OBASANJO’S ENDORSEMENT OF PETER OBI IS AN INSULT TO PUBLIC SENSIBILITIES — Maiwada Dammallam
Going through former President Obasanjo’s recently released lengthy and evasive verbiage which climaxed with the randy and pompous Obasanjo unveiling Peter Obi as his preferred presidential candidate, the only noticeable addition to his infamous insidious method of undermining presidential candidates outside his “book of credibility” by writing open letters to Nigerians is the newly introduced mixture of military arrogance and civilian foxiness. Hitherto, Obasanjo, the self-appointed numero uno Nigerian was always either a military man who had it all or civilian statesman who knows it all.
As a base for this opinion, let’s agree, political wise, Obasanjo is the luckiest Nigerian alive and its biggest liability. His pretentious concern for Nigeria is more to extend his residency and relevance in Nigeria’s heavily restricted circle of power rather than enhance the functionality of the circle as I will explain shortly.
As usual, Obasanjo opened his latest “love letter” to Nigerians with sweet nonsense intended to highlight a non-existent love and commitment to gain their trust to swallow the garbage he was about to serve without chewing. Actually, the opening of the letter reminded me of the proverbial lover boy who wrote a letter to his girlfriend saying how he will cross seven seas and climb the highest mountain to bring her joy yet closed the letter promising to come in the evening but with a caveat, if it does not rain. Obasanjo’s lengthy letter (or is it a book) contained all the sweet nonsense Nigerians love to hear yet without containing anything they should hear. Perhaps, this may explain why a greater part of the letter was directed at Nigerian youths; the most naive and gullible part of the Nigerian family. Let me segment the letter if not to highlight the conflicts and inconsistencies at least for a better review.
Obasanjo said and I quote:
“I have interacted with the major contestants and I find it interesting that, in one form or the other, each of them claims to want to do what I did during my Presidency and to take Nigeria back to where it was at the height of my Presidency and immediately after.”
Obasanjo did not say what it was he did during his presidency which any of the major contestants in the upcoming elections claims to want to do for one to be exact when responding. However, I can’t recall any of the contestants claiming to, when and if elected, appropriate $16bn to improve the power sector and turn around to steal every cent of it as being alleged of the $16bn the Obasanjo administration voted to improve the power sector — a project President Buhari once publicly interrogated by asking “Where’s the power?”
Obasanjo shot himself on the foot when he wrote:
“Most of us in good conscience can testify to competence when we see any anywhere. What is masqueraded as ‘competence’ is self-interest and nepotism. We have a unique opportunity to correct ourselves by ourselves for the good of ourselves.”
I can’t help but agree. This is as much as saying most of us in good conscience can testify to sincere advocacy and could identify a masquerade like Obasanjo from a thousand miles away. It’s repulsive to hear Obasanjo being flippant with philosophical idealism like “good conscience” etc. He could be anything but a moral guide or role model much less, a national compass that could guide Nigeria out of its self-inflicted economic degradation and political retardation, a significant part of which he authored twice as president either deliberately or ignorantly.
Does it even make sense for Obasanjo to be among the panel of judges reviewing the quality, character, competence and capacity of presidential candidates after wasting 10 years of Nigeria’s 62-year post—independence drive to achieve a respectable nation. Cumulatively, Obasanjo has spent 10 years writing Nigeria’s history in reverse. In his second coming as president he stripped Nigeria of every lucrative investment; selling same to dubious cronies. Which Nigeria will deny not knowing how Transcorp was floated to dupe Nigeria out of multi-billion investments like Nicon Noga Hilton.
Even more, who will forget so soon how Obasanjo and his erstwhile VP, Atiku Abubakar, abandoned public universities to their fates while providing private elitist solution to the intractable deficiencies in the education sector under their supervision. Obasanjo and Atiku established Bellstech University and AUN University in Abeokuta and Yola respectively in 2004, while serving as President and Vice President respective, convincingly insulating themselves and their cronies from the turbulence that ruled tertiary institutions while dangerously compromising the development of Nigerian youths — the youths for whom he’s shedding crocodile’s tears and writing a letter today to re-establish connection with for no reason other than to hoist the inept and incurably confused Peter Obi (“Lienus” for easy identification).
