As the Obasanjo presidency comes to a close one wonders what his response would be if faced with John F. Kennedy’s word: “When at some future date the high court of history sits in judgment on each one of us — recording whether in our brief span of service we fulfilled our responsibilities to the state — our success or failure, in whatever office we may hold, will be measured by the answers to four questions: Were we truly men of courage? Were we truly men of judgment? Were we truly men of integrity? Were we truly men of dedication?” In this regard, history and posterity will judge him harshly.
Everything that could and should be said about President Obasanjo and his presidency has been said, and written. And everything that has been said and written about him can be summed up in one simple sentence: he was incompetent and vengeful; he was a failure, a disappointment, a waste and a drag on our national interest and collective goal. It is difficult, if not outright impossible to look at him, think of him, talk about him or write about him and be charitable or benevolent towards him. He is that kind of a man — a man who made no contribution to the welfare and wellbeing of the state and the people.
For decades into the future, the state and the people will continue to suffer from the pain, the willful miscalculations, and the unprofessional conduct he personifies. Decades into the future the people will continue to suffer because of the systematic looting of public treasury, the mismanagement of public resources, the soiling of institutions, and the personalization of law and order. Something else: how he managed to best his ardent critics is beyond me; how he managed to outfox the intelligentsia is beyond words; and how he managed to pacify an otherwise restless military establishment will someday be the talk of historians and tale weavers.
It is men like Obasanjo who makes valid the saying, “assassination may be good and necessary in order to change the course of history.” Regrets abound in that regard.
Countries smaller and bigger than Nigeria have been able to successfully conduct local and national elections that are, for the most part, free and free and acceptable — but not so for Nigeria. Obasanjo and his posse just had to cheat their opponents; they just have to deny the citizens their constitutional rights; they just have to steal the votes and impose themselves on the people. Illegality, criminality and iniquity have become the hallmark of this president and his presidency. How do you have a government without the expressed mandate and support of the majority of the people?
If this president and his people were bent on denying Nigerians their rights, why pretend, why waste time and effort and resources on kangaroo elections. This Obasanjo scheme is nothing but a coup d’eta guised as election. Coups allow for equal opportunity at power, we might as well just engage in coups and countercoups instead of this Obasanjo charade and deception. As things are, the post May 2007 government — at both the local, state and national level — would be nothing but illegal governments, governments in power against the wishes, support and mandate of the people.
Legitimacy is a problem most African governments faces. In 1999 and again in 2003, Obasanjo assumed power illegally. Consequently, the legitimacy and acceptance question was always hovering around his head. He took something that didn’t belong to him. He stole power. Today, Obasanjo and his group are making sure that Nigeria remain in that column as the incoming government of Yar’Adua and Jonathan Goodluck will also be illegitimate. It will lack popular support. It will lack the mandate of the people. The Yar’Adua-Goodluck government will have its root and foundation in illegality, immorality and fraudulence.
The history of Olusegun Obasanjo, since 1999, has been a history of disloyalty to our nation and our collective cause. He swore to uphold the law, but turned out to be a serial oath breaker. No one will ever know how many Nigerians were assassinated under his watch. No one will ever know how much was stolen or misappropriated under his watch. No one will ever know how many times the law was broken, and how many times the constitution was shredded into pieces. And indeed, no one will ever know the extent to which he has damaged our country. History may yet record that Obasanjo caused more harm than the evil genius (Babangida) and the butcher (Abacha) combined.
Obasanjo seem to be in a class all by himself: he raped the country, killed our collective spirit, vandalized our institutions, made a fool of all the men and women who fought for our independence, legitimized corruption, and then succeeded in imposing the post-May 2007 government on the people. One man did all these to our country? My goodness, one aging and senile and not so smart individual committed all these atrocities? In eight shorts years, how was one single individual able to do all these? How was he able to bring his critics, foes and enemies to their knees? How was he able to get away with sacking and vandalizing all the things we treasure? How was he able to make cowards of otherwise courageous men and women?
And to think he is getting away with murder and treason? Through it all, President Olusegun Obasanjo has not been a man of courage or of stellar reputation? And he can not be considered a man of judgment or of integrity. And yes, he was dedicated; but he was only dedicated to the absurd and to the iniquitous. In this and other regard therefore, history and posterity will judge him harshly.
History will not be kind to him at all. Oh no! History and posterity will remember him as a man who wasted his life and who also misspent opportunities he had to make positive difference in the lives of others. History and posterity will hiss and curse and spit on his name whenever and wherever he is mentioned. But until the verdict of history descend on him, he is likely to live the rest of his days in isolation: abandoned by friends and rejected by critics. The irony in all of these is this: he had the chance to be a national hero; he had the chance to engrave his good name in the hearts and minds of Nigerians. But he wasted it all. And so Obasanjo will never be thought of as being in the same class as Zik and Awo and Balewa and other shining stars of yesteryears. He is five stairs below them. A mediocre! Sad isn’t it? But his is a sadness brought on him by himself.