As I reflect on this topic, I cannot help but recall the Madeline Albright Doctrine on why it serves little or no useful purpose to seek power, if you will not use that power, if and when there are compelling reasons so to do. Obasanjo as a leader and a human being, may have been wrong on few of the positions he has taken before, on issues of national, regional or global importance in his epic political career. I criticize him, if I think he is wrong, but I never fail to praise him, if I think he is right on any issue. I also do appreciate that what a man is seeing or saying is often a factor of where that man is sitting or standing. I criticize him if I need to, and not just for the fun of it, in the hope that this unusually lucky Nigerian out of 120 million people would appreciate his limitations as a human being, and should stop playing God or seeing himself as the Alfa and omega of Nigerian destiny.
I do understand his temptation to want to see himself in that light, when he thinks of the uncanny opportunities that have come his way, and what God and the Nation may have done for him, talk less of what he too may have done for our country and for himself in the various positions he has served our Nation. It takes more than one individual to build a Nation, and every successful leader must appreciate that, and let that awareness shine through on how he leads the nation. He must not see himself as having the monopoly of wisdom on what is good for our country to the extent that he would often consider or write-off dissenters as saboteurs who do not wish Nigeria well. Having said that, I want to say how impressed I feel about Obasanjo’s principled stand as Chairman of African Union, at this point in time, on the unfortunate development in Togo. If the African Union leadership remains steadfast on their stance on Togo, Faure Gnassingbe’s illegitimate Government would have no choice but to go back to the drawing table to do what they should have done before, in accordance with Togo’s Constitution. Obasanjo as an elder statesman and someone who been President while Faure was probably still in diapers, has the moral right to lecture Faure like he, (Obasanjo) had done when Faure recently led a delegation to Abuja. Obasanjo is probably about the same age with Faure’s father, and he, sure, knew what he was talking about.
It is about time that regional bodies like the African Union stand together to discourage the type of outrage currently unfolding in Togo following the death of Gnassingbe Eyadema. At a time, much of the world is embracing Democracy, Constitutionality and Due Process, the African Continent ought not to be left out. Dictatorship in all of the African countries ought to be challenged and confronted. It takes a lot of guts for the leadership of the African Union to rise up to the occasion, and to call a spade a spade, like Obasanjo has is doing on Togo right now.
Some might argue that Togo, as a sovereign state must never take dictation either right or wrong from any other country or regional organization Those who subscribe to that view, are suffering from myopia, and are not helping the tiny country called Togo. Maximum ruler and dictator, Gnassingbe Eyadema the late President had come into office in a military coup around the same with our own Yakubu Gowon, and has continuously ruled the country ever since. He had managed to leave in place constitutional provisions for succession in the event of a sudden death like the one he had suffered. The Constitution of Togo does not leave room for a son to just pick up the mantel and succeed his father. just like that. But some Togolese leaders in their blind loyalty to the late dictator were willing to suppress the Constitution, abandon the due process, and just ask his son to step into his father’s shoes out of fear to upset the apple cart, and because they wish to maintain their entrenched positions of power.
The senior Eyadema had so conditioned the minds of the powerful minority in Togo that they could not exercise any judgment to ensure that the existing Constitution is strictly followed in picking the successor who would then conduct a free and fair election to let the people make their choice. Even though Eyadema is no more, his shadow still scares the powers that be in Togo that they are afraid to follow their own Constitution. All that Obasanjo is asking for, is that Togo ought to strictly follow her own Constitution. Period. Not to do so, is to leave a bad precedent for the future in any other African nation including Nigeria. The problem in Togo today could resurface in another African country tomorrow. The reorganized African Union currently headed by Obasanjo, is making it clear to African dictators, it is no longer going to be business as usual. That, in my judgment, is great progress, and the Nigerian President deserves our commendation for such strong leadership.
What Obasanjo is doing today should be seen as a tribute to the stance and work of outstanding African leaders like the late Nwalimu Julius Nyerere, the great Nelson Mandela and his successor Thabo Mbeki, and other African leaders who strongly believe that any member country of the great African Union must, of necessity, share certain democratic norms and values that cannot be compromised. If the organization is to attain her ultimate goals, member countries have got to observe some discipline and fairness in their different countries. Leaders cannot pretend to be democrats in the African Union, and then go back home to start practicing Dictatorship of the worst order. The Kamuzu Bandas, the Mobutu Sese Sekos of this world and so many others would never have gone as far as they did in holding their different countries to ransom for so long, if the current wind of change brought about in the African Union by leaders like Obasanjo, had come sooner.. It is a fine development, I dare say, and I think our President deserves every support he can get on this.
I rest my case.