THE FOUR MAJOR MISTAKES OF OBASANJO REVISITED.
The other day, Chief Fani Kayode in THE NATION Newspaper of March 19, 2011 attempted to exonerate himself from the mistakes of his former boss president Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. The assertion was first made through a new regional magazine, but was amplified by the NATION Newspaper. The strong man was one of the former presidential adviser and former minister of Aviation to the then president. I could hardly find why he went to the press. First, both he and his master left office almost four years ago. We are few days to another generational gap and do not seek the relevance of any old hags who drew the hand of the clock back 20 years for a nation of people with boisterous energy and ready to go. Then he chose to give a title to the failures of Obasanjo – “The Four Mistakes of Obasanjo” as being the choice of Umaru Yar 'adua; the dumping of Babangida, the ill-treatment of Alhaji Abubakar Atiku as Vice President and the third term choice. But it is surprising that a person of Chief Fani Kayode's caliber could not, in eight years of Obasanjo government and four years after, tell all his master stood for all the years in Aso Rock. It could have been ok to let go since we are at the moment moving steps forward towards the new Nigeria of our dream. The journey so far has not given any indication that it is likely to be an easy ride for the people oriented political parties. The result of an opinion poll gathered few weeks ago gave an indication that the President and his PDP are cruising on their way to victory. What with a 60% support nationwide in this injury period! At this time during the election which brought Barrack Obama to office, he was running neck to neck with Hilary Clinton, and the system was so heated up that obvious victory was a matter of mere political permutation based on which side of the divide one was. Again it was an issue based campaign. In nearby Ghana, at their election, Kuffo and Attah Mill never had it so good. Both were neck to neck even at the run-off election. Do we see that here? What we have is I will build a University in every state of Nigeria. How have all the existing once faired? What are the improved remunerations of lecturers like? How many of them are ready to stay given an alternative outside?
Back to the four mistakes of Obasanjo, I have written severally about my supported for Obasanjo's adventure into politics and have advanced reasons too. But to get into the workings of an Obasanjos's presidency is to go back to reinvent issues and ask what was Obasanjos's statues shortly before he went to jail and upon his return? As the Head of State and Commander of the Nigerian Armed Forces, general Obasanjo was first a reluctant leader. This can be confirmed by anyone who reviews his acceptance speech after the assassination of General Muritala Mohammed. He needed men around him that are fat hence his acceptance of the office was subject to General Danjuma Theophilus remaining in the leadership. Morally, the nation's leadership was corrupt, but not the magnitude we have today. Obasanjo as head of state obtained local loan from banks to establish his Obasanjo Farms Limited. This was a privilege enjoyed by all military top brass then. Today, which of our Council Chairmen, State Governors Assembly men or President is visiting banks with a view to obtaining loans? What is common now is that bankers are the ones running after all these classes of people requesting to help them hide their ill-gotten wealth. How many of the current leaders in all the tiers of government have any personal loan profile today? Obasanjo was in pain before he went to prison. He could not imagine that the position he held was the same his juniors occupied and made mince meat of. On his second adventure therefore, he made up his mind to enrich himself silly. This accounts in part for why he parted ways with Theophilus Danjuma who had over time benefited from the system and was a stumbling block to Obasanjo's quest for indiscriminate wealth acquisition. This also answers why IBB, despite his selfless help which really was bait, was also sidelined in the scheme of things. IBB, Orji Uzor Kalu and the rest wanted to make a statement that they played major roles in an Obasanjo's presidency. But the man wanted to be his own man and decided to (with the executive power vested on him) carve a niche for himself and he did. Today, with stupendous wealth in any currency, Obasanjo is the issue. Then it was IBB or some other, which explains why Professor Ango Abdulahi cried aloud the other day that the North made a mistake in choosing Obasanjo as president. Babangida provided foot soldiers and set all machineries in motion for his friends' success. But why did the union fail? IBB wanted power again to continue from where he stopped; hence when his campaign started he attacked the youth. That was the man who destroyed the middle class! Both men had private agenda neither of which was disclosed to either, but both of which never represented public interest.
