Third Term Politics: Dear Segun, Dear Sunday (Week 2)

by Banjo Odutola

Dear Segun,

It is appropriate to respond with gratitude that you found the time to read my last letter and now your response, in which I was reminded of your esteemed position, as my President. I am glad in a way that you did not sign the letter, as President for Life. I take comfort that you may now be considering the foolhardiness of your third-term venture. I shall continue to proffer what I hope is wise counsel on issues pertaining to the same.

Before that, I am pleased to inform you that my health is improving. The doctors are quite impressed at the rate of improvement. The physiotherapist encourages me to walk faster and cover more distance. I am considering purchasing a thread-mill – so that I may restrict my exercise within the four walls of my residence. In many ways, I regret my contributions to the development of our nation. I do not shy in taking responsibilities that I have also failed our people and nation. At my age and position occupied in the administration of the country – how come, I need to utilize medical services of a foreign nation? Retired Americans and their colleagues in France do not troop to other countries for medical rehabilitation – affluent Nigerians like me, do – simply because we contributed to the failure of the country.

Perhaps, the above is fundamental to the belief that I hold; and it may have motivated my appeal. You may recall in my first letter, I admonished: “Let us accept it that TIME and the biological ravages that accompany TIME have taken their inevitable toll. We are old and should not hanker after a new career of fame or world acclaim. National and world fame will come if they are merited. Leave your place in history in the hands of your Creator.” The pivot of my advice is on the merits of your achievements. By that, I meant what with diligence and providence – you have so far achieved. What is being done in your name – the so called Constitution review for elongation of your service was adjudged beneath you. You are supposed to champion transparency, honesty and good governance. Yet, much of what is being done in reviewing the Constitution together with its attending propaganda – is with a slight of the hand. The Constitution Reviewing lawmakers decided on geo-political centres that can hardly be justified; and in a democratic dispensation – dissenters were manhandled. Segun, is this what Nigeria under your watch has come to?

I was flustered to read your reference to Alhaji Bukar Abba Ibrahim, the Executive Governor of Yobe State. You did not have to copy out what was published. A gist or paraphrase would have sufficed. It is not for damnation that I refer you to the comments of the Emir of Mahcina in Yobe State, Alhaji Bashir Albishir Bukar – wherein, he was reported to have urged that you drop the idea of third term for the sake of peace in the nation (The Sun News-Online, 24th April 2006). If your attempt was to showcase support for your aspiration in Yobe State – I hope you appreciate the Emir’s advice is not concerted with the State Governor’s.

In my view, our country needs urgently, Elders and leaders like the Emir. For your sake and particularly, for our country – I called for those who can reason with you without fear of how you may deal with them; and who can wean you from an impending danger. I am still uncertain what to make of Southwest Traditional Rulers’ meeting in Ada, Osun State. It was reported the meeting was about “the knock-downs and drag-outs going on in Aso Rock” (Daily Independent 26th April 2006). What does that mean? Is this a new Nigerian parlance? Anyway, is it true the Chairman of the Osun State Council of Traditional Rulers and the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade, was the chief convener of the parley? Please inquire of the truth of that report for me.

Segun, I am not going to say much about the meeting – so as not to be deemed disrespectful to our traditional rulers. Nonetheless, remember the days of Abacha; and the part played by the so called Chief convener of that meeting. I was not surprised the Awujale of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Adetona did not attend. He is your friend; and given what was reported of his intervention on behalf of your son, Gbenga – I advise you rely on his wise counsel, which I have no doubt will be private and candid. Instead of the one that dragged “Ori-Ade” to a new depth? The choice is yours.

So, where are we with this third term palava? Let me pre-empt what you may wish to advise of my Arewa Household. You are likely to remind me that “a house divided against itself cannot stand”. Humbly, I accept your observation. But, I seek to remind you that our division has not been brought about by superior convictions. This is the barrenness of our nation. If claims as made by Yobe Governor are sustainable to elongate your presidency – the same cannot be shared for the terms of the governors. What credit can they take for our foreign reserve; or new national image? I am not persuaded, at all, that these governors can benefit by extension from achievements of the Federal Government. It amuses that when intended prosecutions of governors are considered – they are quick to remind the nation of federating units. Is it possible for you or your foot-soldiers to at least coin, a reason as to why their terms are to be amended in the Constitution.

