By Sunny Awhefeada
If anybody were to grab the prime prize for skullduggery in contemporary Nigeria that fellow must be Chief Olusegun Obasanjo who has built an enviable reputation of hoodwinking Nigerians.
Since fortune favored him to be the soldier that accepted the surrender of the rebel forces of Biafra in 1970, Obasanjo has come to evolve for himself the persona of the genie who has had to show up at the most opportunistic of moments to enjoy national attention. He cherishes his role as a political mountebank. Strangely enough, many unsuspecting Nigerians stir when Obasanjo comes to town with his tricks. When he wrote a pastiche on the tortoise a few years ago, he unwittingly drew a parallel between his own cunning and the dubiety of ogbein (the tortoise).
Obasanjo’s most recent act of stirring the hornet’s nest was his declaration at Oleh in Delta State on the impending “Islamisation and Fulanisation” of Nigeria. How is Obasanjo’s submission different from what many Nigerians have been saying for decades now and more intensely these past four years? Has Obasanjo said anything new? The answer is no and no and no! He merely played to the gallery. Obasanjo’s actions have always approximated mimicry, mischief, magic and mystique.
Mimicry? Yes, the old man fancies himself as a father of the nation and therefore pops up to make opportunistic pronouncements in moments of crises. Mischief? Yes, he never means whatever he says because deep down he knows that he is one of the architects of Nigeria’s unending problems. Magic and mystique? Yes, somehow, he manages to stir the nation even when his views combine nonsense with nuisance.
Obasanjo is not the one to tell us about the “Islamisation and Fulanisation” of Nigeria. The hint is loud and clear for all to comprehend. What is not clear is whether it is a deliberate policy by the present ruling clique in Nigeria or if the agenda is being driven by a band of international terrorists. Right now, government and the security forces seemed overwhelmed and Nigerians are daily fed placebo through stories of successes recorded by the military even as the terrorists continue to pound communities and put security forces to flight.
A keen follower of Nigerian history will pooh-pooh Obasanjo’s pretentious outcry. This is so because Obasanjo more than any other person sowed, watered and nurtured the seed of the “Islamization and Fulanization” of Nigeria. Concrete instances abound. General James Oluleye in his memoirs Military Leadership in Nigeria detailed how he drew the attention of Obasanjo, then Nigeria’s military head of state, to the undue advantages enjoyed by Shehu Yar’ Adua (then Obasanjo’s deputy) and also how the Hausa/Fulani were enjoying enormous privileges at the expense of other ethnic nationalities in Nigeria. Obasanjo, instead of investigating the matter and acting on it, humiliated Oluleye and got him retired from the Nigerian Army that very day.
It has also become common knowledge that Obasanjo didn’t play the impartial umpire during the transition to civil rule programmed under his watch in 1979. He was allegedly hostile to the aspiration of Obafemi Awolowo, his fellow Yoruba, and surreptitiously supported Shehu Shagari, a Fulani and Moslem who eventually was declared the president of Nigeria in the Second Republic. The election was so contentious that it expanded jurisprudential frontiers with the mathematical puzzle of twelve two third. Legal wizardry and mathematical genius fell to Obasanjo’s preference for the “Islamisation and Fulanization” of Nigeria. Having so served the interests of the Hausa/Fulani oligarch, he came to reap bountifully.
The oligarchs sprung him from prison in 1998 and wore him the presidential garb a year later. He thus made history as the first Nigerian to rule the country as a soldier and as a civilian. Again, to further the “Islamisation and Fulanisation” agenda, Obasanjo looked the other way when some northern state governors imposed Sharia Law in their states in violation of Nigeria’s secular status. When Boko Haram began under Obasanjo’s regime as a band of disgruntled elements, he played the ostrich and allowed the monster to incubate.
When Obasanjo failed to secure a third term and knew that it was time to go, he manipulated the electoral system to make a Hausa/Fulani, Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua, the president of Nigeria to accelerate the “Islamisation and Fulanisation” of the country. So, why is Obasanjo crying out now? He is complicit. Obasanjo’s latest outburst is a calculated attempt at a rebound in public consciousness.
He got embarrassed and withdrew from the public since his prediction and attempt to ensure that Buhari lost the last presidential election failed. But not the one to be out of circulation his disturbing messianic complex has once again befuddled him into intruding in our national life. “Obasanjo don come again?” was my friend’s query when he read the headline proclaiming Obasanjo’s “Islamisation and Fulanisation” theory.
Whether the ongoing menace is a calculated attempt to “Islamize or Fulanise” Nigeria, it is up to Nigerians to resist or acquiesce. But it is clear that Nigerians will not bow to “Islamization and Fulanisation”. Nigerians will resist the marauders and our nation shall rise again, stronger and better poised to realize her lofty aspiration “bound in freedom, peace and unity”.