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Obasanjo and his moral wagon by Shamsideen Olasanya


The discerning mind will definitely recognized the power tussle between Governor Ahmad Bola Tinubu of Lagos State and President Olusegun Obasanjo in the build up to the just concluded election with respect to establishing their individual firm grip on Lagos and south west by extension. Little wonders the hoopla, histrionic and palpable tension that heralded the election. A keen political watcher would readily agree that the south west election with its theatrical melodramatic klieg light beamed on Lagos state transcends this present political dispensation. It was a decisive battle of the titans where deluge of political undercurrents played a dominant role and ultimately Ahmed bola Tinubu trounced Olusegun Obasanjo to consolidate and confirmed his strong hold on Lagos politics. Yoruba mythology believes so much in the fortunes of birth name. Both Tinubu and Obasanjo have names attributable to victory. Ahmad is the abbreviated name of prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) the great prophet of Islam who overtly and covertly fought and won many battles in his momentous history while Olusegun simply means triumph over tribulations but, Tinubu`s overwhelming victory overshadows Obasanjo victory, the gods must have favored Tinubu more than Obasanjo. It is by no means a trivial achievement that PDP´s tendentious incursion into south west politics with Obasanjo as the arrow head was duly and firmly checkmated with the gusto of finality by Governor Ahmad Bola Tinubu, if we are to take into cognizance what happened in the second republic. Chief Obafemi Awolowo also contended with these power usurpers but their manipulative skills and their willing cum cooperative fellow Yoruba acolytes truncated the collective mandate of the people. Not even quintessential chief Bola Ige and Chief Michael Adekunle Ajasin were able to withstand the rampaging National party of Nigeria’s fraudulent manipulation of the phase two of the second republic election such that the old Oyo and Ondo state were snatched from them respectively and the cataclysmic conflagrations that ensued is left for historians to review. That, Action congress affirms their rightful control in Lagos state is unique in many ways albeit the only state to win. It is one rare sweet victory that worries Obasanjo and ultimately rubbished the stage managed landslide victory in the last election. The fact that Lagos election was free and fair and considerably peaceful despite all odds should be viewed as the recipe that galvanized and stabilized the fragile peace, in the country. However the graveyard cum hollow peace may probably cave in as the new civilian regime will unavoidably grapple with plethora of crisis bothering on legitimacy.

A hard look at Obasanjo reveals a personality that has this crass craving for coveted power but pitiably lacks the requisite to exploit and explore it judiciously. He is affected with the paranoia of egocentrism, bellicosity, with a high handedness of compelling and with a crushing fist nay unforgiving penchant spirit when his path is crossed. He relished criticizing but loathes criticism. History is replete with proper situation and location of these ill tendencies of Obasanjo. At the peak of June 12 crisis Nigerians were utterly embarrassed with his statement that Abiola was not the messiah Nigerians needed.

This was a statement coming from a man that was rising to the echelon of statesman like Nelson Mandela of South Africa. His affirmative outright condemnation of the annulled June 12 saga would have added meaningful pressure on the despotic regime of Ibrahim Babangida, but his intolerant base motive of rubbishing Abiola gargantuan profile in the wake of June 12 saga and the personal difference he had with the late business mogul gave way to that unfortunate vituperation. He found it hard to swallow the emerging reality of Abiola as the president, a fellow Yoruba man from the same south west and pitiably enough a fellow egba man like him. Even posthumously, one will wonder less, his continuous vaunting disposition to disregard Abiolas immense contribution to the renaissance of democracy in Nigeria. He may never have achieved this record breaking enviable feat of second coming if not for instance of history. His two time ruling was by sheer circumstances of political upheaval in the country. So many other notable Yoruba men received impervious and contemptuous treatment from him including Nobel laureate professor Wole Soyinka who keeps him at arms length. It is these arrays of blemish character well known to Nigerians that will continue to downsize his political fortunes especially in his native enclave because where people are not ready to be Manipulated and treated shabbily. He can be a monarch, an overlord, in PDP, after his exit as all structures to achieve that has been perfected. Good luck to his rudderless PDP if they allow that. But here in the south west he has been put finally to where he belongs. Not even his campaign of calumny in Lagos in the count down to the election to boost the chances of his hard sell candidate Musiliu Obanikoro was able to sway Lagosian. On the contrary it further fuelled the animosity Lagosians have for him. Not with the stubbornness with which he held on to the statutory allocation of Lagos state fund despite court ruling. So many premeditated hardships were inflicted on Lagosians simply because Tinubus government is not under his “protectorate”. Lagosian still remember with bitterness the havoc wreck on them through the parallel monster called FERMA foisted on them to terrorize and destabilize the government and citizens of Lagos state under the watchful eyes of Obasanjo. This is a recurrent perfidy of history in Nigeria’s political firmament which politicians continue to relive. In addition, so much violence, arm twisting, intimidation, blackmailing, federal might, hooliganism, reckless statements were hauled at the opposition parties almost incapacitating them and yet Obasanjo want to lead us by the nose. Few days to the election notable party stalwart in AC were rounded up and kept in detention to ex communicate them from their teeming grass root supporters under the guise of arresting hoodlums. Tinubu himself was stripped of his security details apparently to unsettle him while Bode George a south west leader of PDP, a non government official was gallivanting Lagos Street with sufficient policemen. No right thinking man except his acolytes and sycophants will want to be associated with this kind of sheer brutality and brazen disregard for human feelings with their attendant variant of skullduggery. No doubt the infamous “do or die” trite took its heavy toll on the electoral process.


