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Obasanjo, Atiku & their Warped Bequest by Kalu Onuma


They came in together on the same ticket. Worked together to enthrone the reign of pain. The PDP as we know it today was their joint invention. Though at various points in their political union, the hub of power has resided variously at either the president’s or the Vice’s hands, sometimes, it was difficult to understand who was actually controlling what and how. Both brought into the administration of Nigeria their limited understanding of service, but drew heavily from their respective twisted understanding of power. Yet they knew they made inadequate impressions upon the people and often did cut an awkward picture of separateness than unity. In all these, Nigeria was to suffer from the ambitions of these men and their respective supporters.

In 1999, it was a combination of the lethargy of the people towards despotic rule, their astringent pain, bordering on fear, of Abacha and his hench men, the gruesome treachery of Babangida and the bitter-sweet struggle, emanating from the Abiola saga, that gave birth to the present Obasanjo- Atiku presidency. When they came into the mainstream of the country’s politics, one was to bring in the weight of his past military experiences and the pain of the claws of the prison irons, the other was more of the social person with friends cutting across the country and a political platform that was blessed by the Northern oligarchy but strongly hinged on the strength and versatility of the late Yaradua’s PDM. What rather the country expected at that very turn in 1999, which amongst other things included the liberalization of the country, the redirection of our skewed mentality due to years of military abuse, and above all purposeful leadership, was only but a sad cant and chant, sour to the ear, but never to be had.

When the first disturbing salvo against the people was fired in Odi by his inconsiderate boss, what did our dear Atiku do, to protect democracy? When the administration under their joint watch, within the one and half years they served and promised, failed to give the country an uninterrupted power supply, was he up in arms for the people that employed him, or was he a dumb accomplice of the unsocial act of brazen shame? The bitter disruption of the flow of steady improved life of the people was under their watch, but at no time did they stop to question the sincerity of their acts. Undoubtedly they had no political agenda to sell to the people, they had no direct plan to make the natural resources of the people trickle down to all; they were a franchise for the rich, the military the drove of debilitating dictators and autocratic groups Africa has ever witnessed. Those who cried foul, at that early stage of their regime were quickly done away with. These acts were in spite of the call and cry from the populace to open up the system for true democratic practice.

The abuse of power, the inchoate acts of democratic corruption, the distraction of governance caused by the abuse of state funds channeled towards the bloating of the Biggest failure in Africa, the PDP, and the incessant failure of the government to understand that they were employed to serve and not rule, were symptoms awaiting the necessary fuel to ignite. They groomed an avaricious bunch of assistants that broke the law by their rules. They point us always to the party in power rather than the constitution we voted them in to observe. The maniac of revenge beclouded them from dealing legally with the lot that endlessly broke the law under the past administration. Our country has never suffered more under a democracy than under the watch of Obasanjo and Atiku. Behind the flamboyance and pomp, lay a cannibalistic struggle for power and control; they ate each other up, they contradicted each other, they managed their fiefdom well, kept stringently to their dark oaths of party cleavages, but they all together failed to lead the nation. Unlike the Shagari era, where the sense of leadership was absolved from much criticism due largely to the inconclusive break of their cocktail administration, this present regime was product of pain and desire and did owe it to us to deliver some semblance of leadership. This they have failed as much as the lot before them.

What the mind does not conceive, the heart cannot execute. This is the nature of all living things. The present act of contrition by the vice President is a laudable act coming too late. The nation for the last seven years has endured some avoidable tragic disruptions of their daily life because the government clearly broke the law or encouraged it to be broken. If much disruption was witnessed during their first term, it was to be during their quest for re-election that they would unleash upon the nation the stinking abuse of which the story is yet unfinished. I have no remorse for the way they have continued to deal with themselves in the ruling party. Since there is no honor amongst thieves, it was evident that those who played their roles to undermine the power and right of the people would live to pay dearly for it. Like packs of domino, from Gemade to the now impending Atiku, they continue to devour themselves. Nothing would be proven by the expulsion of Atiku from PDP; it would only guarantee that perhaps others would follow. This would add little or nothing to the leadership nature of Obasanjo and his hawks. As long as both Obasanjo and Atiku and the likes of them who know nothing of democracy and democratic behavior continue to rule, it is yet far from dawn for this nation.

From their respective perspectives they understand themselves as great democrats; but the results of their democratic acts are so undemocratic that we might as well device an illiberal adverb to pre qualify their dejected acts. The mission of leading a multi ethnic nation like Nigeria has suffered from fresh ideas, motivation and logic from this present government. Upon what logic then did they go to the electorate to canvass for their votes in 2003? Their report card from 1999 to 2002 was a strange mix of failure and absence; and like bullies in school who realize that they have just goofed away their opportunity to remain in school, they revert to series of obnoxious acts that only continue to drag them down. They promised us an improvement of our infrastructures, but they failed to do that. Ajoukuta continues to gulp millions of Dollars. They promised a new refinery, but they have woefully failed to maintain the existing ones. They said they would improve the quality of our educational systems, but their idea was to grant licenses for more private colleges and Universities that are a sore to the intellectual minds. They said they would construct more roads, open up our rural areas, and build more rail roads. We know better today, that all these were roaring hoaxes. No more importation of fuel from the end of 2000, this was their promise. But today we import more fuel than any other oil producing country. The move towards a better deal for the oil producing areas, with its guaranteeing of environmental balance, was only a devious act to perpetuate the slavery of the people. These were far too dangerous CV to take to the electorate But they know better For long before that election, they did announce that “There was no vacancy in Aso Rock and the PDP controlled states”. This was vintage Obasanjo and Atiku.

The price of liberty is often the mass disruption of normal life; but the price of freedom is obviously the amount of freedom that the people wanted. These men in power had a different idea from the people. They rigged themselves back to power, first from their party primaries, then through to the National and States elections. They contorted an affront upon the people, by dubiously canceling the elections at the Local government levels; by breaking the Constitution they were called to uphold, through their failure in many instances to obey court orders. They were setting a very bad precedent in a volatile country used to lawlessness. The demands of the people were ignored and the waiting period between the various primaries, was a practiced power struggle that pitched their respective ambitions against one another. The hawks had a field day; the people suffered. The law of immutable return quickly visited most of them immediately. For as Ekwueme, unheeded, then warned “Our party is on a dangerous path towards decay”, Audu Ogbe, Ikimi, Rimi and Nwobodo are living testimonies of what it means to work with ambitious men without an ambition of your own larger than theirs. All over the country the grim prospects of the survival of democracy was finally laid to rest with the infamous elections of 2003. We enthroned uncontrolled ambition, threw away service, killed morality and birthed immorality. Above all we let in through the high portals of democratic lingo the purple dress emperor of terror! If then the house did not fall, like many thought it would, it was dealt a fatal blow that cracked its walls, and way down to the foundations to guarantee it was only a matter of time before it goes under. We meant to have accountability, but we were told time and time again, that we were not owed any apologies, attention or respect. Down the years we watched, the subtlety of the government become more obvious, they employed the Police, SSS and (in the Niger Delta regions, Plateau State and Taraba State) the Army to crush the freedom of the masses. It beats me now to hear the Vice President cry for democracy, while he was party to slaughtering It.!



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