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Obasanjo, Jonathan and the futility of power

THE mystery of life is unfathomable. It is endless and beyond comprehension. Man has tried several times, to dig into this mystery through logic, science and theology. Each time man makes a breakthrough, life’s mystery is further compounded.

The wise ones amongst us accept this fact with humility and tend to do the best of their abilities, leaving the rest to a higher authority. Nelson Mandela accepted this fact, when he claimed with humility, that he was human and subject to human mistakes.

In accepting this fact with humility, he became great. He handed over power to a younger Thambo Mbeki without any form of manipulation, leaving South Africa with a genuine structure of democracy, which has seen the further un-sitting of Mbeki.

Clearly, President Jonathan has shown from his performance, that he still has a long way to go. The weight of the position is telling heavily on him and he needs  more skills to meander through the land mines laid out for him.

Whether deliberately or inadvertently, he encouraged and deserves all the accusations levied against him by President Obasanjo and the likes – but, is it a coincidence that the five npdp governors defection, Sanusi’s letter, Tambuwal’s attack and Obasanjo’s ‘ epistle’, are all coming out, at the same time?

Jonathan must clear this mess by addressing all the issues raised by the ex- President. Meanwhile, Nigerians must ponder and ask; who created the foundation, for this rot we are faced with? We forget too easily.

Flash back to Nigeria, during the period of 1999 to 2007. Obasanjo’s PDP was in power. Like Mandela, a lot was expected from Obasanjo, because he has seen it all – from grace to grass, to grace – The Yorubas, his own people, rejected him but the cabal, made up of retired generals and their civilian acolytes used their influence and power to put him in power..

Now the activities of Obasanjo, as civilian president, during the period 1999 to 2007, are already chronicled in history of Nigeria. A lot of good will squandered and missed opportunity to build an enduring structure for democracy.

I read through the open letter Obasanjo addressed to President Jonathan and have found him, guilty of almost- if not all – of the allegations  he has hung on Jonathan. Jonathan is only following in his footsteps.

Have we forgotten so soon how the party machinery was seized from Lar barely a month into Obasanjo’s government and Okadigbo, who was the party’s choice, dumped for old man Enwerem as senate president? Have we forgotten so soon, how many party chairmen the PDP produced under Obasanjo as president and party leader?

Have we forgotten that Atiku’s fall out with Obasanjo was as a result of Obasanjo reneging on agreement not to re-contest election? Have we forgotten the security challenges, of the sharia states that have  metamorphosed  into the present Boko haram? We forget too easily in this country. Have we forgotten NNPC  under Obasanjo and Gaius Obaseki? How is it different from NNPC today?

Have we forgotten how PTDF money was used to buy cars for lady friends? Obasanjo held on to the petroleum ministry for eight years with all the perks and secrecy. What about Halliburton and Siemens? What about Coja and power, that was dispensed to family members and cronies? Have we forgotten the activities of Iyabo Obasanjo? Wonder –  what happened to the case in court – It is endless.

Why should Obasanjo expect Jonathan to perform differently? He has sown the wind, he is now reaping the whirlwind. Jonathan is a product of Obasanjo, the only difference is that Jonathan does not have the character and ruthlessness, to deal with his political foes like Obasanjo – almost everyone that opposed him, never came back.

Definitely there has been a parting of ways between Jonathan and Obasanjo, that is why the pot is calling the kettle black. The new kids on the block have taken over control of the party and government; Obasanjo, had to fight back. Imagine, an Obasanjo, writing two letters to the President and not getting the courtesy of even an acknowledgement – reference Obasanjo’s open letter to Jonathan.

This is a big lesson for all those in authority; power is transient, do not build institutions around yourself, it won’t last. Build enduring structures of transparency, good government and democracy. Obasanjo failed to set basic standards of ethics and integrity, we are seeing the result in Jonathan’s government.

It is a good thing for Nigeria, it is a lesson for those in power and those looking forward to joining them.


Mr.  Sunny Ikhioya, a commentator on national issues, wrote from Lagos.


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