By Ochereome Nnanna
WHAT do you make of former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s post-power shenanigans? Do you still believe he is roaming from one end of the polity to the other because he is a “nationalist” and “loves Nigeria” more than others? Are you puzzled and asking the question: What does Obasanjo still want after ruling Nigeria twice and emerging as the longest serving president (eleven years seven months), having surpassed General Yakubu Gowon (nine years)?
Or are you, like me, amused that his political skullduggery still manages to score, with some gullible Nigerians thinking he has the power to call the shots and fight the ills of this society when he is actually a major vector of those ills?
I am sure you want me to start by explaining what I mean by Aminu’s “curse”? By Aminu, I mean the Aminu we all know: Jibril Aminu, Professor of Medicine, former Minister of Petroleum, Senator and Ambassador of Nigeria to the United States of America, etc.
Let me draw your attention to an event that took place at the Wadata Plaza a couple of days after Obasanjo suffered one of the most humiliating political defeats of his life: The killing of the Constitution Amendment Bill (also known as Obasanjo’s Third Term Bid) on May 16th 2006 by the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria presided over by Senator Ken Nnamani.
The then Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Col. Ahmadu Ali (rtd) had called a meeting of the National Working Committee of the Party to make his “Let’s Move On” speech. As soon as he sat down, party chieftains stood up and basically consoled Obasanjo and his sorrowing acolytes. When Prof. Aminu got up, he started saying in an animated tone of voice: “Even in your retirement, you will never rest. You will never rest…!” I knew Aminu meant Obasanjo would continue to be of service to the country, given his hyper-active lifestyle, and the many problems besetting the country even after his long reign.
But a friend who also watched this programme on television with us commented dryly: “That sounds more like a curse!” We all laughed, but it set me thinking. When you tell a man who is retiring from his exalted post that he will “never rest”, do not be ruffled if someone misconstrues it.
But Prof. Aminu has absolutely no reason to wish Obasanjo not to rest in retirement. Obasanjo is not just his friend, they are part and parcel of the Nigerian ruling class that came into power after the Nigerian civil war and called the shots that brought the nation where it is today.
Obasanjo is said to be a Christian (Baptist) while Aminu is a Muslim. Obasanjo is a Yoruba (though some dispute it) and Aminu is a Fulbe. But there is nothing ethnic, regional or religious when people of like-interests relate. It may interest some of you to know that Obasanjo met his late vivacious wife, Stella, when she was a secretary in Aminu’s office in the middle 1970s. That is how close they have been. Obasanjo and Aminu always did, and always will, close ranks politically because they have the same general ideas about how Nigeria should be run.
But given the series of ugly twists that Obasanjo has encountered since he got off the saddle of power, it would seem that my friend’s interpretation of Aminu’s otherwise pep-talking of a politically wounded friend has come to pass. Apart from OBJ’s morbid calculations in pairing late President Umaru Yar’ Adua and Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to succeed him knowing that Umaru was terminally ill, OBJ’s other plans and options to remain politically powerful and relevant have systematically atrophied.
Two weeks after his surrogate in Anambra, Andy Uba, was sworn-in, he was booted out of power by the courts. Months later, the Supreme Court restored the man he unilaterally cut out of the governorship race in Rivers State, Hon. Chibuike Amaechi, to office. All the governors he installed in his native South West were flushed out, while all his candidates for the elections held since he left Aso Villa lost their seats and Obasanjo went back to losing in his polling booth.
He was forced by prevailing circumstances to resign as Chairman, Board of Trustees of the PDP. And now, his nominees in the party’s national ruling organ, the South West caucus and the Ogun State branch, have been relieved of their positions. Obasanjo, who manipulated Jonathan as President of Nigeria also pressured him to run for president in 2011. And now, one of his closest ministers during his imperial rule, Nasir el Rufai, has published a book which discloses that the same Obasanjo was also packaging a presidential ticket of Muhammadu Buhari and OBJ’s estranged former Minister of Finance who was Managing Director of the World Bank, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as running mate. Before el Rufai could make the contacts OBJ requested of him, the Ota fox was already back with Jonathan!
Right now, he is up to the same game. He is said to be packaging a return of the presidency to the North, with Governor Sule Lamido of Jigawa State as presidential candidate and Governor Amechi of Rivers as deputy in 2015. He and his former aides, such as Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode and Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, started a media war against Jonathan’s administration, accusing him of wastefulness, corruption and inept leadership capacity.
But just as the heat rose in the polity, Obasanjo mysteriously appeared at Aso Villa chapel, his controversial pet billionaire, Femi Otedola and daughter, Iyabo in tow. Jonathan even attended the launching of OBJ’s foundation in London recently, only to return and see off OBJ’s people from the PDP! GEJ is beginning to excel in OBJ’s own game of dissemblance. Remember how OBJ attended late ex-Senate President, Dr. Chuba Okadigbo’s housewarming party only to get him removed from power the following day in August 2000.
Gov Lamido should watch it. OBJ will dump him and return to GEJ in the end. Obasanjo will never rest. Why should he? Shakespeare said it all: “The evil that men do lives after them, and the good is often interred with their bones!”