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2011: Will Obasanjo Deceive The North Again? - Nigeria

Writers Articles And Opinions

23 March 2010

By Saka Raji Audu

Towards the end of last year, Nigerians had cause to lament about some unfortunate incidences that attracted both national and international comments of varying degrees and dimensions. Prominent of the pathetic situations is the failing health of the country's President. There seemed to be general evasiveness from the real problems at stake by some of those who had the courage to comment on this tragic incidence.

The health problem of the Nigerian President Umoru Musa Yar'adua did not start of recent. It happened even when he was the governor of Katsina State from the northwest geo-political zone of the country between 1999 and 2007. Yet, he presided over the State without much problem. However, his illness was very much pronounced in 2007 when he was campaigning for his presidential election. At a time, the rumour had it that he was 'dead' to the extent that the former President Olusegun Obasanjo had to openly put up a telephone call to ask a supposedly 'dead man' if he was dead. Since that time, President Umoru Yar'adua had shuttled between Nigeria and Saudi Arabia for medical attentions, and all these have not made any meaningful improvement.

One of such journeys was taken on 23rd November 2009 and in recent time; he was forced to return to Nigeria without any remarkable improvement on his ill-health. The long absence of Mr. President made some Nigerians to engage in unguarded talks. Some people wonder if President Yar'adua is still in this world. Yet, others have asked him to simply resign his job as President of Nigeria in view of his incapacitation. Even the notorious Niger Delta militants whom President Yar'adua tried desperately to persevere through amnesty also threatened him to throw in the towel so that their real man can take over as President. Perhaps, the militants are not even ready to sympathise with the ailing President in view of the billions of naira pumped to them, all in the name of amnesty.

But in spite of this entire abracadabra about Mr. President's ill-health, no one has ever wondered why President Yar'adua was allowed to contest election to the office of the President of Nigeria in the first place when those who installed him knew pretty well that he was not healthy enough to conduct the affairs of the country. They simply put their primordial interest before and above the interest of over 150 million population of the country. I think that no other person but the former President Olusegun Obasanjo can spell this riddle.

Personally, I do not also think that President Yar'adua's long absence from Nigeria and his inability to preside over the affairs of the country have made any difference because Yar'adua has never been fully in charge due to his health issue. Still, the clock of Nigeria has never stopped working. So, those clamouring for Yar'adua's resignation for Mr. Good luck to assume power as President of the country should know that they have not said any thing new and neither have they impressed any body by saying so. This is because they are only reiterating why Yar'adua was installed by Obasanjo and his fellow Nigerian travelers at all costs, in spite of the glaring contradiction in May 2007.

In that year, one vividly remembered that some people had argued, wrongly or rightly that Obasanjo had intention of retaining power in the South after his 8 years (mis) rule. This agenda was however not possible since most of his trusted errand boys he had wanted to bequeath the number one seat of the country were having credibility question. The former President had to fall back on a sick man as Umoru MusaYar'adua from the north that he knew quite well would not be able to make much difference. Since Yar'adua became President, he has been battling with his health, giving less attention to governance, thereby allowing some kleptomania a field day in the art of governance.

Today, Mr. President's health issue has degenerated to the point that Yar'adua could not do any thing. At first, he was said to be nowhere to be found, whether dead or alive. This sordid situation led to Mr. Good luck taking over as Acting President because of Yar'adua's bad luck. Now, Obasanjo and his ilk have realized their hidden agenda of returning power to the South willy-nilly. This should serve as another big lesson to the so called northern elites who could not think beyond their noses, and for thinking that Obasanjo could always be trusted against the interest of his kiths and kin. The northern elites should have realized the fact that there are many ways of killing a rat.

