General, Mr. Obasanjo as enemy of the open society, By Adeolu Ademoyo

Adeolu Ademoyo
Adeolu Ademoyo

Recently, in Ghana, General Obasanjo refreshed his a-social vision. It is an unethical vision for a closed society. He gave us something to chew, but nothing to cheer-rather Obasanjo chilled us completely.   This is the Obasanjo story.

General Mr. Obasanjo was at the head of the ECOWAS monitoring team in the recent Ghanaian election. First, when he was addressed as General (which he is) and asked if he was a dictator, he said in Nigeria his enemies and opponents call him General, while he sees himself as a Chief or perhaps simply Mr. Unknown to him, he seemed to be saying that while he thought he had accepted democratic ethics, the Nigerian society thought otherwise. By addressing him by his first calling-“General” and the ethics that implies for Obasanjo’s politics, the society is telling him he is still steeped in military command and obey ethics.

General Obasanjo has the capacity of saying the truth and at the same time trivializing it for effect. He is the master dissembler. He knows it is true that he has not accepted democratic ethics and therefore he is a consistent opponent of the open society. Yet he wants to trivialize it by dissembling that truth.

I recall a chance meeting a friend of mine had with him during the defense by Nigerian people of the   June 12 1993 elections won by Mr. Moshood Abiola. One of Nigeria’s weekly news magazines, TheNews, had just exposed how the sitting military Generals under the then head of state General Ibrahim Babangida, aborted the June 12 elections, and, my friend had this chance meeting with General Mr. Obasanjo in Kaduna, Northern Nigeria. The detail exposure in the democratic press jolted the military conspirators against June 12. It exposed the long night of the long knives against June 12 by the military conspirators.  On sighting my friend, Mr. Obasanjo (he must have forgotten) said “eh you again, you people, you just hit, hit hit gbam gbam, you do not know that you have to do it little by little, and guide the bull in the China shop away …”

 In public, Mr. Obasanjo had given the impression of being an unwavering “democrat”. But here he was chastising the media-through my colleague – for the media’s direct challenge (through the detail press exposure of their betrayal) to the conspirators, the negators of June 12.  Perhaps “doing it little by little” was to allow the  “authority”-IBB, the Generals and their co-conspirators- “supervise” a democratic process and eventually to ambush and negate it, as they eventually did with Mr. Abiola’s June 12 1993  democratic and electoral mandate.

 So, General Obasanjo’s Ghanaian declaration against the open society has antecedents. Perhaps he was saying then in 1993 during the defense of the June 12 mandate by the media and the people that Nigerian people and the media have “right” to information but not freedom.   My friend, who directly bore the grunt and  brunt of General Obasanjo’s salvo against democracy,  is still very active in the public square. He is a living witness to this story.

The media exposure of the military conspirators against June 12 as a component of the Nigerian peoples’ resistance was what General Mr. Obasanjo wanted us to do “little by little”. That story   was one of the   fore parents and what triggered what came later to be known as the underground press in Nigeria–one of the major tools of Nigerian working people in their resistance of Generals Ibrahim Babangida and Abacha’s military dictatorships and defense of June 12, 1993 democratic mandate.

Thus, in the aftermath of the Ghanaian election, Mr. Obasanjo asserted that he believed in the right to information and not freedom of information. He  re-echoed what he did  in the  June 12,1993  democratic process in Nigeria and his covert unethical role in that process when he said “M.K.O Abiola was not the messiah Nigerians were  looking for.” Those are General Obasanjo’s words. General Obasanjo forgot that election is about people’s freedom, it is not about a military General’s definition of a messiah for the people.  In other words, General Obasanjo is suggesting that there has to be a “guardian” of democracy and he sees himself as the military guardian of our democracy.  Unfortunately, he is not, he cannot be, he does not possess  democratic credentials, he has never shown them.  Therefore, he cannot be a guardian  of democracy for by his words and actions  he is an opponent of the open society.

 So when on the basis of his untenable distinction between “right” to information and freedom of information, he concluded that the result of the Ghanaian election ought not be directly relayed by journalists but that journalists should rely on the official announcement from the electoral body, General Obasanjo’s  connected himself  back to his  tale of “doing it little by little” which was an immoral frame for the  termination and burial of  the 1993 June 12 election  in Nigeria by the military dictatorship, and their supporters  like himself.

