Obasanjo, Where is the Power?

Olusegun Obasanjo
Olusegun Obasanjo (c) Agência Brasil

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo is a troubled soul. What better way to show his restless nature than that at a time he would have been in retirement, the old man is hustling on the streets. At a time he was supposed to sit back and thank God for his bountiful favours on him, Obasanjo is trudging on the roads, swearing, lying and scheming for power. Yes, at over eighty years, this fellow who is among the few that have been hugely favored by the inchoate Nigerian state and who has made very bountiful, corrupt harvest from that fling of fortune, is still coveting political fortunes. He is still recruiting eunuchs on whose back he wants to wield power after 11 years of direct control of power. He is still desirous of coming back to power through the backdoor. Nigerians understand Obasanjo’s trajectory better than his futile but desperate efforts to stay in power through the infamous third term when he completed his mandatory two terms as civilian President after another three years as military head of state!

Having realized the fatal blunder he made in writing President Buhari and threatening to remove him from power from very selfish and egoistic considerations and with the very rude way Nigerians reacted to his insipid letter, Obasanjo has called his old, ancient pride to action and instead of eating the humble pie, going home to rest, has decided to march the irrevocable road to destruction by going forward with his unpopular task. Let us remember that Obasanjo vowed that he had quit politics and would disembark from the coalition he threatened to form in his infamous letter, should it decide to transform into a political party. Yes, he has tried to give action to his threat but his effort at forming a coalition has met with humiliating disappointment as only a few grumpy, tired political lightweights and his traditional hirelings and courtiers have signed on to his jaundiced coalition. That should be added warning to Obasanjo that he is threading the paths of self-destruct but with a character like Obasanjo, who has a bloated impression of himself, drowning in the cesspool of hubris and ego than dismount a high horse of pride will always be a better option. It is obvious that Obasanjo, fired by the deep wound of Buhari’s snubbing of his letter, doesn’t pretend any further about respect and honour as he had proceeded further to not only turn his so-called coalition into a political party but gallivants all over the country with sour, bitter tales about President Buhari’s government and a threat to remove him from power come next year.  This report however, is not about Obasanjo’s multi-faced personality but about his years in power, which many Nigerians swear, was riddled with sordid acts of corruption that made his reign so ineffective and scandal ridden. In deciding to revoke his vow of quitting politics and re-engaging himself in the art of politicking, with a prurient penchant to haul muck at others, Obasanjo’s messy steward must be called to question and he must be ever ready to defend whatever took place under his watch.

While receiving members of Buhari Support Group in Abuja last week, President Buhari reminded them of the kind of putrid mess those who are now flattering themselves as redeemers of the people made here in Nigeria. He reminded them that a past leader (mind you he didn’t mention Obasanjo) claimed to have spent a whopping $16 billion in the power sector and asked where the power is. That was enough to set afire the mounting fury of Obasanjo and his supporters who were still hurting badly from Buhari’s snub of the many vile means they had been trying to call him out for a shouting match. They fawned, they threatened and they wailed but yet refused to tell Nigerians what they did with the huge $16 billion they claimed to have expended on power. Particularly miserable was Obasanjo’s sorry reply, through his spokesman, to the effect that Buhari should go and read Obasanjo’s book, My Watch, if he needs a reply to the poser he threw. That singular reply rebounded so badly that Obasanjo was left naked, soiled and bruised among an angry populace who couldn’t believe that a man that was in power for eleven years could give that kind of specious and outlandish answer on an issue that requires very clear and lucid reply. Poor Obasanjo, he thought this time around he will muddle his way through such huge poser by applying his well known guile and puerile antics but he seems trapped this time around.

Nigerians are asking if Obasanjo spent $16 billion on a power that exists in the pages of his book? So Nigerians that have been yearning for constant power supply or neon years should buy Obasanjo’s book to satiate their cravings for more power supply? Did Obasanjo and his mediocre spokesman mean that Nigerians will see power, real megawatts of electricity in Obasanjo’s book? Did Obasanjo use a whopping $16 billion to generate electricity that could only be accessed from his book? Was the $16 billion Obasanjo said he spent to power meant to be for power in his book only? You can imagine the audacity of corruption. You can imagine the daftness of the corrupt. You can imagine the porousness that undergirds corruption. Yes, it is easier to steal than to acquire and this shows a demeaning limitation that rules the mind of the corrupt.

Let us not forget that the $16 billion sleaze in the power sector had generated a hugely controversial legislative probe when the House of Representatives set up a probe panel headed by Ndid Elumelu to unravel the mystery of investing $16 billion in the power sector and having our power fortune worse than it was before the investment. Let us not forget some of the sordid fallouts of the probe where many of the so-called power plants Obasanjo claimed he was building were found by the house investigative panels to be fenced open lands overgrown by weeds and nothing more. Let us recall that like in any other high net worth corruption case, the legislative probe had been muddled in controversies, blackmail, threats, counter smear and all manners of efforts to suppress it. Let us recall that the probe was stalemated because those that probed and those that were being probed were caught in the matrix of compromise and Nigerians were left guessing what the outcome of the probe would have been. The present inquest of where the power that spewed forth from a $16 billion investment will open vistas for more transparent probe of this howling scandal that Obasanjo presided over.

