The topic slated for today turned out not to be time bound and can be tackled even in a month’s time. But, you bet. Instead, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, once again, spoilt for a showdown, for which it is inevitable to join issues with him. On this score, there may be some traces of immodesty. An Ibadan-based acquaintance alerted me on a contribution to the Obasanjo intractable saga credited to a retired Chief Defence Staff. My response was sharp and straightforward, “you Nigerians owe me apology for my foresight and distinction.” He totally agreed.
Even the Bode Georges of Yorub land must be worried at the disturbing character of their Baba. Chief Bode George had occasion to disagree with (my) constant criticism of Obasanjo, more as a Yoruba than any false accusation. Unfortunately for such sympathisers, Obasanjo this time bit the dust without any pity. Any doubt would have been removed by the objective analysts and phone-in-contributors to daily early morning newspaper reviews on at least two radio stations – Ibadan-based Splash FM and Lagos-based Classic FM, at 6.30 and 7am, respectively.
Any reason to worry about Obasanjo’s misplaced irritation every time? President Muhammadu Buhari’s Senior Special Assistant, Garba Shehu, insinuated Obasanjo as a ninety-year-old. Garba Shehu is wrong and unfair to Obasanjo who, himself, is on record that, so far, there is no agreement within his family on his exact date of birth. Obasanjo might, therefore, be far more than or even far less than 90 years. In fact, in one of their very rare hot exchanges, former President Ibrahim Babangida similarly ticked off Obasanjo as a man who is not sure of his age.
Accordingly, this must interest Nigerians and especially cohorts of Obasanjo. There is a diagnosis (by Western psychologists) known as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, dignified to fully appreciate the current controversy generated by Obasanjo’s letter to President Buhari. The medical encyclopedia meaning of OCD is “… a disorder in which people have unwanted and repeated thoughts, feelings, ideas, sensations (obsessions) and behaviours that drive them to do something over and over (compulsions). Often the person carries out the behaviours to get rid of. Obsessions are unwanted and repetitive thoughts, urges or images that don’t go away.”
When, in Nigeria’s case, OCD is added to insatiable desire for media attention or the fear of creeping unwillingly to irrelevance in the scheme of things, the picture becomes clearer. OCD may not strictly be related to mental deterioration. As kids (and God bless the colonial rulers), among the books we read was Tales from Aesop’s Fables, at the end of every one of which was a lesson. One of such lessons, which got stuck in my head, was that “those who assume the character that does not belong to them often betray themselves by overacting it.” Obasanjo, when it suits his purpose, is out there preaching as a Baptist Christian. In fact, he holds a doctorate degree in Divinity. But he hates Obafemi Awolowo even as he envies the man as an intellectual and politician of high repute.
Yes, Obafemi Awolowo and Nnamdi Azikiwe were contemporaries who exchanged letters in the First Republic. We enjoyed their letters as they entertained us but never incited us nor poisoned our minds against one another. Also, in the Second Republic, Awolowo and former President Shehu Shagari exchanged letters only once but noticeably based on policy disagreement without putting the country on edge. When, therefore, Obasanjo assumes himself as the modern-day Obafemi Awolowo in matters of letter writing, he (Obasanjo) should be pitied for his illusion, as there is no basis for comparison. Obasanjo’s effort is more of desperation and/or obsession. If, in the past, he attracted attention, Obasanjo this time must have been shocked at the blowback his misadventure generated.
Even Muhammadu Buhari, the man on the receiving end of Obasanjo’s unprovoked polemical battering, must have, without saying so publicly, concluded that enough is enough. (The battle cry of Kwarans that “o to gee.”) Hitherto, Buhari restrained his men, including Information Minister Lai Mohammed, a humility which gave Obasanjo the impression that he is untouchable. This time, since Obasanjo did not appreciate the respect thereby accorded him, Buhari might not have directed his men to fight back. At the same time, he has not stopped them from putting the records straight.
