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