by Hannatu Musawa
I would like to take this oppertunity to thank former President Olusegun Obasanjo who, of recent, published a three-volume autobiography titled ‘My Watch,’ which contains several national issues from past to present and chronicling his life from birth till date. While I haven’t had the inordinate pleasure of reading this apparent masterpiece, from excerpts, I understand in this autobiography, President Obasanjo made earthshattering statements in regards to a number of public personalities. They included the current President, his numerous aides, former President Umaru Yar’Adua, former Vice President Abubakar Atiku, Senator Bukola Saraki, among some of his other political Frenemies.
Now I have to say, I don’t know the former president, I’ve never met him but I did catch glimpses of him twice at two public gatherings. And as a consistent and active member of the opposition since 2002, I have never been on the right side of Obasanjo’s tantrums and his decisions have put me and other members of the opposition in situations where we have had difficult, challenging and uphill struggles. So whatever judgment I have made of him has been one that was formed from the ‘other side of the fence’ and from afar, thus might not entirely be an accurate assessment of him. Nonetheless I will say, as a patriotic Nigerian well into her prime, I have always had a distant ‘like-dislike’ relationship with the former president. A like relationship because up until 2003, I have revered him as a father figure and a leader and admired the courageous sacrifices he made for the nation in the past. And a dislike relationship because from 2003, I have detested a lot of the decisions he made on my behalf, in my capacity as a Nigerian and the direction he choose to eventually steer our very delicate federation to. In my overall assessment of him, I regard President Obasanjo as the Quintessential-Nigerian-Enigma; he represents the very best of Nigeria, yet he also represents the very worst of it.
Even without knowing the internal intrigues and wrangling that went on during the Obasanjo regime and even without fully reading ‘My Watch,’ from the few excerpts already released, such as the statement allegedly made by the former president purporting that he was never interested in pursuing a third term while in office, I felt a burning and innate need to thank President Obasanjo on giving us a ‘perfect example’ of how ‘not’ to write an autobiography which is meant to be an accurate reflection of a legacy of, not just one man, but 170 million people.
I would like to thank the former President for being the perfect example for our younger generation of how not to try and tell a story from the fallacies of Mr-Victim-Of-The-Year but instead tell it from the objective reality of what really went down in the corridor of power. As long as we yearn for the progress and advancement of everyone in this country, then the ‘Oh Woe Is Me…” bellow exhibited by Mr Obasanjo in this autobiography and his hoopla over some of his more undesirable policies should be taken as an exercise in imprudence.
To be honest, it is an insult to the intelligence of every right thinking person and shocking that President Obasanjo would try and blame his infamous third-term-agenda in the twilight of his presidency on what he termed, Selfish PDP Governors. “Ummm…, are you serious Mr President?” Was Mr Obasanjo really trying to tell the world that the venal third-term agenda to extend his tenure in office was masterminded and stuffed down his throat by selfish PDP governors who were ‘so desperate’ for him to remain in office and he had absolutely nothing to do with it? Now, if we didn’t know any better, we could be mistaken in thinking that President Obasanjo was trying to tell us how innocent he was in the third term matter in this autobiography of his. “No, I don’t think so Mr President… I don’t think any Nigerian recalls you carrying any cross in exchange for anyone’s sins during that period!” President Obasanjo can try to absolve himself all he likes of the third term agenda till every single one of the cows come home but hardly anyone is likely to believe him.
For all this and so much more, I really do have to continue thanking President Olusegun Obasanjo. Without a doubt, while it has not been a total disaster and this country had recorded a great amount of development and victories under his stewardship, we have also witnessed colossal under-development, endured torment owing to nothing but corrupt and bad leadership. Nigerians of all faiths, ethnicities, regions, zones and political inclinations have suffered equally. Instead of offering Nigerians an apology for taking away our right to decide our future and choosing our leaders, President Obasanjo sits in his comfortable, air-conditioned and well furnished ivory tower up in the Otta Hills, typing a self-indulgent autobiography and totally insulting a people, starving and sweltering under the scorching sun; a people who were rendered helpless by him. Instead of rising up to encourage those same long suffering people and offering us gratitude for our service to him, President Obasanjo actually expects Nigerians to sympathize with his travails! “Eeerrr… You are kidding me right, Sir?”
In case it was ever lost on our dear former president, while him and his happy-go-lucky group of Umpa-Lumpas and Machiavellian-Midgets tried to perfect his third term agenda, it was a fight for the life of Nigeria for those of us in the Labor and Student Unions, those in the National Assembly and those in the media. For weeks, our students, our civil groups stood against it, the members of the National Assembly resisted it and for months those of us in the media wrote consistently against it. Back then; there was a period when, week after week, the only topic I personally wrote as my op-ed was the ‘third term agenda’ up until a point when I almost became exhausted. I know this was the same for many of my colleagues, many journalists and columnists.