But probe or no probe, the question ‘Where is the power’ remains unanswered and had almost been swept under the huge carpet where mountainous official malfeasances have been buried for ages now. What we get are trillions of megawatts of angry outpourings and curses and abuses from Obasanjo’s fawners and courtiers and no cogent answer as to where our $16 billion power is! In fact, in one of such diseased reactions, one of Obasanjo’s favored maidservants, and his former Education Minister, Oby Ezekwesili ran mad on twitter as he abused President Buhari as an ‘incomplete President’ and threatened that she and her cohorts will deal with him in the 2019 election. Going by the humiliating and totally deprecating reactions she got from her followers, what is not obvious is who will join her and her haggard train of Obasanjo lovers to execute her 2019 threat. Can you imagine the audacity and shamelessness of corruption? But she got far more than she bargained in that voyage she undertook when what is required of her and her boss is a very clear and convincing answer to a clear question.

Before President Buhari asked that question last week, those who were behind that elephantine rot were stomping all over the country, pontificating and sermonizing about their saintliness and the question itself will dog Obasanjo in his self-consuming messianic pretensions in the Nigerian political space. In a moment of sheer audacity of the corrupt, those who brought the country to its knees were threatening to come back by every means possible and among them was an Obasanjo whose every pores drips with corruption. That question will tag with such other monumental heists like the Halliburton case, Siemens contract case, the controversial presidential library issue, the Otta Farm resurgence and very many other putrid and dirty cases to reveal the messy underbellies of an Obasanjo that has constituted a national embarrassment in pursuance of his self-propelled vaunting ambition and self-serving ends.

From whichever angle you look at it, $16 billion is too huge to be swept under the same carpet that has harbored the egregious acts of our past leaders like Obasanjo. $16 billion can do wonders in the life of any nation, even in the advanced world. The money is too huge to be hidden inside the pages of a pejorative book that was aimed at self-praise and self-canonizations for which Obasanjo is a class act. When you rightfully invest $16 billion into the power sector, you are bound to have three giant Mambila power plants; of the type Buhari is building now. When you have $16 billion thrown into the power sector, you would generate over 10,000 megawatts of electricity and Nigeria would have put its power problems behind it by now. When you throw $16 billion into the country’s power sector, the multiplier effects would have tremendously impacted on the country’s economy by now and not on a book. These are hard, incontrovertible statistics that do not need the subjective narration of Obasanjo in a self-adulatory book to explain. These are raw facts that do not need farther elucidation, fits of stammering or the kind of confusion Obasanjo and his lickspittle are trying to import into answering this simple poser.

Nigerians, who have continually been frustrated in getting valid answers to the corrupt acts committed by their former leaders see a ray of light in the $16 billion power poser through a fresh and undiluted EFCC investigations of what happened to the $16 billion Obasanjo claimed to have invested on power without any proof of improvement. Obasanjo and his aides must be made to give us valid and incontrovertible answer to what happened to such huge tranche of money when there is nothing on ground to show the huge money went into the epileptic power sector we had in Nigeria for the entire eight woeful years Obasanjo was in power. Truth is that it is either the huge money translates to verifiable investments that can be ascertained, located and valued or it is still domiciled as raw cash somewhere the country can access it and make meaningful use of it. Telling us to read a book that has doubtful objectivity only shows not only the evasive intent of Obasanjo and his hirelings but also fuels the fear that Obasanjo merely supervised the illicit stealing of a huge $16 billion in the name of investment in the power sector and he and his beneficiaries must be made to vomit such booty. That unfortunate answer amounted to an aggravated insult to all Nigerians. Obasanjo, in his well-known personal limitations, his awesome limitations, age-old guile and negative wits, is known for such contempt for Nigerians but he will not be allowed to walk away with this one.

All said, Obasanjo’s ill-advised desire to sell his vaulting predilection to ego massage and idiosyncratic satiation may assist us to strike a break in desiring to know how our resources were blatantly stolen by past leaders and their cronies. His present trajectory may lead us to break the grounds in holding our past and present leaders accountable to their sins which wrecked the country and devoured its future and potentials. But the most critical question today remains; Where is the power Obasanjo claimed he procured with $16 billion dollars for the eight years he was here? To answer this question, Obasanjo needs to be clear, cadent and convincing. His evasive efforts will rather deepen the suspicion Nigerians have of him that he solidified corruption and stealing in Nigeria as he ruled. He needs to either show us the power or our money. There should be no equivocation, no drama, no dancing around the issue here. Obasanjo, where is the power?

Written by
Peter Claver Oparah
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