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Of Obasanjo, Jonathan and Nigeria’s democracy

By Anthony Kolawole

Nigeria recently celebrated 20 years of uninterrupted democracy. As usual, it was a time for sober reflections on the journey that started in 1999. Even as we celebrated, we forgot that there were events that led to what we are now celebrating. Some individuals made sacrifices, and some also paid the supreme price with their lives.

Obasanjo, Jonathan
Jonathan, Buhari and Obasanjo

One of such individuals is the late M.K.O Abiola on whose mandate some persons rose to limelight in the democratic dispensation in Nigeria. But guess what? They would never admit this fact because they see themselves as gods who must be worshiped at all times, not minding that the bulk of the challenges we encountered in the past twenty years were caused by the ignorable role they played and have continued to play in the democratic governance in Nigeria.

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I stand to be corrected. Olusegun Obasanjo remains one of Nigeria’ undoing since the advent of democracy in Nigeria. He has constituted the bulk of the anomalies that Nigeria witnessed since we began the journey in 1999. From the fact that he wanted a third term in office after eight years in power to bequeath to the country an arrangement he knew would do the country no progress.

One thing suffices. Olusegun Obasanjo still hasn’t gotten over the fact he is no longer president and courtesy demands that he conducts himself in public with decorum. But his posturing in recent times negates all that is expected of a supposed former president of the federal republic of Nigeria.

This brings me to the recent utterances by Olusegun Obasanjo on the democratic experience in Nigeria. He has done what the rational mind would term unbecoming of a former president. He has constituted himself as the villain of democracy in Nigeria.

As a flashback, when he failed to get his infamous third term bid, he vowed to ensure that Nigeria experiences no meaningful leadership. With great regards to late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, Olusegun Obasanjo knew quite well that Nigeria was at some point going to be faced with a crisis of immeasurable proportion. And he had his way with the unfortunate death of Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. That period saw the emergence of a Goodluck Jonathan.

The irony of it all of that Goodluck Jonathan, who by all indications was not prepared for governance saw himself as president, and as they say, the rest is history.

The eight years of Olusegun Obasanjo and the six years of Goodluck Jonathan were some of the darkest ages in the history of Nigeria. Under Obasanjo, political killings were rife; corruption reigned supreme and political persecution was the order of the day. Under his protégée, Goodluck Jonathan, good governance eluded us.

In the case of Olusegun Obasanjo, I am most disappointed. For the eight years he held sway as president, he refused to acknowledge the fact that the death of his kinsman M.K.O Abiola indeed paved the way for him to emerge as president. He also refused to give credit to the sacrifices of M.K.O Abiola in the journey to democracy in Nigeria.

For Olusegun Obasanjo, it has been a way of life right from the Shehu Shagari era. Wanting to dominate public discourse by peddling negative narratives and inciting the public against the administration of Muhammadu Buhari. But this time around, he has been demystified, and Nigerians know better.

The recent actions by the administration of Muhammadu Buhari towards setting Nigeria on the path of progress are what they cannot come to terms with. And in the attempt to stay relevant in the scheme of affairs in the country, they have taken to irrational behaviours.

It is therefore my considered opinion that Nigerians should continue to disregard the duo and concentrate on the journey ahead of us. Nigeria is bigger than individuals, and that is sacrosanct. I could go on nonstop because I am happy with the giant strides of Muhammadu Buhari since he assumed leadership of this country.

Kolawole PhD a University teacher writes from Keffi.

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