Why I admire Dr Obasanjo, The Patriot
By Yakubu Musa
Who am I to disagree?
And, since we all love the easy options, I prefer to also join the queues of admirers and shun the bandwagon of the army of critics who unjustifiably bare their fangs against our national hero.
But why did we even have to shrug off the main protagonist of our history as a nation, for telling the government of the day the bitter truth? Obasanjo is not like other mortals. He’s phenomenon, the special one.
Chief Obasanjo achieves things effortlessly where others break a sweat only to fail. Wasn’t he invited to accept the Biafran surrender even when he didn’t fire a single bullet during the war?
People risked their lives to be presidents, but Dr Obasanjo was in the hiding when the General Danjumas insisted that he must succeed his slain principal, Late Gen Murtala Ramat or face their gunpowder. Even when he was battling depression, waiting for the arrival of certain “Doctor Death” at any moment, Obasanjo would leave his prison cell on a high note. He almost went straight to the State House from it. Little wonder his much-reported 3rd term ambition was scuttled because he didn’t take cover from its bullets. It was designed to come on the platter of gold as usual.
But Obsanjo as our leader didn’t disappoint.
His 8 years in power were no doubt remarkable. That’s why Nigerians reminisce over them with a truckload of nostalgia. Almost every one of Nigeria’s headaches got its remedy during the eventful era. As a chicken farmer, he brought his experience to bear on our agricultural policy? At least Otta Farm was transformed from zero egg per day in 1999 to over 10 million eggs per day in 2007 (figures downplayed). And we didn’t have to import rice and other staple foods during his time.
Again, let’s take electricity, for example. It’s one of the major problems the nation’s policymakers had failed to solve before the Obj’s second coming.
All that Dr Obsanjo needed to solve our perennial electricity crisis were those 8 years, the shortest at the disposal of any Nigerian leader ever to crack a hard nut of that magnitude. Hence it doesn’t even matter that he had to spend 16 billion dollars to do it. We all do it our own ways.
What we desperately needed then was electricity to achieve our quest for an industrialized Nigeria. And, Dr Obasanjo, after few years of trial and error (we all learn on the job), which saw him sacking successive Chief Executive Officers of defunct NEPA and a handful ministers of power and steel, would eventually discover the silver bullet. He hurriedly fired it in his hastily designed National Integrated Power Project (NIPP).
Yet Obasanjo’s (PhD) magic was not limited to the power sector, which grid, as he left, was capable of wheeling whopping 4000 megawatts of electricity. There are other areas of our infrastructural deficiencies which received the impacts of his ubiquitous developmental agenda.
Perhaps that’s why by the time he left Aso Rock Villa in 2007, Nigeria didn’t have any reason to import fuel anymore. Our doctor had fixed the ailing refineries and even built a new 50 million- liter per day in Abuja, which was commissioned by another PhD holder, Dr Amos Adamu, during a grand ceremony named COJA. He also met our railway system in comatose but made sure we had the standard gauge crisscrossing different corridors of our dear nation.
This piece is too short to accommodate an overview of Dr Obasanjo’s feats in office. It suffices to say that our famous serial love letter writer has the license to ruffle feather as much as he can step on powerful toes when in power.
When at the height Obasanjo’s frosty relationship with members of the House of Representatives, former Speaker, Ghali Umar Na’abba, was said to have told him to go back home and look in the mirror, “what you see is the problem of Nigeria”. One thing that Na’aabba was probably oblivious of was that, Obasanjo’s incurable hobby was looking at himself in the mirror every 5 minutes of his life.
It’s unmistakably inserted in his voluminous curriculum vitae (CV). Yet his mirror is rose-tinted like his glasses. In it, he sees the most brilliant, handsome Nigerian ever, its foremost moralist, its best dancer, its finest military strategist and the author of its best PhD thesis– armed with Africa’s largest “commercial” library. This special mirror also helps him to bypass his protruding belly and gaze perpetually at his gorgeous navel.
Musa lives in Abuja.