Obasanjo, Beware The Ides Of March

by Uzoma Nduka

In every presidential system of government, the buck stops at the president and commander-in-chief’s table. The ‘goodable’ and ‘badables’ of the government are the president’s responsibility. If the government performs well, the president takes credit for it. And if the government performs woefully, the president still sucks the knocks. The name of a good president lives after his or her regime. Nelson Mandela is a quintessence of a perfect president. Bill Clinton can never be forgotten by a greater percentage of Americans and the rest of the world.

Politics, as the name sounds, is a poisoned ticking of time and people. It is so because its results remain anonymous and murky. No one knows what it’s birth will be until the child cries.

The politics played in Nigeria is synonymous with this double-edged birth of the unknown. The populace doesn’t know the ditch the elected officers will steer them into. They just go to the polling booth, punch the ballot paper, throw in the ballot paper into the ballot box and wait for the unknown. Oftentimes, this exercise of right has resulted in unfriendly disenfranchisement of basic citizen rights and abandonment of government responsibilities to its citizenry. And this makes voters shilly-shally. Sometimes, too, it makes elections a sham.

Today, Nigerians are reaping the sour fruits produced from the last election. Party has risen against party. Opposition party has pulled the trigger against ruling party. Governors have drawn daggers against their deputies. Members of the senate and house of representatives have plotted and are still plotting to topple their leaders, on one side, and members of their party, on the other. As we speak, it is the turn of the president against his vice. When shall all these end? When shall men play men and not boys? When?

The genesis of the current tide between the president and his vice dates back to when the vice president, Atiku Abubakar, indicated his interest in becoming the president of this country called Nigeria. No one knows what agreement was reached between Obasanjo and Atiku prior their second term. Since Atiku told Obasanjo he wanted to taste the 1st seat of the nation, things turned topsy-turvy. The romance became sour and Nigerians lay dumb in the rail.

So many things have been said and done by each of the leaders to undo the other. The cap came when Atiku was accused of having a hand in the bribery scandal of one Mr. William Jefferson, a member of the U.S. House of Representative. It was alleged that thousands of dollars was found locked in Congressman Jefferson freezer and was caught on tape accepting bribes. And allegation is that he got the money as part of brokering an African telecommunications deal. Meanwhile, Congressman Jefferson has pleaded not guilty. According to him, “I would take full responsibility for any crime that I committed, if that were the case. But I will not plead guilty to something I did not do, no matter how things are made to look and no matter the risk,” (Fox News.com).

But back home in Nigeria, Atiku has been declared guilty without a court plea or due process. His own party has declared him a persona non grata. Vice president Atiku has been fighting like a bull to pull himself and his reputation out of this political web. He sees it like a plot to undermine and rubbish his presidential ambition.

Like the saying goes, the grass suffers when two elephants fight.

More so, as the grass suffers the elephants continue to eat the grass. Nigerians are not benefiting from this bellicosity of the president and his vice. Nigerians smell tough times from this show of power and affluence and influence from these men (who are supposed to be gentle). These leaders are not showing good example to their successors, if there will be any. Their attitude tells us that they do not care if the country destroys and fall apart as a result of their macho posturing. From ocular proof, president Obasanjo and vice president Atiku do not care if Nigerians are squeezed and Nigeria smitten. Both men are displaying strength and power in the wrong direction. They are dissipating their energy in a wrong way. Even their own children might not be caught in this kind of imbroglio.

However, if Nigeria dies today and in this year of 2006, the only name that will be called for crucifixion is Obasanjo’s. If Nigeria heads towards extinction from the world map, Obasanjo will bear the blame. The president must know that he is the number one citizen of our country right now. And as it is, if anything goes wrong he is to be blamed. If he realizes this then he must act to rectify the current political abnormalities in the country. He should stop feigning naïve of the situation. The president must and should face the reality and call the house to order. The events in Anambra (past and present), Abia (harassment of Orji Uzo Kalu’s mom), Plateau, and Ekiti and so on are not sweet scenting for durable democracy. As the father of Nigeria, he should pull his kids to order. The president knows what to do and how to go about it. He knows what is and has been going on and can address it. If he cannot, he can assemble patriotic Nigerians like Alex Ekwueme, Wole Soyinka, Gani Faweihinmi, and Tam David West to help him out.

No one person is a compendium of knowledge. The president is not left out. He cannot claim absolute wisdom. And for the sake of our country, Nigeria, he should not. The president must watch his back in order to save millions of Nigerians who have been praying for good leadership and follower ship. History and precedent must be a constant reminder to this president. Nigerians do not want a repeat of either the 1967-70 experience or military presence. And the president should be reminded that the northerners will not be glad the way he is treating one of theirs giving the fact that it was them that gave him the opportunity to be the president. Mr. President should listen to lots of underground tremors and mumblings going on. He should put his ears to the ground and hear what the gods are saying.

In effect, president Obasanjo should put back his swords and waive the white hanky for the betterment of Nigerians. Finally, he should sink his pride and raise the bride-Nigerians. Mr. President, please save our soul and save yours.

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