Talking about factors to watch out for in a leader one will consider to hoist on either self or the rest of Nigerians in the coming election, Obasanjo missed the point, deliberately as usual though. The “TVCP” formula he suggested — “Track record of ability and performance; Vision that is authentic, honest and realistic; Character and attributes of a lady and a gentleman who are children of God and obedient to God” — these are ancient leadership attributes known to all. Obasanjo discovered nothing new but a trick to hoodwink the gullible. Which of these attributes applies to Peter Obi and or Obasanjo, his “godfather of convenience?” How authentic was Obi’s vision when he governed Anambra State that Obasanjo want to have us believe that when he left it’s no less the Golgotha he inherited and nowhere near the El Dorado he’d want Nigerians to believe should they fall for his phantom eulogy? If Obi couldn’t make Anambra State better, how could he make Nigeria better using Obasanjo’s “TVCP table?”
Interestingly, many people will agree Obasanjo is in the best position to say the whys and hows his “TVCP table” better applies to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu (the intended target of his 5-page letter) more than it applies to his “godson of convenience”, Peter Obi, who’s track record is as indecipherable as his presidential ambition is dangerous to Nigeria’s development, or Atiku Abubakar, who’s track record and character he dedicated a whole chapter for in his book, My Watch, to educate Nigerians about with a little margin of error. Obasanjo should explain to Nigerians how Tinubu, as Lagos State Governor, managed to survive his gangster-like onslaught when as president he withheld statutory allocations to Lagos State Government just so Tinubu should be financially asphyxiated. It should make sense that it’s Tinubu’s authentic, honest and realistic vision that saw him through the dark era of Obasanjo’s executive gangsterism.
In another misfire, Obasanjo wrote and I quote:
“Let me say it again, loud and clear, Nigeria has no business with insecurity, poverty, insurgency, banditry, unemployment, hunger, debt, division and disunity. We are in these situations because advertently or inadvertently, our leaders have made the choices. They have done the best they could do. Let them take their rest deservedly or not and let them enjoy their retirement as Septuagenarians or older.”
Let me partly agree with Obasanjo on this. I wholly agree that Nigeria has no business with insecurity, poverty, insurgency, banditry, unemployment, hunger, debt, division and disunity but for the insistence of Nigerians to keep partnering and doing business with unreliable and deceptive characters like Obasanjo. Would Nigeria be dealing with these problems had Obasanjo applied his “TVCP formula” in the 10 years he ruled and in the 16-year stretch he was a major factor in how the country was ruled? Certainly no, at least not at the level it’s dealing with these problems today.
Talking about Septuagenarians, was Obasanjo not a septuagenarian when he attempted to bribe the National Assembly while blackmailing the political class to extend his reign beyond the 2-terms approved by the Nigerian constitution? According to available records, Obasanjo was 70 years old when he illegally attempted to elongate his tenure in 2007. Back then, were septuagenarians not deserving of the retirement/rest he’s soliciting for them today? Probably in Obasanjo’s egocentric world a septuagenarian is only a septuagenarian when he is not Olusegun Obasanjo. In any case, only in peculiar cases like Obasanjo’s is the idea of wisdom coming with age nonsensical.
To the youths, be wary of the newly found love Obasanjo is professing. It’s a boobytrap; a deadly one. Obasanjo is looking for a lackey to plant in Aso Rock villa to do his biddings and he found one in Peter Obi. His letter has nothing to do with the development of the Nigerian youths. If he insist it does, he should bring forward what he did to develop the youth in his two-term misadventure as president.
Saving the worse for the last, Obasanjo finally unveiled Peter Obi as his candidate in the last paragraph of his campaign of attrition. He said and I quote:
“None of the contestants is a saint but when one compares their character, antecedent, their understanding, knowledge, discipline and vitality that they can bring to bear and the great efforts required to stay focused on the job particularly looking at where the country is today and with the experience on the job that I personally had, Peter Obi as a mentee has an edge. Others like all of us have what they can contribute to the new dispensation to liberation, restoration and salvaging of Nigeria collectively. One other important point to make about Peter is that he is a needle with thread attached to it from North and South and he may not get lost. In other words, he has people who can pull his ears, if and when necessary.”
Somehow, Obasanjo conveniently forgot to include in his letter the result of the comparison he made between Obi and other candidates to arrive at Obi’s supremacy in “antecedents, understanding, knowledge, discipline and the vitality that they can bring to bear and the great efforts required to stay focused on the job…” If truly Obasanjo intended to have Nigerians swallow this bunkum without chewing, then his estimation of our collective sensibilities and respectability is lower than assumed. Is Obasanjo saying Peter Obi’s antecedents, understanding, knowledge and discipline are anywhere close to those deployed by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu to put Lagos State on the path of sustainable development yet Anambra State did not benefit from him a fraction of what Lagos State benefited from Tinubu? Giving the verifiable records of the achievements of the two as governors in public domain, one could only wonder if Obasanjo’s case of senility is more complex than assumed.