Former President Olusegun Obasanjo is neither a stranger to letter-writing nor is he a newcomer to controversies. Since he first came to power in 1976 following the assassination of his boss, General Murtala Mohammed, General Obasanjo has bestridden our political firmament; some say like a colossus, while others say like a “monitoring spirit”.
Only two former Heads of State have been spared his usually provocatively critical open letters: General Abdulsalami Abubakar (who released Obasanjo from prison, pardoned him and conducted the swift transition programme that produced him as an elected President in 1999), and of course, Obasanjo himself.
All other serving and former Heads of State and Presidents were given a taste of his harsh, critical letters. This is why some Nigerians believe Obasanjo writes to denigrate his successors to make his own stewardship look impeccable. They also accuse him of always seeking to impose himself on serving Presidents, failing which he takes them on publicly. To these, Obasanjo has always maintained that he writes to show his love for Nigeria and his readiness to risk everything to preserve its unity.
It was not surprising that he penned his latest brusque criticism of President Muhammadu Buhari titled: “Points of Concern and Action” over the past weekend. It was the much-awaited second letter he promised to write after the first open statement in April 2018 urging Buhari not to run for a second term due to alleged failure.
Having run the affairs of this country twice, there is enough on record to judge Chief Obasanjo’s track records against his critical letters to his successors. Those who complain that Obasanjo’s accusations of impunity, compromised elections, corruption, selective anti-graft war and others amounts to the pot calling the kettle black, may have their points.
Ironically, those who derived great pleasure when Obasanjo attacked the opponent of their candidate in 2015 are now his loudest critics. But this will not invalidate the salient issues of urgent national importance he raised, particularly the need to have a free, fair, credible and acceptable general elections in 2019. We throw our full weight behind this call.
It is unfortunate that the composition of the Board of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, by the President when he assumed power in 2015 and several acts of commission and omission in the past 40 months have intensified the perception that the impending elections might already have been compromised. It is a bounden duty on President Buhari and the INEC to prove Obasanjo and other worried Nigerians wrong by ensuring that the people’s mandates will not be stolen.
We must all collectively focus our efforts towards a credible election because anything short of it could trigger unimaginable consequences for the peace, unity and stability of the country.