And lo God answered Obasanjo!

If there is any Nigerian leader who should be sufficiently proud and elevated in physique and psyche because God has cared so much for him and has continued to answer his prayers, he is former President Olusegun Obasanjo. Events since his entry into Nigeria's leadership while as a soldier and a politician have proved that he is sui generis. No one, including the former president himself, can accurately quantify God's presence in his life. I must assert that by God, I mean the Almighty One who created the heavens and earth and all things therein.

Obasanjo came to power, in most cases, not by his own makings. As a military head of state, Nigerians know how the late Shehu Yar'Adua drafted him into the leadership. If Obasanjo prayed for it, then it was the beginning of greatness for him that God answered him.

The history of military leadership in Nigeria has been acclaimed to be sad that we must not recall it at all times. But in 1999, Obasanjo came to power at a time Nigerians were recovering from the grip of military dictatorship – not really like the civilian type of today. God tempted him and he was imprisoned. Hope was lost of his survival in the eyes of the sightless human beings. The story is stark. But if Obasanjo prayed, wonders of all wonders at that time occurred and he was miraculously released. God answered him again to continue a destined life.

The clouds were still dark as to how he would manage his after-prison life. And if he prayed, he was answered by God because against all popular views and juggernauts, he was again drafted to wear the shoes of leadership, heralding a successful return to democratic rule and governance.

During his years of leadership and till today, methink Obasanjo has a special relationship with God. It is not easy to forget that he proclaimed consulting God through prayer and fasting each time he was faced with difficult situations – most especially when he sought second and third terms and perpetual stay on the corridor of power. Nigerians were severally told that he consulted God. And he was answered when he again smartly retained his position through widely criticized elections in 2003. All efforts to unseat him through the Elections Petition Tribunal and the Supreme Court failed because God was on his side.

Although his eight years of civilian-military leadership were invariably characterized by mediocrity and faced with difficult situations that would have resulted into national revolution, corruption indices reeled over each other and lawlessness pervaded the state.

I recall that after the 1999 elections which saw Obasanjo as the President-Elect, he visited Egypt on a tour of selected countries with a delegation among which was the late Abubakar Rimi. Obasanjo received the Nigerian students and gave them elderly and fatherly advice. One of the things he told us was to continuously pray for the peace, unity and progress of Nigeria. Secondly he advised Nigerians abroad to come back and build Nigeria together. I can recall him vividly speak and I quote, “Nigeria is going to be great. You must come back after your studies to help build our fatherland”.

There were indications that the events which led to military takeover of government before 1999 were still prevalent in the system. Lives and properties of the citizenry were wasted to frivolous causes. Poverty hit harder. Unemployment walked freely on the streets. Human right, child and business abuses grew higher. Corruption mocked the nation to her face. There were dilapidation of infrastructures and despondency in governance. There was serious exploitation even in the communication system (GSM) which came to be in the regime.

Nigerians screened but were not heard. The soldiers proved not to be interested in the nation's leadership. But the greatest backer to Obasanjo in this regard, apart from the exertion of his military intelligence and experience, was that God answered him and made the khaki men to imbibe the ethics and values of democracy. The barracks were made warm for them.

Obasanjo was also answered when as the president for eight good years, he managed the power and energy and petroleum ministries where the whereabouts of uncountable monies found their ways to yet unknown destinations. And despite all attempts to distort this unlawful combination of powers, the covenant between Obasanjo and God remained unbroken.

God answered Obasanjo further when he carefully reallocated to himself and his political allies and cronies – though by proxy in many cases – the nation's assets, courtesy of the Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE). Conscious minded newsmen in those years could easily recall the glittering smiles that donned Obasanjo's beautiful face during the handover of Transcorp, former Eleme Petrochemicals (now Indorama), former NAFCON (now Notore) and a lot of others.

And lo before the end of his regime when God , maybe for once failed to answer his third term bid, compensated him with three things. Obasanjo perfected the constitution of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and made himself solely fit in as the Chairman, Board of Trustees for the party. Several plots to unseat him have always hit the brick walls.

Obasanjo carefully picked the sick president Yar'Adua with Jonathan as the vice. He knew the medical reports of the president and occurrences during the 2007 campaigns were enough warnings that the present situation would arise. But Obasanjo had prayed that one day his third term agenda would manifest and he would continue to hold on to power by proxy. It can only be described as latent that he is the overpowering hand in the presidency.

And the last is the setting of the economic crime detectors and prosecutors – the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practice Commission (ICPC) in such a way that the duo will not find him wanted for anything.

All in all, the question that poses an enigma is if God answers Obasanjo in all these cases and situations, how unimaginably that the eight years of his direct democratic leadership seemed to have kept God far away from the nation to the extent that failure in almost all the segments of the system became part and parcel of the country. God is an Incomprehensible Patient Being. Obasanjo has had good opportunities to repair this country, but whether he failed or succeeded will one day be judged because in Nigeria, hardly is a past leader challenged while alive. Abacha's demise brought all the troubles to his family and friends.

Muhammad Ajah, a writer, author, advocate of humanity and good governance writes from Abuja ([email protected] uk, 08055247005)

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Articles by Muhammad Ajah