If I know Nigeria’s former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, well, he will be beside himself now with joy. He has done what he knows how best to do – monkey business. He is a master in the game of mischief and I will not be surprised if some Nigerians hail him over his letter to President Goodluck Jonathan.
All it takes to be a hero in Nigeria is to be out of government. Suddenly, Obasanjo wants to seen as the country’s Guardian Angel.
That informed his damning letter to Jonathan where he pointedly accused the president of arming killers and doing his utmost to destroy Nigeria by “keeping over 1,000 people on a political watch list rather than criminal or security watch list and training snipers and other armed personnel secretly and clandestinely acquiring weapons to match for political purposes like Abacha and training them where Abacha trained his own killers.”
Disparaging the president further, he wrote, “Let me repeat that as far as the issue of corruption, security and oil stealing is concerned, it is only apt to say that when the guard becomes the thief, nothing is safe, secure or protected in the house.”
These are grievous allegations. And Nigerians have every reason to be troubled. If their president is a “killer and thief” as alleged, then we have completely lost it.
But who got us into this mess? Obasanjo!
To blame Jonathan is to play the ostrich. The chaos we have on our hands today is a consequence of Obasanjo’s political treachery. His sleight of hand is at the root of the muddle. The Jonathan presidency is a product of Obasanjo’s macabre political engineering. If he had enthroned a credible political process; if he had allowed internal democracy to reign in the Peoples Democratic Party, the possibility of a Musa Yar’Adua/Goodluck Jonathan ticket would have been far-fetched. If he had allowed democracy to blossom in the eight years he was in office, we may not have had the Jonathan incubus.
So, Obasanjo lacks the credibility to embark on this self-serving mission. He lacks the moral authority to say what he said in the letter. If he is sincere, rather than writing so long a letter to Jonathan, he should apologise to Nigerians.
I have heard some people say that the messenger should be separated from the message.
My answer is, not in this case. Here, the message is as important as the messenger because to ignore the messenger is to miss the point, which is, Obasanjo, the architect of the debacle, wants to distance himself from the mess he single-handedly created. For a message to wear the garb of credibility, the messenger must also be trustworthy. Regretably, Obasanjo, the messenger, lacks credibility.
For all I care, the former president may well be writing about himself and his eight-year misrule because he is guilty of virtually everything he said in the letter. If anything, Jonathan’s real crime is that he decided to be a damn good student of Obasanjo, adopting wholesale the leadership template he created to wreak havoc on the good people of Nigeria.
If Obasanjo had done a fraction of what he is now telling Jonathan to do, Nigeria would have been a much better place to live in today. And he had every opportunity to put Nigeria on an irreversible trajectory of progress. Nelson Mandela, who everybody is eulogizing, did it in South Africa . And he didn’t even need a second term to accomplish the task. Mandela not only preached good governance, he lived it unlike the holier-than-thou, self-righteous and sanctimonious Obasanjo.
It is left for President Jonathan to address the very grievous allegation of having a killer squad. But Nigerians have not forgotten.
Is it not to Obasanjo’s eternal shame that his Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Bola Ige, was murdered in cold blood and nobody was punished for that heinous crime? Have Nigerians forgotten the assassination of Chief AK Dikibo, a PDP chieftain, and Marshal Harry, an ANPP chieftain, in his Abuja home, amongst many others? In fact, Dikibo’s body had not gone cold when Obasanjo told a bewildered nation that he was killed by armed robbers, even when the security agencies were yet to start investigation.
So bad was the situation that Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, branded the PDP a “nest of killers.”
Granted, Jonathan’s attempt to hijack the entire PDP structure for his 2015 ambition is at the root of the crisis rocking the party, but he is only practicing what he learnt from Obasanjo. So, if it was okay for the former president to hijack the party that was formed while he was in prison, chasing away the founding fathers, why does he think Jonathan should not do the same?
Obasanjo was persuaded by many to adopt the “Mandela option,” that is, serve only one term and lay a solid foundation for democracy to thrive.
He demurred. Instead, he contrived a cheeky third term project which is at the root of most, if not all the crisis of confidence rocking the polity today.
Chief Audu Ogbeh, former PDP National Chairman, disclosed in an interview with Sunday Trust two days ago that his stance against Obasanjo’s tenure elongation bid almost cost him his life in 2005 as killers were sent to eliminate him. He was lucky to survive. Many weren’t. But he was forced to resign his chairmanship of the party.
Accusing Obasanjo of creating a mafia in the party, Ogbeh said, “I saw signs that the party was gradually degenerating into the state of mafia. There were too many powerful people in the party who could not be questioned or challenged, one of whom was the former president himself. The truth is that we built the party before he came out of prison.
“Obasanjo created the mafia, of course. He was the president, so there is no argument about that. But unfortunately, there were far too many cowards and sycophants in the PDP. And when I complained, I was tagged the rebel leader.”
Obasanjo is accusing Jonathan of planning to misuse the country’s security apparatus. But have we forgotten so soon how policemen were used to abduct a sitting state governor, Dr. Chris Ngige of Anambra State, at the behest of Obasanjo and members of the mafia he created? It is therefore highly disingenuous for him to claim that abuse of security apparatus “took place last in the time of Abacha.”
Is Jonathan engaging in anti-party activities by supporting candidates of opposition parties to win governorship elections in Ondo, Edo and Anambra? The answer is yes. But he has only proved to be a good student of Obasanjo. Have we forgotten how he denied Senator Ifeanyi Araraume, the PDP governorship candidate in Imo State, victory in 2007? He simply played God when he declared that the 2007 elections would be do-or-die affair.
I agree entirely with Obasanjo when he tells Jonathan, “As a leader, two things you must cherish and hold dear among others are trust and honour both of which are important ingredients of character.” But the irony is that the messenger lacks both virtues.
Lest I be misunderstood, while I don’t know anything about the 1000 people on political watch list and the hit squad being put together to eliminate them, as a discerning political observer, it is trite to say Nigeria is in dire straits and much has to do with Jonathan’s 2015 ambition and what he is doing or not doing to realize it.
I am not a fan of President Jonathan but nothing should detract from his constitutional right to seek a second term as long as the sovereign right of Nigerians to elect their leaders is not sacrificed on the altar of that ambition.
The only reason why Obasanjo does not want Jonathan to contest is because he knows that the system he left behind is such where votes do not count. That is the legacy he created and mischievously labeled homegrown democracy. He should apologise to Nigerians rather than honing his letter writing skill because that is sheer red herring.
*Ikechukwu Amaechi is the General Editor of Daily Independent, Lagos ([email protected])