I am reliably informed the primary motivation for term elongation is the protection of gains so far made. For that flimsy reason, there are others who by some contrived reasoning ask: “who or where is the alternative to Obasanjo?” It is sad that even educated Nigerians ask this type of question. The sorrow is, for me, a collective one. Is it the alternative to what you stand for? If no one can be found – it means you stand for nothing. Is it alternative to your style of governance – if no one can be found – it means you are not different from your predecessors, who others castigate. Is it alternative to adherence and respect of our constitution which you swore to uphold? If the sanctity of your promise means nothing – we remain “ a country where anything goes” ((General Olusegun Obasanjo (as he then was) wrote this piece originally for The New York Review of Books, Sept, 24, 1998, pp.55-57.(Culled from Guardian Newspaper – 1st May 2006)). I can only assume the alternative sought is not an extension to your immortality. Surely, that is not in your gift. In your private reflections – do you ever ask yourself, if Nigeria will exist after your death? Segun, however you consider you have grown in stature – remember: you can never ever be greater than our dear country, Nigeria.

What type of people have we become that you are the only one who can preside over our national affairs. Segun, as you know, I do not share the gross over-estimation of your abilities. In so much as I accept some of your successes – you have become over-bearing and intolerant. Accordingly, I am disturbed of what may become of you when forceful retirement beckons in May 2007. By that time, your place in our history will no longer be assured. Regrettably, the shenanigan of tenure elongation is at a stage you can deny with “babu ruwana”. The damage as espoused by Dele Sobowale in “Head or Tail, Obasanjo loses (Vanguard 23rd & 30th April2006)” is worth reading. It is too candidly true and I forewarn that it is an uncomfortab

le read. Segun, whatever you do from hereon, again, my brother and friend – I plead with you, to consider a house built with sweat of over forty years can easily be destroyed with acts of a few months.

Segun, I must further express my gratitude for observance of the advice on your relationship with the Vice President. I am happy to note that your foot-soldiers have seized open hostilities to him. Whatever you do, be mindful of the sacredness of your office and his. As he has declared his interest in your job, come 2007. Wish him luck; but ensure from this time, to hand-over to whoever wins the elections. By that advice – I am hoping time and maturity of purpose will prevail upon you to seek a honorable exit out of this so called third term.

Your political-party Chairman may have read your letter of last week. Is it not much of a coincidence that the lion in a china-shop is now more conciliatory? It appears Dr. Ahmadu Ali has suddenly grown wise in a gloaming time. I doubt if his new-leaf can save him – particularly, if you are hell bent on your own destruction. The man reminds me, of one of those Awada plays on television. I cannot recall which one particularly. Blame my forgetfulness on old age. In the play – a policeman whose duty was to arrest suspected criminals was heard cursing a suspect he had arrested. The suspect boldly turned on the policeman and said: A mu ni, ni a mu ni nje – Olopa, ewo ni ti epe. Roughly translated – the power of arrest does not include cursing suspects. Let me reflect on your Chairman’s curses against anti-third term supporters. He is wrong; and sounds like a frustrated man. This is one occasion that I agree with Mr. Bola Tinubu – your very good “friend” in Lagos State.

I read the long and unwarranted justification of ThisDay Editor on the “wrap around” advertisement provided by his newspaper. Mr. Olusegun Adeniyi informed his readership that you had said you did not trust him. I thought he should count himself lucky because by default – he has joined a list of eminent Nigerians. His long article was barren to the extent that acceptance of the adverts was commercial, simpliciter. It was probably a decision of the Publisher – rather than the Editor. The young man would have been better writing nothing; and continued with his resistance of your so called “third term”. His follow-up treatise on your father seemed an attempt to cleanse his conscience, publicly; and the return of thirty pieces of silver after a monumental betrayal. Newspapers that stand to gain from the dysfunctionalities in society can in no way claim they are champions of ideas in the market place. If a Newspaper, which, I admit must provide space for both sides of the argument benefits from allowing one side to drown the other because of its intended gain – such newspaper barely can claim to be champion of society. What in effect, it states as its hallmark – is that economic power should win all arguments, no matter whether the agenda is unacceptable to the country, at large. Even, under your dispensation, we remain a nation, where anything goes.

Segun, keep me posted of developments. Some say you are becoming frustrated about the whole idea of elongation of your tenure. I laughed because they do not understand your elements. Others say, even if you win at the National Assembly – the “fight” continues. Where is your very good “friend” – Wole Soyinka? He seems not as vociferous on the issue of third term. Is Wole alright? I heard he may be planning a political party for young people. I wish him well; and please remind him that his voice seems not as loud as we expect. My friend and President – O d’aro, sir.

Yours sincerely,

Sunday of Arewa.

You may also like

Leave a Comment