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Democracy and the Obasanjo paradox


Going deep, and perusing through my several reference documents and newspaper cuttings of several years to position myself for this piece that to sick minds may label it offensive and rude for me to have gathered courage and guts to write this piece on one of the most controversial personalities ever in the history of Nigeria, Chief Mathew Aremu Okikiolakan Olusegun Obasanjo GCFR. With all honesty, I may have no apology to offer as a deprived law abiding citizen.

Over the years, former President Obasanjo has demonstrated a penchant for badgering elected presidents with his open letters. His open letter to former president Goodluck Jonathan was a farrago, of aspersions, innuendos and falsehood meant to rattle the feathers of the target which it never did.

His last open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, though devoid of obvious confections and embroideries, was still disturbing. It enumerated the president’s perceived weaknesses and strengths, and disconcertingly, it advised him not to seek re-election in 2019. It was an advice that assailed the president’s constitutional right (like every other Nigerian to vote and be voted for).

Despite the impressive number of books Obasanjo penned and his recently acquired doctorate degree, courtesy of Abuja Open University, nothing about the man conveys erudition, brilliance or intelligence. Those that soldiered with him in the battlefields of the unfortunate Nigeria civil war described him as an unimaginative military strategist and an inept military commander. But, despite his obvious limitations and inadequacies, he became the most successful Nigeria’s controversial politician ever. And that is the Obasanjo paradox.

It was the political fallouts of the June 12, 1993 crisis courtesy of NADAECO that propelled Obasanjo to the presidency in 1999. For years, the Yoruba-dominated National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) along with like minds, unremittingly fought for the realization of the June 12 mandate, and the president-elect, Moshood Kashimawo Olawole Abiola alias MKO, died fighting for his mandate. Paradoxically, the harvest of our collective labor and sacrifice in NADECO was handed to Obasanjo on a platter of gold. To assuage Yoruba restiveness, the northern powerbrokers made him president. He remained president for eight years, longer than any other Nigeria’s civilian president/prime minister.

Undoubtedly, fate had been usually generous to Obasanjo; it repeatedly catapulted him to unmerited heights. Evidently, these consistent levitation to unearned prominence got into the inner part of his head. No wonder, he thought he could breach the Nigerian constitution and snooker Nigerians into electing him president for a third term. The rejection of his third term bid hurt his pride and left him with a chip on the shoulder. His restless, desperate, intrusive attempt to impose his will on Nigerians through proxies and hectoring open letters to presidents are primitive expressions of his bitterness from that third term rejection. It is these unyielding and crude vents of his embedded bitterness that makes him the loudest, and the most obnoxious and obtrusive of all former Nigeria’s presidents.
The people are the ultimate repository of power. It is therefore their constitutional prerogative to decide who presides over them come 2019 not Obasanjo.
Despite Buhari’s perceived failed leadership, Nigerian voters reserve the right to, deliberately or inadvertently, make the wrong choices, and then, learn from their mistakes. After all, it is through democratic experience and its inheritent lessons that Nigerian democracy will evolve, and then, flower and flourish. Please who will tell Obasanjo to learn to be objective in assessment, decent in speech and actions if he so wishes to be respected. Time is fast running out for the Owu chief to repent from stupidity and baseless claims of loving Nigeria better than any other soul.
2019 generals have come and gone with Buhari re-elected against the parochial interest of Obasanjo and his gang of day-dreamers that take pleasure in holding Nigeria hostage. The funniest part of the power game-play in Nigeria is that we have several retired Army Generals and other Security Chiefs who are idling away but erroneously believing to know and love Nigeria better than the rest of us.
If we carefully observe, it is those same claimants that wrecked havoc on our economy and carefully ferried us to the unfortunate situation we are battling with today and shamelessly still claiming relevance.

Lest I forget, as an advocate for genuine democracy, I must commend the efforts of Hon. Muhammed Garba Gololo from Bauchi State and Hon. Yusuf Babayo Gagdi for leading a holistic crusade against underdevelopment and poverty within their federal constituencies of Gamawa and Pankshin, Kanke and Kanam that I was able to visit personally on invitation. Others may be trying but, I cannot comment on what I have not seen. The duo, have proved to doubting Thomas that they are a leaders across the divide. Despite the temporal political setback of Gololo courtesy of gangsterism, he moved forward to serving his people without stress.

He has embarked on construction of roads, schools and economic empowerment to the impoverished within his personal savings. That is what democracy entails. He has placed several children of poor parental background on scholarship to further their studies and introduced a robust security network within his constituency for the safety of the area. Nigeria is proud to have such politicians on the scene. Not minding the party he belongs (APC), he believes in salvaging situations no matter who is involved. Above all, he abhors ethno-religious bigotry for the unity of Nigeria.
“Nigeria is our collective interest. We must join hands to support one another for a better and united country. I have no retirement date in service to the people within my resources. Service delivery for the advancement of my people remains my top priority. I have labored to find myself in leadership position and as bond, I shall justify the trust reposed in me whether in government or not”, he said.
Muhammad is a commentator on national issues

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