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OBJ: Why stroke the flame?

By Kunle Oyatomi
Things are moving rather faster than most of us would have expected. In the country there are social, political and economic activities all moving in different directions at comparative speed, not so easy to fathom.

From the Presidency, speed and surprise are the hallmark of movements in not very definable direction. But we all like to believe that it is essentially moving in the direction of change, perhaps even reform.

But of all the movements in the last one week, the one involving former President Olusegun Obasanjo is causing the most stir. Understandably so as the old general, and recently “born again christian,” happens to generate heat any time he engages in subjects of national interest.

From the USA, OBJ spoke on the electoral problem of Nigeria as it affected Professor Iwu which, on a familiar signature, has generated a lot of heat already. Bringing Jesus Christ into the conduct of the nasty political elections in Nigeria is a very ill-advised joke indeed. Generals are not the best of humourous peoples but our OBJ has been known to be on the caustic joke platform always.

He probably derives some odd pleasures from this kind of thing, but somehow it doesn’t seem to fit with the cloak of statesmanship he is supposed to wear always. But our man doesn’t give it a thought either especially when the issue is controversial enough to demand statesmanly restraint. However, it would seem our OBJ thrives on controversy, and sometimes even in deliberate ambiguity.

The case of the presidential election of 2011 which OBJ was reported to have expressed an opinion on is one classical case of his ability to stoke the flame of political controversy in the country. As chairman of the Board of Trustees of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, one would have expected the former president to promote peace and harmony within his party and ultimately the country. However, what you expect is not always what you get from OBJ.

The ex-general was reported to have thrown his hat into the ring fighting for the right of any Nigerian to contest the presidential election come 2011. As the BOT chairman of the PDP, that looks too curious a position to take after over 12 years of supporting the idea of ALTERNATING the presidency between the North and the South. By the time OBJ stood for this idea, he was certainly aware that the unwritten consensus of the majority of Nigerian politicians was ROTATION of the presidency zonally.

Once he became flagbearer in 1999 for the PDP, his heart was sold to that idea of alternating the nation’s highest position between South and North. To be fair to him, when he was forced to leave at the collapse of a third term bid, OBJ dutifully handed over to a Northerner through a hopelessly flawed election in 2007. Well, we all know why there is problem right now at Aso Rock, and confusion as to whether that principle of alternating the presidency between North and South has run its full course.

It is getting louder by the day that newly sworn-in President Goodluck Jonathan may afterall be persuaded to give the position a try. He has constitutional rights to do so; and nobody quarrels with that. But it doesn’t sound right that OBJ should take an ambivalent position now which could be interpreted to mean betrayal of party policy direction, even if it all appears “extra-constitutional.”

Statesmanship demands that should OBJ now have cause to change his mind, he should hold himself back from heating up the polity. That is the evidence of discipline; otherwise accusations are bound to come up that such position is purely intended for the pursuit of self interest rather than party or national interest.

That’s not the correct labelling OBJ should attract to himself at this age and time in his and our national development.
And Ribadu also?

Still talking about 2011 presidential election, the possibilities and probabilities are expanding by the hour. As the older generation are struggling to consolidate power, it will appear that the younger generation are sporting for a contest as well.

The rumour mill is rife as to who wants, and who is being “pushed” to get into the race. Exiled ex-EFCC boss Ribadu is being rumoured to be thinking of 2011 also. There are two ways to look at this piece of floated information. Could be that the young man is being drafted to fill a credibility vacuum, or it is just a fantasy ride, you never know.

What it however says in clear language is that 2011 presidential election is a very open race, and one with the potential of tearing down the north/south turn-by-turn nonsense, and one that will signal to the old generation of leaders that their time in power is up.

We just have to keep our fingers crossed. I cannot bet on it though, but 2011 promises a harvest of surprises that could change the future of the country, and perhaps its unedifying politics.

Free at last
God in his infinite mercy has released the suffering soul of our late President from his damaged body, and it is freedom indeed for a gentleman who had been abused by those who were closest to him.

President Musa Yar’Adua’s passing was a painful event for all Nigerians who prayed for their leader at his greatest hour of need. We felt his pain because we knew he didn’t deserve the sadistic treatment he got from some terrible people around him.

However, we feel relief that the poor man’s suffering has been brought to an end by his maker.
This nation should resolve never to allow a similar thing to happen in future to any president. We cannot afford a repeat.

Good Bless You, and Goodbye Yar’Adua!!


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