There is a big chasm between how things ought to be and how they really are. Similarly a big gulf exists between what this great statesman, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, aspires to be and what he really is. Obasanjo’s biggest affliction is his inability to be this man, he so much admires that he never can be. Little wonder, his first daughter, Senator Iyabo Obasanjo, in an open letter to her father, who abandoned her and her other siblings and their mother, called her father a liar and a pretender.
Normally, I don’t have the luxury of time, but I made time to peruse the 18 page epistle Obasanjo wrote to President Goodluck Jonathan. The messianic letter was titled, „Before it is too late“.
To say the least, the letter is a damnation of Jonathan, both as a person and president. Obasanjo accused the government of Jonathan of some misbehaviours and crimes, including setting up a presidential strike force to carry out terrorist attacks on political opponents.
As usual, presidential aides dismissed the letter as the ranting of a disillusioned and frustrated power monger. This approach to the hefty allegations against a sitting president, including being accused of treasonable felony, is actually an insult to Nigerians. Besides, it infringes the doctrine of accountability which is the bedrock of democratic rule. The president owes Nigerians both a legal and moral duty to respond to the allegations contained in the letter, one by one. As I write, Jonathan surprisingly has not done so.
Those allegations against him are not diminished; neither could it be easily swept under the carpet simply because it comes from a person of Obasanjo’s stature, who is widely seen as lacking in moral authority. If proven, Obasanjo’s allegation would be akin to a thief calling another a thief. It does not make the latter a lesser thief anyway.
In any case, if all the things Obasanjo said about the president were true, the former was also guilty of the things he is accusing the man he installed as president. (He erroneously thought that Jonathan would be his puppet).
Under the watch of Obasanjo, $20 billion was diverted from the same federal account. His government was also blamed by the Nigerian Senate of being part of governments that mismanaged the federal account to the tune of N1.5 trillion. He abused his office when as president he sold the Transcorp Hilton Hotel and other Nicon ventures to himself, using proxies.
The House of Representatives likewise indicted his administration of squandering $16 billion in its pretence that it wanted to generate electricity. Many years after, Nigerians still live in darkness. It was also corruption when Obasanjo used public money to build a private university and a presidential library. This he did mainly by pressuring government agencies to donate money to his projects and also by inflating contracts and directing the contractors to do the right thing – which was to donate the difference.
Obasanjo accused Jonathan of anti-party activities and disloyalty. Has he easily forgotten what he did with Senator Ifeanyi Ararume, notwithstanding the fact that the Supreme Court declared him the PDP’s flag bearer for the Imo gubernatorial election? The then powerful Obasanjo asked PDP members to vote for the candidate of the PPA.
President Jonathan, if the allegations were true, could be said to be copying his benefactor. On political assassinations, was it not under Obasanjo’s regime that a sitting federal minister, an Attorney General for that matter, was assassinated? Till date, that murder has not been resolved. Killer Squads were maintained by PDP governors, with Obasanjo’s tolerance. Do we need to remember the political killing of Aminasoari Dikibo, National Vice-Chairman of the PDP?
A former associate of Obasanjo, Mr. Richard Odusanya had alleged in April this year that the former president took over the killer squad that was formed under the military regime of late Gen. Sani Abacha. According to him, the killer squad was lodged at the State Security Service headquarters, known as ‘Yellow House.’
Unforgettable is Obasanjo’s genocide against the Odi and Zaki Biam people. He massacred fellow Nigerians during a democratic government. Yet, he has, as usual, pretentiously criticized the military regime of late Sani Abacha. It might well be that the ghosts of those people killed are now tormenting the Otta Chief.
In terms of political thuggery, Obasanjo’s record remains unequalled. With his backing, a sitting governor, Chris Ngige was kidnapped in Anambra. That state was made unmanageable. Obasanjo also used the late Lamidi Adedibu to terrorise Oyo State and he aligned with the Afenifere group to enable his party win the 2003 elections in the south-west.
Worrisome about the whole thing is that even with the crimes of Obasanjo’s presidency, then again you realise that he is still the best president of the fourth republic (if not the best Commander-in-Chief since late Murtala Mohammed). This shocking realisation explains why our dear country is heading nowhere.
Obasanjo was everything but not a progressive he wants us to believe he is. In his small-mindedness and retarded thinking, he foisted both Yar’Adua and Jonathan on us as punishment for opposing his third term ambition. How could a man who wanted a third term now accuse Jonathan of inordinate ambition because the latter merely wants a second term?
It is difficult to disassociate Obasanjo’s letter with his selfish political calculations for 2015. Like his daughter said, he old man thinks that Nigeria belongs to him. This is delusion grandeur! And because Jonathan has not being obedient as he unwisely expected, he needs to install another marionette, who would eagerly do his bidding.
I cannot think of any Nigerian who is luckier than Obasanjo. Sadly, he stupidly blew the opportunity God gave him to fix this country. I would advise him to spare Nigerians the trauma of being reminded the opportunity missed and squandered by him. He has nothing more to offer Nigerians or to contribute to the modern Nigeria of our dream. He was a man who chose to serve himself rather than the people. Now he has suddenly realised that a good name lasts an eternity. It is already too late, General Obasanjo. The wealth you amassed, you will never take to your grave. And when you die, Nigerians and your biological children, as your daughter’s letter reveals, will quickly forget you. No amount of pretence or last minute effort to play the messiah will change this.
For Jonathan, it is not too late. This president could still save his name and legacy by retracing his steps and disassociating himself with the criminals who surround him, including his corrupt ministers and aides. Sack all those around you who are tainted with corruption, Mr President. Stop covering them.
Jonathan, I saw you at Mandela’s memorial, won’t you like to be warmly remembered by Nigerians when your time must have been up? Then serve the people now!