Open Letter To HE Obasanjo.
By Tai Emeka Obasi.
Your Excellency Sir,
In this season of calling a spade by its name, I wish to write this open message to you, hoping that there will be no ill feelings since we’re in the same business of nation building.
For a start, I’m not your fan. I didn’t vote for you in 1999. I voted for Chief Olu Falae. Reason being that I convinced myself that if Nigeria was returning to democratic rule, we didn’t need a trained soldier to lead her into it. That once a soldier always one. But you won the election. And guess what? I was vindicated. I will get to that later, you bet I will.
Let me applaud you for continuing to polish our paths toward a greater nation. At 81 and still involved and committed in all spheres for the good of our country and continent is quite commendable. Your very noble fight for zero hunger, quality education, booming economy for dear country and continent is locally/globally recognized and appreciated. May God continue to give you the good health and strength to effectively continue pushing on.
Suffice it to say that you are the most experienced Nigerian, not necessarily by age but by involvement. Even if President Muhammadu Buhari gets his second-term wish, he would still fall short of your 11 years while piloting the affairs of this nation from the apex table. I do believe, therefore, that any time His Excellency Olusegun Obasanjo talks on issues regarding our dear nation, Nigerians and those in countries beyond our shores should listen. They should listen to a man who has seen it all. And true to that belief, Nigerians read your public release on the state of the nation, particularly as it concerns the stewardship of our president, Buhari.
Your observations, verdict and advice to the septuagenarian to step aside ahead of 2019 elections were very well construed and couriered perfect message from a statesman who truly means well for dear country. Among the qualities I admire greatly in you is your bluntness in saying things the way you feel without minding whose ox is gored. Such firm character of yours has won you many admirers.
However, your call for a ‘Third Force’ that you termed Coalition of Nigeria, CN, is part of that statement that needs thorough dissection. As the most experienced Nigerian, were you genuinely proposing this third option to take over power in 2019 or is it that a clandestine intent not yet visible to the ordinary eyes is brewing?
To get to the real crux it is now appropriate to bring back your days as the civilian president.
Of all Nigerians, you chose a man who was already governor-elect as running mate and subsequently your second-in-command. From events that later unfolded into unpalatable feud the nation attempting to berth democracy firmly didn’t need, your actions confirmed you viewed picking that man as your deputy was a mistake.
Step further to your third-in-command; the kicking off of the Fourth Republic saw the election of one very vibrant politician by name Dr. Chuba Okadigbo (of blessed memory) as the president of senate. While he lasted for nine months, the nation enjoyed a very active democracy where all tiers of government enjoyed equal spheres of checks and balances. But your determination and desperation to get rid of a senate president, simply because he was practicing by the rule books, lawfully guided by the Constitution, confirmed to keen observers that there was a military man in agbada clothes as president.
It was from the shenanigans surrounding getting rid of the Oyi of Oyi that we heard the politics of Ghana-must-go bags for the first time in the new Republic. Will it be right to say that those who believe that you introduced the Ghana-must-go method of settling scores in the National Assembly got it wrong? Many Nigerians won’t accept it so.
Eventually Dr. Okadigbo got impeached and you henceforth installed what many believed were mere puppets dancing perfectly to your tunes. Even at that, the changing of your third-in-commands five clear times within your tenure confirmed all the fears that the difference between the Obasanjo of 1976-79 and that of 1999 – 2007 was just the clothing.
From Senators Evans Enwerem, Chuba Okadigbo, Adolphus Nwagbara, Ayim Pius Ayim to Ken Nnamani the Southeast witnessed a game of pawns where their representatives just sat out turns as you decreed. You rotated five senate presidents you used like house boys while you enjoyed your eight-year reign. Wherever you encountered any resistance, Ghana-must-go bags took control. Yet you set up Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC that were supposed to fight corruption. Most Nigerians believed that body was set up for you to use in ruthlessly dealing with whoever challenged you, a ploy the incumbent president perfectly copied.
You personally chose Atiku Abubakar but not long after, you found him unworthy in your very personal court, to become Nigeria’s president. You chose Umaru Yar’Adua. Knowing that being Nigeria’s president is a 25/7 affair, you chose a man whose health couldn’t go beyond 20/7. You chose a deputy, a supposed completely loyal servant, in anticipation. Yar’Adua’s health, true to experts’ prediction, did not let him stay long enough in office to test the trust of your personal court.
But the loyal deputy, Goodluck Jonathan, who stepped up as perhaps the most unprepared Nigerian president ever, soon entered your cross-hairs of don’ts. Your 20-page letter to him is still very fresh in our memories. You mercilessly tore into a man, who needed all the support to learn on the job. But the man from Otuoke is a good man, the only Nigeria leader who practiced democracy as should be practiced. Yet he was chased out with the CORRUPTION stigma.
Nonetheless, unseen eyes of a particular school of thought believed it was when you saw that the APC had perfected plans to effectively rig President Jonathan out of office that you tore your PDP card. You needed to join APC for just one reason – stop Atiku yet again from winning the party primary. I love this school of thought, not only that it appeals to me but also that it fits the character of the man we know in you, a man who would stop at nothing to get whatever he desires.
