Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has urged Nigerians to be patient with the in-coming Muhammadu Buhari administration.
Obasanjo said the expectations are enormous, but advised Nigerians to accept the fact that what was destroyed in the last eight years cannot be fixed overnight by Buhari.
He expressed the confidence that the Buhari administration would “perform,” adding that Nigerians now have a “new opportunity” to make the country work.
Obasanjo, who quit party politics to assume the position of a statesman, spoke Sunday in his Abeokuta residence at the Presidential Hilltop Estate, where he hosted Southwest women leaders.
The women leaders, including the Iyaloja – General of Nigeria, Chief Folashade Tinubu – Ojo, were led by the Iyalode of Yorubaland, Chief (Mrs) Alaba Lawson.
The former President noted that the new opportunity is God – given, adding that the “good things” about the next administration is that the man that would head it, Buhari, is neither “a greenhorn nor a novice” in governance.
According to him, Buhari was once in the saddle, even if it was under a “different circumstance” and would use his experience to navigate the country to the right direction.
Obasanjo alluded that Nigerians are quite clever and good followers when one is honest but difficult to manage or lead as soon as a leader begins to practise “cover up” or try to play “ostrich” on them.
He said that there was a very high expectation about the in-coming government to sort things out quickly for Nigerians, but also added that there is equally a high level of goodwill locally and internationally in its favour.
The former Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Board of Trustees (BoT) chairman urged Buhari “not to be frightened” by the enormous expectations and the daunting challenges of the country.
According to him, Buhari should take the right steps within the next three months of being sworn in when Nigerians are watching and counting to see what would be done to better their lot.
He advised Buhari to be open to Nigerians, and not take them for granted, praying that Nigeria and Nigerians would not miss this opportunity God has provided to get the country out of trouble.
“When you met me before the elections, there was a very important issue you discussed with me. I raised the issue with the concerned authority and I got a reply that it would be addressed, and I am sure the issue has been addressed.
“All you have mentioned again here today, we must all look at it together. The situation was like this when I took over in 1999; no light, no fuel, but it didn’t take us so long before the issues of light and fuel were resolved.
“There’s something very important that I observed – the incoming President has a lot of experience; he’s not a greenhorn. It is not as if he hasn’t been into power before, he is experienced.
“He knew what we did to turn things around, even when we were there together during the military regime; we did it together, and it was as a result of our performance that we were invited to do it again.
“What I would say is that we should all put our minds at rest. He’s someone that would perform but we must exercise patience, ýbecause what has been destroyed for eight years can not be undone overnight.
“Like the Chinese proverb, ‘the journey of a thousand miles starts with a step’, it is not only first step but first step in the right direction because if you took a wrong step, you’re not likely to get to the destination.
“Let’s give Buhari some time; let’s support him with prayers and relate with him with support. Like you’ve said, it’s everybody’s duty, not only those who have governed before; all of us are keen about Nigeria.”
Earlier, Lawson, who lauded Obasanjo for his fatherly role in Nigeria, urged him not to stop advising the incoming administration.
She said Nigerians are in agony – over fuel crisis, unemployment and insecurity, among others – and urged the former President not to abandon Buhari in the onerous task to make Nigerians proud again as two good heads are better than one.
“So, Your Excellency, we believe that you still have a lot to offer from your wealth of experience and we know that you will honour us.”
“We pray that you will finish what you have started, now that you have ensured that a government, which you know will take care of the masses, has been elected,” Mrs Lawson said.