By Ovie Okpare
Elder statesman and a chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Frank Kokori, has said former President Olusegun Obasanjo ran the country better than the way President Muhammadu Buhari is currently running Nigeria’s affairs.
Chief Kokori also gave the verdict that President Buhari is the most inaccessible president in the history of the country.
The renowned former labour leader spoke in an interview with Sunday PUNCH to commemorate June 12 (Democracy Day) monitored by our correspondent.
Kokori, a staunched supporter and personal friend to Buhari, stated that the country is faring badly under the leadership of President Buhari, whom many Nigerians, had expected to put the country in a better shape.
According to him, “The military is one of the noblest institutions in any country because they defend the country. There are great leaders in the military. (Former President Olusegun) Obasanjo was a good leader but he is selfish, so that disqualifies him.
“He is conceited, but when it comes to anything that benefits him, he will work hard. But he doesn’t want anybody to outshine him, that’s the only fault he has.
“But he ran the country better than the way the present people are running the country. But it’s a shame that the country is not doing well at all. We have bad leaders.”
The former labour leader lamented that all the promises Buahri while honouring Chief Moshood Abiola as the winner of the June 12, 1993 Presidential election, had not been fulfilled by the President.
He added that Buhari took advantage of former Presidents Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan’s failure to honour Chief Abiola to score cheap political points, saying Buhari forgot everything about June after the official ceremony.
The former NUPENG President said cabals within the Presidency were taking advantage of Buhari’s age to run the country the way they feel, stressing that Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbanjo, had been made redundant and powerful by the cabals.
“People like Prof Wole Soyinka and me were there and we were all happy. The Gani Fawehinmi family was so happy for the GCON (Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger). The Abiola family was so happy, everybody was happy.
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“We thought things would go on fine. After that day, the man (Buhari) forgot June 12; he does not even remember us anymore. After all the promises he made, he did not remember any of them. He has used it to score a cheap political point, but we are happy that, at least, what they call June 12 is now Democracy Day, instead of Obasanjo’s May 29.
“But I don’t blame Buhari so much; Buhari has a limitation and that is age. I think that is one of his problems and those people around him—those we call the Presidency, the cabal or the mafia—are exploiting it.
“They do anything on his behalf and they would write ‘The Presidency says so.’ They dispel positions, like when I was made the chairman of the Nigerian Social Insurance Trust Fund by the then acting president, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, when Buhari went abroad.
“When he came back, they felt that Kokori would be too strong in that position because that is where the workers’ pensions are warehoused and it’s a goldmine for corrupt people. In fact, at the last moment, they sold the position to their stooges and you know that struggle.
“The entirety of Nigerian workers and even the media were backing me, but (the late Chief of Staff) Abba Kyari was in charge. They took the job from me, even though Buhari told me on June 12 that year that ‘you will resume at the end of the week.’ He had signed it and told (Minister of Labour) Senator Chris Ngige to go ahead and inaugurate me.
“He did everything, but for the cabal. And you can’t reach Buhari anymore; that is one of his weak points. He is one of the most inaccessible presidents in the history of this country. Without his cabal, we don’t get to see him—except for his ministers who see him during the Federal Executive Council meetings. He does not come out, so you can’t see him.
“When elder statesmen like us can’t meet him one-on-one, is that the president of the people? You will say you want to see him, an appointment will be fixed, but they will not allow you to see him. They will ask you to go and see the Secretary to the Government of the Federation. I’ve never seen a man like that.
“So, he does not take advice from people who can give him good advice, elder statesmen like us. It is a situation where he has sycophants, bootlickers and his ministers who can’t talk to him. He’s like the headmaster and they are pupils.
“And they have sidelined the Vice President who has brains but cannot use his powers. He has no powers even, he can only have powers when the President gives him powers. It’s the cabal that runs the country; the cabal is more powerful than the Vice President.
“In other words, it is a situation where the Chief of Staff is more powerful than the Vice President and the SGF. Once you are in the cabal, you are more powerful than the Vice President and it’s a shame”, he added.