“Every dictator is an enemy of freedom, an opponent of law.” (Demosthenes)
The echoes in Nigerian political space is only taken for granted at the peril of any observant public commentator. Before the onset of any political evil in Nigeria, they are always preceded first by innuendoes, followed by public campaigns and then the act. Last week marked the first time the current boomerang in our nation (the President’s third term agenda), entered its second phase of public campaigns. In a now infamous statement the President of Manufacturing Association of Nigeria (MAN) had the guts to call on the President to undermine the constitution and seek high-office an unprecedented third time!
Nigeria is a very dangerous place, and we are very dangerous people. The same categories of people that are campaigning for the continuation of the Obasanjo administration are the same ‘yes men’ of yesterday. They were the first propagators of the five leprous hands that turned Nigeria to a banana state, adopting the dark goggled General as sole presidential candidate, until God decided his time was up! As if they have not learned their lessons, they are today cheering up an apparently megalomaniac Obasanjo for an evil, corrupted agenda borne out of greed, cult of personality and a fundamental disrespect for the rule of law! Who amongst them is certain of seeing 2007? Apparently, no one has learnt lessons from recent deaths that overtook our nation; it might be that they can’t see through the reckless power they wield or ill gotten wealth!
The most worrisome dimension to this gerrymandering is the continued silence of the man at the center of this debacle. Previously, until a very respectable newspaper confirmed the rumors in their weekend edition (specifically the flagship of Nigerian journalism: The Guardian), many -including my person- have refrained from drawing the President into this shameful mess. But on reading between the lines in the said front page story in the Saturday Guardian, it was apparent that Mr. President has decided to play chess with the lives of ordinary Nigerians and the collective well being of our democracy! If the rumors are wrong, then he should step out of his comfort zone to deny them! Even when the rumors about the soured relationship between his deputy and himself saturated the media, he finally came out of his shell. One wonders, why it has been particularly difficult for the General to lay the ground rules for his foot soldiers. Beyond the President however, we have the Governors who for their own vain reasons are impertinently fueling the third term debate. Afraid of what Ribadu will do to them, they will rather stake out Ribadu’s first five year term and fight against his return than risk being out power and exposed to the whole world for what they really were: thieves.
The implication of a third term agenda is simply too gargantuan to fit in a single article. In once fell swoop the honor of a nation, a man and a legacy is going to be consigned to the dustbin of history! A third term agenda is a humiliation to our country, once confirming that our nation cannot join the committee of democratic nations. It is an affront on our constitution, our way of life and the thin political thread that is binding our fractured nation together. Obasanjo will be doing his legacy a great disfavor and will be doing the single most destructive action of his now ‘storied’ administration of demonstrably mixed impact on the lives of Nigerians. Obasanjo’s legacy no matter how pilloried, is a legacy of response to democratic yearnings, it is a legacy of putting nation first before self and that is what we ask now: nothing more, nothing less. A man who left office in 1979 voluntarily should do so many years later without much ado.
If there is anything that Nigeria requires at this point in our national history, it is change. The men of yesterday have failed us, and Obasanjo’s generation I boldly declare is a failure! Yes, they destroyed the legacy of their fathers creating a monster called corruption and feeding the good works of the freedom fighters that drove the white men out of Nigeria to the pigs. The generation of Obasanjo assumed leadership at a relatively young age, yet they shut the younger people coming after them out of the political space rather pillaging it for the benefit of their closest friends, relatives and fellows. They fought a mind boggling civil-war, rendered their country men penniless and presided over the longest cycles of coups and counter-coups. It is, using the words of the Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka, a wasted generation. This generation needs to go, we need to conscript them to the dustbin of history and even though Obasanjo have succeeded in putting lipsticks on the pig by trying to tame the evil spirit of his generation i.e. corruption, they will still go down in history as the worst that ever was, that will ever be and one we don’t need. Now that they are approaching or exceeded retirement, let them retire.
In the previous week, a new grouping to fight the third term agenda was born while another to support it was taking roots. Who can we trust? My answer is: None. All these political juggernauts failed Nigerians before and they will fail us again. What we need is a grassroots resistance to the very idea: a resistance predicated on the philosophy of giving everyone a chance. If Obasanjo have had his eight years, it is time for another four years for someone else: anyone except you Mr. President. Years of stagnation have been the result of perpetuity, sit-tight syndrome and lack of dynamic exchange of ideas in the political space. If Nigeria truly wants to develop, we cannot build our hopes around individuals. Nigeria is greater than Obasanjo and his yes men! What we should develop are institution, and may be it is become real why OBJ have cynically failed to develop true institutions in his seven years sojourn but was comfortable with building a bullet proof resume of foreign travels and political braggadocio.
To all many well meaning Nigerians, this is a fight we can simply not afford to lose if it comes. Obasanjo must go and that is it. It is only the sane and the moral thing to do. He was elected for specific period of time, under a constitution however flawed but which he has sworn to uphold. Since this happens to be the law of the land, and as a nation of the rule of law not men, he must abide by the pact or he automatically becomes public enemy number one. Apparently, it is not enough to write about it we must mobilize every resource at our disposal to push back against this evil agenda called third term. At the end of day, like every other season, we shall overcome if we stick our stake in sand, draw the line and fight back like true democrats! Nigeria we hail thee!
Dictatorship naturally arises out of democracy, and the most aggravated form of tyranny and slavery out of the most extreme liberty.