The spin masters and believers in the President could say all they want in defending their paymaster and bread winner. It is now crystal clear to me, and I said it before, in one of my articles on the subject, that this President’s jihad against Corruption is increasingly losing its traction and credibility as the President moves from one blunder to another, in wanting to leave behind a legacy he can truly call his own. He is just going about the effort the wrong way, All he needs to do like Awolowo or Murtala Mohammed before him, is just focus on doing the right thing, the right way, and just leave History or posterity to take notice. Mahatma Gandhi did not have to establish a University or build a Library that will be named after him, after his death. So was Nelson Mandela or Martin Luther King or Thurgood Marshall. Those individuals would still for ever live in the hearts of their people and the world at large, for their selfless contributions to humanity.
At the end of the day, the War against Corruption is going nowhere under this President. This General may have been successful in real war situation in Biafra, his so-called War against Corruption is going to end in fiasco, sending Nigeria down the tube, because the corrupt officials in our Public Service and corrupt individuals, within our private sector in Nigeria, are now being openly coached by this President, there are more salient and devious ways to institutionalize Corruption in our country than just dipping your hands into the Nation’s treasury or vault. Obasanjo breeds and nourishes Corruption in Nigeria through his own personal example as a leader. It is all well and good for a leader to want to create a safety net for his family and children, when he is no longer around, but building all these castles in the air, with a view to infinitely supporting your family by deliberately abusing your office, is hardly the mark of a good leader. If future Nigerian leaders make the Obasanjo model, the gold standard in selfless leadership, I guarantee you, that the nation will never truly prosper. Obasanjo would just be seen as another Houphet Boigny of Ivory Coast who kad made sure the best building in Ivory Coast, and the most prosperous businesses and ventures in the entire country, either belong to himself as President, to his first lady or to one of his children or Family members and several in-laws.
I am pretty sure that Tafa Balogun the former I.G. now has every reason to smile. He may, already, have been pronounced guilty in the court of public opinion, but deep down in his heart, he would have realized, he and the President that wants him made a scapegoat in the War against Corruption, are really not too far apart in their ultimate goal, after all. The only difference was in the position that Tafa and Obasanjo have held in Government, and their perception of the powers they both have had, and could flaunt. Tafa has seen himself as the enforcer of the Law who is evidently above the Law, while Obasanjo views himself as second only to God in Nigeria who can make and unmake. Mr. Fabian Osuji and Mrs. Osomo the first casualties of Obasanjo’s War, must be feeling the same way, as the nation comes to grips with the full ramifications of Obasanjo’s antics as a leader, and how the War is possibly going to end, if the Judiciary in Nigeria, as usual, refuses to call a spade a spade, in correctly adjudicating all of the cases now filed in different courts against the Emperor by different interest groups in Nigeria led by the famous Senior Advocate of the Masses, Chief Gani Fawehinmi.
Our Nobel Peace Laureate in English, Wole Soyinka could not have been more precise in defining the exact breach of this President .The Obasanjo Presidential Library initiative was extortion, at its worst, by a naked Emperor, who is telling the Nation “do what I say, but please don’t do what I do” In that context, I can see little or no difference between Obasanjo and Abacha and Ibrahim Babangida, two or the most corrupt Presidents in the entire history of our country. I have been reading with passion, Dr. Fakinlede’s series of articles on Corruption in which the intellectual giant has tried to define for us the true meaning of Corruption in all its ramifications. The part 6 and the other articles can be found in the Archives of the Lagosforum web site on the world wide web. I encourage all of you to go read the series as a prelude to expressing an opinion on Obasanjo’s mindset on what constitutes Corruption in Nigeria. I can tell you in this article, that Obasanjo has breached all the golden rules itemized by Dr. Fakinlede.
An Intelligence Report crafted by the American Intelligence Community has recently released a report in which it had been predicted that Nigeria is most likely to crash under its own weight, and fall apart within the next 15 years, if the current trend in our country remains the rule and not the exception. Much of that report, as I found out in my limited research of the report, is predicated on the sorry state of Corruption in our country among others, and how our leaders, Obasanjo included, are woefully failing in their duties to seriously confront the nemesis.
