By Dr. Dele Shobowale
“Ingratitude is a crime more despicable than revenge; which is returning evil for evil; while ingratitude returns evil for good.” William George Jordan.
Chief Edwin Clarke and all the elders of the Niger Delta still reeling from the blow delivered by former President Olusegun Obasanjo with regard to ownership of crude oil have my sympathies. If it will help, let me inform them, as evidence will prove, that they are only the latest victims of a serial ingrate. Obasanjo seldom fails to repay evil for the good done for him by others.
He apparently enjoys hurting his benefactors; and is never remorseful when he has savaged them. I must confess that the entire altercation was amusing to me; because, Chief Clarke and the others who have reacted angrily are not aware that what he did is entirely in his character. He has exhibited it right from his early days in public service; again as facts beyond dispute will show. He is most happy when he can get under your skin. Only those of us, at UniJankara, who know OBJ better than most Nigerians, are beyond his reach.
“We must thank God for evil men for all the bad things they could have done but failed to do.”
However, before presenting Obasanjo in slices, it must be stated that the Niger Delta was among the southern zones which created the monster which everybody, particularly his successors in office, wish would just go and rest somewhere. If in the 1999 Presidential Election, all the votes donated to Obasanjo by people in the South-South, Abia and Imo states had gone to Olu Falae, a staunch advocate of true federalism, Baba Iyabo would have been a lonely ex-convict pardoned by General Abdulsalami in 1998. But, the people delivered their votes massively to an unrepentant enemy. They made President Obasanjo possible. Now, he is repaying them in his usual way – with a stab in the back. He is not yet finished with the people. Believe me. That is why this article will end with advice to Niger Deltans. At least now, they know one of their implacable antagonists. They should know how to deal with the man henceforth.
Three case histories
“When an old man dies, you lose a library.” When the old man is a prolific record keeper, a lot of history is stored away somewhere. Documenting Obasanjo’s atrocities was not something I deliberately set out to do. The first entry came by accident. I was in Mopa, Kogi state and paid a courtesy call on late Chief Sunday Awoniyi, who had wanted to succeed late Chief Solomon Lar, the first National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. Shortly after becoming President, Obasanjo embarked on removing Lar, one of the Founding Fathers of PDP – the G-34 Group. Lar must go because OBJ found him to be too independent. Chief Awoniyi showed interest; and most PDP bigwigs were in support. Obasanjo was totally against; but, he did not disclose this to Awoniyi. Why? Because, when the first coup occurred; and even before the counter-coup took place, Obasanjo ran for dear life to Awoniyi’s house, hotly pursued by Northern soldiers bent on killing him because of his close friendship with Major Nzeogwu. Awoniyi, as the Private Secretary to the Sardauna, was very powerful. He took OBJ in and lied to the soldiers that the man was not in his house. Because of his stature in society and the military were not yet in full control, the soldiers did not insist on searching Awoniyi’s house. Late in the night, Obasanjo, properly disguised, was smuggled southwards to safety.
When the opportunity came to repay, Obasanjo backed someone else for Chairman instead of Awoniyi – who saved his life. Awoniyi told me the story himself in Mopa – with tears in his eyes.
Dimka coup was another example of the OBJ character. Murtala Mohammed had been assassinated; Obasanjo escaped death by whiskers. He went into hiding in the house of late Chief S. B. Bakare – a wealthy man. Insider information revealed that OBJ was hidden in the room of one of Bakare’s wives. He took no part in putting down the coup. Afterwards, General Danjuma ordered a search party to find Nigeria’s next Chicken-In-Chief, C-I-C of the Armed Forces. The leader of the search party which brought a reluctant OBJ to be installed as Head of State was one of the officers retired prematurely by Obasanjo. The man told me himself in Akure when we were there to meet late Governor Segun Agagu. He died a broken-hearted person; but, not before telling me that if he had known OBJ well, he and his search party would have shot him for cowardice instead of taking him to Dodan Barracks. They actually thought that Danjuma would retire him and seize power.
Surely, you know Atiku Abubakar, ex-Vice President to Obasanjo. We all know how their cordial relationship ended in deep animosity. What you might not know, however, was how Atiku kept Obasanjo alive until 1998. While he was in prison serving a life sentence for treason, along with his Second in command, late Major General Shehu Yar’Adua, Abacha, who was prevented from executing them on account of media outcry, decided on a final solution. He would still kill all of them.
