(Bloomberg) -- Former Nigerian leader Olusegun Obasanjo asked President Muhammadu Buhari not to seek re-election next year, saying he has failed in his management of Africa’s most populous country.
“I only appeal to brother Buhari to consider a deserved rest at this point in time,” Obasanjo said on Tuesday in an emailed statement. “President Buhari does not necessarily need to heed my advice. But whether or not he heeds it, Nigeria needs to move on and move forward.”
Obasanjo, who served two terms as an elected president from 1999 to 2007, backed Buhari in his 2015 election and defeat of then President Goodluck Jonathan by the All Progressives Congress to effect the first democratic transfer of power in the country of more than 180 million people.
“The situation that made Nigerians to vote massively to get my brother Jonathan off the horse is playing itself out again,” Obasanjo said.
Africa’s top oil producer is scheduled to hold presidential elections in February next year as well as vote for lawmakers and state governors. While Buhari hasn’t said if he’ll run, his potential candidature remains a subject of much interest after he spent a total of more than five months in London last year receiving treatment for an undisclosed ailment.
“The character of the 2019 election has changed irrevocably, it’s going to be extremely difficult for Buhari now,” Jideofor Adibe, a professor of political science at Nasarawa State University, Keffi, near the capital, Abuja, said by phone. “This will embolden a number of people to challenge Buhari and it could also set him thinking whether seeking re-election is really worth it.”
After three failed attempts to win the presidency from 2003 to 2011, Buhari mustered a coalition of opposition parties that merged to become the ruling APC party. That coalition is now in tatters, with many members accusing the president of adopting a non-inclusive style and appointing cronies instead of competent people to key positions.
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, who was Obasanjo’s number two and backed Buhari in 2015, left the APC last month and rejoined the People’s Democratic Party, accusing Buhari of ignoring senior party members and relying on a core of personal aides to govern. Abubakar is widely seen as a potential presidential candidate in the coming vote.
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