Am I sounding blunt sir? Forgive me if I am. An Igbo adage translates to, “the gong calls one exactly according to his character.’’ In this season of calling a spade a spade, I’m equally in the spirit.
Today, President Buhari has proved incompetent in leading a democratic nation and you have yet abandoned ship. Question is – why is it that you have always had a huge say in who became our president since this Fourth Republic? And the more poignant question – why is it that each one ends up a huge disappointment in your personal court?
Another very observant school of thought has diagnosed your recent dumping of Buhari and APC as another of your continued vow to stop Atiku. They believe all your machinations are to scuttle Atiku’s chances of getting the PDP ticket yet again. Your ‘Third Force’ assemblage is giving credence to that.
Yet, you make many believe you mean well. Have you considered that since you’ve effectively stopped Atiku for 11 years and counting and the nation continued to move from one huge mess to another that it was time to retrace and let this man be tried. You know very well that he is very capable, very experienced and does not carry the tribal blood most of you carry into Aso Rock. Or, are you just worried that he will right the wrongs you did while in office and hence leave a more laudable legacy behind?
One should pause here and ponder why it seems that the one course taught in very deep details at Nigerian military schools is VENDETTA. Why did you seemingly love that course more than any other? On the count, you have stopped Atiku, a man who served as your second-in-command for eight years, three good times from becoming the nation’s president.
Have you, at your private moments, pondered what this widely perceived personal hatred and vendetta have caused this nation? What if you didn’t give us a dying man for a president? Do you think there would have been an insurgent group like Boko Haram? Do you think if a healthy and very capable Atiku had taken over from you for eight years to satisfy the Northern quota that the infamous statement, “monkeys and baboons will be soaked in blood” would have been made? Do you think the Chibok Girls would have been kidnapped? There are many more questions.
But if you really haven’t reflected on this since you left office, then it’s time somebody pushed you to accept that it was because the North couldn’t wait for power to stay for over 16 years in the South before getting back to it that gave birth to their devising all unorthodox means to get at it. They were so desperate that Prof Attahiru Jega’s INEC was allegedly made to recklessly register kindergarten kids as voters, induced to create 20,000 more polling units in the North as against less than 10,000 in the South when statistics suggested that the reverse should have been the case.
From the moment Jonathan became president till he left office, our democracy witnessed the biggest threat, not that the man from Otuoke was weak, as always brandied, but because the North felt shortchanged and did everything to oust him. In many courts they were just, even if one may truly quarrel with the methods they deployed.
Did you ever consider in your mind that you share heavily in the blame of throwing the nation back into ethnic chaos after your own compatriot, Chief MKO Abiola had seemingly induced a reasonable cleansing of that ugly monster with his own blood? Did you ever ask yourself, “what if I didn’t install a dying man as president?”
What many perceive as your hatred of one man has brought and continues to bring so much damage to this nation, yet that has not even changed your vow that he wouldn’t become president as long as you lived.
Another school of thought say openly that you punished the country by giving her a dying man just to avenge your being denied a third term. This may be too wild a shot but what atrocity could be worse than plotting for third term? But for same man that evidences suggest you hate with passion and then Senate President Ken Nnamani, you well could have succeeded in sitting tight in office. If Nigerians could forgive you for that and still listen to you then you owe this country an open apology.
Believe me, I would wish you lived to be 100 or even beyond. There are enough positives having you around for me to genuinely wish that. However, wishing you to get to 162 years, though possible, would appear foolhardy or absolutely utopian. Therefore, I can affirmatively state that you are presently nearer your ancestors than your earthly friends. If so, what is your take, as a Christian, on that portion of Our Lord’s prayer “… forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us …” as the only condition for getting forgiveness from the Creator?
What will you tell God when you eventually meet Him that despite choosing you out of over 200 million people (including those dead) to lead the most populous black nation on earth for a record 11 years; despite letting you avoid Gen Sani Abacha’s throat-slitting knife just by the whiskers; despite bringing you out from the gulag to make you president; and so many blessings the Almighty surrounded you with … you still find it impossible to forgive whatever wrong one man, just one man, did to you?
Deep thinkers are affirmative in belief that to effectively stop him, you started pelting Atiku with corruption toga that was expertly spread by the ever vulnerable press. But my little mind keeps telling me that if genuine declaration of assets by both you and your second-in-command was made on May 28, 1999 and then an unbiased EFCC involved to genuinely revalue the true worth of both of you on May 28 2007, that Atiku would not have come out more corrupt among the two of you. I may be wrong but my seventh sense continues to assure me I am not.
Hence your proverb of lice and finger tips of blood remains very relevant. Here the lice is your vow to never live to see Atiku become president. And the blood is the continued mess we find our nation in.
Today all we hear is CNM or ‘Third Force’. A coalition with President Obasanjo (81 years), Prof Tunde Adeniran (73 years), Prof Jerry Gana (72 yeas) Chief Olu Falae (79years), Alhaji Sule Lamido (69years) and so on. No matter how well you mean for this nation, this list of members of your coalition lack confidence in a nation ever yawning for youth involvement in all spheres of leadership.
Your Excellency Sir, your ‘Third Force’ should be to apologise to Nigerians for always giving them the wrong president since you left office and then support Atiku for 2019. That way God will forgive you in preparation for the last days.
Tai Emeka Obasi