OBASANJO – Is No Saint, Full of Stains Politically Speaking, by Ejike E Okpa
In the annals of “a no-body to some-body” no Nigerian has been as lucky as OLUSEGUN MATTHEW OBASANJO; a soldier with not much military gallantry records ending up a Head of State 1976 to 1979, and a civilian president 1999 to 2007.
No Nigerian by the time present President Buhari leaves office in May 2023, would have enjoyed the opportunity of uniform to agbada.
But OBASANJO will retain the longest years in office on both counts; almost 12years.
Using Nigeria’s 62yrs of independence, Obasanjo will have 19.4% lion share of whatever is right and or wrong with Nigeria. Mostly what is wrong.
That notwithstanding, some Nigerians still defer to him as if he is a Saint. Far from the truth.
OBASANJO is a master of deflection and deception, and uses theatrics and often lousy sense of humor which Nigerians often find appealing to appease his audience.
OBASANJO looks for such opportunity to display his character because he dislikes hard and serious issues as he seeks to entertain while attempting to address germane issues that bothers on his leadership roles and squandered opportunities.
I took notice of OBASANJO when he reluctantly emerged as Head of State when Muritala Mohammed was assassinated. He was reluctant to assume office only on the condition that a northern officer from certain family join in. Then ended Shehu YarAdua, a colonel from one of the known northern emirates. YarAdua was quickly promoted because he was a junior officer compared to those senior to him.
OBASANJO got his boost and set about unleashing his brand of bland leadership styles.
Not to bore you, here are glaring blunders OBASANJO unleashed on Nigeria:
(1) Slashed federal budget on education which caused first national riot by Nigeria Students Union
(2) For FESTAC 77, instead of purchasing new buses for the festival OBASANJO settled for use/second hand ones and stood unapologetic for doing so.
(3) Introduced and instigated Land Use Decree in place of Crown land which Nigeria up until then was used to buy land for public purposes. OBASANJO changed the game by having 2 types of titles to land ownership in Nigeria: Right of Occupancy and Certificate of Occupancy, the latter giving the Governors absolute power to decide who gets land. To test the decree, OBASANJO got himself Otta Farm. No questions asked. Like Igbos say “those who blow the trumpet must help themselves first” – “ogbu opi na ifecha imi”.
(4) OBASANJO is not a fan of tough questions – when one Port Harcourt based reporter Victor Amachree asked him question regarding some issues bothering on corruption, OBASANJO had him arrested and for punishment his hair was shaved using broken piece of glass. That singular act of “how dare you ask me such question” set off fear factor among journalists in Nigeria. OBASANJO also maltreated PC Ezenwa at Dodan Barracks for issues that caused said Ezenwa, an Oba native to move his business to Onitsha. Ezenwa later became Igwe of Oba.
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That OBASANJO handed over power in 1979, was not because he willingly wanted to. He was induced or led to believe doing so was going to heighten his reputation in the west and maybe lead to him becoming UN Secretary General. OBASANJO foolishly believed that but he was wholly rejected because the conventional wisdom in UN Security Council, no former military junta will serve in such role. OBASANJO thought assurances from Andrew Young then US Ambassador to UN with then president Carter was going to prevail. He was deflated like a punctured balloon. He went into reluctant retirement claiming to farm. Maybe but farm he didn’t. He got involved with Transparency International to start talking about corruption hoping such was going to put him in good light. Maybe but corruption has endured.
OBASANJO becoming civilian president in 1999, was one of those chance opportunities because IBB looking to redeem his sham leadership due to botched election that MKO Abiola was alleged to have won, wanted to close the books by hoisting OBASANJO as concensus candidate of PDP. Just as he was reluctant stepping in as Head of State he was reluctant accepting to become president except another northerner was his vice. Then Abubakar Atiku was lined up. Another disaster.
Now you got the picture.
Let me say I have met OBASANJO many times and have proof. The views shared in this piece are all mine and it was driven by facts as they are known to me. Only me is solely responsible for its share.
Nigerians should go past OBASANJO because the man has ran out of steam and is just coasting.
Credible media should no long seek his views because his content is shallow and not collateral to challenges facing Nigeria. He squandered his opportunities so why go to him?
He is hardly a statesman because he gets petty and makes statements as if he is a Saint – heck no, he is full of Stains.
Allow him to fade/fizzle because his time is gone.
Nigeria will benefit from rigorous and vigorous minds who can articulate issues and proffer solutions. Asking a snake for arms and legs is asking for too much. It has none to give.
Ejike E. Okpa
Global Affairs Analyst