By Sunday Awhefeada,
When Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, former president and third term seeker wrote his acerbic letter then President Goodluck Jonathan sometime in December 2013 the opinions of Nigerians were divided. While some praised him for his perceived courage others slammed him saying he lacked the moral capital to write such a letter to pontificate on what constitutes good and bad leadership.
The former admitted that Obasanjo was politically and morally leprous, but that Nigerians should separate the message from the messenger! Those who flayed Obasanjo’s motive for writing the letter would have none of that. Even his eldest child, Iyabo took him to the cleaners in an open letter that exposed his ugly underbelly. Reading through Iyabo’s letter one is made to wince and cringe at every paragraph regarding the moral turpitude and unpatriotic mindset of the man to whom the nation has been kindest! Iyabo’s letter ought to have put Obasanjo in his place.
But Obasanjo is like the goat in the Urhobo proverb which feels no qualms when water is poured on it. It merely shrugs off the water and goes on with its tomfoolery! Obasanjo’s opportunism was at play in his recent letter to President Muhammadu Buhari accusing him of failed leadership and asking him not to seek re-election in 2019. Buhari merely ignored him knowing that silence was the best answer to a rabble-rouser, unlike Jonathan who dignified him with a reply. Obasanjo has said nothing new. The letter merely foregrounds his flatulent ego massaged by a messianic delusion.
Obasanjo deserves rebuke for the impropriety of the medium he chose. It is most unbecoming of a former president who has unfettered access to the incumbent to do such a dance of shame in the marketplace. There is no Nigerian leader he has not criticized in public. He is incapable of following what has become the dignifying and subtle intervention by former Nigerian leaders who are circumspect when talking about Nigeria and even more so when offering advice to the leadership of the country.
Obasanjo often enjoys a field day because Nigerians easily “forgive and forget”. But they are not deceived by his shenanigan. Has Obasanjo ever put Nigeria’s interest above his? The answer is a deafening no! A trip in time from 1999 to 2007 would make many a woolly memory clear. When Obasanjo took the oath of office as Nigeria’s president in May 1999, the entire world conferred plural significance on the incident. The first import was that military dictatorship was terminating with the century and that it was good omen that democratic rule was being ushered in with the new millennium. Others thought that only a character like Obasanjo a former military dictator turned prisoner can navigate Nigeria from its stormy history to the path of stability and phenomenal development. They were wrong!
Once in power, Obasanjo became a bull in a China shop. He took some pseudo-populist measures to hoodwink a populace that had become grateful for half measures after many years of brutal military dictatorship. Obasanjo’s bellicose temperament had the better of him. He rode roughshod over Nigerians and pretended to be a philosopher-king. His public utterances and action dignified touts. He razed Odi in Bayelsa State. He declared election “a do or die affair”.
Did he not direct the drama of the abduction of a governor and decreed mayhem in Anambra State? What of the violence he unleashed on Oyo State using the Molete based amala politician? Did he not manipulate the Electoral Act 80? He removed his party chairmen and senate presidents at will. Was it not under him that election rigging became a plague? Obasanjo appointed great brains into his cabinet, but he never fancied himself being advised and so he ran the polity as he liked.
By the time he left office in 2007 he had plunged Nigeria into insecurity with militancy in the Niger Delta and Boko Haram emerging in the North. He had also indoctrinated politicians with corruption and wasted sixteen billion dollars in the power sector to procure darkness. Yes, he got debt reprieve for Nigeria, but he ran a gbanjo economy in which he increased fuel price almost quarterly! He killed the local economy as Nigerians had to import everything including toothpick! He suffocated the education and health sectors. Nigerian roadsand transportation system collapsed. The refineries were grounded under his watch. After all these, he attempted to entrench gunboat democracy by getting a third term, but Nigerians showed him the exit door.
Obasanjo’s new hobbyhorse in the name of national coalition is a swindle. He wants a political role. Nigerians must move beyond him and continue the clamour for good governance so that one day we shall retrieve our country from nation spoilers like Obasanjo and his sidekicks.
Obasanjo should go and teach Theology at Bells University or make adire at Abeokuta. We must remember that he shored up Yar’ Adua, he promoted Jonathan and recommended Buhari! How did they fare? Obasanjo should spare us his coalition for national swindle!