Bearing in mind that there is always another time for clever political manipulators, let the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) of Nigeria manage the situation up to the next general election in April 2011when Nigerians should be able to say loudly that they are no fools since only a fool stumble over the same stone twice. On the whole, I do not think that Yar'adua will be able to continue as President of Nigeria. Though it has always been my wish to wish others well in whatever situation they find themselves. It is therefore my fervent prayer that God, in His infinite mercy allows the best to happen to the ailing President Umoru Musa Yar'adua wherever he is today, and bearing in mind too that no man born of woman can question God's verdict.

Rather than accepting the bitter truth with a view to avoid the stumbling of same stone twice, Obasanjo with his joggling tongue told Nigerians at the 7th Trust Annual Dialogue in Abuja why he was not responsible and should not be held accountable for the unfortunate mess the sickness of President Umoru Musa Yar'adua has caused and is still causing the country.

In his desperate explanation before a large audience in order to claim innocence and humility over the issue, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo further exposed his perfidy and made himself a laughing stock. He said, "President Umoru Yar'adua should consider taking the path of honour and the path of morality by resigning from office in view of his serious health challenges." Obasanjo stated this on January 22, 2010 while responding to a question by a man from the audience who asked him whether he chose Yar'adua as his successor in 2007 "out of wickedness."

The same Obasanjo who is today talking about honour and morality had wanted, after his 8 years (mis) rule, to go for a third term if not for the resistance of concerned Nigerians. Interrogating the former Governor of one of the most backward states in the North, Alhaji Saminu Turaki of Jigawa state by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) in 2008 for money laundering, Turaki stated openly how he diverted people's money in the sum of N100M to launch the third term campaign for Obasanjo. A brief sojourn on Obasanjo's nemesis will suffice our discourse.

Hitherto, when we had the opportunity to conduct another Presidential election tagged, the fourth republic, in 1999, the democratic feature of popular participation was changed to democratic zoning and pacification. We were forced to bow to tribal sentiments and threats of disintegration and extinction. Though, nobody was afraid of the threat but we just have to maintain peace and unity for the country even as it meant looking for a man that had just been pardoned from the prison as President of the country.

We then started shopping for the personality that cuts across all strata of deliberations from the troubled region. We could not find any one. Suddenly, Chief Olusegun Aremu Obasanjo, an erstwhile Head of state who was serving 25years jail term and had already clocked three years in it struck our desperate mind. He was unchained, pardoned and released from the prison by the General Abdulsalam Abubakar led military administration. This was not the end.

Chief Olusegun Aremu Obasanjo, (OAO) even though I do not know why the media call him OBJ, quickly baptized himself of the traumatic psychology of a prisoner and entered the political train of the country as a born again. He became a democrat, joined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and declared his presidential ambition. The north and the eastern part of the country welcomed him. Particularly, during the 1999 Presidential primaries, General Ibrahim Babangida (rtd) perfected the magic wand for the man deserted by his people.

When the presidential election came, the northerners were convinced to trust Chief Olusegun Obasanjo for a President thinking that he was once their boy. They never knew that they were cuddling a python. They voted for him massively with the hope of using him to their advantage. But Obasanjos constituencies, the western states also suspected that their son would be a total sell out and a toy in the hands of those that had deprived them of a President in 1993. At that time, they were still nursing the wound of the June 12 1993 Presidential election crisis. They voted against Obasanjo for Olu Falae. This however did not make any difference. Olusegun defeated Olu Falae on a landslide victory.

During the acceptance speech of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 1999, he promised to fight corruption head on and maintained a balance and just democratic society. He made other impressive statements in his nation wide broadcast that nearly convinced us that we have reached the promise land.

No sooner had he resumed office than the baptized Obasanjo started to manifest. His tribal region that did not work for his success matched to Aso rock and presented agenda for execution. The late Chief Bola Ige told us all about the Afenifere Agenda before his unfortunate death. His cabinet composition was tilted to the west. Secondly, instead of the President to squarely face how to revive our economic doldrums, he was planning and executing political revenge mission. He arrested some perceived enemy and punished them accordingly. The corruption the then President Obasanjo so much prepared to fight could not yield any tangible result. There was corruption in high places, in the two Chambers, among the governors, among Directors, Ministers and government officers and politicians. Corruption was unlimited and it then appeared that the members of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission and even the EFCC could not be of any help. Most federal roads were death traps and unemployment was still very much pronounced. Only those that were extremely lucky and played the ball well that was not complaining. The value of our currency continued to depreciate. Obasanjo later told us after leaving office as President of Nigeria for eight years that he "was not voted for road construction."

