] Mathias] Ti­mawus Obasanjo is it, is it not?

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IW­tim­math­ias@ya­hoo.com

some­times sit and pon­der on the things that go on in Pres­i­dent Oluse­gun Obasanjo’s mind, a man Nige­ri­ans eas­ily ad­mire and just as eas­ily also con­demn. The rea­son is be­cause the old Gen­eral is cen­tral to vir­tu­ally ev­ery as­pect of to­day’s Nige­rian na­tional life, and not quite a few things are aw­fully wrong, thanks to him. The weekend’s out­burst from Die­priegh Alamiesegha for­mer gover­nor of Bayelsa State and at the time the boss of our cur­rent Pres­i­dent, did it for me and I be­came thought­ful and imag­i­na­tive of what Pres­i­dent Obasanjo’s con­science tells him these past months in Ota. It pays to think what re­flec­tions great men have when they per­ceive of the im­pact of their ac­tions on us min­ions. David in scrip­ture has this long so­lil­o­quy in which he con­sid­ers the heav­ens, the works of God’s fin­gers, the moon and the stars. “What is man that you are mind­ful of him....that you even visit him?” David had asked of God. ith all that Pres­i­dent Obasanjo at­tained in eight years of rul­ing Nigeria as a con­verted politi­cian, “what is the Pres­i­dency of Nigeria that Pres­i­dent Obasanjo felt so much as to de­ter­mine who suc­ceeded him and not a choice made by the people”? The sim­ple ar­gu­ment is that if Pres­i­dent Obasanjo had al­lowed the People’s Demo­cratic Party to choose his suc­ces­sor by sim­ple Pri­maries, the late Umaru Yar’adua would not have been Pres­i­dent. If Yar’adua had not been the Pres­i­dent, now ham­strung (even by Obasanjo’s def­i­ni­tion), Pres­i­dent Good­luck Jonathan would not have been on the sad­dle, with Obasanjo frus­trat­ing him­self in a bid to re­main rel­e­vant to the nec­es­sary change. In 2007, an ail­ing and un­will­ing Umaru Musa Yar’adua was made to run and win the elec­tion. Not a few people have ex­pressed the view that the coun­try’s face was thus de­lib­er­ately scarred for for­mer Pres­i­dent Obasanjo’s per­sonal whims. In his book ‘Con­science and His­tory: My Story’, Dr. Peter Odili likely be­sides Bauchi State’s Ah­madu Adamu Mu’azu to have won the PDP ticket, wrote that Pres­i­dent Obasanjo sin­gle­handed scut­tled his Pres­i­den­tial bid and was able to even go fur­ther to switch him with Good­luck Jonathan as Yar’adua’s run­ning mate.

Is there a bet­ter time than now, to ask Pres­i­dent Oluse­gun Obasanjo what he saw in the pro­tégés he pro­moted, par­tic­u­larly what he ad­vanced as Pres­i­dent Jonathan’s merit over all the po­ten­tial so ev­i­dent then? Should we beg to know what Obasanjo thinks of the out­come of his po­lit­i­cal en­gi­neer­ing work?

In con­tem­po­rary Nige­rian po­lit­i­cal his­tory, Pres­i­dent Obasanjo’s thumb prints are smudged all across. From the crude de­rail­ment of his Vice Pres­i­dent Atiku Abubakar, to The sim­ple ar­gu­ment is that if Pres­i­dent

Obasanjo had al­lowed the People’s Demo­cratic Party to choose his suc­ces­sor by sim­ple Pri­maries,

the late Umaru Yar’adua would not have been Pres­i­dent. If Yar’adua had not been the Pres­i­dent,

now ham­strung (even by Obasanjo’s def­i­ni­tion), Pres­i­dent

Good­luck Jonathan would not have been

on the sad­dle, with Obasanjo frus­trat­ing

him­self in a bid to re­main rel­e­vant to the

nec­es­sary change Adamawa State’s in­stal­la­tion of Gover­nor Mur­tala Nyako as the Gover­nor and the ran­cour and con­tention that Adamawa State has suf­fered these past 7 years. For the Supreme Court is yet to de­cide on the le­gal­ity of Nyako’s elec­tion on the grounds that pri­maries as re­quired by laws of the Party did not take place for him to emerge as run­ning mate. Then across the bor­der is Taraba State, where Obasanjo in Bauchi at the Rally Grounds for the re­lease of flagbearers, re­jected the Party’s nom­i­nated Dan­ladi Baido of Taraba State, opt­ing for just ANY­BODY but Baido. The re­sult: Dan­baba Sun­tai, now ail­ing and leav­ing Taraba State, in­deed Nigeria, with an in­tractable con­sti­tu­tional cri­sis.

In all these in­stances, the in­di­ca­tors are there that it is not God’s in­ten­tion that any man plays God in de­ter­min­ing what mor­tals seek of God for the free­dom of choice that they en­joy. All those ex­am­ples I listed leave me no op­tion than to wish for the dif­fer­ence, had Pres­i­dent Obasanjo al­lowed mat­ters to run their course. Hear the late Chinua Achebe, Obasanjo “un­folded a gi­gan­tic scheme for stay­ing in power be­yond his ten­ure. He set up agencies with long ti­tles like the In­de­pen­dent Cor­rupt Prac­tices Com­mis­sion, the Eco­nomic and Fi­nan­cial Crimes Com­mis­sion and the In­de­pen­dent Na­tional Elec­toral Com­mis­sion. It soon be­came clear, how­ever, that these de­vices were not in­tended to curb the crimes they enu­mer­ated but to go af­ter people who dis­agree with the Pres­i­dent, es­pe­cially on his de­sire to ex­tend his ten­ure”. The one thing left for Pres­i­dent Good­luck Jonathan to utilise are a few read­ings from Obasanjo’s notes on what to do with those long named in­sti­tu­tions to deal with dis­sent on 2015, which now in­cludes Obasanjo him­self. The in­sti­tu­tions ap­pear to have served their pur­pose and are now mori­bund and in­ef­fec­tive.

Ifind my thoughts per­ti­nent be­cause it seems to me that our prob­lems in Nigeria em­anate from the mor­tal man in our lead­ers at­tempt­ing to tinker with what should be de­ter­mined by the wishes of the people, God’s people, which democ­racy is. Our lead­ers must learn to leave choices to the people, as God willed. We have this aber­ra­tion ex­tend­ing from this schism, in which the rul­ing party must win all states, and in the states, all the lo­cal govern­ment coun­cils. And from the fear of this, State Gov­er­nors shy away from con­duct­ing lo­cal govern­ment elec­tions, opt­ing in­stead for care­taker com­mit­tees with which coun­cil re­sources are pil­laged. Lead­ers break all rules and act with im­punity, jus­ti­fy­ing ac­tions in bla­tant breach of the con­sti­tu­tion with be­ing in power. Obasanjo had a chal­lenge to teach democ­racy fol­low­ing the many years of Nigeria’s mil­i­tary ex­pe­ri­ence, and his im­mense in­ter­ac­tion with renowned world lead­ers. But alas! Did he?

To­day’s Nigeria, and all its lead­er­ship chal­lenges, hangs round Obasanjo’s neck like the al­ba­tross in the an­cient mariner’s tale. Even as I fol­low the hap­pen­ings at the on­go­ing Na­tional Con­fer­ence, I worry that all the pre­cepts la­bo­ri­ously put for­ward will amount to naught if the ques­tion of fu­ture lead­ers act­ing within the bounds of the con­sti­tu­tion are not ironed out. If that is all the con­fer­ence set­tles, it would have done a re­mark­ably good job.

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