Hauwa Gambo: There was a president, and his name was Olusegun (Y! FrontPage)

by Hauwa Gambo

Whatever good this man accumulated in his time in office, he wasted and squandered towards the end of his legitimate term. He became entitled and foolish, a bull in a china shop, suddenly convinced about his own inevitability and immortality, even perfection. By the time he began to dance naked in the public in search of a third term, it wasn’t a pretty end.

Apparently, former president Olusegun Obasanjo is on a roll.

Anywhere he turns, just as long as there is a microphone standing nearby or a camera positioned close, the man who believes he was the world’s most awesome president is ready with an open, even drooling, mouth – to share his latest thoughts on what exactly one of his successors in office has done wrong; which is, apparently, everything.

This is the thing: unlike many Nigerians, I do actually agree that Obasanjo was a fine president – any man who had a clear sense of what he wanted to do for his country, whether it was popular or not, and set about achieving that with conviction, strategy and strength of character (whether likeable or not) counts in my books as a fine leader.

This is the other thing: President Goodluck Jonathan deserves to be criticised on almost every issue that is important to our nation as present, seeing as you can hardly find a man alive who is satisfied with Jonathan’s performance.

[Read: ‘Corruption: Jonathan is not doing enough – Obasanjo’ HERE)

Here is the problem: Obasanjo is, please excuse me, a royal mess.

Whatever good this man accumulated in his time in office, he wasted and squandered towards the end of his legitimate term. He became entitled and – let’s be honest – foolish; a bull in a china shop, suddenly convinced about his own inevitability and immortality, even perfection. By the time he began to dance naked in the public in search of a third term, it wasn’t a pretty end.

So it happened that while South Africa is blessed with a man who unified the country, put it on the track of growth and expansion, strengthen its democracy, built its institutions restored its place in the world, stepped away after one term and emerged as possibly the most revered man alive, Obasanjo left office in a whimper – diminished, disrespected and routinely demonised by the very same people he made popular through  his government.

As if that were not bad enough, he imposed on Nigerians a sick president, and an even weaker vice-president. The reason for that is now publicly documented. “Nothing will change, you know,” Nasir el-Rufai’s new book reportedly says Obasanjo told him. “I will be in Ota but we will be running things. Everything will remain the same, you know. Nothing will change. Only I will move to Ota and Yar’Adua will be here but we will be running things.”

The arrogance, and wrong-headedness of this terrible statement should be debated by students of political science for the next few years.

But for now, it is because of this that one must treat Obasanjo’s latest homilies with scorn. They are not motivated by any nobility, for Obasanjo is not a noble man. They are also not driven by honesty, for Obasanjo has never been a honest man.

He speaks not out of a place of concern for Nigeria or Nigerians, or because he is indeed ready to be part of the effort to clean up this mess; it is out of rage that the man in power at present is no longer his puppy.

By God, seriously, how does Obasanjo, whose abuse of office is visible to everyone through a series of financial investments that could not have come out of a honest days work accuse anyone of a failure to tackle corruption?

Unfortunately, thanks to a feckless Jonathan, Iyabo’s father has the capacity to shine as a leader who actually knew what he was doing: internationally he is still the most sought-after African for quixotic peace missions and election monitoring; locally he continues to be a force field in local Ogun politics, and universally he is a desired fixture on the speaking circuit.

[Read: ‘Our President, Johnny go-slow’ HERE]

It is understandable why he has become this loose cannon – he must feel on top of the world at the moment.

Which is a tragedy.

It is a shame that rather than be a force for good in his old age, Obasanjo continues to cause confusion, disharmony and retardation in his endless pursuit of self-preservation – like a tribal chief with his head permanently up his own behind.

The fact that this man is actually the ‘best’ president Nigeria has ever had is a fact that makes me terribly ashamed. It makes me terribly ashamed indeed.

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Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

Comments (2)

  1. "…Obasanjo has never been a honest man"

    This is a good article, well written, but the use of absolutes as the one I quoted above should be discouraged please. Never say 'never' and always refrain from 'always' (so to speak).

    Mr Ibhagui, please how can it be 'sad' one has a 'boisterous personality'?

  2. This is an ad hominem attack as far as I am concerned. I want to remind author that Obasanjo hasd been existing before 1999 and in the public eye decades before then. It might help to educate yourself about the man

    It is sad that OBJ has a very boisterous personality and he has had many human faults but as was said of Elijah Muhammed in the Spike Lee movie Malcolm X: " the good deeds of a great man far outweigh his weaknesses." The contributions Obasanjo has made in the history of Nigeria far outweigh what anyone has ever come close to making. You people really have to write less and go back into updating yourselves about the past

    @OIbhagui

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