Of course, the Emperor was the first to quickly dismiss the report with a wave of the hand, saying it was a baseless report, and that Nigeria is right on course. Part of the goal of this essay is to revisit that assessment and to tell the President, in no unmistakable term, he is wrong in his assessment and naïve trivialization of a serious report. One has to go back to memory lane to educate this President about what he may have done in the past, to add more fuel to the burning flame of Corruption in our country, and what he is currently doing to compound the problem.
I am only going to cite a few examples that I know very well. It is Corruption for this President to strive to discredit or destroy other Nigerians in his carefully orchestrated ascendancy to power in our country. Benjamin Adekunle, the Black Scorpion and the first Commander of the Third Marine Commando in the Biafran Wa,r was the first victim of that vendetta and Corruption. I will be the first to agree that Adekunle may have had himself to blame for getting careless or power-drunnk, at some point in his brilliant military career, but much of the problems he ha
d faced, at the peak of his glory, had come from colleagues like Obasanjo who were eyeing the same job he had, and who were seeking to find some ways to blackmail him, and to knock his head against those of the bigger bosses in the Head office, way back in Lagos and Kaduna at the time. Adekunle had done most of the heavy lifting in the Port Harcourt/Calabar axis of the Biafran War, but he had not survived to reap the full benefits of the marvellous job he had done. Much of his contributions in the War were reduced to mere anecdotal, at best, while Obasanjo who had taken over from him, had taken all the credits as documented in his first book on the War titled “My Command” The rest is history.
Once the Emperor had gotten past that, he had begun to position himself for more visibility in Nigeria, in preparation for becoming the first General in the South, besides Rear Admiral Wey, to be only a heartbeat from the presidency of the country which had been the exclusive preserve of the North up untill that moment, for obvious reasons. He, sure, had attained that remarkable leverage when he was hand-picked to become Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters, and second-in-command to the late General Murtala Mohammed. Obasanjo instinctively knew his own time would come, and he started positioning himself for that opportunity. His idea was to prove himself a dependable friend of the North who could be trusted to protect the interest of the North, come rain or shine, should he find himself in a position of leading the country. I give him credit for being so methodical and calculating in his approach. But the best thing he did was to prove to the North he was different from Awolowo, the undisputed leader of the Yorubas and a wrongly perceived sworn enemy of the North. Obasanjo has had a chance to demonstrate that loyalty when he blatantly told Nigerians, that the best man, meaning Awolowo, did not have to win the 1979 Elections, and he did not leave, the country in doubt about who the Federal Government led by him, had wanted to see as the next President. The North was, of course, pleased Obasanjo had delivered on his “quid pro quo” contract with the North when they generously allowed him to succeed Murtala Mohammed, a favor they had, earlier on, denied Brigadier Ogundipe and General Aguiyi Ironsi That development had informed the willingness of the North to again go back to bring Obasanjo out of prison to come rule Nigeria, one more time, on another “quid pro quo” presumption, he would return the nation back to normalcy, following the refusal of the chore North to completely back and inaugurate M.K.O.Abiola who had clearly won the first truly free and fair elections in our country.
Just like Obasanjo had blackmailed Benjamin Adekunle and Obafemi Awolowo, he had also rubbished Abiola when he simply told Nigerians that Abiola was not the Messiah they truly deserve and needed. The nation has now come to a full understanding what Obasanjo had mean,t when the Messiah was released from prison to come become President for the second time too many.
Obasanjo has always been a deal maker extraordinary. He has too many IOUs in Nigeria to be able to effectively play the role of a disinterested enforcer of the Law in Nigeria. He himself has broken too many of those rules in his rise to power in Nigeria, and can hardly be trusted to deliver on all the things he has promised. Obasanjo would sacrifice you, if you stand in his way, as a friend, because to him, the end justifies the means. He could be smiling at you one moment, and stab you the very next, all in the name of keeping Nigeria one in his own convoluted mind. How could such a man lead a War against Corruption in a country kept alive by an incomprehensible compromise and obnoxious deal making of the worse order? I just don’t see that happening, if the truth must be told.
