By Dele Sobowale
“It is difficult to see how an arrogant, authoritarian, self-admiring egomaniac can be an effective leader.”
A good leader must first and foremost be human. Atiku is; Obasanjo is not. If Obasanjo and I arrive in Heaven, or Hell, (most likely the latter), I will certainly go in empty-handed. Baba Iyabo will go in with an Open Letter to God or Satan telling them they are not running their kingdoms properly and he would not support them henceforth!!! Don’t believe me. But ask anybody who has dealt with the two men and they will tell you that for having the human touch, the difference between Atiku and OBJ is like the one between light and darkness.
Thus when OBJ declared that he would not support Atiku because God would not forgive him if he did, I knew he was talking to the Devil. God, sent his Son to teach us the lesson of forgiveness and anybody claiming to be a Christian who openly admits he bears grudges for life is inhuman. He also mentioned that he and Atiku exchange gifts on special occasions. My advice to Atiku is to stop exchanging presents with someone who is permanently malevolent. If it is food, give to a stray dog and see what happens. If OBJ invites me to lunch, I will forgive him and go – armed with a spoon ten feet long.
One of my current problems was caused by OBJ. Sick and tired of the APC and PDP, I was casting my mind towards a new political association – one that could make a break with our sordid past and disgraceful present. I was elated when people like Moghalu, Agbakoba announced their plans to register a political party and that might have tempted me to join a political party for the first time in my life. But, the mere mention of Obasanjo being associated with it was enough for me to write it off. Permit me to explain.
“Nor should we listen to those who say ‘the voice of the people is the voice of God’; for the turbulence of the mob is always close to insanity.” Alcuin, 735-804.
Obasanjo created the template for just about everything evil in the Fourth Republic. Sprung loose from jail in 1998, the man was as poor as an Ibogun (that’s his home town) rat. Abacha had seen to it that his businesses were technically insolvent. Yet, on one fateful day in 1998, the man embarked Nigeria on a journey of political corruption which has not been terminated. Follow me down memory lane.
On September 9, 1998, Obasanjo who was released from prison by General Abdulsalami Abubakar because four Generals – Babangida, Gusau, Danjuma and Abubakar – had decided that the military would not hand over to a pure civilian in 1999, had this to say on the BBC Hausa Service. “If it is the wish of the Nigerian people that I contest, so it will be. The voice of the people is the voice of God.” Nigerian people never asked Obasanjo to contest in 1998. The “Gang of Four” generals promoted him. He went further to say that “I should serve the nation in the capacity of president in a truly democratic setting.” That was the man who later allowed the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Nuhu Ribadu, to sack the Plateau State House of Assembly leaving only six co-violators of the constitution to impeach the eighteen who refused to co-operate and then to impeach Governor Dariye. More on that later.
On November 4, 1998, when declaring for the presidential race, he even said the opposite of what was obvious, that “I do not see myself as the anointed nominee of any particular group or individuals” The generals must have smiled to themselves. They knew the truth even if Obasanjo chose not to say it.
A week after that false statement, Obasanjo was in his true element again. Precisely, on Wednesday, November 11, 1998, “at the PDP party’s meeting for aspirants, the former Head of State, released from prison five months before and with all his businesses paralysed, raised N130million.” (PDP: CORRUPTION INCORPORATED p 63). Later, he added another N90 million to take the total to N220 million. Asked by reporters whose money it was, the future civilian President of Nigeria answered that “the money was donated by wholesome Nigerians.” That reply was also untrue. Here is why.
He actually had no idea where the money came from; whether it was donated by armed robbers, pen robbers, money launderers or whatnot. Later, in the same book, Danjuma in an interview disclosed who and how OBJ’s campaign was financed. But, that was not before Danjuma revealed another one of Obasanjo’s traits – ingratitude. According to Danjuma, “Aremu never even said “Thank You.”
The PDP should have rejected the money. I expected them to call the police to have the man known to be almost destitute disclose how he found such a colossal amount in those days. They didn’t. On two occasions after that in my encounters with late Dr Alex Ekwueme, leader of the G-34, the founding fathers of PDP, I reminded him of my prediction that the PDP will be snatched from its original owners and be ruined by Obasanjo. The militarization of the upper echelon of the PDP by 2007 – OBJ, Bode George, Col Ali (of “Ali Must Go” atrocity – proved how prophetic my observations about OBJ in 1998 was. Collectively, the military men brought in their “command and obey” tradition and discarded the promise in September 1998 to rule in a democratic setting.
More evil deeds followed with bewildering rapidity. OBJ created the precedent for anticipatory expenditure – which was unconstitutional; he invaded the National Assembly and had Senate Presidents removed at will; he allowed Nuhu Ribadu, to perpetrate the atrocity of closing the Plateau State House of Assembly until six out of twenty four members were willing to support the treason; he repeated the same disgraceful act in Oyo State when 14 outvoted 18 to remove Governor Ladoja and he authorized the mass slaughter of innocent Nigerians in Odi and Zakim Biam.
We should not forget his other crimes. He stood solidly against thirteen per cent derivation without onshore/offshore dichotomy for the oil producing states. Left to him they should still be receiving one per cent now with dichotomy thrown in. But, he dipped his hands into the Petroleum Development Trust Fund, PDTF, liberally. Still he was not done with us.
His final assault on our dear fatherland was his imposition of a terminally ill Yar’Adua as his successor (so much for democratic principles). OBJ knew the man could not last the distance. He installed him all the same. For his Vice President, he selected GEJ who lacked executive level experience and he waited to be rewarded for his perfidy.
Well, cunning men propose; God disposes. He never got what he wanted; so they had to go and we are now where we are – in the deadly arms of herdsmen.
“If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. That is the principal difference between a dog and a man.”
Mark Twain, 1835-1910 (BOOK OF QUOTES, p 42).
Obasanjo has bitten virtually all the hands that fed him – including those who saved his life. Let me quickly list without elaboration. They include Sunday Awoniyi, Chief S.B Bakare and Alhaji Abubakar Atiku (who saved him from death by injection when in prison).
Very quickly, let me answer the question uppermost in your mind. Why preference for Atiku? The short answer is courage. Three Nigerian politicians are dear to my heart – Attah, Tinubu and Atiku. They were the only three politicians in the class of 1999 to 2007 who stood up to the self-righteous Obasanjo. I just love them.
NEITHER APC NOR PDP APPARENTLY
“Nigerians will have to decide who has the biggest number of minuses.”
Alhaji Shekarau, PDP in an AIT early morning interview in August.
Shekarau, ex-this, ex-that, who just decamped to the PDP from APC was asked why Nigerians should vote for the PDP given the record of atrocities they committed individually and collectively and the fact that the same people are regrouping. That was his reply. A more depressing reason for asking voters to switch to your party would be hard to imagine.
But, on second thoughts, I think the man has done us a favour. He told us the truth. It’s a matter of which devils we want to live with.