In the last few days, former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s long letter, advising President Muhammadu Buhari to forget a second tenure bid for The Presidency has been trending both on the social media and as a national discourse. Personally, I would have been shocked if Obasanjo had not written that letter considering his knack to seize every available opportunity to robe himself with the ornamented garment of an untainted statesman. It did not start today and it is definitely not going to end with the Buhari under-the-belt thunderbolt as long as the former military warlord has the energy to interrogate our national affairs at the highest level. Getting into the fray and making a political capital out of it is something Obasanjo relishes and flourishes in with profound aplomb. For those who have followed his letter writing proclivities, it is not debatable that the wily old fox is merely setting the template for another round of intriguing political chess game that may see him triumphing just like he did in the past. Some would say he is an opportunist, Well, that may not be entirely wrong. Yet, it is troubling that those he had unclothed in the market square in the past, either in the executive or legislature arm, had always placed before him the ammunition he used to shoot them down.
In Buhari’s case, Obasanjo’s scathing criticism couldn’t have come at a better time regardless of what the Minister of Information, Culture and National Orientation, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, would want us to believe. The ominous signs that a bomb could be fired from Ota, Obasanjo’s farmhouse, had always been there. For long, the government sat on its hands and watched as things go from bad to worse while the citizens gnash their teeth in anguish. This was not helped by Aso Rock’s loud silence and manifest incompetence to deal with the killings in the North Central region by rampaging herdsmen. If the government was doing anything to stop the bloodletting, such action was obviously not known to those who continue to lose loved ones in a pogrom that defies logic and commonsense. Was it a fight between brothers over grazing rights on farmlands or was it an invasion by foreign agents with the backing of some religious bigots? Even the government couldn’t give an answer to the vexing question as the body bags mount!
And so, beyond the poor management of the economy and Buhari’s vacillating attitude to governance, Obasanjo’s main disaffection could be gleaned from his allegation that the President is clannish and nepotistic. Surely, these are not light words that can be waved away with a list of achievements reeled out by Mohammed on Wednesday. In any case, it is an elementary fact that the table of achievements is meaningless if it does not have direct positive impact on the people. The question to ask is: Are Nigerians safer now than they were some years back and are they economically-secured under the present regime? I doubt if the government will get the kind of response that would make it thump its chest to justify the achievements listed on that sheet of paper. The government should also be concerned that Obasanjo, while acknowledging that Buhari did record some strides in the fight against corruption and insurgency, pointedly accused him of condoning the basest form of corruption and financial crime with the “allegations of round tripping against some inner caucus of the Presidency.”
If we took former President Goodluck Jonathan to the cleaners for attending a party rally in Kano a day after the Nyanya deadly bombings and the abduction of over 200 Chibok school girls, it would be inhumane for us to look the other way when Buhari, who rode on the crest of that Jonathan’s errors, makes the same mistake with cold-blooded equanimity. Now, listen to Obadanjo: “The herdsmen/crop farmers issue is being wittingly or unwittingly allowed to turn sour and messy. It is no credit to the Federal Government that the herdsmen rampage continues with careless abandon and without finding effective solution to it. And it is a sad symptom of insensitivity and callousness that some governors, a day after 73 victims were buried in a mass grave in Benue State without condolence, were jubilantly endorsing President Buhari for a second term. The timing was most unfortunate!”
To say the truth, Obasanjo was mild in dissecting this particular irreverent attitude of the governors and the man they were nudging on to place his ambition before the lives of the citizens he plans to rule over for a second term. This unpardonable revelry at the seat of power was nothing other than spitting on the graves of the murdered sons and daughters of Benue. Jonathan, I repeat, was practically roasted alive for this same ‘sin’ even by some of the characters who are now trying fruitlessly to justify the senseless action that happened inside Aso Rock that day. Like Olurotimi Anifowose noted, the government’s puffed-up response failed woefully to address the main issues raised by Obasanjo. The theories espoused in that list were not convincing enough to douse the growing belief among a crowd of disenchanted populace that another four years of a Buhari Presidency would be nothing short of a monumental mistake!
On the eleven-point achievements listed by Mohammed, Anifowose asked some germane questions which, I believe, should tug the unfeeling hearts of those in the corridors of power if they are truly committed to beating Obasanjo to his game this time. He wrote: “Theories! That’s what I read to the government’s response to the carefully-woven facts itemised by the former President. How have these achievements translated to improvement of lives? Did these submissions address the nepotistic disposition of the administration? Did it address the penchant for clannishness? Did it address the condonation of Fulani herdsmen by the administration? Did it address the condonation of corrupt individuals in the corridors of power by the administration?” Unfortunately, the answer is an emphatic no. And it is a pity.
Obasanjo simply waited to hit the government he helped in bringing to power where it would hurt it the most. And, like the others before it, history may repeat itself if Aso Rock choses to dismiss him as a rude joke whose flame of would soon burn out with time. He is more than that even if I would be the first person to admit that the Ota farmer is an opportunist that knows when and how to play to the gallery with the sole aim of reaping the full benefits, undeservingly so. He did it after he failed to get a third term sanctioned by the National Assembly by imposing a Yar’Adua/Jonathan ticket on the nation after blackmailing a number of his presumed loyalists like Peter Odili, Donald Duke and Nasir el-Rufai. He did it with the same callous mien he is now tracing to Buhari when he pushed his then deputy, Atiku Abubakar to the precipice of frustration, dejection and political obscurity. That is why Atiku still gloats in the dark today for political relevance despite his goodwill and hood heart. He repeated the same aura of invincibility when he cunningly imposed Jonathan on his party following the untimely death of Yar’Adua. And when he fell out with Jonathan, he didn’t hesitate to stake his cards with Buhari who eventually became President. Now, the plot thickens as Obasanjo is on the move again in search of another crown prince to make and mar. Will it then be politically wise for Aso Rock to wish Obasanjo’s stinging letter away as it is presently doing? Those who did it in the past are still biting their fingers in regrets. Will Buhari’s case be different?
End. End. End.