Obasanjo in his known political posturing has never appreciated or accepted the political doctrines of Chief Obafemi Awolowo but now want to be relevant to Yoruba politics. From benefit of insight the real intent of January 1966 first military interregnum was that the junta had actually planned to release Awolowo from calabar prison and hand over to him as the leader but Obasanjo cleverly and intentionally omitted that fact from his book for obvious concomitant reason of monumental, additional, relevance and greatness it will bring to Awolowo. Nevertheless his attempt to obliterate the salient fact will never underestimate the true worth of indefatigable personality of Awolowo who was a true mercurial leader who never loose sight of his tribal heritage and at the same time work assiduously for a better Nigeria. Obasanjo

has fallen from the Olympian height of an elder statesman; he failed to draw the line between party politics and the act of governance. That a particular individual or state(s) does not belong to his party does not literarily translate to hatred and anti government stance and out right brutal force. So many developmental projects were stalled or frustrated by PDP led federal government with the concomitant effect of impoverishing the masses. It is germane to point out that capturing of states syndrome by Obasanjo and his party mercenaries is reminiscence of what European nations did to Africa between 1884and 1898 when they scramble for and partitioned Africa. It was not only Lagos under Tinubu of Action congress that fell under Obasanjos preferred “colonies” the onslaught of PDP was also checkmated by Orji Uzor Kalu of Abia state under Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA) and Ibrahim Shekarau of Kano State under All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP). Machiavelli must have Obasanjo and his cohort in mind when he postulated that ”Showing or having no scruples in gaining what is wanted and putting expediency above political morality and the use of deceit in statecraft was a way of life. Therefore the end justifies the means” Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527)

Fall out of this charade is that people are more cynical, suspicious, helpless, hopeless, pained, disillusioned, disoriented, rebellious, uncooperative, indisciplined, in their outlook and appraisal of the Nigerian government, personified in Obasanjos regime. Anomie is now entrenched more than ever before with askance rationalization of government policies. More entrenched, is might is right syndrome. Ibrahim Babaginda liberalized corruption with flagrant impunity became the order of the day and the enduring legacy of his regime which has permeated overwhelmingly in our way of life. In the same unfortunate vein Obasanjos fiefdom ruling, glamorized and perfected rigging of election to an unprecedented height such that this could be his legacy in his eight years of ruling. One would not be surprise if this anti social ethos begins to be the order of the day in the next political dispensation such that elections into elective post in clubs organizations, professional bodies, institutions, etc would not be fraught with various forms of anomalies such as violence, armtwisting,power of incumbency intimidation, hooliganism etc. Obasanjo must be ready to admit and live with all these wagon of malfeasance after his exit. It is sad and shameful that Obasanjo is part of those ruling class that confirms the truism of Awolowos prophecy that our generation may never witnessed real democracy. This moral burden of living with these inglorious misdeeds among Nigerians and with much heavy heart among his south west people was further accentuated by The new York times editorial of April 25 which states” Most of the blame for this disgrace goes to Nigeria's outgoing president, Olusegun Obasanjo, who tried to amend the Constitution to be able to run for a third term and has since been willing to manipulate Nigeria's fragile democracy to keep his party in power. What makes it all the more poignant is that Nigerians - and much of the world - once admired Mr. Obasanjo precisely because he knew how to exit from power wisely and gracefully, becoming the first of Nigeria's military rulers to organize an admirably democratic civilian succession”.

