The Former President speaks some hard truths in his letter but how qualified is he to make a credible assessment?
They say the older we get, the bolder we get. And whilst even the most blinkered person would hardly describe Gen. Obasanjo as a shrinking violet, it is clear that in the former President’s dotage, to use a colloquialism, he no longer ‘sends’ anybody.
And hence his letter.
It is not so much a letter as it is a wrecking ball that devastates everything in its path. The ostensible target is President Jonathan’s administration. But the wrecking ball is a crude device, it is unable to hone in on one specific target. It is an un-guided missile. If you want a wrecking ball to bulldoze a house, it takes the foundation with it. Resultantly, others likeAsiwaju Tinubu, Al-Mustapha, Bode George, NNPC and other politicians and officials have been similarly levelled in one fell swoop.
The shots are cheap and they are undoubtedly politically motivated. It is a scatter gun approach that doesn’t even pretend to be selective.
President Jonathan is something of a “cause célèbre” at the moment so undoubtedly the Obasanjo wrecking ball will have a number of Nigerians nodding in agreement after each pulverising paragraph. They will point to the fact that there is indeed questionable progress in the fight against corruption. They will agree that security remains an inaccessible ideal in several parts of the country.
When reading the epistle you may agree or disagree with it until you get to the part about Jonathan’s poisoned legacy and you suddenly remember that, “Hang on, President Jonathan IS Obasanjo’s legacy.”
You then start to faintly remember all those campaign pictures with Jonathan beaming from ear-to-ear, arms aloft, hopping from state to state, with one man ubiquitously by his side at all times – Obasanjo.
So, what has changed? Is Obasanjo now so far removed from the inner caucus that an open letter is the only way to reach his former protégée? Is this wrecking ball in fact merely being swung by a disgruntled old lover?
How does Obasanjo credibly advise about legacy when his is so checkered? There is an old adage – Don’t shoot the messenger – which I happen to agree with; however, there is nothing wrong with subjecting the messenger to a thorough examination. In fact, it is often quite prudent to do so.
In an 18-page letter, there was not a single statement of regret from Obasanjo. There was not a single word that even hinted at self-awareness or irony. A mea culpa this letter was not. And Nigeria has been waiting, in fact demanding one from Obasanjo for six years. It would be churlish to suggest that there were no positives from the Obasanjo administration, but the heavy stink of the third-term agenda decimated any public goodwill that had been accrued over 8 years.
When the former President writes: “As a leader, two things you must cherish and hold dear among others are trust and honour both of which are important ingredients of character. I will want to see anyone in the Office of the Presidency of Nigeria as a man or woman who can be trusted, a person of honour in his words and character,” I wondered if he could possibly have uttered those words with a straight face.
Obasanjo’s broadsides as regards NNPC are particularly tough to digest. The NNPC is long overdue a shake-up but who can forget the bizarre and self-serving appointment of Obasanjo by Obasanjo, as Petroleum Minister? His 8-year tenure as President oversaw 8 fuel price hikes – an average of one a year. Inexplicably, petrol pump prices jumped 500% over the same period. It makes last year’s fuel subsidy hike seem positively benign in comparison.
When last can anyone remember queuing for petrol? In Obasanjo’s administration fuel queues were a periodic occurrence.
The lengthy complaints about insecurity are again justified in the wider context. But who can compare the insurgency in the Niger Delta now to what it was ten years ago? Boko Haram has been a black stain undoubtedly but their origins can be traced to Borno in 2002, under the Obasanjo administration.
The underlying complaint of the letter is that Jonathan is un-presidential. By writing such arude, scathing open letter and indicting the very office he once occupied, Obasanjo proves to be even more un-presidential.
I am hardly Jonathan’s biggest fan as a President. His legacy will not hold up to great scrutiny. However, it is particularly difficult to enjoy a gift when your benefactor is the same one who damns and rubbishes it in your presence.
The Obasanjo wrecking ball should not be mistaken for empathy at the Nigerian plight. It is a self-serving object of crudeness whose only purpose is to devastate and destroy.
Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: To advertise here . Call Willie +2347088095401...