“Doing it little by little” simply means “Do Not tell the truth, truth scares, let us guide and gag the truth, let us water it down a bit until it becomes useless.” With this, one understands why all the elections Mr. Obasanjo had supervised or involved in from the infamous twelve two third in 1979 when he said about Mr. Obafemi Awolowo’s candidacy in the election, and I quote “the best candidate needs not win”, and his own election and re-election -all these “elections” can reasonably be declared moral fraud against our freedom. This is based on Obasanjo’s “thesis” of “doing it little by little” sacrifice of merit for personal undemocratic causes framed in terms of  “best candidate needs not win”, and his Ghanaian empirical frame of subordinating freedom of information to “right” of information.

By the singular act of drawing a morally questionable distinction between “right” (which can be suspended) to information and freedom(which define our humanity and therefore cannot be suspended) of information, General Obasanjo declared himself an enemy of the open society. As Wole Soyinka correctly argued, “freedom is the first condition of humanity.” In other words, contrary to General Obasanjo, and in view of Soyinka, freedom co-exists with and is inseparable from humanity. So to take one’s freedom away by subordinating it to a tenuous “right” that is waiting to be determined and “guaranteed” (and therefore can be withdrawn by the fiat of a dictator-whether military or “civilianized”) is to negate one’s humanity, it is to take one’s humanity away.

This is a straightforward reasoning which a military politician like General Obasanjo will never accept.  This is evident in 1979 when he openly worked against Awolowo when he, General Obasanjo, saying the best candidate (in other words General Obasanjo thought and knew that Awolowo was the best candidate for Nigeria in the 1979 elections but that he would work against him) for the presidential election needed not win and in the June 12 1993 elections when he said ‘Abiola is not the messiah we are looking for” and hence covertly and by deliberate act of omission worked against the June 12 1993 democratic mandate freely given by Nigerians. It was that mindset that he took into the 2012 Ghanaian presidential elections when he argued against freedom of information in favor of a vague, woolly and ill-defined “right” of information. General Obasanjo can logically be said to be an enemy of the open society in  Nigeria, in West Africa and in Africa generally.

But the social and political credentials of Nigeria’s democracy are richer and more profound and they are qualitatively different and  beyond General Obasanjo. Those credentials are products of the works of Nigerian working people. Thus General Obasanjo is not the face of Nigerian democracy and his democratic credentials are not morally worthy to be treated as such by the international community.

In our next presidential elections, contrary to General Obasanjo’s military democracy of “doing little by little” Nigerians must go against General Obasanjo and the press must report the results of the elections as they are announced directly from the polling booths as it is done in civilized societies.  This is the way to build a respectable Nigerian democracy. This is the honourable path. It is the ethical path.

Adeolu Ademoyo ( is of Africana Studies and Research Center, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.

5 thoughts on “General, Mr. Obasanjo as enemy of the open society, By Adeolu Ademoyo

  1. This article is nothing but subjective, filled with loosely twined misconstrued facts, half truth and lies (an emotional article). More is expected from a journalist.

    All General Obasanjo did was tell your friend not to shout fire in a crowded theater….

    We call him General cause he is the greatest patriot in this nation and the only true democrat in this nation at least a greater democrat than even the likes of Jonathan and a greater sense of humor than any other great man of his stand. A disciplined and strong leader capable of holding this nation together and moving it forward; a true strong man and one of the few capable Yoruba leaders.
    Who do u refer to as democrats the association of tugs and criminals tearing the country apart and looting her resources left, right and center.
    Only If a great man (flawed like all men) of his caliber ruled us longer. Many be the common man would see peace and stand a chance.

