Penkelemes and Obasanjo's Legacy


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Penkelemes and Obasanjo’s Legacy




Michael O. Oluwagbemi




January 19, 2006


“A politician is a person with whose politics you don't agree; if you agree with him he's a statesman.” (David Lloyd George)


It is sad to see what is happening in Ibadan- it is a peculiar mess: penkelemes. But it is what you have when you have a politician rather than a statesman as the President. Imagine Obasanjo siding with Adedibu and Uba? That is why many young people like me at home and abroad actually sees 2007 as a good omen; the worst thing that will happen to Nigeria is not Obasanjo leaving office it is him staying that will make us a worldwide ridicule. In his own words, the President is not Nigeria's messiah.


He has had well enough time (longer than anyone in history) to prove a point and make an impact, but I am sorry to say that he will be leaving a mixed legacy. Particularly in the area of political reforms: I was insulted when I was reading the proposed constitutional changes. Half of the proposal was about the salaries and remuneration of public officers. Nothing about immunity clause, nothing about the devolution of powers, derivation clause, state police or some serious security agency reform, or electoral reform. What I realize at this point is that generally we Nigerians have a very backward mentality- we always see problems instead of solution. Why can't we try state police? Why can't we try electronic voting? Why can't we go back to old derivation formula? Why can't we decentralize?


The real solution to our problem is to try new ideas, even if we are bound to fail.  And a very good step in that direction is having a totally new face in place in 2007. I don’t care if the person is an illiterate chief, a new face is a good step- and I am sure there are many capable in Nigeria that will outshine baba in his own turf. I think the man this last year have tried in the economic reform front, but all those successes amount to nothing when there is no rule of law as we see often times from Oyo to Abia, to Plateau to Ondo and even my Ekiti state. When the security apparatus is comatose, there is no amount of macro economic policy or infrastructural development that will work.


Perhaps his greatest failure is not even securing the present; it is Obasanjo inability to secure the future. Political reforms that will guarantee free and fair election in the future and restore true democracy will be a lasting legacy he could have left Nigeria. These reforms need to also include devolution of powers to the state and local levels that will significantly reduce corruption and focus attention of Nigerians on those levels of governments that are significantly underperforming now. Why is our street dirty? Why is garbage not being picked on time? Why is our school dilapidated? Why are there no common street lights and signs on roads? All these are local government functions and it is time we start looking closer home.


Let it be on record that only a fool will compare this government to Abacha. Nigerians have short memory span and we are our own worst enemies. The worst Obasanjo presidency imaginable can never be comparable to a monstrous regime like Abacha’s or Babangida (that is for the IBB boys). The folly of comparing the legacy of someone that have succeeded at least in managing the macro economic sphere to another that was a disaster in every front is plain stupidity. Such foolish talk from Nigerians at home and abroad, is the number one reason why the Elites in government don’t take us very serious: because we glory in foolish ‘beer parlor’ talk. Obasanjo has done well this last two years in reforming the banking sector, insisting on due process, and opening up the economy to foreign investment, carrying the privatization cross and reducing the debt.


Certainly, he has fought corruption and even if they are one sided (directed towards his political enemies alone) that is his political or commonsense headache; because one day these enemies of his will hunt him down when he is out of government. At the net analysis, it is Nigeria that benefits when we are less one criminal or thief. I still think the best favor baba can do himself is to repair our prisons, because he never can know where he might end up for retirement.


When I see Nigeria, I see a cabal that thinks they are wiser than us all holding us to hostage. In fact, reading the child of two worlds and Mugo Gatheru explanation of how Europeans subjugated Kenyans in their lands, I see no difference between then and today’s Nigeria. What I see are new African elites that have simply replaced the Europeans in their mansions and GRAs. Funny is that the Elite I talk about are not just in Government, even there so called critics the press, educated professors and professionals as well as you and I are included, because we have chosen to be silent while these injustices are being perpetuated because we are afraid for our own future. It is a shame. May God save naija!






“Our days are numbered. One of the primary goals in our lives should be to prepare for our last day. The legacy we leave is not just in our possessions, but in the quality of our lives. What preparations should we be making now? The greatest waste in all of our earth, which cannot be recycled or reclaimed, is our waste of the time that God has given us each day.”

Rev. Billy Graham



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