OBASANJO ON THE MARCH AGAIN
Life without Obasanjo would be one in which Nigerians have to own up to being perpetual complainants who do nothing about their complaints apart from moaning and moping. Nigeria without Obasanjo would be one where the political elite would have to admit that they are dumb horse-traders who can't fix just one man, one man from one remote village in Ogun state.
How are we supposed to survive without Olusegun Aremu Obasanjo? He's a deity. He sits comfortably at the road junction and we offer sacrifices to him whether he asks for propitiation or not. We are afraid of both what he will do and what he won't. If he coughs, we shiver. If he doesn't we still offer him cough syrup. And he is so amused by all this fuss, this entertainment from our non-award winning national third rate actors. But there will be less acting and no entertainment if God takes Obasanjo, our favourite president and politician. What can we do without him?
Since the beginning of the week when I started ruminating over this topic, the lyrics that kept coming to my mind is The Sun music when this publishing house hit the newsstands like thunderbolt eight years ago:
What can I do without the sun…
The sun, the sun the sun…
With the way we have held Baba responsible for everything, especially bad things, that has befallen the nation and the ones we dread may befall us soon, we might as well start singing
What can we do without Obj…
Baba, baba, baba…
Very funny. Indeed? Painful truth is the good old codger is smarter than us all. He wants something he goes right after it. He uproots everything in his path, both living and non-living things. The rest of us? When we want something we moan and groan about it. We call a pity party and cry on one another's shoulders. At best, we organise rallies. At the end of the day, we get nothing while Baba gets everything.
While Baba was building dossiers on everybody who could put sand sand in his gaari in the last Presidential polls, what were we doing? Sitting on our hands. And what have we done since 2007 to clip Baba's wings ahead of 2011? Giving speeches at well-attended meetings. Does Obasanjo hold meetings that are covered on live television when he hatches his plans? No. He only comes on air to announce his decisions about our lives or when he decides to say something that would give us sleepless nights.
What do we even do on those nights Baba takes away our sleep? We curse him and tell God to take him away. What does Baba do? He goes back to his drawing board to plan more coup. The bad news is I don't think God will take Baba. I think he has a pact with God to torment us. I think we have to draw up a plan to torment him instead of just talking about it. Too much talk is the real virus eating us up. Too much action is the whip Baba is using.
You don't agree with me? You think Nigerians are smarter than Obasanjo? You actually believe that our politicians can clip Obasanjo's wings? Ah, I will really like to see how you prove that. While you are drawing up your list, let's look at a few instances.
Have you ever asked yourself how the late President Yar'Adua became the PDP presidential candidate after all those other posters and campaigns by so many of his other governor colleagues. Long before the 'primaries', the others criss-crossed the country and had rallies. They gave interviews and mounted great billboards everywhere. They spent so much money, I reckon. Then came Baba's primaries and everywhere and everybody went quiet. The one whose posters we didn't see became 'the' candidate. And that was that. End of story. How did the old man do it? What made all those ex-governors swallow their tongues and buried their ambition with a wave of Baba's hand? The OBJ magic or the ex-governors' cowardice? The political elite's conspiracy against the rest of us or Baba's blackmail prowess? All of the above, believe me. Baba waved his magic wand and every presidential aspirant in PDP in 2007 fell in line. Shame shame shame.
I imagine Obj in khaki shorts, white hose and white starched shirt holding a long brown cane. I see the ex- aspirants all standing in a line before their headmaster. With his spectacles sitting on the bridge of his nose, he asked them:
All of you want to be president, ehn?
They all answered in the affirmative. Baba peered over the rims of his spectacles and shook his head and told them:
No you can't be president.
Because I said so and because you all have sinned and fallen short of my laws.
No, we have no sins.
Then you lie and there is no righteousness in you.
Baba patted a pile of files on the table beside him.
I've got indisputable evidence that you are all unclean and unfit to step into my shoes. And this is my proposal: you will all drop your ambition or I will call Ribadu.
What's it gonna be boys?
And the boys bolted, some into the toilet, some into the bush. And that was it, end of discussion.
Now, can someone tell me how all of that was Obj's fault? The aspirants just bolted. No fight. They didn't take their delegates out of the 'primaries'. They didn't get an injunction, perpetual or non-perpetual, restraining Baba, PDP and the primaries. They didn't leave PDP. They simply folded up like sausage casing, returning later, some of them, as ministers. Ah, don't you feel like throwing up?
When the old man told (oh, he didn't ask) Umaru he would be President, did Umaru say no? Did Yar'Adua know he was ill? Could he have put the nation first and work with the candidate he knew would, as the honest, incorruptible gentleman we have all said he was since May 5, lift this country? Did Baba have a gun to his head? In all, in whose interest was the Yar'Adua presidency? Think before you answer that last one.
Another painful truth is Baba knows us too much. He knew the 2007 aspirants would back off if he waved their files in their faces. He knew Yar'Adua would run. He knew the opposition parties couldn't hold an alliance together even if their lives depended on it. He knew he would win. And he won, didn't he? My boss summed it up this way: Yar'Adua was Obasanjo's final vendetta against Nigeria for denying him a third term.
Since Baba told the world that Umaru Musa Yar'Adua showed him a clean bill of health, that the late president was no longer on dialysis, has any member of the Yar'Adua family disputed the claim? Baba knew they would not.
Why am I reminding us of all our inadequacies and Baba's uncanny mastery of this game? 2011 and another Presidential primary is around the corner. Those who are deluding themselves that 'Baba is finished' should wake up and smell the coffee. Baba is a force we ignore to our peril. He's holding court in his Ogun homes. He's holding his cane differently this time but his goal is the same. He knows how to get what he wants and we know how to talk about it. He's on the march again. What is the opposition doing? The candidates who will go to this year's primaries, will they bolt again when they see OBJ's pile of files and cane? Will the NGOs unite or will new ones spring up for all kinds of reasons?
Governors Forum is powerful, someone said. Oh pleaseeee. How many of the governors can you swear are not in the pockets of baba's 'kembe' trousers? How many of them will choose national interest over their second term ambition?
See why Baba is big? While we blame him for all our troubles, he scores all the points. If God takes him away, won't we miss him? What will we do without him, huh? But do all these mean Olusegun Obasanjo is a bad man? I don't think so and that is a matter for another day.