I have always enjoyed political machinations. It is fascinating. It is compelling. It is not for the feeble-minded. And it is certainly not for those who are concerned with ethics and morality, the rule of law and heavenly matters. Political intrigues are like the cloak and dagger game in that only the smart, the vengeful, and the brutes and the assassins survive and even prosper. It is why Middle East politics and even Latin American politics of the 1950s though the 1980s is eminently more interesting and captivating.
The thing about political intrigues is this: if you must play it, then play. Be good at it. Be really good. You go for the kill. You hold no prisoners. You do not second-guess your self. You do not tip your hand or your head. You must at all times let your enemies and critics and fence-sitters believe you are not only capable of chopping off their heads – you will. Not only will you chop off their heads; let them believe that their heads will be displayed in the market place for all to see. But if you don’t want to be dramatic, they must know and believe that their last super will be their absolute last and that no one will ever hear from them again. And then mean it! I say these because of the ongoing political struggles in Abuja which revolves around President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Mr. Sonala Olumhense quoted President Obasanjo as saying: “I have always believed in democracy. And I will always do. I have a track record for that. I shall, therefore never knowingly subvert the spirit, let alone the letter of the constitution that I have, not for the first time sworn to defend.” Well, if Obasanjo is claiming to be a democrat with democratic ideals and ideas, then he must act and speak like one. He cannot and must not claim to be one thing and then act and speak in a contrary fashion. That is unacceptable.
For over a year now, Obasanjo knew he was going to seek a third term in office. He knew it; yet he did not prepare the country for such an eventuality until it was too late and in the process gave his enemies and critics the time and the chance to organize against him. He did not behave like a man who understood history and power and politics. Within the African continent, elongating oneself in office is about the easiest thing to do. Fools, midgets, buffoons, functional illiterates, and eyes-wide-shut despots all do it and get away with it. But in the case of Obasanjo, he seems to be fumbling. He and his supporters were lazy and sloppy and arrogant about it. And now he is paying the price. But all is not lost. He still might succeed.
There are basically two ways he could go about it: (1) do it within the confines of the law; or (2) do it extralegally. To have done it within the limits of the law, he should have been at it since the day he assumed office. He should have performed by providing human security as recommended by the UNDP. But alas, the vast majority of Nigerians could not say or swear that the quality of their lives have improved since the advent of his government. It has remained stagnant for some; and regressed for most. So, what’s the point in having him stay past 2007?
To extralegally remain in office past the 2007 due date, the president should have embarked on certain schemes known in the Middle East and in Latin America as “survival strategies” and or “strategies of survival.” This avenue would have been really easy for Obasanjo. Really easy! I say this because this is a very hardnosed military general, the custodian of political-goodies: the man with both raw and refined power and unbridled influence. He has a very long memory and therefore not a man one toys with. Since the war years, we’ve all known that he does not take kindly to slights. And now some bloody civilians are challenging him? He couldn’t have gone soft; or, has he?
Not in any particular sequence, he could have (1) promised four to six new states; (2) create the position of a second vice-president; (3) video-record his critics and enemies engaging in immoral acts like homosexuality and underage sex; (4) video and audio record his opponents giving and taking bribes; (5) undercut the authority of his critics by appointing their wives, underlies and others to position of authority; (6) arrange prolonged headache and stomach aches for some; (7) make his most vocal critics spent time in jail for trumped-up charges; (8) plant controlled substances in their luggage and briefcases; (9) slap a few around and encouraging them to go into exile; and (10) form a committee of bogus religious leaders to tell his critics bogus visions of how they would be damned if they dare oppose the president.
But of course there are other more menacing ways to achieve his dreams. Whatever he does, he must put the fear of damnation in their hearts. He has the instrument of state at his disposal; and the state has monopoly of violence.
If Obasanjo had promised to create additional 4-6 new states, most of his critics would have kept quiet as they all would be jockeying for states and by extension new avenues for stealing and misappropriating funds. Except for a handful, most of Obasanjo’s critics are not interested in good governance or democracy. No! Most are just ticked off because they find themselves at the back of the stealing queue. Who in his right mind thinks Abubakar Atiku, Ibrahim Babangida and a host of others are democrats or choir boys and are fighting Obasanjo because they have the interest of the country at heart?
And by the way: resurrecting Abacha and Babangida’s goons would have gone a long way in achieving his goals. But of course, he would also have to pay off the military and security services: build better housings; provide cars and other toys; and give 10-15% across the board raise. Internationally, he’d impress it upon the Americans and all the members of the G7 countries that they have no “better friend than Obasanjo” to provide peace and stability in terms of oil and other resources.He could remind them of the fellows in Venezuela and Iran who are threatening global oil supply and in effect the economy of their countries. The international system is all about stability; not justice.
The international community — especially the Americans — has a way of turning blind eyes in such matters. They are not particularly interested in democracy and things like that if there is a guarantee of stability and a guarantee that the country in question would take marching orders from Washington DC. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have President-For-Life all over the Middle East and some African countries. Is Obasanjo worst than the fellows in Congo, Gabon, Tunisia, Equatorial Guinea, Egypt, and Cameroon and elsewhere?
In the end though, if President Olusegun Obasanjo had embarked on — or decides to embark on these extralegal schemes — he must be prepared for one or both of these ramifications: be disgraced out of office, or die in office while trying to hold on to power. Come to think of it, he might even succeed in his bid in which case the joke would be on us. Nigeria, we all know, is a strange…very strange country.
Think About This: In today’s Nigeria, one would be hard-pressed to find 30 Nigerians over the age of 30 who are politically clean and honest; not corrupt and incorruptible in terms of power and money and has the proper training and skills to run and manage our national affairs. For well over 25-years and without scruples most of these midnight-nationalists helped loot the treasury and allowed public and private infrastructures to decay; they ignored the rule of law and trampled on our institutions and fostered a culture of laziness, corruption, clientelism and ineptitude. Obasanjo misfired and now they come ou
t of the shadow claiming to be messiahs? Nonsense!