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“Umoru, are you dead?”

By Owei Lakemfa

THE Father of the Nation, former President Olusegun Aremu Obasanjo is livid. He is angry because some children of the nation accused him of imposing a chronically ill man, President Umaru Yar’Adua  on the country.

Like other fathers of their nations such as “Papa Doc” Duvalier of Haiti and “Papa” Hastings Kamuzu Banda of Malawi who assumed that their fellow citizens are children who cannot make rational choices, including voting for a president, “Baba” Obasanjo had subverted the democratic process by hand- picking and imposing Yar’Adua as President.

Having bottled up his anger for so long, he exploded publicly on January 22, 2010 at the 7th  Annual Daily Trust Lecture where he responded to insults that he imposed an “invalid” on the country as president.

Obasanjo claimed that having decided to make Yar’Adua his successor, his appointee presented him with a certificate of fitness indicating that he had been cured of his chronic kidney problems. What Obasanjo did not tell the nation was whether as president and Commander-in-Chief of the country’s resources and given his acclaimed statesmanship and experience, he authenticated Yar’Adua’s claim.

Obviously he did not because Yar’Adua’s illness at the time was an open secret which might be why he did not present himself as an aspirant until Obasanjo ordained him the next president. It is also a known fact that the rest of the PDP presidential aspirants did not initially factor Yar’Adua into their campaign strategies because Nigerians, with the possible exception of Obasanjo, knew that he was a chronically sick  person. So, if Obasanjo now cries that Yar’Adua deceived him, that, as we say in these parts, “is his own funeral”.

But I doubt that Obasanjo was deceived because he did most of Yar’Adua’s campaigns when the latter was too sick. At a point in the campaigns when Yar’Adua was again flown abroad for urgent medical treatment and there were rumours that he might have died, Obasanjo at a public rally, theatrically called his anointed, put him on speaker phone and asked: “Umoru are you dead?” That was his way of dispelling rumours that Yar’Adua was too sick to govern; to him the rest of us were liars.

Today he publicly acknowledges that we were not; indeed if there were any lies peddled about Yar’Adua’s health, it was by Obasanjo and his team. But we need to leave matters at that because Obasanjo who was choir master and pastor at the Aso Rock Villa church and recently read theology at the Open University, has proclaimed before the nation that if he knew that Yar’Adua was still sick before imposing him, “God will punish me”. I say Amen! to his prayers.

Baba also claimed that in appointing Yar’Adua as the ‘elected’ president, he considered three important qualities: “ One, enough intellectual capacities to run the affairs of Nigeria; two, sufficient personal integrity to run the affairs of the country and three, sufficient broad-mindedness”. Three years into the Yar’Adua presidency, there are no indications that it has the intellectual capacity to run the country.

Secondly, it lacks the broad-mindedness to be even-handed or even to accept that in the absence of the President-as Yar’Adua has been absent for over two months- the Vice President should act.

The third quality is perhaps a joke: How could the Obasanjo administration talk about “integrity” when it had numerous international bribery charges hanging  round its neck? How could an administration that allegedly looted the country’s resources, from the Petroleum Technology Development Fund to the proceeds of privatisation and sale of government houses claim integrity?

How can Obasanjo talk about integrity when TRANSCORP, a non transparent company he helped to set up and in which he owned shares, under his watch, fraudulently bought government-owned companies like NITEL only to strip them of their assets? The country had 3,000mw of electricity when Obasanjo came to power. After eight years of imperial presidency and $16 billion down the drain, the regime left the country with 1,800mw; is that a government of  integrity?

It is an open secret that choice lands in Abuja and public houses in Lagos and Abuja were shared by the leading lights of that regime and their families, including Obasanjo who personally took the Universal Basic Education lands in the country’s capital. Were we not the unwilling audience of the comic plays by Obasanjo image launderers like Femi Fani-Kayode  who sought to explain his sudden wealth by claiming that the Obasanjo Farms in Ota was minting N30 million profit daily? When asked how much tax the farm was paying if indeed it made so much profit daily, the acts collapsed and the theatre was closed.

In any case, Obasanjo’s acclaimed arrow head in the Yar’Adua deal, El-Rufai has admitted publicly  that Yar’Adua was actually one of the governors on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) corruption list but that with his anointment by Obasanjo as Presidet-in- waiting, the then anti-corruption Czar, Nuhu Ribadu was ordered to take him off the list so that he can be presented as a man of ‘integrity’.

But can there be any lack of integrity, or any form of corruption greater than the brazen rigging of the 2003 and 2007 elections by the Obasanjo regime? It was so pervasive that even party primaries were rigged. There were the cases of Rotimi Amaechi and Ifeanyi Araraume in Rivers and Imo states. The rerun gubernatorial elections in states like Adamawa, Kogi, Sokoto, Cross River, Ekiti and Bayelsa, and the judicial reversals in Edo and Ondo states were all due to the corruption of the electoral process by the Obasanjo gang. So what integrity is he talking about ?


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