By Bisi Lawrence
It is so easy for anyone to criticize Olusegun Obasanjo — General, war hero, military head of state, civilian president, et cetera, et cetera, — because he finds it so easy to criticise anyone himself.He does it in season and out of season, and so, hardly anyone winces when he too is made to have it good and hard.
The usual feeling is that he asked for it. Even when he makes a welcome point that proves to be acceptable at the end, he fails to get any worthwhile credit because he would maybe have chosen to overstate the point, or spoken out of turn, or from a position devoid of any moral right.
His recent recourse to his favourite pastime of bashing his successors in office, and even others of less attainments in public life, has met once again with the usual reception of disdain, as one would expect. The value of any actual message he might have wanted to put across is almost lost entirely in the overlay of public disdain his open letter to President Goodluck Jonathan attracted.
All in all, the epistle was filled with a plethora of the ills of the Jonathan administration, for some of which he is held accountable in that he virtually foisted the presidency of Jonathan on the nation. There was nothing fresh along that way. The frustrations which the Jonathan presidency has caused Nigerians are innumerable, we all agree.
The misdeeds stare us all in the face and give rise to untold agony in almost every direction of our daily lives. He is not personally culpable on every count, that is true, but the buck stops right there on his desk no matter how far it has traversed. *
It is the misery or glory of leadership which,it is common opinion,that he has very little of in good quality. Unfortunately for his position, it is not helped by the calibre of his most prominent arsenal of support which is demeaned by a narrow base of ethnic mores, seemingly unaware of its weaknesses.
Not in 18 pages full of spite can anyone adequately exhaust the various aspects of the disappointment that the Jonathan era has brought to Nigerians. Not even when his own daughter joins the refrain could the chorus sound more out of tune. Not all that lyabo has tendered is entirely new, thanks to her own mother who had earlier even written a book about it. It is so sad.
Sadder yet, however, is the fact that this otherwise distinguished Nigerian, who appeared to have played such a distinctive role in the Civil War, which we have been told was fought in order that we might be one, and* a military ruler who recorded the rare act of willingly handing over the reins of government into civilian hands, has acquired a reputation for a skin thicker than that of a rhinoceros in response to widespread censure.
He has been scolded in the past by people who should line up to worship him; he has suffered contemptuous comment from those should hold him in high regard; even his own child now steps out to upbraid him publicly. And yet we all know he will do it again.
But one thing he should be discouraged from doing is to make flagrant indictments that are not supported by facts. He has adduced no evidence to his claim that President Jonathan is nursing a “nest of killers” to deal with his opponents of which he has some one thousand in mind.
That is a mouthful. If it cannot be proved to be true, that utterance must not be allowed to pass muster. The least action that can be slapped against it is libel.
In this land of a thousand SAN’s, considerations of “treason” may sound like hot air already. But libel, soft and simple— a maliciously, irresponsibly published statement that attempts to bring the character of its victim into disrepute — that is the treatment that would fit the bill.
That seems not to be so attractive to the President up till now. Although he adopts an admirable stance of calmness, many people are quite excited and alarmed about that allegation. The National Assembly has called for investigations about it. The people wish to believe that it is not true, but they need to be actually convinced.
There is a feeling already that, say what you will, “there is no smoke without fire”. But then there is no limit to the wiles and wickedness of people who can build pillars out sheer smoke. Like lyabo Obasanjo’s publicly expressed disaffection for her father, being interpreted as a gambit to curry favour from the presidency in order to restrain the EFCC from calling her to book on the mess she left behind as a member of the National Assembly.
She has been left off so far, it would appear. A presidential disfavour could indeed bring the whole issue up again, thanks to her father’s unguarded statements. But why bother? This is not the time for distractions.
Let the President, apart from the presidency, deal with this issue of a gang of assassins-in-training with the urgency it demands. That is what is important right now.
eko o ni baje o!
Lagos is now described as the “Commercial Capital” of the nation. It is not quite an uplifting title from its former position of being the Nation’s Capital, but no matter. After all, Calabar was stripped of the ultimate title of a municipality without the saving grace of a vestige of the old glory. Lagos, in fact, needs no title. It is still the city where people flood in to look for opportunities of a better life, Abuja or no Abuja.
The city still sets the pace, though not as distinctly as before, when it had the best football teams, the best athletes and the best table tennis players. It had many “firsts” — in fact, you might say all the “firsts”. It was the earliest scene of the establishment of the one-way traffic, as well as the first traffic lights. Songs were made about these innovations by the best musicians of the day, who were mostly based in Lagos. And, of course, commercial motor-cycles, the Okada, came to Lagos first, as had the first municipal buses, some five decades earlier.
Public transportation in the city has always been of a high premium in its administration. But, no more. The officials appointed for its administration are still there— in fact, much, much more than before.
However, the traffic is usually more clogged up than ever. One major contributor to this disheartening fact is the condition of the roads. There are unending repairs except in areas left to utter neglect. One of the major roads—in fact, one of the two roads that were first made one-way roads, not only in Lagos but in West Africa, Bamgbose Road, is now in a sorry state. The lower part, where it changes into Lewis Street, is almost impassable. It gets even worse where, further on, one of the principal markets, the Sand Grouse, is situated has become like a village disused road.
This is a city with which I totally identify. I feel personally involved with its unedifying plight at the moment and feel that the situation could be better managed. I shall hereafter endeavour to spare a little space here every Saturday to engage the attention of the officials responsible for the upkeep of the city’s welfare.
Eho o ni baje o!