Thank you, President Obasanjo for illustrating so perfectly for many ambitious Nigerians how wrong things go when a leadership participates in forcing and foisting a reckless and tactless personal agenda to control the destiny of 170 million people. Back in 2006, when ‘his’ bid for a third term failed so woefully, he took it upon himself to decide who he should hoist upon the mantle of leadership. When it was decided by the misplaced and insulated arrangement of the ruling party that the presidency would be zoned to the North and the vice presidency would be zoned to the South-South, President Obasanjo so valiantly decided to make the choice for Nigerians himself. Across the length and breath of Nigeria, he gallantly passed fitting and great Northerners such as Bashir Tofa, Abubakar Rimi, Sunday Awoniyi, Hakeem Baba Ahmed, Ibrahim Shekarau, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, Mahe Rashid, Ghali Na Abba, Nuhu Ribadu, David Mark, Sanusi Lamido, George Akume, Muntari Shagari, Ahmed Muazu, Abdullahi Adamu, Audu Ogbe, Sule Hamman, Bashir Yusuf, Nasir El-Rufai and so many others and zeroed in on Late Umaru Musa Yaradu’a (a good and great but sickly man). Then in the South-South, he sifted and shuffled the deck and leap-frogged over Donald Duke, Tonye Princewill, Celestine Omehia, Adams Osiomole, Rotimi Amaechi, Nnduka Obaigbena, Precious Sekibo, Goodswill Akpabio, Henry Ajimogbia, Lee Maeba, Liyel Imoke, Reynolds Bekinbo Dagogo-Jack, Mike Adenuga, Joy Yuwika, Ken Wiwa, Peter Odili and so many others and allegedly selected a quiet and unassuming Mr Goodluck Jonathan.
This was a decision that he, together with the Umpa-Lumpas and Machiavellian-Midgets that surrounded him back then took. When he converged and presented the duo of late President Umaru Yaradua and President Goodluck Jonathan to the ruling party, few of the party members all over the country made an input. How can anyone forget the surprise and confusion that met the announcement of Umaru Musa Yaradu’a and Goodluck Jonathan as the President’s choice to be the PDP flag bearers? “But hey…, that’s what Bubba wanted and that’s what Bubba got!” The former president chose for about 170-million Nigerians. He went ahead to deliberately impose the Yaradu’a candidacy on Nigerians, evident in the highly controversial 2007 general elections which saw the emergence of Yaradu’a as President, viewed by local and foreign observers as the worst elections they had ever seen anywhere in the world, with rampant vote rigging, violence, theft of ballot boxes and intimidation. The Late Yaradu’a on assumption of office also acknowledged this.
Now in his book, President Obasanjo moans about how late President Yaradu’a deceived him about the gravity of his illness and how he was given the impression that Late Yaradu’a had overcome his health challenges. Ideally, Mr Obasanjo does not have anymoral right to play the victim here and accuse the late president of deceiving him. As far as this deception that President Obasanjo speaks of goes, correct me if I’m wrong, but I could have sworn it was a well known fact that late President Yaradu’a was regularly ill even while he was the governor of Katsina State. In fact, if memory serves me well, was there not an incident during the 2007 presidential campaign when President Obasanjo had to address a rumor that late Yaradu’a had died by calling him on the phone to ask, “Uoommarrrooo, are you dead?” To which the then presidential candidate replied, ‘No Sir, I am not.” I mean, what information exactly did President Obasanjo expect late President Yaradu’a to give him? An X-Ray of his Pancreas… or maybe a printout of the number of T-Cells in his blood? “Common now, President Obasanjo, you do not have to be a genius who solves Simultaneous-Partial-Differential-Equations and speaks 17 languages to know that if, in the middle of a presidential campaign, you are forced to call the often sickly presidential candidate to ask if he is still alive, the likelihood is that, he is probably a person dealing with a serious illness!”
No! President Obasanjo does not have any moral right to cry foul when he, as the C-in-C, failed to oversee a free, fair and credible election, which brought the ailing president into office! It is simply ridiculous for President Obasanjo to cry over the tank of spoiled milk that he purposely and singlehandedly spilt. It is an insult to the intelligence of Nigerians for him to try and absolve himself of responsibility in the tragic events that led to Nigeria loosing a sitting President yet again. President Obasanjo needs to take ownership of the fact that he was not only instrumental to late President Yaradua’s ascension to the presidency but he was careless in not doing his due-diligence as far as the candidate that he chose to impose to rule over 170 million people was, at the very least, of good health.
However, even if Late President Yaradu’a was healthy, President Obasanjo needs to understand that he had absolutely no right to single-handedly choose for
the most populous nation in Africa who their President and Vice President should be. It was not his decision to make!
