There is a Hausa proverb which, literally translated into English, says: “It is the bird that calls for rain that gets drenched.” Obasanjo, as a bird, has called for rain and drenched he must be, else those who did not witness our recent history and also the coming generation, would read the wrong versions of it.
Obasanjo seems to have taken providence too much for granted. Since he left office in 1979, after a government primarily ran by his ‘deputy’, Gen. Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, he has had reason to denigrate and chastise his successors from President Shehu Shagari to President Muhammadu Buhari. He hides under ‘nationalist’ and ‘statesman’ toga to pontificate about what he was incapable of practicing while he held sway for a cumulative 11 years in power. Even then, the toga he hides under, aren’t exactly his, because Obasanjo can only be regarded as a nationalist in so far as Nigeria is a nation and he is Nigerian. Equally, he is a statesman only because Nigeria is a state and he is a man in the literal sense.
Obasanjo, could be excused by the average Nigerian who did not know him enough as his colleagues did, for trying to harass General Sani Abacha out of power. Abacha was a military dictator; but, so also was Obasanjo, even though he claimed to have repented after retiring from the military. Abacha, who knew Obasanjo too well, wasted no time in confining him to where he thought he belonged – prison — for treason under a law he (Obasanjo) promulgated which saw to the wrongful and malicious execution of Colonel A.D.S. Way by Obasanjo.
On the death of General Abacha, other Obasanjo-like nationalists and statesmen dusted the hallucinating Obasanjo from Yola prison and forced him down the throats of Nigerians and thus began the tortuous journey to nurturing our democracy captained by a man who can only be considered a democrat because we pretended to practice democracy. Obasanjo did not understand democracy partly because he first led as a military dictator who was not open to checks and as mentioned earlier, had taken providence too much for granted.
As civilian president, Obasanjo was not different from the Abacha he loves to hate. He introduced corruption in various organs of our democracy, such as the parliament, whose magnitude would make even General Ibrahim Babangida (regarded as the godfather of settlement) envious. He bribed to impeach any legislator –federal or state – and sometimes governor, who stood in his way. Sometimes, he used the same anticorruption instrument he established to bribe or coerce his way to achieve his sinister objectives. Worst of all, he was himself implicated in a corruption scandal. Obasanjo ordered troops to Zaki Biam and Odi to completely annihilate the two communities and Nigerians took it in their stride because they were also yet to drink from the keg of democracy.
After eight years of stagnating and ruining our hard-earned democracy, Obasanjo thought he had conquered us all and broke our treasury to bribe his way to amend the constitution to allow him contest and rig election the third time. It took the organizational ability of his ambitious deputy to galvanize action against the third term effort and since then Obasanjo had been bitter with everybody. Out of this bitterness, he presided over the worst election in Nigeria since 1914 with the hope that the military would truncate our democracy.
What is perplexing about the third term is not that Obasanjo even sought for it, but he denied that he ever even thought of it. It is in this vein that he has the shamelessness to counsel President Buhari — who has stabilized the democratic space and has started building a future for the country, which Obasanjo and his PDP labored to destroy — not to seek for a legitimate second term! SMH!
Obasanjo gets away with many utterances because he leverages his age to preempt critical response. However, there are some of us who appreciate the difference between old age and being elderly. Although it is rude to join issues with an elder, it is game to take on an old man; particularly one whose antecedents – as corroborated by his son whose wife he said the father chased – show that his reputation is so damaged nothing can damage it further. This must explain Obasanjo’s shamelessness; and no nation should put the hopes of its development in the words of a shameless man.