Two eminent jurists, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN) and Prof. Akin Oyebode yesterday expressed divergent views on former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s endorsement of his one-time deputy, Atiku Abubakar, for president.
In separate telephone interviews, Sagay, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) chairman, said Obasanjo’s endorsement of Atiku was of no electoral value.
Obasanjo and Atiku, he claimed, performed woefully while in power.
But Oyebode, a retired professor of International Law and Jurisprudence, said President Muhammadu Buhari, who is Atiku’s main rival in next year’s election, was overrated, having “underperformed”.
He said Obasanjo’s endorsement of Atiku was a welcome development, adding that it would increase the former vice president’s chances of winning the election.
Sagay said: “The endorsement will make absolutely no impact, absolutely no impact on the election. The value is not more than the announcement. It won’t add one extra vote to Atiku. It’s just a waste of time. Obasanjo has no following whatsoever, so I don’t know what all the talk is about.
“He can say anything. When he was there for eight years, the economy was grounded all along and he left it grounded. So if they knew the difference between handling the economy well and not handling it well, why didn’t they demonstrate it?
“So, the man just talks, and because he is a former head of state, people listen to him. He does not add a single value to Atiku’s election prospects. It’s just rhetoric.”
But Oyebode said Obasanjo’s endorsement of Atiku was not unexpected, adding: “This is a man who was his vice president and he knows him inside-out. Obasanjo had said that Buhari was a non-starter. So, if Buhari is a non-starter, then Atiku might get the edge, because they’re the frontrunners.
“Obasanjo’s endorsement of Atiku by necessary implication negates the prospects of Buhari. Buhari has been a big disappointment. He has underperformed. He’s overrated. People have seen through him that he would face a very hard task to get re-elected.
“I think Obasanjo, in supporting Atiku, is saying: ‘Better the devil you know than the angel you’re yet to meet’. That is what happened.”