I have watched with moral trepidation and emotional turmoil as the political situation in Nigeria has once again, taken an ugly turn that seems to insult the collective intelligence of the Nigerian public. In 1999, when Obasanjo raised his hands and vowed to defend the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; it was a day of unparalleled pride for me. I was 20 years old and was witnessing my first taste of democracy, no matter how flawed, since Shagari’s corrupt and morally bankrupt administration had introduced a leadership brand that was a precedent for the diabolical military regimes that followed after. In the past seven years, Nigeria has still faced the challenges of getting its act together with sectarian violence in the North and militant uprisings in the oil-rich Niger Delta. However, the news has not being all bad as our foreign reserves have escalated to glorious proportions, foreign investments in sectors not dripping with oil have added thousands of jobs to the economy and Nigerians are finally adjusting to a system that respects their fundamental human rights. Well, we’ve got it much better than under Abacha’s regime, right?
However, this Administration just had to spoil the fun when the party was just getting started! When the initial rumors of a third-term agenda started filtering on the internet, I had a lively discussion with other Nigerians living here in the US and we all attributed the media speculation to the spirit of sensationalism that had possessed our wonderful local press. So when ‘Uncle Sege’ refused to state in explicit terms his view on the matter, you bet I was concerned as hell. Various thoughts went through my mind, “Was Baba testing the waters to feel the pulse of a democracy-acclimatizing people to see if we would really defend our constitution”? Or “Did the Chief Cook in Aso-Rock spice his favorite Egusi soup with some substance that affected his thinking process to make him envision himself as indispensable to our collective future”? I called my father and he joked around that Obasanjo is a practical joker who at the end of the day would say “Surprise! Just wanted to shakara you small” Abeg Baba, if na play, make you stop am becos e n funny at all, at all! History has shown us that nations have gone to war over miscommunication but it seems Obasanjo is setting an evil precedent where his silence is not just speaking louder than words but is heating the polity to a point where violence could ravage the land.
You can only imagine how enraged I was when a Washington Post reporter asked him to state categorically if he would run for a third term and he replied that ‘God was not a God of abandoned projects’. What in the world is this man trying to tell us? Did God speak to him in the middle of the night that he was ordained to lead 140 million people to the Promised Land? What tangible projects are in the pipeline that benefits the common Nigerian that has not already been abandoned? It is unexplainable the way Nigerian leaders dandy the name of the Almighty whenever it suits their selfish purposes. Obasanjo is fast becoming a nuisance by his actions. He won a second term on a very faulty electoral process and managed to redeem himself using a reputable team of technocrats to steer the economy in a logical direction.
However, to be so inundated with self to imagine that your absence on the political landscape would spell doom for Nigeria and Nigerians is simply ludicrous and bordering on insanity. This country has been blessed with an abundance of great individuals who gave of themselves because they sought a Nigeria devoid of tribal rancor, economic mismanagement and violent politicking. Think Ken Saro-Wiwa. Think Moshood Abiola. Think Nnamdi Azikiwe. Think Wole Soyinka. Think Attahiru Jega. Individuals who selflessly and unashamedly fight for our collective interest and never sought power in the name of indispensability. The international community is shaking its head in disgust after watching a distinguished personality such as Obasanjo unchain his nation from perennial economic mismanagement, then succumb to the seemingly Afro centric penchant for lifelong political domicile. We all have our faults and revel in some subliminal fantasies now and then, but I don’t believe anyone carves out a path for their personal destruction. Yet, Obasanjo seems to be breaking ground for himself in this regard. The Obasanjo that I have touted amongst all my African friends here in the US as belonging in the same annals as Nelson Mandela seems to be struggling for recognition in the infamous parlor where Sani Abacha and Mobuto-Seseko evil personae hold fort.
The same Obasanjo who fell victim to Abacha’s grandiose plans for a life-long presidency is playing the same song all over again. This time his victims would not be the Vice-President and other anti-third term politicians but the innocence of a nascent democracy, the economic viability of the bleeding Niger-Delta and the blood of thousands of Nigerians who would not give in to intimidation of this caliber. Oh yes, things would get really nasty because Nigerians are fed up with individuals tricking us to serve their selfish interests. I say to Obasanjo, please go when the ovation is loudest. You are not doing yourself a favor; you are obeying the constitution you swore to preserve. You are not giving other politicians a shot at the Presidency; you are giving Nigerians confidence in democracy. There are more than enough Nigerians ready to lead if given the chance. Allow them.
Remember Daniel O’Connell’s words: “Nothing is politically right which is morally wrong”. You cannot justify your ambitions by disregarding our wishes. You cannot allow the satanic forces of intoxicating ‘poweralysis’ overshadow what you have accomplished in the last seven years. Realize that such an aggressive stance towards anti-third sentiment would bring out only the beast in you. However, if you bulldoze your agenda over our voices; I guess you will be only acting like a man.”Man is a contradiction, a complex being and a unique animal…one side of man shows his ingenuity, his humanness, his creative capacity and his capacity to be kind, loving and to acknowledge and honor the truth. This is the divine aspect of man. The other face shows man using his ability, capability and ingenuity maliciously, selfishly, devilishly, and oppressively. This is the satanic aspect of man…….”I believe those words are so introspective, since they came from your own book. Hmmm….maybe, just maybe, I should send you a copy.