There may be no cherry-picking between OCD and dementia. Even though dementia disables, at least the family can be spared the disgrace of public nuisance in the case of dementia. Or how do we situate the numerous lies, hypocrisy, self-service and self-contradiction in this controversy? There was the timing of Obasanjo’s letter. It followed Buhari’s pledge at one of his campaign stops that all stolen public funds would, as much as possible, be recovered and specifically queried what power supply came from purported investment of $16 billion. About the same time, a video clip appeared on the internet featuring former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar’s interview by Modele Sarafa-Yussuf on Channels Television. The reporter cornered Atiku Abubakar to reveal that for the private power project, contracts were awarded in which costs were paid 100 percent in some cases but that all the contractors disappeared with the money without discharging their obligation.
It is most unlikely that the interview was latest, in view of the re-union between Obasanjo and Atiku Abubakar. Yet, Buhari was vindicated by that interview on power projects under Obasanjo between 1999 and 2007. Obviously discredited in that interview, Obasanjo had to go on the offensive even if unsuccessfully as it (has) turned out.
Speechwriters must fully know their principal before putting up stuff for public consumption. For example, in view of his antecedents, would Obasanjo ever pass for a democrat? Even if Obasanjo put forward himself for a democrat, those around him should have reminded him his record in public life disqualified him.
Never mind his record as an authoritarian who brooks no different view, a self-egoist who must have his way and a pampered fellow who believes Nigerians and the country owe him everything all the time and nobody else. A democrat? Obasanjo who amended the electoral act in 2001 to get him re-elected first before any newly registered party would qualify to contest election at all, a (not too) clever way of not being challenged by another powerful candidate like Muhammadu Buhari on CPC? Obasanjo who coerced political and electoral support from state governors for his continued stay in office? Obasanjo who violated Nigerian constitution by usurping the power of National Assembly in using the EFCC under Nuhu Ribadu to claim to have impeached Vice-President Atiku Abubakar? Obasanjo, a democrat who, depending on his mood, tossed, in fact, kicked at least six national chairmen of their PDP in and out of office? Solomon Lar, Tony Anenih, Audu Ogbeh, Vincent Ogbulafor, Bernabas Gemade and Ahmadu Ali, within eight years? Surely, Obasanjo was his own manner of a democrat when, on the eve of his exit from office as elected President, he manipulated the constitution of the ruling PDP to henceforth make ONLY a former elected president eligible as chairman of the party’s Board of Trustees. Obasanjo was the only one preserving his future political relevance. In short, that is our modern-day Nigerian self-proclaimed democrat.
Obasanjo, a democrat? Surely, Nigerians are either unaware or have forgotten that this false democrat wrote a book calling for a one-party state. What happened to that crooked idea? The same Obasanjo, today preaching, in his letter, values and imperative of multi-party democracy. Be it one party or no party state, it was a design where Obasanjo would reign supreme and totalitarian. He should repeat that idea to Nigerians today so that he may be questioned.
By the way, editors must resist the idea of turning their publications into mere dumping ground for Obasanjo’s text ever so often. Journalists are trained to ask questions, really pungent questions on such occasions. Of course, these days, anybody is a journalist.
When will it ever occur to Obasanjo that, anytime he speaks or purports to write a letter, he only succeeds in roasting himself in matters of integrity or credibility? He now moralises on pathological lying, corruption, nepotism, election rigging and what not? Admittedly, such above are not tolerable in a society. Yet, all these human frailties are simply being exploited by Obasanjo to falsely (repeat false) enhance his reputation to be recognised as a statesman or even a saint.
Obasanjo is a pathological liar. Till today, he denies ever plotting a third term, indeed, life presidency. We saw and knew enough how he was swindled by members of National Assembly who, each, collected N50 million (fifty million naira) from him and still frustrated him. This pathological liar (Obasanjo) is exposed by ex-American Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in her memoir No Higher Honour, Page 638, paragraphs one to three, detailing how Obasanjo sought the support of President George Walker Bush for his (Obasanjo’s) third term. The American President rejected the third term idea and told Obasanjo bluntly not to do it. “You have served your country well. Now, turn over power and become a statesman.”
