Why Obasanjo Doesn't Want To Go


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Why Obasanjo Doesn’t Want To Go








culled from NEWAGE, April 19, 2006
At times in the course of history, as can be verified by any amateur chronicler, some mere mortals under the illusion of being gods or godlets box themselves into such tight corners that they can only be compared with the man who is enjoying a ride on a tiger. I am told that it feels wonderful to ride on the back of the tiger. The rider is held in awe even more than the beast of prey. But he dare not disembark, lest he ends up becoming the tiger’s lunch.

The man who rides the tiger is both a slave and master. Although he momentarily seems to be in control, the fact that he must remain a perpetual rider for the sake of self-preservation qualifies him to be numbered among slaves. That seems to be the case of our dear General Olusegun Obasanjo who is so consumed by the mystique of riding the tiger of power that it is becoming evident that the only way out is the way in.

History is a wicked and dispassionate creature. From the beginning of time, the sun has always risen from the East and set in the West, but that has not stopped slaves of power from tempting fate and decreeing that they are an exception to the rule; their sun may rise in the East but it must also set in the East. Pretences of motion but no movement. Their world does not rotate on any axis but that of self-glorification. They cannot afford to surrender an expired mandate because they have all the while been living a lie. Eventually they end up tragically like their unsung predecessors, fuelling the mistaken notion that history repeats itself. No, don’t blame history. When a man fails to learn from the fall of those who trod the path of power before him, he is bound to trip at the exact spot they met their waterloo. History does not repeat itself; it is man who has refused to learn from the mistake of others.

I have heard it said that Obasanjo cannot afford to go at the end of his tenure in 2007 because of the many ghosts he has in his cupboard. Another theory says that Obasanjo is acting a script he neither authored nor edited. I have heard so many theories, some of them unpublishable. I’m sorry, I don’t subscribe to any of them. I think Obasanjo’s uncreative attempt to extend his tenure can be easily explained if we subject his activities since he mounted the saddle in 1999 to serious scrutiny.

Between 1999 and 2003, Obasanjo did not have any identifiable political or socio-economic programme; neither did his party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). The party’s manifesto was shrouded in generalisations and dogon turenci. The president calculated that if he could make an international statesman out of himself while he put a programme together, his first tenure would have been well spent. He spent a neat slice of the first four years in the presidential jet or in the comfort of foreign hotels as the special guest of whatever country caught his fancy. Chief Gani Fawehinmi was one of his most consistent critics in that regard. Fawehinmi counselled Obasanjo at the time to realise that he was voted to run Nigeria, not globetrot. But the president’s charity continued to begin from abroad while important matters that needed his personal attention at home suffered.

The result was that by 2003, there weren’t many achievements to Obasanjo’s name. To make matters worse, he lacked political base nor did he have any kind of political structure worth the name. He did try to play peacock at the onset of the second term campaign when he attempted to ditch one of his benefactors in the person of his vice president. Failure and political humiliation stared him in the face. So, he made a U-turn and literally had to beg Atiku to again escort him on the second term journey. Atiku obliged, even though the balance of terror, politically speaking, was in his favour and he could have manoeuvred his way to the presidency if he wanted.

As soon as Obasanjo was sworn in for the second term, he methodically descended on his vice president, clipping his wings in an attempt to reduce his influence within the PDP. Many people wondered aloud at the time why a second term president would be so interested in sidelining his deputy and even taking over the party when all he had left in his tenure was but a couple of years. It is now history that Obasanjo and his anti-democratic elements brazenly captured the PDP and even went on to de-register some of the founders of the party. For the first time in the history of party politics in Nigeria, a party’s national elections were held by ‘affirmation’, not voting. Amadu Ali, a retired colonel and veritable political paperweight, was installed chairman ostensibly for no other reason than that he was good at echoing his master’s voice.

Suddenly it is ‘quarter to go’. Obasanjo has a Monday to Sunday mandate and it is already Saturday. He now realises that there are too many things he has left undone while fighting real and imagined enemies. He has wasted too much time gallivanting round the world and attempting to destroy those who don’t agree with his native imperial style that there isn’t much time left to make any appreciable impact and write his name in gold. Electricity is more epileptic today than it ever was under the unsung General Abacha. Nigerians feel less secure today than under the goggled hostage of power called Abacha. Although Nigeria is today earning three times what it used to earn from petroleum in the Abacha days, Nigerians are poorer now than they have been in recent history. Obasanjo travels all the time to Ghana to enjoy their unblinking power supply. He has not been able in seven years to make a difference in this vital sector at home. Although credible efforts have been made in the banking and finance sector and in some other areas of national life, the government has not been able to provide life more abundant for the generality of the people. Yes, a few more billionaires have been made in the sale of our collective patrimony at ridiculous prices, but how does that percolate down to the common man? Isn’t it better to lay solid infrastructure so that our people would be able to carry on with their lives with minimum government intervention? If there was uninterrupted power supply, wouldn’t all the heavy and not-so-heavy industries including the band of ubiquitous welders, barbers, hairdressers and other artisans and tradesmen fare better? There are many things that could have been achieved in seven years if the president had set his mind to it. But he has wasted seven years and is still determined to waste the rest of his tenure pursuing one big shadow called third term.

Having come to the realisation of his gargantuan failure in spite of the unprecedented enormous resources at his disposal, Mr. President now wants to throw away the constitution through which he came to power and replace it with his own brand new cobbled version. People are asking, did Clinton need twelve years to record the great achievements he made? Did Nelson Mandela need more than four years to put South African democracy on a sound footing? If Obasanjo has not done much in seven years, what guarantee do we have that he would perform better if he had another ten years? Morning shows the day. What we have seen of President Obasanjo so far shows that he is expired. He would still have been able to walk the streets and hold his head high with his modest achievements if he had quietly concluded his tenure and reverted to private citizenship. But with the attempt to deceive his fellow citizens into granting him an extension in office, the president will end up rubbishing his image and causing civil strife in the land. Considering Obasanjo’s level of education, it is an insult to say that there is nobody that can see his reforms through. I make bold to say that there are millions of competent Nigerians with superior intellectual equipment to tackle many of the problems that have defeated Obasanjo.

The other reason the president is seeking an extension is the horde of carpetbaggers surrounding him. On their own they are nothing. Many of them cannot win a free and fair election in their local governments. But as Obasanjo acolytes, they have a semblance of power. They have access to money. They have visibility. They have ‘captured’ the PDP. All they rely on is federal might. They are poised to rig the president in if the third term agenda succeeds. The police and army are at their beck and call. If Obasanjo doesn’t run for a third term, many of them will be sent to their political graves. They need Obasanjo to hang on so that they can remain relevant. Those are the people hiring Christian and Muslim marabouts to cast a transcendental halo on Obasanjo’s third term bid. The average Nigerian can’t wait to see Obasanjo’s back. Talk to anyone you meet on the streets. I have not met anyone in all my travels round the various regions of Nigeria who wants Obasanjo to continue beyond 2007. Or maybe I have always found myself in subversive company. But the drama playing out in the National Assembly is instructive. It shows that the campaign is no longer clandestine. OBJ and his group are now desperate. In their desperation they are making many errors. It is those errors that will rid us of them and their despicable campaign in the heady days ahead.

Rewards of amala politics
So, Lamidi Adedibu’s children have landed a N200 million contract from the Oyo State government for the renovation of Mapo Hall? I don’t know whether to laugh or cry! And the illegitimate ‘governor’ in the name of Adebayo Akala still has the temerity to comment on national issues? Is this the democracy we all worked hard to get? Or have all the demons suddenly gone crazy?



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