    1. Adenike Adebayo alias naijababe and Gbadebo Adeyosola,
      First, a law in a civil discussion is to counter an argument you oppose with superior argument. You have not done this. Second, if you think a fact is misconstrued, you have the obligation to show that the fact is false. Gbadebo, you said a fact is misconstrued, and you stopped there, you did not challenge the fact you claim is misconstrued. Therefore, we cannot believe you. Before we believe you, you must challenge the fact. You have not done this. To show how flawed you and naija babe are, Gbadebo after saying that a fact is misconstrued, you went straight for a straw argument by bringing in silly and stinking tribal emotions when you brought in President Jonathan. This is not good and it is unacceptable. It is just below basic thinking to do this-to have brought in President Jonathan because it is irrelevant to this essay and talk. You need to separate the two figures and their actions. On the point of reason, supposed it is true that President Jonathan is what you claim he is, how does that show that General Obasanjo is not an enemy of the open society, how does that show that the facts in the essay are misconstrued, how does your claim that President Jonathan is XYZ show that General Obasanjo is not an enemy of the open society in Nigeria? The argument in the essay and your unsound responses show that the two of you were jolted completely by the essay, and you were trying unsuccessfully to help your principal-General Obasanjo cover something. But you cannot cover history, fact and truth. The problem with you and Naijababe is that you are petty chauvinists, you have allowed your stone age tribalism to becloud your rational selves. As young people and given the low moral level the country has sunken into , I am not surprised that you reconciled yourselves morally with someone -General Obasanjo-who reconciled himself morally with not having the best in us to rule and govern us both in 1979 and 1993 as pointed out in the essay. Also, given the immoral pit we all have sunk in the country, I am not surprised that youths like you will accept General Obasanjo’s recipe(his Ghanaian “thesis”) for rigging elections in Africa-which is that the press should not report results as announced by the polling officers from the voting booths-in other words we should wait for the results to be “announced” after being doctored (1979 and 1993 elections in Nigeria) by the ‘authority”-I am surprised that you do not see General Obasanjo’s statement in Ghana as the basic condition for election rigging in Africa. Please check civilised democracies and see how they announce election results. Election results are announced from the polling booths. This is why the electorates know who their president or prime minister is within two days of voting. It is fine given your tribal loyalty if you want to live in stone age, but some of us do not, we want to live in the 21st century, so election should be announced as voting is concluded. This is 21st century, and given his readiness never ever to want the best out of us to govern us just for simple petty personal reasons (1979 and 1993 elections) and given his stone age statement in Ghana 2012, General Obasanjo is an enemy of the African open society. Adenike Adebayo alias naija babe and Gbadebo Adeyosola, please challenge this with basic thinking. Challenge this by telling us General Obasanjo did not say and did not believe what he said. Challenge this by showing that what General Obasanjo said and acted upon in 1979 and 1993 elections are good for Nigerian democracy. Challenge this but DO NOT appeal to primordial tribal loyalty as the two of you unfortunately and sadly did. It is not good for you to appeal to tribalism in the face of fact and reason. It is not good naijababe and Adeyosola. You may love your General but do not insult we Nigerians with your tribalism. And finally, face this squarely, do you think it is morally right for General Obasanjo as a siting President to make Nigerian business men that were taking contracts from his government pay to fund his Obasanjo Library as he did as a sitting President? Mr Otedola -one of the questionable business men in Nigeria is one of these characters. Mr Otedola paid 200 million naira to Obasanjo Library and Mr. Otedola was and is government contractor who was doing business with General Obasanjo’s government then.Is this moral? You can delude yourselves by saying “General Obasanjo” is different from “Obasanjo Library”. Just tell that to the marines, and not we NIgerians. But just show us in civilised countries where what General Obasanjo did would happen. Please answer to this. And when you answer, please do not insult us by appealing to tribalism. It is an insult to do that. We Nigerians do not want that. Okay?

      1. Kemi, why have you wasted your time writing epistles for the deaf. Adenike Adebayo, Naijababe and their likes are completely deaf. They have sold their conscience for a mess of porridge. It’s clear from their comments that they are unrepentant attack dogs of Obasanjo. Adeolu Ademoyo has done his bit educating the world about the evil Obasanjo portends for democracy and good governance. I’m sure sane people like us have listened. We need not bother what retards like Naijababe and her ilk think.

  2. I am disappointed that a student at Cornell would write in such an incoherent manner, allowing personal feelings to take over simple analysis needed to write an acceptable article. You shouldn’t have signed the piece with Cornell. I’m equally disappointed that this newspaper accepted to print this non-issue. Twitter @naijababe234

  3. This article is good, because it exposes obasanjo’s double characters to the whole world. On one hand he is portraying himself as a good leader, and a good lover of our good nation,(Nigeria) and on the other hand he is undermining the progress of our good nation (Nigeria) through his dubious actions. The question any reasonable person would ask himherself is – Is it true that obasanjo did these things? If yes, then what is wrong in exposing him to the whole world? And if no, let obasanjo challenge it? I don’t know why people like Adenike Adebayo and Gbadebo Adeyosola are not comfortable with this simple truth about obasanjo’s double characters?

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