As usual, Obasanjo lost his cool and threatened never to deal with Condoleezza Rice again. George Bush disagreed and added “the main thing is that your country needs you to do the right thing.” Condoleezza Rice herself concluded in her memoir that Obasanjo ceded power “… to a handpicked successor but at least was unsuccessful (Obasanjo that was) in changing the constitution.” The lady’s memoir is obtainable in any Amazon bookshop all over the world. The average Nigerian needs a copy to know Obasanjo’s character as a pathological liar.
The third term saga was the very ultimate in Obasanjo’s pattern of lying. His agreement in 1999 with his Northern sponsors and the gang of four – former President Ibrahim Babangida, former Head of State General Abdulsalami Abubakar, and former Chiefs of Staff, Nigerian Army, General Theo Danjuma and General Aliyu Gusau – turned out to be a blatant lie. Obasanjo begged Northerners, including, ironically, Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, to be allowed a second term. Obasanjo loves power and ungratefully pounded on Atiku Abubakar as Vice-President, humiliating him out of office.
Obasanjo moralising on election rigging? He rigged the 2003 elections to keep himself in office so brazenly that former American President Jimmy Carter (now in his 90s) as an international observer, refused to endorse the results because he judged the elections as neither free nor fair.
Still on election rigging by Obasanjo. Ondo State governorship race in 2007 was most daring. To attain his determination to rig the election for late Olusegun Agagu, the PDP candidate, Obasanjo directed the result to be announced in Abuja because the returning officer was to be burnt alive if he announced wrong result at Akure. Obasanjo rigged the election but election petition tribunal nullified and threw Agagu out of office. For that particular election, Obasanjo publicly boasted to send EFCC after Labour candidate Olusegun Mimiko. The same Obasanjo today raising alarm on misuse of security and law enforcement agencies after political opponents.
Corruption and nepotism as cited by Obasanjo in his letter? Whose cousin was Mr. Makanjuola of Ministry of Defence charged to court for stealing four hundred million naira only to see Obasanjo’s Federal Attorney-General Kanu Agabi withdraw in the case as no contest? Was that Buhari’s or Obasanjo’s relation? And who ordered the withdrawal of the case?
Who did ex-Vice-President Atiku Abubakar accuse of buying a half a million vehicle for a woman friend from the funds of PTDF? Surely, not Muhammadu Buhari.
Obasanjo is an ingrate. Whatever might be late General Sani Abacha’s faults, at least, he did not execute Obasanjo for treason rightly or mistakenly. Abacha merits that credit till today. If they changed positions, Obasanjo would have executed General Abacha if mistakenly as Obasanjo executed Colonel Waya in 1976, in defiance of the deadlock at Supreme Military Council.
Obasanjo ridiculed Buhari for allowing ex-Inspector General of Police Idris to go on his retirement date. But the same Obasanjo should have told Nigerians why he extended the tenure of a previous Police IG, Sunday Ehindero.
If not nepotism, how did Obasanjo’s daughter Iyabo become a commissioner in Ogun State? How did the same Iyabo get elected as a Senator? How did she become a business consultant overnight who obtained a passport falsely in her deceased grandmother’s name to travel to Austria in pursuit of a company just awarded contract by her father’s Nigerian federal government?
It is no more than defensive mechanism for Obasanjo to be alleging his imminent arrest. Without any criminal infraction, he is as free as any Nigerian. But if he is found to have committed any offence, Nigerian government has the obligation to arrest and try him. Heavens will not fall. Obasanjo himself, while in office, arrested detained and tried Nigerians, including these who championed his cause like Frederick Faseun who died recently.
Obasanjo? Would he have condoned a Chief Justice who forgot to declare his assets or operates a foreign currency account or appears questionable to account for huge savings in his accounts?