The Atiku factor. I sympathised with Alhaji Abubakar Atiku during his travail with his former boss until he derailed in his mission. It should be noteworthy that Chief Obasanjo extended arm of fellowship when he choose Atiku as a Vice Presidential Candidate at a time he did. Atiku on the other hand deserved same having used the movement Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) handed down to him by late General Shehu Musa Yar'adua to win the nomination as flag bearer of the PDP after the sell out against Dr. Alex Ekwueme in Jos. As Vice President, Obasanjo gave Atiku almost a free hand to do everything including the supervision of the Bureau for Public Enterprise (BPE). But greed factor set in. the rest we all know how they ended almost calling each other thieves in the streets of Abuja. Behind closed doors, the truth is that Obasanjo made Atiku richer by miles, but in his attempt to rule Nigeria by force he shot himself in the legs. Why is it that Atiku could not follow an Obasanjo just as Bonni Haruna remaine loyal? The rest is history.
Chief Obasanjo's knowledge of let president Yar'adua was close to absolute. He knew that Yar'adua reluctantly went for second term against his wish; he knew that Turai was the unofficial Governor in the later days of Yar'adua in the government house Katsina; he knew that Yar'adua was frugal and that that was a plus in selling him to the electorate. Obasanjo knew that if Yar'adua was stressed enough, he may give in hence it was the same man who first shouted Dem say you don die, are you a life? After a strenuous presidential campaign. Depending on medical reports, the man would have died long before we knew it. But trust God. He loved Nigeria more. He allowed almost the full course of the first term so there was no need looking for escape roots through which an emergency amendment would have been necessary to foist some unacceptable fellows on the nation.
Then the Goodluck Jonathan factor. I don't know why Chief Fani Kayode chose to be myopic in his views. If Obasanjo was a neophyte in his first coming as a soldier and so could not mix politics with military governance, he was a strategist per excellence in the Army, but now added to his new found knowledge of the Nigerians as docile people who have remained ever complacent. Chief Olusegun Obasanjo wanted his own men in office. He wanted to elongate his rule from the back door and achieved that with the choice of Yar'adua and Goodluck Jonathan both of which were green at the national level. Couldn't Fani Kayode se that too? What was the series of chieftaincy title given to GEJ in Yoruba land for? How many titles had GEJ in Bayelsa state? But these were preparations for the next game. To whom much is given much more is desired. Jonathan fell and Obasanjo became an unofficial president. Have we not seen that? Butbthe adviser in Fani Kayode would not! Why, he became so greedy that his major concern became the benefits in the drama.
The third term campaign cannot be said to have failed and Fani Kayode was in the kick of it as he has made us believe. The only factor which went against the man and was the peoples revolt both at the National Assembly and the constituent Assembly through the South South walk out.
Chief Obasanjo had excellent advisers when he needed them. There was Dr. Ngozi Okonji –Iweala, Dr. Obi Ezekwesili why did these fellows leave office unceremoniously? If Chief Fani Kayode was irritated by the old mans ways why didn't he follow the others? I am yet to see a man who stood up for the truth and was ever let down in the end. If as an Aviation minister at a time air crash in Nigeria was more regular than Okada, no doubt this man was a kitchen cabinet member. He knew the actions and inactions of the former president. It is too late in the date to clear an indelible mark on the face.
Finally, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and his crew made no mistake in any manner. Nigeria has remained a nation of dog eat dog and the music has remained. Who will bell the cat? How are the parties faring in their popular domain? I wrote before that neither Obasanjo nor his daughter Iyabo would rule in Ogun state come 2011. The die is cast I stand by my words. Of the fifteen Assembly members barred from the house over six months ago, three have defected to the CAN the other twelve have remained stoutly resolved not to join the Olurin train. Senator Tinubu's profile has continued to harass the entire south west. Even if the center goes back to the PDP, the south west is definitely on their way out of the wedlock that produced only prodigal children.
Weather the chief of Owu made four or all the mistakes while in office, Nigeria shall, as his profile diminishes, arrive the Promised Land soon.
Mike O. Akpati is a Public Affair Analyst based in Port Harcourt