OBJ, hypocrisy is thy name!
By Mustapha Abdullahi
In the traditional clime we find ourselves, there are two categories of persons you do not rail at, no matter how justified you may be. You do not insult an elder, and you do not pour invectives on a king, except, of course, if you are an elder. Many have often wondered why a man who prides himself as being a traditionalist, but often seeks to wear the toga of a religious man, though he has all the avenues to state his position on issues without playing to the gallery, will use public fora to denigrate the presidency he once occupied.
However, it took another Oba, at the launch of the book in honour of Justice Mustapha Akanbi in Abuja, for Obasanjo to hear the bitter truth of his hypocrisy. Oba Akiolu of Lagos, having suffered in the past in the hands of Obasanjo, made no bones that although Obasanjo set high standards for others, he (Obasanjo) did not live by them.
Interestingly, nearly seven years after he left office, the former President gave a peep into his relationship with the National Assembly, though he tried to make it look that it was part of President Goodluck Jonathan's travails in the hands of members of the Legislature. Many will not forget in a hurry what Ghali Na'Abba and his House of Representatives forced Obasanjo through, making him come to the Assembly grounds almost on bent knees. It was a sight to behold the president, gaunt looking and bent over, walking the corridors of the Assembly humbled and pleading for mercy as the sword of impeachment was raised over his neck. He never forgave Ghali and ensured he was banished out of that House when elections came.
Not only was it said that money exchanged hands at that time through third parties, other situations arose during his tenure that many lawmakers wailing laughed to the bank. The distribution of N50 million each to those in the Assembly willing then to push through a third term agenda for him still resonates. Yet, he hypocritically continues to speak about bribery and corruption.
What many dare not tell the old man to his face because of his legendary capacity not to forgive, Oba Akiolu told him to his face. With his dark glasses on, he simply stopped short of calling Obasanjo a hypocrite, insisting he does not practise what he preaches.
Akiolu, known as a die-hard, even blind follower of Bola Tinubu, apparently did not like the way Obasanjo spoke against Jonathan, seeking to remove the speck in the President's eyes when he carries logs in his.
As an example, and waxing personal, he said: “Baba (Obasanjo) was against Lagos when he was the president of Nigeria. He seized funds which belonged to the 57 local councils' funds. He did not like my emergence as the Oba Lagos.”
Obasanjo, in his characteristic “garrison commander” style, snatched the microphone, struggled to get it on and defended himself as many looked on; some in dismay, others in disgust, while his admirers appeared awed. His defence at the charges of hypocrisy? Of course, he said nothing, preferring to speak on the Lagos funds. “What Lagos did was wrong and as the president of Nigeria then, I ensured the enforcement of the constitution.”
And for allowing his attack dogs to come after him after he claimed Jonathan had performed below average, Obasanjo's unforgiving spirit came to the fore. He said: “Management of democracy without resorting to brute force and dictatorial tendencies must be cultivated. As a leader, you must not deliberately do evil or condone evil. You should know that you will one day give account to God; you may cover up here, but before God, there is no cover up.”
This writer wonders if Obasanjo was to stand before God with his righteousness outside that ascribed to him, if he would not be headed for hell. Yet he chose to discuss judgment. The same man who sat idly by as hoodlums kidnapped and humiliated a sitting Anambra Governor; the same man who birthed the impunity of attacking constituted authority talking about God's judgment. If the former president is indeed a student of theology at the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), then his public postulations are showing either his teachers are half-baked or he is not imbibing what he is learning in school or privately.
On corruption, he said “when the head is rotten, the whole body is useless.” It is instructive that the rotten headedness began in 2001 or thereabouts when he began to show interest in a second term. It continued and got ingrained in the body politic when he was nurturing a third term dream.
While many, hypocrisy apart, believe that he told the truth of the situation prevailing in the country in the last 15 years, even under his watch; it is generally opined that the country deserves a change of heart and actions from the presidency to the 36 states of the federation. This includes those in the opposition, especially the All Progressives Congress (APC), itself an almost perfect clone of the PDP, being an amalgam of angry former PDP members and a bunch of cloners and forgers.
Mustapha Abdullahi contributed this piece from Abuja via [email protected]
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