Obasanjo: A Lesson to Yar’Adua
From 29th May, 2007 to date, interesting things had happened in Nigeria,
and more are expected. Things that many Nigerians never though would
occur had happened - some shocking, some revealing while many completely
funny and disheartening.
At the centre of all the things happening are former President
Olusegun Obasanjo, his past actions and his men. Things that Obasanjo
had never thought would occur after leaving office are today happening
in Nigeria; individuals that the former President will at all times
belief will be on his defence have deserted him.
When one reads through the arithmetic of what had happened and what is
currently happening in Nigeria, the greater knowledge to be learn are:
firstly, Nigerians are witnessing the powers of ‘rule of law’. Secondly,
there is strong awareness among Nigerians about the dangers of
corruption and the desire to tackle it head-on. And thirdly the most
popular thing in Nigeria today is any move that tends towards the probe
of Obasanjo- this is the consequence of Obasanjo’s past actions, which
impunity was the order of the day.
When former President Obasanjo came on board, the most mentioned phrase
in his government was ‘anti corruption war’. Today, anti-corruption-war
is hunting Obasanjo and his disciples in a manner that no One had ever
thought. Similarly, when President Yar’Adua came on board, the most said
phrase by him and his lieutenants was ‘rule of law’. Did our President
and his cabinet members ever imagined the powers of rule of law? Is
President Yar’Adua treading the path to make same mistakes as Obasanjo
did? The answer is yes as well as no; depending on what President
Yar’Adua had learnt from Obasanjo eight years administration- where‘rule of men’ replaced ‘rule of law’, which led to a government of men
instead of government of laws.
Lesson number one for President Yar’Adua is; rule of law like anti
corruption becomes a Pandora’s box, when it is abused. And it has come
to stay in Nigeria, till eternity. And running a government of ‘mob rule
style’ have serious consequences; especially in post power life.
Lesson number two for President Yar’Adua is, this three-worded phrase‘anti corruption war’ is occupying a special position in the heart of
Nigerians and it is like a blazing wild fire- it does not spare big or
small trees. Though, once in power, one can use it to intimidate both
his real and perceived enemies. But once one is out of power, it would
boomerang. This is what is happening to our dear former President
Lesson number three for President Yar’Adua is, pretence and praise
singing are two of the numerous bad characters of a typical Nigerian
politician. It is not surprising that some people that worked for
Obasanjo are today denying him. So, President Yar’Adua should keep in
his mind, that same people who are busy praising him today; are of
course doing their normal way of getting government patronage. One day,
same people would sing different song. Though, no Nigerian leader was
immune from bombardment with praises from this group of people, but
serious leaders must make an effort to separate ‘sticks’ from ‘carrots’.
Lesson number four for President Yar’Adua is; opposition is vital
avenue for a good President to use in making adjustment and taking
sound decision. Though, it is very easy for a Nigerian President to
shut the opposition; either through threats by the use of instrument of
State or inducements by the use of State’s resources- however, once out
of power he or she would be ready to carry both the camel and its
loads- this is what Obasanjo is battling with today.
Staying too long in power or attempt at prolonging one’s tenure
attracts public anger and completely damage one’s reputation, including
erasing in the minds of the people the entire good things one did.
Today, no one in Nigeria remembers any of Obasanjo’s good deeds -
thanks to his third term attempt- this is lesson number five for
Obasanjo completely exhausted his first four years without concrete plan
for the nation and precise policy direction. Most of the good things
that Obasanjo did were at the last lap of his second term- when time was
not in his favour. This is lesson number five for President Yar’Adua;
his ‘big thinking’ and formation of his ‘Silicon Valley Dream Team’ must
The greatest of all the lessons, President Yar’Adua should learn from
Obasanjo is Obasanjo’s post power dilemmas, which are the consequence of
his past actions. And the anti corruption war, Obasanjo instituted is
today hunting him, and this is basically due the systemic abuse it
suffered during his eight years reign. The lesson here is, Nigeria is
too big to be manipulated.
In today’s Nigeria, ‘upholding the rule of law’ is the new slogan,
thanks to President Yar’Adua. Though, in much history of Nigeria,
rulers and law were synonymous - law was simply their will. Will
President Yar’Adua learn from Obasanjo’s mistakes? If President
Yar’Adua make same mistake by abusing rule of law as Obasanjo did to
anti corruption war, it will hunt him; not only after power but also in
power. The phrase ‘rule of law’ is powerful and also an enigma of a
sort- out of the over sixty thousand words in the 1999 Nigerian
constitution, it was mentioned only once.
By: Mohammed Zayyad
Zayyad I. Muhammad writes from Jimeta, Adamawa state