Obasanjo: A Once-In-A-Life Time Opportunity Lost

by Dr. Wunmi Akintide

The third term agenda as I predicted before has already failed. This article is my own post mortem on Obasanjo’s worst calculation or mistake as a leader and statesman. As I do so, I cannot help but recall the immortal words of the world’s greatest teacher, Socrates, when he said and I quote that “the closest any man can get to perfection is to admit his mistakes” The same Socrates has forcefully argued that it is a fatal error for any man to allow himself to fall in love with his or her own ideas, because once that happens, the

man or woman “blocks out” andwould never allow new and more rational ideas to come in.

I have to believe that Socrates was thinking of Obasanjo and people like him, when he made that time-honored statement. I am persuaded that Obasanjo who has never been a good-looking man to me, at least, could not have fallen in love with himself anytime he looks himself in the mirror. But he, sure has a different opinion of his intellect, his wisdom and sheer good luck or destiny as one Nigerian out of our more than 120 million who has been specially favored or blessed by God to have done what no other Nigerian leader has been able to do or accomplish in very difficult and even mythical circumstances, I might add.

Obasanjo as pointed out by a man I am proud to identify as an Akure Chief, General Theophilus Danjuma has said something about Obasanjo that is so true as I reflect on it. Danjuma was one of the few Nigerian Generals that had engineered Obasanjo’s release from death row in 1999, to be sworn into office for the second time in 20 years as President. Obasanjo had done it without lifting a finger or spending a penny out of his own pocket. The presidency that Obasanjo was given on a platter of gold and without a sweat, was something our greatest Yoruba leader, Obafemi Awolowo had sought in vain despite his obvious talents as an effective and resourceful leader. General Danjuma in a

statement described as a time bomb for Obasanjo’s third term ambition, has rejected thenotion that Obasanjo was only seeking a third term. To the brave General, Obasanjo was actually seeking a fourth term. General Danjuma has spoken for the great majority of Nigerians and for much of the powerful North when he made that statement.

If Obasanjo was as wise as I thought he was, I thought he should have seen the handwriting on the wall. He should have seen the statement and similar statements from Nigerians of all walks of life, as the turning point in his futile quest for a silly third term. He should have begun what the great Reuben Abati has recently described as an exit strategy even before making his most recent state visit to Indonesia in his newly custom-made presidential aircraft. Obasanjo has become addicted to power and he, sure, needs help. On his way from Indonesia perhaps he can take time off to seek help at the Mayo Clinic in Cleveland Ohio.

If Obasanjo is a grateful man, he should have realized by now that God has been too kind to him. I think he has overstayed his welcome with God by embarking on his third or fourth term project. He has also proved himself an embarrassment to his own Yoruba race by asking for more like Oliver Twist. Here was one Nigerian who has done what Napoleon could not do in a very difficult country like ours, and God has seen him through all those difficulties, and has made him a winner despite his human limitations and weaknesses. Obasanjo did not start the Biafran War, but he surely ended it and took most of the credit, while one of the best leaders of the war, the famous black scorpion,

Brigadier Benjamin Adekunle was quietly disgraced out of office and sent into premature retirement. The day the greatest Nigerian military leader, Murtala Mohammed was assassinated in cold blood right in front of my office next door to the Federal Secretariat at Alagbon, Ikoyi area of Lagos, a few sharp shooters, elements of the Dimka coup were in ambush waiting to sprayObasanjo’s official car with bullets as he drove to Dodan Barracks that fatefulmorning. Guess who took the bullets for Obasanjo? It was Colonel Dumuje, an Obasanjo-look-alike in uniform. By that stroke of luck, Obasanjo was spared the tragedy of being murdered in cold blood just like his boss. If Obasanjo has been killed

that day, nobody would be talking today of athird or fourth term for him as President.

When Obasanjo found himself on the wrong side of our maximum dictator, General Sani Abacha, he was quickly implicated in an imaginary coup, arrested and tried and found guilty, and was to be executed by firing squad, were it not for providence that saved him. It was from Abacha’s Gulag that Obasanjo was released and granted a state pardon that made it possible for him to run for President riding on the coattails of other party men and diehard supporters like Danjuma, IBB and the same Atiku that has now parted ways with Obasanjo. Obasanjo has always been a product of the mighty grace of God. His presidential jet was once forced to land in dangerous Abuja airport in total darkness

because of the dereliction of NEPA. Obasanjo, the cat with nine lives has escaped death again one more time too many.