The same Obasanjo had championed the need to have a Land Use Law as enforced in the North, be forced down the throat of the South, regardless of the previous practice and protocol in the South, where the Land is privately owned, and transferred from one generation of Family to another. Obasanjo’s general excuse for doing so, was that it would make it easier for the Federal Government, using the principle of “eminent domain” in Real Estate Law to effortlessly acquire land for development purposes which sounds nice and easy on paper, but is full of complications in practice at least in the South of the Niger. Any individual wanting to use land for business or industrial purposes can then apply to the Government in acquiring the Land for such projects. Obasanjo was already planning his post retirement strategies, and he needed land for his huge investment on Agriculture, and he had used his good offices as Head of the Federal Government, like he is currently doing again, to create a conducive climate to be able to acquire, for mere peanuts, more than 20 to 35 miles of virgin land in Ota in the outskirts of Lagos, the commercial center of Nigeria. The land was to be his in perpetuity. It was a master stroke of a strategy that would for ever enrich and permanently empower Obasanjo and his children and grand children for generations yet unborn. Obasanjo would easily tell you he is, significantly aiding national development in helping to feed the nation from his farm, and he is damn right on that. But what he would not tell you, is what he may be gaining for himself and his children by using his office as Head of State. Only God can tell how much he has used the same privilege in turning much of what is left of Abuja into his own private estate, when the chips are down. In more civilized polities, such a behavior and extortion would be considered an unacceptable abuse of power which is disguised Corruption, if you share the Fakinlede’s definition, as much as I do. Because Obasanjo was able to do that as Head of State, I cannot now recall, how many public servants with some influence in Nigeria, had gone back to their villages and hamlets in the nook and corners of Nigeria to start acquiring other peoples’ land just because they can. Corruption comes in different shapes and forms in Nigeria, as observed by Dr. Fakinlede, and I totally agree with him.
Not too long ago the same Obasanjo whose Federal Government had more or less ruined University Education in Nigeria, has opted, while still in office, to join the rest of Nigerians in establishing his own Bell University, as the extension of his own Bell Nursery and Primary School and Secondary School. The very University Commission his own Government has appointed, was to grant him the license to establish the University, and he, Obasanjo, has not seen anything wrong in that. For a similar breach of protocol, I recall Murtala Mohammed and Obasanjo as second-in-command had retired so many public servants, way back in the mid 70s, for even doing business not to talk of belonging to a secret society. Such an infraction would have led to
outright dismissal of any public servant by Murtala Mohammed, if you remember. The President openly doing business and using public servants to execute his own private business, was not an abuse of office to Obasanjo.
It was an expedient use of power, as long as it benefits the public in any shape or form. Idi Amin could easily have done the same thing, without any fear of contradiction. If Obasanjo is able to do what he is doing today, what should stop a School Principal, while still in office, from establishing another competing school in his neighborhood, and diverting the resources of the Government school to his own, all in the name of Development. Just think about it. In the climate of the current War on Corruption, I think such a behavior should be seen as deviant and unhelpful to say the least..
Now to the mother of all Corruptions in my judgment. Obasanjo, while still in office, has again decided to launch his own Presidential Library, a first in the history of our Nation, which I applaud at one level. But what is not so kosher is the fact that Obasanjo is seriously abusing his office to get the project off the ground, and openly using Government contractors, as big donors to that project. It is “fine Bara” at its best, and Baba Iyabo is doing it with pomp and pageantry. What Obasanjo is doing in Nigeria today, is much more egregious and offensive than what the Republican Governor Rowland of Connecticut is being sent to jail for in the United States not too long ago.
He had used his good offices to have Government contractors pave the road leading to his own private Summer vacation house, on a quid pro quo basis. Obasanjo’s offence was a lot worse than that.
He is using his office as Head of State to raise money for his own private project, and he is using public officials and Government time to run a private enterprise running into billions of Naira, and he is doing so with impunity, just like Tafa Balogun has been doing. Here is a President who has told the nation that all his family members including his first lady, are under strict order, not to be seen as aiding and abetting Corruption and that if they do, he would be the first to get them arrested and sent to jail.
I am patiently waiting to see how the Court is going to decide the several motions already filed by Gani Fawehinmi accusing Obasanjo and his Government of a clear abuse of office. The motion is so loaded and factual that I think it will be difficult for any Court to simply ignore it or set it aside. No wonder, the National Assembly and the Senate are threatening to impeach the President. If Obasanjo were to be an American President, forget it. It is a foregone conclusion that he would be impeached or forced to resign. He is already guilty of an abuse of office, and obstruction of Justice, and cannot survive a serious impeachment proceeding on the floor of Parliament and in the Court of public opinion.
That is precisely why Obasanjo is totally unfit to continue to lead the War on Corruption. It makes no sense at all.
I rest my case.
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