The popular PTF that was helping the masses in the aspect of road construction and drug provision was quashed. The lower and upper houses were not spared of the political crises and corrupt practices. From Evanwerem, Okadigbo, Anyim to Naabba. We could not tune on our radio, television or open newspapers or magazine without hearing or seeing one form of trouble or the other coming from the Aso Rock or the two chambers during Obasanjo's tenure.

The worst hit of the economic enslavement was the sale of virtually all government security outfits and parastatals in the name of privatization. Obasanjo virtually sold all the governments properties out. The Nigeria Airways, NNPC, NITEL, Mints, Media, Hotels, etc seized to be ours like the Bakassi Peninsular. Even those that work in private sectors were not safe. There were inadequate electricity, scarcity of diesel, black oil and petrol for generating plant. Even, where these commodities were available, their high costs were very much discouraging. The huge tax by government, high interest rate and high cost of capital, the value added tax (VAT), the high rate of customs duty, and taxes from various government agencies and frustration at the clearing port had effect on wages, salary and turnover.

Still, we were told of the governments approval that every expatriate foreigner that wants to work in Nigeria would pay between N45, 000 to N50, 000- as Residence Permit on yearly basis as against the usual N2, 500- knowing full well that majority of the private companies that employ Nigerian workforce are owned by foreigners. The question, is it possible for these expatriates to pay such huge amount of money without retrenching or punishing the Nigerian workforce? This did not concern the Obasanjo government as long as those that matter make gains out of the Residence Permit project. We were also told that the production of this project was contracted to foreign firm. This is again too bad. In spite of all these odd, OBJ was busy shuttling between the country and outside world. His frequent outside journeys could not even influence the nave judgment passed in favour of Cameroon by the International Court of Justice on Bakassi Peninsular. Our desperation to pacify the western part of the country with a President at all costs made us to entrust the countrys number one seat in the hand of a man that had not yet recovered from the ugly experience of the prison. All these were part of the reasons that made the Speaker, House of Representatives, Ghali Umar Na'abba and his fellow travelers to plot an impeachment against OBJ.

Upon all these, it beats my imagination how Obasanjo that allowed all these nonsense to take place could turn round today to play on honour and morality. What morality does Obasanjo get to issue dud cheques to Textile Manufacturers in 2007, just two months to his exit as President of Nigeria in the name of Textile Revival fund? What honour Obasanjo has to impose an ailing man, Yar'adua as his successor on Nigerians only to tell us spurious story of not being responsible. Who else knew better of Yar'adua's state of health than Chief Olusegun Obasanjo? As an ex-military commander-in-Chief, why is Obasanjo so scared that he has to jungle fact, knowing full well that all what he was saying are not the true statement of fact? He should be bold to take the blame instead of running from pillar to post in search of where and how to land on a clean slate that is not clean enough.

Finally, with the review of Obasanjo's shadow of the past, couple with so many facts against him in the logjam created by Yar'adua ill-health, I do not think we need his admonishment any longer, having caused more harm than good for the country. Thus, his recent call on the man he imposed on us in spite of the glaring contradictions is akin to stabbing oneself and committing suicide. He should therefore stop abusing our sensibilities and it is time he also chose the path of honour and morality by keeping quiet to face his Ota farm please. We have had more than enough worry from him. As for Yar'adua, let us not be tired of our prayers that may God choose the best for him and the country.

Saka Raji Audu writes from Kano and can be reached on his email: sakaraj@yahoo.com

 

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