By Ochereome Nnanna
IN my years of watching current affairs in Nigeria, particularly the role that former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, has been playing in it, I have developed a profile of him that never fails to click each he makes his public outings. He has perfected the chicken approach to foraging.
As I noted in an earlier write-up, there is an Igbo adage that says: “ihe okuko na-erigh, ya abosaa”. Whatever the chicken cannot eat she scatters with her feet. I have also long identified his propensity to engage in what the English people call “the kettle calling the pot black”, or as put more graphically by musician, Sound Sultan in local parlance: “ole de shout ole” (a thief is always first to shout: “thief”!)
I agree totally with a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Umar Ghali Na’Abba, who once told Obasanjo to his face: “Your Excellency, if you are looking for the trouble with Nigeria, just look into the mirror. You will find it there”. After his over-trumpeted role in the civil war emerging as the only Nigerian who has ruled the nation twice, with the longest years in power, Obasanjo seems to believe he owns Nigeria. He, in fact, seems to believe in his heart that he has become a “god” of Nigeria.
His recent 18-page letter to President Goodluck Jonathan is riddled with essential Obasanjoism. He accuses Jonathan of living in denial over the so-called one-term pact and whether he will run in 2015. Obasanjo did exactly the same things when he was plotting his defeated third term agenda. Till date, he continues to deny he ever wanted a third term, though it is now a known fact of Nigeria’s history.
Based on unsubstantiated “allegations”, rumours and “loose talk”, he accuses Jonathan of “training snipers” and other armed personnel, “for political purposes like Abacha…!”. Jonathan may be everything else, but what I have never heard anybody accusing him of menacing the lives of political opponents. On the one hand, he is perceived as a “weak” president partly because all comers call him all sorts of names and get away with it.
On the other, it is a fact of history that during Obasanjo’s presidency, his Minister of Justice, Chief Bola Ige, was assassinated by operatives just before he resigned from the cabinet to go and revive his Alliance for Democracy (AD) to deny Obasanjo access to the South West, the home base he desperately needed to make certain his second term in power. Chief Marshall Harry, Chief Aminasori Dikibo and many others were murdered, and the killers were never found. Obasanjo ordered the abduction of Governor Chris Ngige and the burning of the Government House and public offices in Awka, the AnambraState capital. The kettle calls the flask black!
Obasanjo accuses Jonathan of supporting non-PDP candidates for governorship elections in Ondo, Edo and Anambra for his personal political purposes. I ask, what about Obasanjo, who pulled PDP out of the race in the 2007 Imo governorship election because the winner of the primaries in the PDP, Senator Ifeanyi Araraume, was not his anointed candidate. He went ahead to support Chief Ikedi Ohakim of the Progressive People’s Alliance (PPA) to clinch the seat. Ohakim continues to pay pilgrimages to Obasanjo’s house hoping he will swing another magic wand to enable him return to power. Has he forgotten so soon? Well, we have not!
Obasanjo also wails that Jonathan is plotting a “third term”! Well, the courts have said he still has the constitutional right to run for a second, not third term in 2015. The kettle is calling the flask black because Obasanjo suffered the most humiliating defeat when his third term agenda was nixed on the floor of the Senate on May 16th 2006. Where was the “morality” then which Obasanjo now preaches? What about his refusal to abide by the rumoured pact he had with the North to run for only one term as a precondition for his being selected to stand in place of the murdered Chief Moshood Abiola, to whom Nigerians gave their mandate on June 12th 1993?
Obasanjo, at that time, was expected to copy the good example of Dr. Nelson Mandela, who voluntarily stepped down from the presidency after only one term to give his country a chance to move forward under a younger blood. Obasanjo had blatantly rejected the call for him to “do a Mandela”, saying: “I am no Mandela”! That was the cause of his fights with Atiku Abubakar, his Vice.
He accuses Jonathan of deploying Ijaws to abuse Nigerians. But he has forgotten how he employed a troubled Femi Fani-Kayode as his spokesman specifically to abuse anyone who criticised him or his government. He went ahead to elevate Fani-Kayode to the post of Minister of Aviation, the disastrous outcome of which is still reverberating in the aviation industry and the courts when he is facing graft charges.
What is Jonathan’s presidency, if not for Obasanjo? In his usual self-serving manner of regarding Nigeria as his personal estate, Obasanjo carefully selected a terminally sick northerner, Governor Umaru Yar’ Adua, to succed him. He went to the creeks to fish out Governor Goodluck Jonathan who, at that time, was a great benefactor of members of the Obasanjo family.
There were brilliant, healthy and credible Nigerians serving in Obasanjo’s cabinet. There were sound governors fit for the job. The rotational principle favoured the North with either an Igbo or South-South Vice President. Obasanjo side-stepped all the credible, healthy options in the North for president. He avoided the Igbos like the plague for Vice President. In fact, he abandoned Governor Peter Odili when his “Igbo” factor was being played up by Chief Edwin Clark and gave it to an Ijaw man perceived as gentle and easy to manipulate. Obasanjo’s calculations were obvious. Yar’ Adua would soon die, and Jonathan would become president. When his calculations came to pass, Obasanjo was the first to urge Jonathan to run for president in 2011.
He needs to come out and apology to Nigerians if indeed, he believes Jonathan is a failure. He should ask God for forgiveness for playing “god” in ensuring the emergence of Jonathan. But he will not do so, being the Obasanjo we all know so well. Instead he will write a disingenuous letter to the president and leak it to the media to create the maximum sensation, which is part of his well known plot to bring down the man he made because he has lost out (as usual). What the chicken cannot eat, it will scatter.
People often say we should take the message and forget the messenger. As far as I am concerned, there is little in the letter Obasanjo wrote to Jonathan that is worth taking. It is a windy, convoluted, hypocritical hogwash! In any case, as a professional communicator, I am a believer in the reasoning of Canadian communication philosopher, Marshall McLuhan, who wrote a book and titled it: “The Medium Is The Message”. If you send a well known armed robber to go and preach against the vices of robbery, you will not be able to pass the message successfully for people to learn the required lesson. The message is lost.
Obasanjo wrote and leaked this letter to the media to raise a mob action against Jonathan; a crafty follow-up to the rebellion he used the governors he planted in the states to stir in their party, all in efforts to stop Jonathan in 2015.
It is up to Jonathan to react to the threat as he deems fit. He does need to clean up his act, especially in arresting the Boko Haram terrorism, tackling corruption and find solution to oil theft in the Niger Delta. These issues may mar his chances in 2015 if he does not wake up. It won’t be the comical antics of an expired president that will undo him. Jonathan will be the one to take the steps that will allow Nigerians to re-elect him or transfer power to another hand come 2015.
HI, FOLKS! I REST IT HERE FOR THE YEAR! AM OFF ON VACATION. SEE YOU AGAIN IN THE SECOND WEEK OF 2014, GOD WILLING!