“…Would he order his security aides to arrest the kingmakers…The other kingmakers should insist on their position that they would not allow Balogun Obasanjo to intimidate them…Yoruba history is full of stories of powerful titled chiefs who allowed their egos to drive them against their own people. For such chiefs…disgrace was their harvest” (Reuben Abati).
President Olusegun Obasanjo is at it again. He is courting disaster. He is telling us he is above the law. He is telling us he can do and undo; and that he is the maximum leader, who with mere gesture can ignite thunder and lightning. He believes himself to be the rainmaker, the kingmaker and the man who make mountains quiver. Obasanjo is at it gain; a hubris of a man who is unaware he is tightening the noose around his own neck. Unfortunately, even his friends and family are afraid to tell him that unless he retraces his steps and follow a noble path, his excesses and his high crimes and his penchant for courting disaster may soon consume him.
Otherwise, what are we to make of the events in and at Owu and at Aso Rock? What are we to make of a president who shred papers that mark election results? What are we to make of a president who uses official stationery for personal use? What are we to make of the president’s letter to Governor Gbenga Daniel? What are we to make of a de jure president who is at the same time the de facto “Oba of Owu”? Is he so bored being the president that he has to totally and completely immerse himself in Owu chieftaincy affairs?
This is a president who sometimes abridges the constitution and is sometimes wanting in his presidential responsibility. If proven that he ordered his agents to arrest the kingmakers, he should be impeached. Furthermore, those who belittled and arrested the kingmakers should be brought to justice since their defense cannot be that they were ordered to commit illegality by a higher authority. Their can be no justification for criminality even if ordered by a god. What criminal offence did the kingmakers commit, anyway? All they did was to stand up to Balogun Obasanjo. All they did was to uphold their traditional duties. All they did was to follow their conscience. All they did was to refuse to be bought. All they did was to refuse to be intimidated by the President’s posse. All they did was to make their people, their land and their ancestors proud.
There was nothing immoral or unethical about the conduct of the chiefs. They did not commit criminal acts; and even if they had committed criminal offence — who was the Judge that ordered their arrest and detention? We cannot live in a society where the rich and the powerful and especially our public officials can simply order arrest and detention of their opponents without probable cause. As things are now, Obasanjo’s image has taken a nose dive into the sewer. This is so because, whether he ordered their arrest or not, he would be held accountable for the deplorable events in Owu. In fact, he should be held accountable for what happened to the Owu kingmakers because, amongst other things, he created the latest round of hostility in Owu. He made it possible for “children to spit in the face of their father.” President Obasanjo made it possible for ants to direct snide remarks at the elephant. What abomination! What manner of a man is this? Military Generals don’t shy away from fights; nonetheless, they don’t go about town sowing seed of discord.
This president should be told, for his own good and for the good of the nation, that he must change his ways. Dr. Reuben Abati and Colonel Abubakar Umar, patriots and nationalists and men through whom we hear the muttering of those who keep quiet but are seething with anger, disappointment, discontentment and untold intentions have been at the president, but to no avail. Reuben Abati and Abubakar Umar have been telling and reminding the president that all is not well with Nigeria; that our national life is worsening with the passage of everyday; that Nigerians are suffering and dying from hunger, disease and hopelessness; that our public infrastructure are non-existent; and that corruption is flooding the pores and the marrow of our political system — all to no avail.
The President is not listening to anyone. He is not listening to his friends and family. He is not listening to the truths being told by Abati, Umar and countless others. And neither is he listening to the vast majority of Nigerians who are in tears — moaning and pleading for a better tomorrow. This failure of leadership, the fetid economic and political conditions we live in, the decaying of our mores and the condition of our non-functioning political institutions will hasten the demise of our current polity. Truth be told — guilty and incompetent is what this post-1999 government has been. What a waste of our collective dream; what a waste of talent and resources!
But by heaven’s grace, there is still time for President Olusegun Obasanjo to forsake his old ways and to confess his failures and shortcomings. Indeed, there is still time for redemption. There is time for the President to make amends with the Owu kingmakers — just as there is time for the president to attend to the need of the nation. As the president of Nigeria he cannot afford to fail. As an Owu indigene, he cannot afford to let his people down.