by Lekan Olanrewaju
“What God is he talking about?”
Responses like that quote constituted the majority of the public reaction towards ex President Olusegun Obasanjo’s statement about God giving him a third term in office, if he wanted one. Regardless of whether anyone believes God has such a soft spot for the now farmer, one thing is undeniable, and that is the former president’s penchant for statements of the, er, “confident” variety.
All we have to do is think back to any of his presidential broadcasts to view. This of course is further highlighted due to the stark contrast between that, and the manner of speaking of current president Goodluck Jonathan.
Who can forget the time he sent a letter to the erstwhile PDP chairman, effectively insulting him for daring to speak the slightest ill of the government? Or the time he said Lamidi Adedibu should be left alone after ballot boxes were found in his house, as it was no big deal.
We’ve decided to take a look at the most haughty and more than occasionally, outrageous statements from “Baba Iyabo” himself. Check out the top 6 below!
“A fool at 70”
Former president Ibrahim Babangida in 2011 held a press conference during his 70th birthday celebrations, where he slammed Obasanjo, describing his 8 years as president as wasted, specifically noting the $16 billion power project.
The Ota farmer of course did not take this lying down, as he, while talking to journalists, described IBB as someone who should be “pitied” and not “condemned”, and in no equivocal terms, described him as a fool.
“It’s a little bit unlike Babangida.” he said. “But if Babangida had decided, on becoming a septuagenarian, that he will be a fool, I think one should probably do what the Bible says in Proverbs chapter 26, verse 4. It says don’t answer a fool because you may also become like him. When you go to the same Proverbs, chapter 26, verse 5, it says answer a fool so that he will not think he’s a wise man. I am now torn between which of the two verses I should follow in this respect.”
“Babangida should be pitied and shown sympathy rather than anger or condemnation because of the old saying that a fool at 40 is a fool forever and I would say a regret at 70 is a regret too late. Well, a regret at 70 is a regret to the grave.”
The claws weren’t withdrawn immediately, as IBB released a statement, describing Obasanjo as “the greatest fool of the century”.
“I dey laugh”
The former president in 2010 famously mocked the thought of his former vice, Atiku Abubakar, becoming the presidential candidate of the PDP. Speaking to journalists at the presidential villa in Abuja, he was questioned on his thoughts on Atiku possibly becoming the PDPs presidential candidate. He, in response, adjusted his “agbada” brought out an inhaler, and inhaled in both nostrils and burst out laughing, saying “I dey laugh.”
“Father of bastards”
Sometime in December 2010, former Osun state governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola held a thanksgiving service at Okuku in his state. The sweet atmosphere however turned sour very quickly due to something of a verbal brawl between former president Olusegun Obasanjo and Ekiti state governor Ayo Fayose.
Fayose, who had in 2006 been impeached during Obasanjo’s 2nd presidential term, had noticeably greeted everyone at the event except the former president. Obasanjo, shocked by this, called the governor and asked him if he had simply made a mistake. This would prove to be something of a straw on his back, as didn’t hesitate in clarifying to the president it was no mistake, and he would never acknowledge him. The Ota farmer then proceeded to call the governor a “bastard”, which of course escalated the brouhaha, as the former governor retorted that Obasanjo was “the father of all fools”.
Ironically, Baba Iyabo would later describe Fayose as “someone that I could be his father, as he denied he exchanged words with the ex-governor, saying his “aggression was misplaced” and he would never stoop to his level.
“I am not even supposed to be here”
The events of January 27th, 2002 will probably remain forever indelible in the minds of Lagosians who experienced it first hand as well as any who witnessed the events on television. A series of explosions took place at an ammunitions dump in the Ikeja Cantonment in Lagos. Obasanjo paid a visit to the site as many had expected. However, this was not part of his scheduled engagements, and he had no qualms about making that known. Wives and relatives of the deceased had been sharing their grief with him, but he infamously told them to “shut up”, stressing the fact that he had interrupted his regular schedule to pay them a visit, and saying “I am not even supposed to be here.”
“CAN, my foot!”
Many will remember the former president’s unconfirmed quotes about elections in Nigeria, saying even if Jesus himself came down to conduct elections in Nigeria, there would still be electoral malpractices. Many religious folk may be quick to declare that blasphemous and what not, however, that is not the Ota farmer’s only instance of uttering statements that brand of offensive. During a meeting with the Christian Association of Nigeria over the Jos crisis, he is quoted as exclaiming “CAN my foot!” in a fit of rage.
“Mr Chairman of CAN, you are talking absolute nonsense, and don’t provoke me,” he said to the erstwhile CAN chairman, Reverend Yakubu Pam, who accused him of not visiting the victims of violence.
“You have the audacity to say that you did not hear anything from me.” he continued “Did I hear anything from you? What meaningful thing have you contributed to make peace in this state other than you being chairman of CAN? CAN my foot!”
The Oputa Panel was a Human Rights Violations Investigation Commission (Oputa Panel), which investigated past abuses. President Obasanjo instituted this panel and himself appeared before it. However, during a hearing where he was subjected to a grilling a little too fiery for his liking, by lawyer Femi Falana, he wasted no time in stating that he would walk out of the proceedings.