In what appears to be a volte-face, former President Olusegun Obasanjo at the weekend turned around and praised President Muhammad Buhari for achieving huge success in an area where previous administrations, including his, could not make headway.
Obasanjo had last month passed a damning verdict of the Buhari administration, saying he felt disappointed by Buhari, whom he supported during the 2015 presidential poll.
In a 13-page statement he issued on January 23, the former president categorically asked Buhari not to seek re-election in 2019, adding that instead, he should honourably “dismount from the horse” to join the league of the country’s former leaders whose “experience, influence, wisdom and outreach can be deployed on the side line for the good of the country.”
But speaking at the weekend while performing the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of Azikel Refinery, the first private modular refinery in the oil and gas-rich Niger Delta region, Obasanjo described as “commendable” the Buhari administration’s decision to award operational licences to 22 firms for the construction of modular refineries in the country.
He noted that 18 of such licences were approved under his administration but that none of them was able to actualise it, unlike the present administration.
Obasanjo praised President Buhari for awarding modular refinery operational licences to 22 firms, including Azikel Petroleum.
He noted that, out of the 22 licensed operators, Azikel Petroleum is the only company that had actualised its dream of establishing a modular refinery.
The former president stated that he was delighted at the commitment of Azikel Petroleum, adding that none of the 18 licenses earlier awarded by his administration came to fruition.
Obasanjo said, “I have been told that President Buhari and his government gave 22 licences and that Azikel Petroleum is the only license out of the 22 that is really actualised.
“Before then, we gave 18 and not one was actialised. They gave all manner of excuses, including insecurity and oil prices. But those excuses they gave are still there. But they were not genuine entrepreneurs. They were after collecting licences to get crude oil. And that is why in an occasion like this, we should pay special tribute to people like Eruani.
“I join you all in thanking President Buhari for giving four licences more than we gave. And he (Buhari) is lucky that he has a man like Eruani to be the only one to actualise.”
He also commended the Bayelsa State government under Governor Seriake Dickson for creating the enabling environment for the take-off of the modular refinery project.