President Olusegun Obasanjo did not catch politicians unawares with his ‘third term’ agenda. Even the most naïve among them would have noticed Mr. President’s scheming for a life presidency long before the end of his first term. Who did not know the motive of the president when he started portraying himself as the messiah that had come to rescue the country fro the brinks of collapse and redirect it to the path of glory? He traveled (the bad press said he junketed) round the world to attract necessary (illusive?) foreign capital that was to turnaround the economy and place it on sustained accelerated growth and development. Without the public’s prompting, he promised to turnaround all the ailing public parastatals and agencies. Electricity was to be available to all and every nook and corner of Nigeria before the end of his first tenure. The universities were to regain their status as producers of productive, focused and self-motivated human capital. Once more Nigerian certificates and degrees were to recapture their value and credit. Like they did sometimes in the distant past, some of them will again be counted among the first one hundred good universities in the world. The civil servants and the Nigerian worker in general were to earn living wages. He promised to revamp the health sector and make drinking and portable water available to the entire citizenry.
Yes! He said exactly all those things that other rulers had said but did not accomplish, not for want of resources but for want of will. But he was seen to be different by the undiscerning political class. They saw and appreciated only the good side of the Jekyll and Hyde creature called (man) in Obasanjo. He had suffered under a defiant dictator. He had been humiliated. Through divine intervention, he had escaped death with the skin of his teeth. He, like most common Nigerians, was imprisoned and a death tally number hung on his neck for no wrong doing of his but for the simple reason that he spoke against evil and purportedly stood on the side of truth and the people. He had endeavoured to wear the toga of a born again Christian.
The politicians did not see the hypocrite in OBJ when he started preaching anti corruption. They realized too late in the day that the anticorruption crusade would serve Obasanjo politically much more than it would serve Nigerians. They failed to realize that it was a steel block for the dictatorial foundation he was building. The politicians were here with us but their eyes were on just one thing-the national cake. Their thirst and hunger for power and the riches of the country blinded them to the obvious. They could not feel or see those happenings and preachments that told the clear story of the ambitious man that wanted to pass for the longest serving Nigerian.
In sum, what Mr. President has succeeded in doing is to expose the manner of persons that called themselves politicians in this country. He has open to the elements the thieves in them. They had wanted either of two things: for OBJ to stock up the state’s coffers and leave the scene for them to come and steal or the people to force him to abide and limit himself to the clear letters and spirit of the constitution. How foolish! They, as usual, were expecting the poor masses to do their job for them, when in truth they are in the game for the lucre and not for the interest of the people or the common good. They are wining about and anxiously waiting for the masses to take to the streets, to defend the state and constitution. They are mistaken. The people are wiser now. They are now aware that the good men are still out of politics and the bad guys are refusing to repent and be born again. They are right about one thing: the people’s revolution would come very soon. But will not come to fight the cause of the politicians and not on the issue of who occupies Aso Rock in 2007. They will not die to stop one set of thieves only to hand over the state to another set of thieves. They would risk their lives only for matters concerning them directly and not for matters concerning the politicians. If the politicians are therefore still dancing the only dance, it is only because their greed has deafened them and accordingly cannot hear the new beats. The drums have changed and have changed for good. The people want a new bargain and they will surely get it no matter the machinations of Mr. President or the so-called politicians. Thank goodness! The people seem to be ahead of these two sets of people. They are more discerning and that is why they were able to see OBJ for what he is way back in 1999.The same politicians that foisted him on them are now weeping. Now that he had boomerang on them they want the people to fight for them. How sad!
Hopefully, our politicians will know that the people now know that the fierce fight for power is not for spiritual self actualization and a necessity to find a firm and fit place to stand and make a deserved contribution to the building and solidification of the foundation and pillars of the state but for the sole reason of material accumulation and self perpetuation.
The politicians have since independence used the state, its instruments and structures to perpetuate all kinds of fraud against the people. The state and in particular the government (including all tiers of government) has become the only viable business. This is one reason why politicians want the masses to believe that politics is as serious as power itself. What they do not know is that the people know that they are in politics to fast track their way to power and money and nothing more. That is why every smart Alec wants to seize one form of power structure or the other. The awareness that the state structures are not only instruments of power but also instruments of excessive wealth seems inebriating to the politician.
The funny thing however is that the same set of clowns takes the business of politicking for granted. Like the thieves they are, they go to town to squander their loot first before planning another robbery. That is why they went to sleep the moment they had their loot in 2003. Some of them went into debauchery with their loot and it’s obvious that they have squandered their loot and want to replenish. That is what the whole noise is all about. The people have seen them for what they are and are justifiably ignoring them. If the politicians want another Ali Baba to occupy Aso Rock, the option open to them is clear. They would have to face OBJ.
My worry is that they will underestimate him and approach him with kid’s gloves. They might not know that President Obasanjo knows the worth of power and had been working earnestly to retain and it. Whilst the politicians were sleeping or squandering their loot he was working round the clock and has expectedly taken over the entire political field .It is now nonsense to wonder why he must change the rules of the game to his own advantage. The politicians should not forget that they had given him the latitude to operate unhindered for the past years and that he has in the process emasculated almost all the other powers in the state (both vertical a
nd horizontal powers in the federal power pyramid). Although the constitution contemplates a federation of powers or authorities, President Obasanjo has to his credit manipulated the system in a way that allows the office of the president to cower all others. He has by a streak of ingenuity assumed or translated the office of the president to his personal office and has through his weight and stature, elevated it to an absolute status. In this sense he has blurred the linkages between the office of the president and the other institutions of the state. He has also weakened the other institutions and rendered them less credible and significant in the eyes or in the hearts and minds of the people. This is one reason why all roads now lead to Aso Rock. No other power in the state seems to be effective or capable of carrying out its constitutional role because of the overbearing nature of the presidency. The presidency has waged a war against all others and it seems to be the only office with potent political power today in the country.
Having snuffed the life out of the others and remained the last man standing, in the words of Francis Yukayama the president ended the history of constitutionalism in the country and as Samuel Huntington would say, what creeps out of that wreckage is a clash between the politicians and the presidency. The president has captured the state and is holding the other federating units of the state captive. I must give it to him, no mater what happens to him hereafter he would go to his grave and beyond as one of Nigeria’s greatest politicians and if his ability to manipulate the state matters, he would forever be remembered as one of Nigeria’s most able ‘statesmen’. When one considers the fact that the state in itself is difficult to capture and domesticate then one would respect him the more. President Obasanjo is a good case study in power politics. He is a rewarding seminar for all those that are interested in politics and in succeeding him.