Obasanjo: How Not to Be a Statesman


We begin with a selection of some exotic words: Vindictive – Petty – Garrulous. Uncouth – Hypocritical, Contradictory. Hubris. Unstatemanly. Who, in your view, does these words fit perfectly? A certain retired soldier-turned-politician who is based at Ota, Ogun State.

As an erstwhile president-in fact, one who has been privileged to rule Nigeria as military Head of State then civilian president-no living compatriot is more qualified to be called a statesman than Olusegun Obasanjo. Not to mention the singular honour of having received the instrument of surrender from the beleaguered leaders of the Biafra warriors at the end of the Nigeria versus Biafra civil war.

But, alas, Obasanjo has been anything but presidential or statesman since his unceremonious exit from power following his better-forgotten two terms in office. Rather, he has elevated pettiness, vindictiveness, arrogance hubris and selective amnesia to an art. For proof or evidence, check out his newest memoir titled MY WATCH.

When a leader, particularly one who had been privileged to reign as ruler of over 170 million people for eight consecutive years; when such a leader writes his memoir subsequently, virtues such as restraint, maturity, fairness, and statesmanliness are expected to be demonstrated in a generous measure.

Not Obasanjo. IN MY WATCH the erstwhile civilian dictator went for the jugular of virtually everybody who had been unfortunate to cross his path both when he was in Aso Rock and since his unceremonious exit from power following his failed third term bid. Throwing caution to the wind, the retired general hauled verbal grenades at all and sundry with abandon. So much so that he had little or no regard for facts, never mind proof or evidence.

Among those who were viciously attacked IN MY WATCH are his then deputy, Atiku Abubakar, and his predecessors, Yar’Adua and Jonathan. Despite the fact that he had personally hand-picked the trio (Atiku as Vice President; Yar’Adua as President, and Jonathan as Vice President –later-turned-President) Obasanjo was unsparing in his condemnation of the trio. He sees nothing good in any of them, just as he sees nothing good in any other man or woman with whom he had disagreements. Not even his own flesh and blood were spared the old man’s unbridled criticism.

To put the matter in proper perspective, two salient facts are worth nothing here. Number one; the same Obasanjo was equally unrelenting in his vindictiveness towards the then President Shehu Shagari who, incidentally, he had helped install in 1979. In the same vein, all of Shagari’s successors (Buhari’s, Babangida, Abacha) were written off by “Baba Iyabo” as useless. Interpretation: only saint Obasanjo is fit to rule Nigeria.

Fact number two: In the civilized world, no former President preoccupies himself with condemnation of his predecessors and successors. This is evident in USA (whose system of government Naija loves to ape) and also very evident in a certain country called Nigeria. In fact, with the Shameless exception of Olusegun Obasanjo, no past Nigeria head of State or President been pillowing others with the sort earned universal not notoriety.

Perhaps the most sickening aspect of the ex-President’s disgraceful indulgence is his own less than impressive performance while in power. He mismanaged the economy terribly. Corruption festered uninhibited during OBJ’S tenure to the extent he was released from jail in 1998, left office in 2007 as a billionaire. The privatization programme was bastardised to the extent that Obasanjo and his cronies corners State –owned facilities at give-away prices. And what of the power sector which was raped comatose despite the uncountable billions pumed into it under Obasanjo’s Watch?

Flashpoint is, needless to say, not holding brief for any of those pilloried in my watch. The point is, the pot must not be perpetually allowed to get away with calling the kettle b lack. Obasanjo’s predecessors and successors may not be as saintly as he likes to posture, but even a six-years-old kid Abeokuta is keenly aware that compared with Saint Obasanjo, most of those he criticizes, condemns, and castigates are ten times better than himself.

The ex-President is obviously suffering from a seemingly incurable pang of selective amnesia. If so, someone somewhere had better told him that the amnesia afflicting Olusegun Obasanjo hasn’t infected the rest of us. In a saner clime lousy leaders like him who have contributed in no small measure to the cannibalization of Nigeria, would be rotting away in Jail, with all their ill-gotten wealth seized. Obasanjo should not add their insult to our injury by assaulting our intelligence with the sort of contradictory, hypocritical, and self-serving nonsense embedded in MY WATCH .at times like these Nigeria yeans for true leaders and statesmen who can help get us out of the woods, not for counterfeit statesmen like Obasanjo whose stock-in trade is hubris and vanity. With his elephant-size ego, Obasanjo sees himself as Nigeria’s most indispensable man; someone should remind him of the axiom that “the graveyards are full of indispensable’ men”.


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