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Obasanjo: Then and now

Deji Fasuan MON, JP

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Sir: Since he emerged hero of the 1966 – 1970 civil war,  Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo has continued to be in the public space, sometimes espousing his leadership qualities, many times preaching and displaying his democratic credentials.  There is hardly a country in all of Africa where the renowned General has not carried the message of freedom of democracy and good government. To be fair to him, many leaders in Africa, indeed in the world have listened to him and have numbered him as a world leader worthy of emulation.

Back home in Nigeria Obasanjo has cut a mixed figure of a true statesman and an opportunist.  Here he has entered into controversy over every conceivable issue, dancing to the right and to the left when it pleased him.  As military Head of State (by chance), he caught the figure of a patriot who found himself at the head of a country ravaged by corruption and all the ills you can think of.  Under that assumption he played his part, inflicted punishment where he pleased and turning a blind eye where he though fit.

As a democratically elected president he had the opportunity of a life time to remodel the nation as he deemed fit and appropriate. Nigerians will however remember that he squandered valuable opportunity to create a society where values and ethos would be role model on the African continent.  But what did we have?  We had an administration which was as oppressive and nonchallant as previous military regimes.

Many will recall that President Obasanjo removed governors, high government officials at will.  The most significant ones occurred in the Southwest and in the Southeast.  Dr. Chris Ngige’s removal as governor had no precedence in history, either   of the military or whatever.  Ngige was not only sacked, he was subsequently kidnapped by people unknown till today!  This was a landmark event, by all records.

Today, the nation is assailed regularly by OBJ preaching, lecturing and telling Nigerians and especially its rulers how to behave, and how not to run an administration.  In his time as Nigeria’s Head of State, no one dared advise him on how to manage the affairs of our nation.  In his days, the EFCC was his attack dog which was sent to arrest, prosecute and curtail the freedom of innocent political opponents.

Presently we have been spared of his occasional lectures and pontifications.  The pontiff, like all ordinarily Nigerians, has to play safe of the ravaging world pandemic.  We pray the plague will soon go away so that we will have time to read his new gospel regularly.

But, do not be deceived Nigerians are not fools.  Most are amused, not awed by these unsolicited preaching from a man who has had the opportunity of a life time to change the Nigerian character and direction for a combined period of 10 years when he held sway at the seat of power.  Nigerians will not forget in a hurry the gymnastics put forward for a “Third Term project”.  But the God Almighty was, as He is, on the throne.  The project never materialized as the invisible Hand threw it away.  So was the recent ‘Third Force’ – a new, political organization which name and purpose had not been fully spelt to Nigerians!  Hurray, Nigerians now have a respite from this uncommon pontiff!

 

  • Deji Fasuan MON, JP,

Ado-Ekiti.

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