Lies Obasanjo Told Us


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Lies Obasanjo Told Us




Gbenga Odugbesan


culled from PUNCH, March 17, 2006

Dear Mr. President,

With due respect, when you were let out of jail in 1998, you attributed your freedom to God and claimed that you had chosen to dedicate your life to God. And for those of us who know what modern-day bornagainism means, you were quick to impress it on us that you were a new creature in God. You were subsequently elected for a term of four years and at your inauguration, you took the oath of office with the Holy Bible, meaning that you were invoking the Almighty God as your primary witness. Nigerians and the entire world also witnessed the event.

You vowed to protect the constitution. By this, you bound yourself by all the provisions therein and, above all, the rule of law on which a constitutional democracy can thrive. You said it was not going to be business as usual. We believed you as a born-again Christian. At the end of four years, you sought a re-election, claiming that God spoke to you to lead this nation again for another four years. Your election was questionable but because you claimed that it was a God-ordained mission, many people gave you the benefit of the doubt.

About two years to the end of your second term, you suddenly developed a questionable love for a national conference. Even when the National Assembly said no funds would be made available for the conference, you insisted on going ahead and funding it anyhow. The conference was a fiasco as its report is almost confined to the dustbin of history. Though you have not told us why the conference you launched with so much eagerness is hardly talked about now, you are beginning to prove some persons right. These persons alleged, in the course of the conference, that you sponsored a self-benefiting constitution to the forum to prolong your tenure. Your agent for the task, our own Prof., paid for failing in the all-important task. He lost his substantive presidential advisory portfolio.

Your Excellency, that was when the discerning ones cried out that you wanted to go the way of previous dictators – Gowon, IBB, Abacha – by doing all within your power to remain in office beyond 2007. For once, you did not deny this allegation even when you had a million and one opportunities to do so. On one occasion, during your now-not-regular monthly media chat, a caller asked you in clear terms whether or not you had a third term agenda. It was a clear, polar question and a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ would do. But Your Excellency launched into the rigmarole of what project would be completed in 2013 and what project would mature in 2035. I was so ashamed of you because it was obvious that you were being mischievous.

There and then, I became suspicious of your leadership. I looked back at your inauguration for the first and second terms and recalled your words of oath that you would be faithful, loyal and honest. I also recalled that as a born-again Christian, you are bound by the provision of Deuteronomy 23:21, "If you make a vow to the LORD your God, do not be slow to pay it, for the LORD your God will certainly demand it of you and you will be guilty of sin." I was also reminded of Ecclesiastes 5:4, "When you make a vow to God, do not delay in fulfilling it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow."

Then the big noise was about that you were determined to amend the constitution to suit your perpetuation in office. Some of your aides claimed that such insinuations were the handiwork of your detractors. But now, we know better. You fell out with the Vice-President because he said that you told him that you would quit in 2007. You said Atiku Abubakar lied. Your Excellency, you, and not Atiku, lied. I heard you when taking your oath of office that you would abide by the provisions of the constitution, part of which was that your second and last tenures would end in 2007.

But remember, Our Excellency, that you vowed that it was not going to be business as usual. Is it not business as usual with the path of Abacha that you have chosen to tread? You appear greater than the nation hence the criminal submission by one of your former ministers that the hundreds of billions of naira investment in road construction and rehabilitation will amount to naught if you quit in 2007. When the minister was supposed to serve Nigeria, he spent his time serving and servicing you, using state resources to fight your seeming enemies in Lagos, to checkmate any strong opposition to your self-succession bid.

In truth, can you stand before your God to swear that you are not behind the fraudulent and hasty review of the constitution at the twilight of your administration? Why is it that of all the knotty issues in the constitution that have been identified, it is the tenure clause, which had never been an issue before now, that is receiving the most attention?

Your Excellency, as a born-again Christian, remember your vow.

Yours truly,

•Odugbesan is Assistant Editor, Lagos West Division of The PUNCH.


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