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Obasanjo: A Lesson To Yar'Adua by Mohammed Zayyad


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 Obasanjo.

 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 President Yar’Adua.

 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 be now.


 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

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