Thank you, President Obasanjo, for giving our discerning and perfectly great Nigerian populace a shufti of appreciation into how much they could lose if they allow someone else to make their decisions for them. When he thrust on us his personal and selfish choice to lord over the affairs of Nigerians, he executed the greatest injustice to this nation as evidenced by his own words… in his own book.
Cry out as he may, I just want to remind President Obasanjo, in case he forgot, that he was also responsible for bringing Goodluck Jonathan onto the national scene. (I would also want to ‘immaturely’ rub this fact in a little.) The death of President Yaradu’a in 2010 (Obasanjo’s anointed candidate), paved the way for current President Goodluck Jonathan to become acting president and now president. Ultimately, the former president cannot extricate himself from the responsibility of inadvertently sponsoring President Jonathan’s rise to political prominence and the Presidency. Maybe he should make his complaint of President Jonathan and warning of the danger of having Mr Goodluck rule over Nigeria to the offspring of the bellboy!
Mr Obasanjo must not have a very high opinion of Nigerians. He must think that not very many cells in our brains actually function. As far as we know, the President Jonathan Mr Obasanjo is complaining about is the same Goodluck Jonathan that was chosen by President Obasanjo. As far as we know, Goodluck Jonathan did not have a body transfer and it’s the same animate-being that was supported by Olusegun Obasanjo in 2007. So, as far as most Nigerians are concerned, nothing much has changed. The fact that President Obasanjo likely had a falling out with President Jonathan is neither here nor there and of no concern to us, if that is what happened.
He supported our present President; He empowered him, pleasured him and watched his aides, as President Obasanjo claims, bleed this country dry. President Obasanjo complains that Goodluck Jonathan’s companions taunt the rest of Nigeria, ridicule every region, exploit the whole nation, splinter accord and abuse liberty. But when a particular Repugnant-Blubbering-Babylon-Beast and some other unscrupulous characters issued threats and viciously castigated anything and everything that does not emanate from the ‘Our Oil…Our Oil region,’ President Obasanjo was as quiet as a Church-Gerbil, he never cried out in support of the rest of country. He didn’t split hairs about the insolence of those few towards everything that represents the greatness of this nation, with all its character, diversity and glory. Now after the damage has been done, he emerges from the negative energy he once hid behind to preach to the nation on what we should take as the hub of our unity, of our salvation? Mr Obasanjo’s agitations must not be misconstrued as representing his genuine hopes for this country but as a thorn he created and nurtured and which no longer serves his purpose. His grievances must not be accepted by virtue of the fact that it is a glitch with a potential of becoming an even spikier thorn for Nigeria as a nation.
I thank President Obasanjo for reminding the voting public to open up a dialog that must address the disgraceful derision of our pseudo-democracy, a dialog that must attend to the failure and malfunction of our social structure. A dialog that has to query a man like President Obasanjo, who continued to hide behind the make believe notion that Nigeria had been operating a democracy, not because he honestly believed it but because the denial of his own carnage in the past elections demanded that he continued with this game of pretend democracy. A pretend democracy that has now boomeranged back in his face and forces him to confront his wrongdoing and irritation that men who directly benefited from his choice no longer jive to his waned tune.
Without a doubt, Mr Obasanjo’s public accusations portend a presumption that he feels slighted that those he hoisted onto power are not giving him the due respect and duty required in a master-servant relationship. But what on this earth would make him think that those he might have given a heave-ho into Aso Villa would respond to him any differently than the way he responded to the ‘Men-In’Grey-Suits’ that gave him a heave-ho into the same Villa back in 1998? For long, it has been speculated that the meteoric rise of President Obasanjo from an Adamawa jail cell during the tenure of late President Abacha into the Glass House of Asso Rock in 1999 was engineered by a Collective who know all too well the motions that President Obasanjo is presently going through because they had the exact same experience with Mr Obasanjo when he turned his back on them and their alleged Northern-Agenda.
I want to thank President Obasanjo profusely for showing us the importance of prohibiting the overlap of national and personal affairs. Should the Grapevine be given a platform, the former President is not altogether devoid of a personal portfolio, which, at times, boasts of salacious tales of depravity. Now, in the autobiography, ‘My Watch,’ President Obasanjo scandalously and disappointedly exposes, that the reprehensible pursuit of ungodly undertakings with Floosies, Jezebels and Hussies was a main feature in the body politic of Nigeria during President Yaradua’s tenure. One shudders to think which is worse; that President Obasanjo felt comfortable enough to impetuously blab sordid and unsavory tattletales of those once in power or the assumption that significant decisions and policies actually yielded to the consequence of the sinful temptations of a few philandering lot.
