Former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s penchant for spitting and rubbing it on the faces of Nigerians is unarguably next to none. This much could be confirmed from his recent vituperation about Nigeria becoming a failed state and divided under President Muhammadu Buhari. As always, Obasanjo foxily chose a safe forum to unleash his anger and take his pound of flesh off Buhari for miniaturising his ego — once the biggest in Africa — and effectively neutralising his suffocating hold on Nigeria’s political power steering wheel.
Addressing big boys among venomous co-Buhari-haters, the Afenifere, Middle Belt Forum, Northern Elders Forum, Ohanaeze Ndigbo and Pan-Niger Delta Forum, Obasanjo went berserk in indecorous manner trying to confuse gullible Nigerians. He tried to turn history upside down while making nonsense of common sense. He said: Nigeria becoming a failed state, divided under Buhari.
To begin, Obasanjo was clever by half when he refused to say how long Nigeria started sliding down to become a failed state. Was it before he was picked straight from prison, packaged and installed the President from whence he left stupendously rich, almost proportionate to Nigeria’s decline under his reckless eight-year locust supervision? Had Obasanjo read his books properly before trying to lower the esteem of President Buhari using Nigeria’s predicament as a weapon, sure he would have known that the eight years he ruled Nigeria and the eight years he meticulously handpicked the next set of people to rule Nigeria contributed more than 90 per cent to today’s predicament of Nigeria that’s giving him sleepless nights. Let me explain further.
What was Obasanjo thinking when, under his watch, $16 billion was voted to energise Nigeria and jumpstart its economy but was brazenly stolen? That Nigeria will not collapse under the weight of a raped and dysfunctional economy asphyxiated by poor electricity and self-serving policies designed to enrich a lazy few at the expense of the hardworking majority? What was he thinking when multi-billion naira public investments were sold to acolytes and a few associates for peanuts? That Nigeria will get out of such economic rascality a great country? I’ve never regarded Obasanjo as smart. Each time he appears, I always see an opportunist at the right place at the right time, either by design or by accident. Truly, I’ve never thought his case is this bad!
It’s not such a big arithmetic to understand that any country whose President could subvert normalcy and arm-twist governors to contribute from lean public treasuries for personal projects, like Obasanjo’s so-called public library, is on a sure way to collapse. It’s funny then how Obasanjo, after multiple tenure as a military dictator and a democratic President, is still not intellectually equipped and has remained unable to solve this very simple arithmetic. How Obasanjo could not see and appreciate the simplest fact that, if Nigeria could survive his rudderless and dangerous supervision and also survive its offshoot, certainly it could survive on autopilot with its engine dead and cold!
It was under Obasanjo that, while tertiary institutions were degrading at an alarming rate between 2004 and 2007, he and his erstwhile Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, started their private universities as an elitist solution to the problem of education. If Obasanjo/Atiku’s logic fails to upset one’s sense of right and wrong, maybe the fact that Obasanjo, who came out of prison with almost nothing but could start and finish a private university from scratch while in office, could! Nigerians are not idiots, patience, docility and all!
Obasanjo’s low estimation of the collective intelligence of Nigerians is as unprecedented as it is shameless. In his desperation to inflict harm on President Buhari, he described the National Assembly’s fresh constitution review exercise as a waste of time and resources. But, wait a minute! Shouldn’t Obasanjo first appreciate that there’s at least a National Assembly to conduct fresh constitution review instead of the “N50m-per head” National Assembly he bequeathed Nigeria, which, in case he’s unable to recall, he attempted to use and get a third term — his biggest “nation building project” that a few patriotic Nigerians resisted and for which he’s still angry?
If by any chance it’s the soldier in Obasanjo that’s pushing him to the edge on the basis of the ongoing crisis of insecurity, at least, it should make sense to him that this is an inherited issue left behind for Buhari to resolve by insensitive and unpatriotic past administrations, among which his administration is the second most prominent with the inept one he forcefully inflicted Nigeria with carrying the trophy. Had his PDP done the right thing, Nigeria wouldn’t be battling insecurity today, at least not the type and magnitude it’s battling today. Had his PDP applied the $2.3 billion meant to re-energise the military, Boko Haram might have been history and banditry might not have been an offshoot. But Obasanjo would rather ignore the degradation of the armed forces while using the little left ragtag of what was once a strong and disciplined army to decimate towns and villages to massage his ego and resolve personal animosities as he did Odi and Zaki-Biam.
And because it is Nigeria, not only could he get away with it, he could still participate in public debates concerning Nigeria’s development with a false sense of patriotism. Just when Nigerians will be courageous to call off his bluff and deal with him more as the problem he is than the solution he pretends to be to the Nigerian project is another subject of debate. Meanwhile, let it not be lost to Nigerians that Buhari is not the problem. He is as much a victim of the sustained machinations of exhausted and disoriented characters like Obasanjo. Nigeria’s trip to dishonour started long before Buhari’s second coming. Actually, it’s the reckless mismanagement of its resources and potential by people like Obasanjo that forced Buhari out of retirement and into the murky waters of politics to salvage what’s left of its potential and build on it.
With a little sincerity of purpose, even a dunderhead could appreciate that it’s easier to destroy than to build. If it took Obasanjo and PDP 16 years to take Nigeria to the low level Buhari inherited, it should take Buhari longer to painfully build what they destroyed. And, yes, even a less intelligent man would appreciate the silence of these savages while the medication and healing process is ongoing.
•Dammallam wrote from Abuja