I think no Nigerian leader have ever exited neatly from the rein of office. In retrospect, it is this same Obasanjo that came close to breaking the record and indeed would have left pioneering cum enviable record engraved in the hall of fame, if this deeply flawed election was successful. Alhaji shehu shagari could not achieve this transition of power

because of military coup which eclipsed the second republic ditto for the first republic. All other Governments are military governments succeeding one another either in a bloody or bloodless coup. Perhaps Obasanjo is more concerned with handing over his reformist initiatives to his anointed at the expense of impugning or casting a slur on his reputation. Just like Ibrahim Babangida who leaned heavily on the decision of his handful military cabal to annul the most ever unblemished election in Nigeria. This is a serious rehash of history which the former and latter above share in common. This singular blunder committed at the twilight of their regime respectively with reference to this unprecedented electoral

Fraud and the annulment of June 12 election automatically plummet whatever achievement they might have recorded. Col D.A Umar (RTD) said this as far back as 2004 under the much celebrated media hype” The devil is it” “A person who commits error and realizes his folly is easier to correct. But he who does not understand or refuses to accept when he is wrong becomes incorrigible. This is dangerous where such person is the leader of a nation. It is worse when the person believes that he is divinely guided. Unlike what many critics believe, Nigeria is not degenerating into a one party state, but rather into a one person malevolent dictatorship. It is now evident that you must be in the president’s good books to survive economically and politically. No one, no matter how talented or hard working, can be successful in business unless he toes governments or the president’s line. While dubious cronies and sycophants are making a killing, honest, hard working Nigerians are being frustrated out of business”

This is by no means an irredentist opinion rather a reflection on our peculiar regional idiosyncrasy and our historical pace of development vis a vis Nigeria. If Governor Peter Odili of Rivers state got $1.33 billion in 2006 as the budget which is well over the budgets of some West African countries and meaningful development is not visible then we can begin to question our self imposed leaders at every geo polity of Nigeria. There is urgent need to do a self appraisal of Yoruba politics. Tinubu may continue to bask in the euphoria of a being a power broker without the underpinning of Afenifere but our inherited legacy of presenting a common political front to navigate through the tempestuous politics of Nigeria has been run aground with the buffeting of Afenifere, the rallying force. From all intent and purposes it is this Yoruba nations capacity to form a common front that often elicit a primordial fear from the center and as such malicious manipulations is always use to break the rank and file of this unity to which Obasanjo is the latest adversary. The gulf between Tinubu and Afenifere must be close for the overall interest of our nation such that the good old days which characterized Yoruba politics as being progressive, organized, efficient, Cohesive, pragmatic, with its populist programmes must be return to.Tinubus Action congress is half measured political platform, a well based political forum which will cut across board is what we need at this moment. Mushroom parties will only produce mushroom output and ultimately a detriment to our collective aspirations.

The traducers of Awolowos politics and by extension south west politics have often canvassed politics of the mainstream Nigeria meaning that we must move to the center. But the truth of the matter is that it is a visionless ideology fraught with corrupt and selfish balkanization of our existing regional autonomy for their greedy purpose. This is what Obasanjo stands for. What development has that brought to us with their capture of south west? This is a vague ideology which ultimately benefits some few rapacious fellow and left majority of Nigerians either at the regional levels or the federating entity worse off than ever before. The truth is that joining the politics at the center has offered nothing but crumbs. The emerging modern day political gladiators especially those who are gravitating or canvassing or actually dwelling at the center have ulterior motif of having their own share of the national cake. What monumental development have we witnessed? In this so called PDP captured states with special reference to the south west I asked for the umpteenth time. Awolowos ascendant to the premier of the old western region brought much progress and development to the Yoruba nation but it appears those well thought out dogged and focused ideals with its robust structure have been corroded and eroded by custodian of that trail blazing ideals.


The vice president of Union of Nigerians in Denmark (UNID),

Resides and studies in Copenhagen,

Denmark .

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