Please excuse me, while I step out of character for a second to ‘Genuinely’ thank President Obasanjo for being one of the only leaders that have made a real effort to try and arbitrate in the growing insurgency in the North East. In 2011, before the world realized that the Islamic insurgents were an evil and unreasonable bunch of barbaric, mass murdering lunatics, President Olusegun Obasanjo made a brave effort to try and negotiate for peace when he travelled to Maiduguri to visit the family of the founder of the Boko Haram sect, Mohammed Yusuf. Unfortunately his effort did not breed success, as the insurgents responded by murdering Babakura Fugu, the brother-in-law of Yusuf Mohammed that President Obasanjo had visited. It is examples such as this that show glimpses of Matthew Okikiolakan Aremu Olusegun Obasanjo, the Nigerian Hero who was always ready to give his life for his nation as opposed to the dribbler that ‘My Watch’ reveals.
That being said, as far as the up rise of the insurgency goes, President Obasanjo remains culpable in contributing to the chain of events that have led to the crippling situation Islamic Extremism has bought us to. When, in 1999, Obasanjo failed to intervene when Religio-Political prevaricators & bilkers introduced a Sharia that was for political and not genuine purposes, he opened the gate to the slope that has invariably led to the institutionalized extremism we are presently facing. When, under his ‘Watch,’ the security failed to identify the threat of a rising Islamic radical group founded back in 2002 despite the warnings issued by and assassination of Sheikh Ja’afar Mahmud Adam, President Obasanjo allowed a manageable group of impoverished radicals to morph into the gargantuan centrifugal force it is today. But, perhaps, in the greatest transgression of all, when General Obasanjo used his Military prowess to suffocate, shuffle and retire some of the best of our armed forces, possibly out of fear of a coup d’état, he contributed to reducing a large portion of our renowned militia to a group of squaddies unable to confront the insurgents, petrified to venture deep into Sambisa Forrest!
Thank you, President Obasanjo, for being the ideal example of how malevolence, selfishness, greed, deception, manipulation, and viciousness can hide behind the cloak of leadership and look and sound a lot like a unit we should respect and trust. Thank you, Sir, for being a great example that a person in power can make statements that render a whole collective misunderstood. While he purports to speak on behalf of Nigeria, he renders the whole nation and the decisions he made an object of odium. As a Nigerian, I hear President Obasanjo speaking out for our rights and our best interest but it just sounds like vacant, monotonous rhetoric to me. It sounds disingenuous, almost wounding, because as a Nigerian, the last 14 years have left me feeling angered and cheated. For 14 years, I have tried to express my views, tried to exercise my rights as a Nigerian through the polls, but for 14 years I feel like I have been denied…under ‘The Watch’ of President Obasanjo. It is gravely unfair for President Obasanjo to speak about how he feels he was mislead in the backdrop of many Nigerians who also feel that they were mislead by him.
Thank you President Obasanjo for being an example of egoism, his choices and inability to empathize with the true plight of the ordinary Nigerian. The selfish choice of President Obasanjo serves as a true perversion of the democratic principle that has given our future leaders all the tools they require to evaluate their actions and the long-term effect of those actions. When in the last two elections, he endorsed what he now describes as a deceitful team; he failed to stand up for the right of the ordinary Nigerian. His moans and wails of how much he was wronged in this autobiography is certainly not one that I, as a Nigerian, am willing to give my sympathy to. I don’t believe I will be pulling out a violin for President Obasanjo anytime soon.
Finally, President Obasanjo, I ‘don’t’ thank you because you have left rather cheeky, insolent and vociferous children and citizens like myself no choice but to be uncharacteristically discourteous towards you, instead of defending your dignity, honor and position as a Nigerian father and leader the way President Shagari, President Babangida, President Shonekan, President Abdulsalam, Chief Ekweme and General T.Y Danjuma have so graciously done.
Pardon me for a minute folks while I try to take ‘my tongue out of my cheek’ so I can say that, as a democrat, an activist, a proud Nigerian, a believer in humanity and most importantly as a human being, I really would like to thank President Olusegun Obasanjo for ‘absolutely nothing’ and plead with him to think back in earnest about everything that happened, all the choices he made during ‘His Watch’ and Tap-Out of the self pity. While he is one of the few people that have truly served and given benefit to Nigeria… He is also one of the few people that Nigeria has served and benefited!
I don’t personally know President Obasanjo but I have always had a distant ‘Like-Dislike’ relationship with him. I like that he is my father, my leader and a man that has given Nigeria a history to be proud of. But I dislike that he, as my father and leader has participated to create a present that I am, at best, a little ashamed of.
“Thank you very much President Obasanjo. Now, pardon me but with all due respect Sir, as far as ‘Your Watch’ goes, Imma need you to TAKE RESPONSIBILITY OR… TAKE A SEAT!”