Abacha’s regime called in its Dr Death (name withheld) and very soon Yar’Adua was mysteriously declared dead after an injection for a mild complaint. Obasanjo was next; Atiku got to know about the cause of Yar’Adua’s death. At great risk to his own life, he sent a warning to OBJ: “Don’t accept injection from Dr Death for anything. Shortly after, Obasanjo took ill; Dr Death showed up with injection to administer. It was Obasanjo shouting “I don’t want injection from you; I don’t want to die like Yar’Adua” that drew the attention of other inmates to what would have happened that day.
After keeping him alive till 1998, Atiku was one of the Northern leaders who financed OBJ’s presidential bid; and who got him elected. The rift between them came when Obasanjo embarked on his Third Term ambition and Atiku decided to vie for the Presidency. The rest you probably know. Atiku became an enemy to be destroyed at all costs. He recruited people like El-Rufai and Fani-Kayode among his Ministers to openly insult Atiku. That was how he repaid someone who kept him alive and bank-rolled his campaign.
I can provide more examples of how ungrateful Obasanjo can be to those who helped him immensely. But, there is no need to list them seriatim. My archives have a few more. The most important thing at this point is to record for posterity, especially the youths of the Niger Delta, how much Obasanjo hates the people for daring to have oil in their territory. He was determined they would get nothing but oil pollution and environmental degradation from it.
The three musketeers – Alamieyeseigha, Ibori and Attah
The blood of martyrs is the seed of the church.
Tertulian, 160-220 AD, VBQ, VBQ p 156.
The oil-producing states enjoy thirteen and a half per cent derivation today – not because President Obasanjo wanted it. On the contrary, he was strongly opposed to it; and he adopted every means at his disposal to ensure that the people of the zone received only one and half per cent derivation with onshore-offshore dichotomy included. That means that, left to OBJ, states like Akwa Ibom and Bayelsa with most of their oil off-shore would have been receiving next to nothing. That was how evil his intentions were.
The three courageous men mentioned above, all former Governors of Bayelsa, Delta and Akwa Ibom took up the challenge of getting the region what it now enjoys. Obasanjo opposed them every step of the way. And, if you want to know why Alammieyesiagha and Ibori, among the class of 1999-2007 Governors were disgraced, believe me, it had nothing to do with corruption. At least one South South state was more corrupt than the two. But, its Governor supported Third Term and did not give a damn about getting a fair deal for the people. Alams and Ibori were punished for joining the arrow-head of RESOURCE CONTROL agitation – Victor Attah in the long struggle for thirteen and a half per cent derivation. All the three governors were under attack from Obasanjo and only Attah escaped prison through Divine intervention. I was a close observer of the battles fought.
However, space being a constraint, I cannot go into details to explain all the evil which OBJ planned for the Niger Delta. Those interested in the full story can request for two books – ATTAH ON RESOURCE CONTROL and ATTAH: IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL. I edited one and wrote the other. Copies of the two books are also available in the libraries of ALL Nigerian universities. Attah paid for them, I got them there. After reading the two books, nobody in his right senses can fail to understand that Obasanjo was lying when he claimed that the Niger Delta is close to his heart. Nothing is close to OBJ’s heart other than his own self-interest.
What the Niger Delta should do about Obasanjo.
“Better a declared enemy than a lukewarm friend.”
Napoleon Bonaparte. VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS, VBQ p 48.
Obasanjo is not even a lukewarm friend. He is an undeclared enemy of all oil producing states – including Oyo and Lagos which are two Yoruba States. And, if his Ogun State should discover oil, I hope he will be principled enough to tell his relatives that the oil belongs to the North. Certainly, another woman activist like Mrs Ransome-Kuti, the Mother of Africa, will rally the women to drive the traitor out of Abeokuta.
That leads to what the people of oil producing states should do if Obasanjo comes to attend a function. They should all vacate the event place — church, conference centre etc – and leave the enemy with his hosts. Treating your enemy with respect amounts to giving him honour to which he is not entitled. In fact, the word should go round the entire region that while Obasanjo is free to go anywhere he wants; he is regarded as an interloper by the people. They should have nothing to do with him, his self-righteousness and his selective war against corruption.
When he left office, government could not account for N8 trillion. That excludes the $13-16 billion his government took for power projects. Nigerians are still waiting for explanations on that. Niger Delta does not need a traitor as a friend. Who does?