Obasanjo has taken aim at President Buhari in public. Just when we thought they were besties
And it doesn't sound pretty.
The venue was the annual Akintola Williams lecture series in Lagos.
As downtown traffic snarled and thickened in chaotic Lagos, Obasanjo let fly:
"The blanket adverse comments or castigation of all democratic administrations from 1999 by the present administration is uncharitable, fussy and uninstructive".
Obasanjo was pissed. Pissed that the present administration has spent more time blaming its predecessors than it has doing the work it was voted in to do.
Pissed that Buhari has often pointed the finger at past administrations in Nigeria; taking potshots at previous administrations at will and blaming them for the empty treasury he says he inherited.
This was 'Baba Iyabo' (as Obasanjo is fondly called) at his acerbic best. The man was taking his gloves off and hurling them into the audience.
"Politics apart, I strongly believe that there is a distinction between the three previous administrations that it would be unfair to lump them all together. I understand President Buhari’s frustration on the state of the economy inherited by him. It was the same reason and situation that brought about the cry for change, otherwise, there would be no need for change if it was all nice and rosy", Obasanjo thundered, a smirk playing on the corner of his lips.
Obasanjo wants his administration to be adjudged on its own merit; away from that of Goodluck Jonathan.
He wants Buhari and the rest of the country to remember correctly and judge him fairly.
"I know that President Buhari has always expressed concern for the plight of the common people but that concern must be translated to workable and result-oriented socio-economic policy and programme that will turn the economy around at the shortest time possible", Obasanjo added.
"We cannot continue to do the same thing and expect things to change."
But there was more. Obasanjo took aim at the Buhari administration's plan to borrow $30B.
"I am sure that such a comprehensive policy and programme (that will move Nigeria forward) will not support borrowing US$30 billion in less than three years...."
And Obasanjo castigated the Buhari administration for interfering with the operations of the Central Bank Of Nigeria (CBN).
A few weeks ago, Department of State Security Services (DSS) personnel were commissioned to force the country's exchange rate by raiding the parallel market.
Former Minister Obiageli Ezekwesili called the move 'Command and Control' economics.
Obasanjo calls it stripping the CBN of its independence.
"The investors, domestic and foreign, are no fools and they know what is going on with the management of the economy including the foreign exchange and they are not amused. The Central Bank must be restored to its independence and integrity. We must be careful and watchful of the danger of shortermism.
"Short-term may be the enemy of medium- and long-term. We must also make allowance for the lessons that most of us in democratic dispensation have learned and which the present administration seems to be just learning."
Buhari is losing more friends faster than he made them; and that's worrisome.
Buba Galadima, a close ally of the President during his CPC years, took Buhari to the cleaners this week.
The APC is battling internal crisis amid allegations that Buhari has pushed away the ladder that saw to his rise.
Most Nigerians who rooted for Buhari last year are ruing that decision as inflation spirals out of control and the economy tightens its grip on the purse strings of the average Nigerian.
Businesses are closing shop and there's palpable rage on the streets.
Everywhere you turn, gloom stares back at you.
And some are even clamouring for Jonathan to make a return. Of all people.
Buhari should be worried that Obasanjo is just as disappointed with how he's managed the Nigerian State since he assumed the reins. Baba Iyabo has been in his corner all this time. No past Nigerian leader has made more visits to Buhari's office since May 29, 2015.
We can also infer that Obasanjo's criticisms were coming, anyway. He did that to Jonathan--writing him one vitriolic letter after another and rallying the opposition to get Jonathan voted out.
He's done that to the Governors and National Assembly.
He did that to Yar'adua.
And he's done it to Buhari.
Those who know Baba Iyabo say he is a control freak--that he often considers himself the wisest man in the room. That once he discovers he can't control you, he criticizes you--he lays into you like there's no tomorrow.
Some say it's senility, others say the man has always been that way--a man comfortable in his own skin and his own skin only.
He's the self styled Critic-In-Chief.
But that shouldn't detract from his message on the state of the economy or his piece of advice to President Buhari.
Buhari should take the criticisms on the chin and improve. After all, like the President, Baba Iyabo has been there and done that.
And it should worry the President that like most Nigerians, even Baba Iyabo is turning his back on him.