“First of all, Mr. Olusegun Obasanjo is a hypocrite. He bears full responsibility for the situation in which we find ourselves today. And I don’t take him seriously and that’s all I want to say about him…” – Wole Soyinka (2010)
Soyinka’s words from 2010 are a good place to start when considering the letter General Olusegun Obasanjo wrote to President Goodluck Jonathan recently. We cannot ignore the role Obasanjo played in Jonathan’s ascension to power, neither can we ignore Obasanjo’s refusal to accept his fair share of the blame.
The former president admits in his letter that Jonathan lists him third, after his parents and God, as the human who has impacted most on his life and helped him to ascend to the presidency, and he admits that he believed it was in Nigeria’s political interest that a minority become president. Yet Obasanjo believes he is in the best position to cry wolf now?
Of all democratically elected leaders, Obasanjo has ruled this country for the longest time: with his military rule from 1976 to 1979 and his democratic rule from 1999 to 2007, he has had 11 years, more than a fifth of the period for which we have been an independent country, to change things. He set the nation on a course of decline.
One must ask: what other measures Obasanjo had taken before going this route — that is, besides the other four unacknowledged letters he says he has written to Jonathan over the past two years. As not just a PDP stalwart but also a former president, and one who occupied the seat not too long ago, one would think that Obasanjo had other mediums of reaching the president and passing his message across.
But that is not his style, is it? His penchant for attacking in an un-presidential manner is well known.
Obasanjo had no respect for that office while he occupied it, and it is not surprising that he has no respect for it now that he is no longer occupying it.
History is definitely not on his side in this situation. Nigerians remember the letter he wrote to Babangida in 1992, which of course also ‘leaked’; we also remember that when he became president, he did nothing different besides being ‘democratically elected’.
Fast forward to 2004 when Audu Ogbeh, a PDP stalwart and party leader, wrote a similar letter to Obasanjo when he was president. He ensured the political ruin of the former. Obasanjo’s apathy to criticism of his person or actions is well known, and his response to Ogbeh at the time was not dissimilar to the President’s spokesman, Reuben Abati’s to him.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Is it not absurd that Obasanjo, who reportedly tried to push for a third-term agenda, is holding Jonathan to a one-term promise the latter purportedly made in 2011?
One cannot help but conclude that Obasanjo must suffer from selective amnesia as he refuses to remember that he is guilty of the things he accused Jonathan of, and when he had the chance, he did things no differently from the other presidents Nigeria has had.