common enemy.
The plot, according to sources, is spearheaded by Obasanjo, who on January 23 wrote Buhari to put his reelection bid on hold, accusing him of non-performance.
The letter, sources confided, was carefully scripted and timed to rally other ex-generals who were skeptical over the workability of the plans.
Once the letter became public knowledge, many of them reportedly became more relaxed and comfortable with the group, pledging to stop at nothing to ensure the defeat of the president at the 2019 poll.
It was gathered that the ex-generals, some of whom served under Obasanjo in the military, have been holding surreptitious meetings for over a year on how to stop Buhari.
Investigations revealed several of the meetings held in Abuja while a few elements in the coalition have also met overseas to perfect strategies on how to stop Buhari at all costs.
Part of the plot, according to sources, is to mount a campaign of non-performance, highlighting the many weaknesses and drawbacks of the current administration with a view to discrediting it.
A source privy to the meetings told our correspondent: “The first thing is to attempt to badmouth the Buhari’s administration by showing where it is not doing so well.
“The thinking is that once Nigerians begin to think less of the administration and its weaknesses are promoted, they will become disenchanted and look for alternatives.
“That is why Obasanjo has been relentless in telling everyone that Buhari has failed. It is a line he will keep repeating for the remaining months to the election. The strategy clearly is to say this man has failed to meet your expectations so look for someone else to fix the nation.”
Aiming for the spine
Obasanjo, who has accepted the daunting task of being the brain-box and face of the coalition, has been harping on the economic performances of the current administration, declaring them as appalling.
In his January 23 letter, the former President had stated: “I knew President Buhari before he became President and said that he is weak in the knowledge and understanding of the economy but I thought that he could make use of good Nigerians in that area that could help.
“Although, I know that you cannot give what you don’t have and that economy does not obey military order. You have to give it what it takes in the short-, medium- and long-term. Then, it would move.
“I know his weakness in understanding and playing in the foreign affairs sector and again, there are many Nigerians that could be used in that area as well. They have knowledge and experience that could be deployed for the good of Nigeria.”
The insecurity challenge, especially the herdsmen attacks, also offers the coalition a massive outlet to bark at the administration. Again, Obasanjo touched on this in his letter.
He had stated: “The herdsmen/crop farmers issue is being wittingly or unwittingly allowed to turn sour and messy. It is no credit to the Federal Government that the herdsmen rampage continues with careless abandon and without finding an effective solution to it.
“And it is a sad symptom of insensitivity and callousness that some governors, a day after 73 victims were being buried in a mass grave in Benue State without condolence, were jubilantly endorsing President Buhari for a second term! The timing was most unfortunate.
“The issue of herdsmen/crop farmers’ dichotomy should not be left on the political platform of blame game; the Federal Government must take the lead in bringing about solution that protects life and properties of herdsmen and crop farmers alike and for them to live amicably in the same community.”
The allegation of collusion by the military in the recent killings across the nation by Danjuma last March was also part of the well-planned strategy to expose the current administration to public outcry.
Danjuma’s outburst on alleged ethnic cleansing sat well with many in the northcentral who consider him a cult-figure in political and security affairs.
It was gathered that the coalition has compiled a list of weaknesses or drawbacks of the current administration, which would be highlighted at different fora from time to time.
A source said they will also work with pressure groups, civil society organisations and human rights bodies, whose primary role would be to organise protests and demonstrations across the nation to create a sense of dissatisfaction against the Buhari government.
Battle for global acceptance
There are indications that the civil society organisations are currently being mobilised by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) with a history of good working relationship and vast networks with the bodies.
It was gathered during the week that very soon, the civil society groups will start unleashing statements and position papers, which would be followed up with peaceful protests across the nation to expose the needs for Nigerians to reject Buhari at the poll.
Another plank of the well-articulated ploy is to mount a campaign against the administration at the international scene to sell to world powers the idea of defeating Buhari.
This strategy, which was also well-deployed against former President Goodluck Jonathan, is directly coordinated by Obasanjo using his vast network and connections in the international scene.
It is believed that the international community is considered crucial to the Buhari-must-go campaign because of the likely consequences and implications on their economic pacts and interests.
But the recent appearance of Buhari at the White House on the invitation of United States President Donald Trump reportedly threw spanner in the wheel of the coalition.
The temporary setback probably made Danjuma to lead a delegation on a lobbying session in Washington DC last May; an action our source said was designed to counter whatever gains Buhari’s government would have made from the US visit.
At the closed-door session held with key officials of Trump’s administration, it was gathered that Danjuma presented damning facts on the herdsmen killings in Taraba and other northcentral states, accusing Buhari’s administration of complicity and grave human rights violations.
The meeting, which was described as a fruitful session, we gathered, afforded the delegation the opportunity to know the inner thinking of Trump’s administration on Nigerian government.
One of the sources, close to the retired general confided that some members of the coalition will have more briefings overseas with countries considered crucial to secure support against the planned defeat of Buhari in 2019.
Diaspora groups have also been mobilised to organise seminars and speaking engagements that would feature some anti-Buhari personalities.
There is also the political arm of the plot, which is targeted at mobilising mass revolt and disaffection against the President’s reelection.
Politics of ex-generals
Also coordinated directly by Obasanjo, the political strategy has taken off with the adoption of African Democratic Congress (ADC) as the platform for the former President’s Coalition for Nigerian Movement (CNM).
ADC, which is working towards the fusion of other parties like the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and Peoples Democratic Movement, as well as 23 smaller ones, has reportedly started building consensus on a northern presidential candidate to stop Buhari.
The choice of the candidate, it was learnt, has however been a thorny issue among the ex-generals with many of them failing to reach an agreement.
While Obasanjo is said to be disposed to backing Gombe State Governor, Ibrahim Dankwambo, some of the ex-generals are rooting for Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso or former Kaduna State Governor Ahmed Makarfi.
The ex-generals are reportedly working on the theory that a strong northern candidate will share votes from the region with Buhari while getting support from the northcentral, south-south and southeast. This permutation, it was learnt, is why they are considering a vice presidential candidate from the southeast or southwest.
Some of the ex-generals are said to be toying with the idea of backing the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) should it present an “acceptable” presidential candidate they could work with in 2019.
But it was learnt many have serious misgivings about supporting PDP because of its perception challenges, making the ADC option a more reasonable path for the ex-generals.
Our correspondent gathered last week that Buhari is however not unawares of the plot against him by some members of his former constituency.
A presidential aide, who spoke under strict conditions of anonymity, told our correspondent: “These things are there to see. We know what they are up to. It is all because their economic interests have been badly affected by this administration.
“It’s a fight-back ploy to defend their interests that negatively affect the nation. We shall be waiting for them to throw whatever they have at it.
“At the end of the day, Nigerians are no fools. They know this President has their best interests at heart. All their plotting will come to naught because they are plotting against an ex-general also.”
– Culled from The Nation.