Once upon a time, Obasanjo was the only southerner that the whole of the North could trust. Not any more. He had told the nation that M.K.O. Abiola was not the Messiah, and he was one of the few amorphous and faceless leaders that convinced IBB to annul the freest and the fairest presidential election in all of Nigerian History. Despite that perfidy, Obasanjo has continued to enjoy the divine grace of God and has had enough reservoir of good will to still continue to govern the country. We are all eye witnesses to the assassination of uncle Bola Ige whose death still remains a mystery till tomorrow, while

bosom friendthe President could do nothing about it till now. As a matter of fact, it now appears that Obasanjo is now using some of the same atrocious strategies that Sani Abacha and IBB had used in demonizing the opposition, and getting rid of them. What goes around comes around. When Obasanjo’s cup is full, he might yet answer for all of his iniquities as a matter retributive justice.

Obasanjo is now leading the war on corruption in Nigeria, but he is doing it in such a blatantly one-sided way that many rational people have to wonder bout his ultimate goal in faking the effort. If it is true that his government is willing to offer as much as 50 to 70 million Naira bribes to any senator or legislator who would support his bid for a third term, what does that say about his so-called war against corruption? Your guess is as good as mine. I must now return to the crux of the matter and the title of this article.

No Nigerain dead or alive has had as much opportunity as Obasanjo to fundamentally transform Nigeria. A barrel of crude oil is now selling for close to 100 dollars in the international market. That is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Nigeria to break even and for the common man on the street to begin to feel the impact of the economic magic that Obasanjo is claiming to have set in motion. We have seen the President buying a multi million dollar jet for himself while the common men continue to wallow in abject poverty much worse than when he took over in 1999. The born-again Christian President does not see anything wrong in that. Under Obasanjo, Nigeria has only borrowed her way

into prosperity for a littlewhile for the few supporters in the corridors of power who don’t want to letgo.

Nigeria supplies electricity on contract to a few other countries in Africa. Those countries enjoy steady electricity supply but Nigeria is almost always in total darkness. In other oil producing countries like Indonesia where Obasanjo is paying a state visit today, the cost of gas and petrol is made affordable for the common man. Not so in Nigeria. Once upon a time in Iraq, Iran and Saudi Arabia, not to talk of Kuwait and Dubai, a liter of petrol sel

ls for less than nine cents. In Nigeria, it is a different story. The common man is worse off today than he was when Obasanjo first came to power in 1976 to 1979 and again in 1999.

Obasanjo now gives the impression and he wants the whole nation to buy the presumption that he is the only one who can successfully govern Nigeria and manage her resources. Despite the best advice from world statesman like Nelson Mandela, he has refused to listen to good advice from all over the world and even from Kofi Annan the UNO Secretary-general and from George Bush and Tony Blair.

Obasanjo has all the opportunity, in spite of his character flaws, to go down in history, as one of the greatest Nigerian leaders, but because of greed and too much ambition he is quite willing to throw out the baby with the bath water. He who the gods will destroy, they will first make mad. That cliche appears to brilliantly sum up the cul-de-sac that Obasanjo has found himself with his disastrous third term agenda.

The tragedy of Obasanjo is a huge tragedy for our country. It is a big opportunity lost which can never be regained. Obasanjo’s third term agenda is not only still-born, it is a colossal waste of Nigerian resources and a recipe for future dictatorship in Nigeria. I think JFK has said it all and Obasanjo must do well to listen. “Those who make peaceful change impossible, make violent change inevitable.

I rest my case.

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1 comment

Richie Adz June 16, 2008 - 3:11 am

This man, Dr Akintide, is a gem. He writes without fear or favour. Everything he writes about are either true, or predictions or views that come to pass. You can hear “Cry Our Beloved Country” in many of his writings about so many issues concerning Nigeria. Well done, our noble Doctor. Please don’t change your views and ideological stand like the likes of LKJ, Ebeno Topsy and etc. You have done well.


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