BACKLASH:Merciful Lord, Let OBJ Live Forever
I WISH our former President Chief (General) Olusegun Matthew Aremu Obasanjo, also called OBJ for convenience, could live forever. The man is absolutely, I repeat, absolutely, central to the survival of Nigeria. If it is not possible to beg God (or even the devil) to make OBJ live forever to keep Nigeria alive, we should at least do everything that is humanly possible to give him long live and, I can add, prosperity.
He should not lack anything. If he feels like abusing a sitting president, we should collectively appeal to whoever that is sitting in Aso Rock Villa to oblige him. If he eventually becomes a member of the APC and changes his mind after a brief or long stay and wants to tear his membership card, we should make the card tearing ceremony bigger than the other time he tore his PDP card, by inviting CNN, BBC, Aljezera and other international media to do the coverage.
If he wants to expand his marital empire, we should ensure he gets the best, a lot better than the new one Comrade Oshiomhole has got. To make his unparalleled by whatever measurement, we should package a honeymoon for him and his heartthrob in space. If in addition to being the Balogun of Owu, he desires to become the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yoruba land, the Iyase of Benin Kingdom, Ologbotsere of Warri Kingdom, the Sardauna of Sokoto and even Eze Gburugburu of Igbo land, we should appeal to all the concerned traditional authorities to grant his request.
The man is a great man and nothing whatsoever should be allowed to deflate his ego. Even if it requires shuttling outside planet Earth to get what he wants to be happy, let’s try and do so. Just for the records, he is the first Nigerian to move from prison to the presidency. He is also the first Nigerian to be begged twice to become head of state; first in 1976, after the failed February 13 coup, in which then military head of state, General Murtala Mohammed, was killed, and again, in 1999, at the dawn of this democracy. He holds exclusive titles in so many other things. He is the first military leader, in the whole of Africa, I suppose, to willingly surrender power to an elected government.
Actually, OBJ loves exclusivity. That is why I am not particularly pleased with the ascendancy of General Buhari, who is coming after 30 years, as the second Nigerian, after OBJ, to rule the country as military and civilian head of state. Maybe what we can do to create a difference, no matter how small, is to get back to the military authorities and ask that OBJ be promoted to the rank of a Field Marshal.
This will bring in several firsts into his bag honours. He will be the first Nigerian soldier to be promoted to that rank. He will also be the first to be promoted 36 years after leaving the service and the first, outside Idi Amin of Ugandan, to be named Field Marshal in peace time.
To retain this exclusivity, we must ensure that no other Nigerian soldier, serving or retired, living or dead, including General Yakubu Gowon, is promoted a Field Marshal. This is not too much to do in appreciation of the patriotism Obasanjo has exhibited since independence. He has been the only one showing the way forward at critical national crossroads. When the civil war was not making good progress with the likes of the Black Scorpion, Benjamin Adekunle and even Murtala Mohammed in the frontline, he swiftly stepped in, and in no time, got one Colonel Philip Effiong to hand over the Biafran State to him on January 15 1970.
After the June 12, 1993 presidential election had been annulled by General Ibrahim Babangida, and everybody’s head was uprooted by the upheavals that attended the annulment, and there was trouble in the land, OBJ was the only one, who still had his head sitting on his shoulders. He saw far beyond others, and calmly counseled Nigerians that Chief MKO Abiola, who won the election and for whom the people were prepared to lay down their lives, was not the expected Messiah.
His prophesy of a coming Messiah was fulfilled in himself in 1999. When he returned in 1999, after 20 years, Nigeria was breathless under a choking burden of external debt of tens of billions in dollars. He rallied the creditors, bargained very hard like a street hustler and got a handsome reprieve of about 50 per cent of the total debt stock. He, thereafter, issued a cheque to pay the balance of $20 billion, the same way I will issue a cheque to pay my rent or a ward’s school fee at the beginning of an academic year. He had performed many other miracles, including building the foreign reserves from almost zero degree to a whooping $67 billion.
BUt Nigerians are not convinced. It is nothing new; it is the fate of all Messiahs. They are almost always misunderstood by the subsisting generations. For instance, till date, the Jews are still waiting for the coming of the Messiah more than 2,000 years after the death of Jesus Christ. The sociological counter forces notwithstanding, Messiahs do not usually give up and it has been so with OBJ. He had genuinely, in the national interest, wanted a tenure extension to do more for Nigeria as president, but he was rudely checkmated by these counter forces.
He was not discouraged because Messiahs must live through their purpose anyhow. He still searched diligently through the colony of presidential aspirants, in 2007, and got a good combination that would continue from where he was stopped by the counter forces. He graciously offered the vessel of Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan to take Nigeria to destination. When the ship ran into a turbulent storm midstream following the incapacitation and eventual demise of the captain, the Messiah was woken up from a quick nap to speak to and calm the raging storm.
Unfortunately, the PDP became either blind or too drunk with power to understand that the exit of Saviour Obasanjo from the state ship could spell doom. The ship became rudderless in high sea heading in no definite direction. When time came for another intervention to point the way forward, OBJ abandoned his own vessel to completely go under. It was probably to teach the stubborn captain a bitter lesson for refusing to follow the established navigational rules. The Messiah has bluntly refused to heed calls by the frightened passengers on board of the PDP ship for help.
OBJ has since moved on board the new ship. Ever selfless and ready to serve his fatherland, he does not wait to be solicited before he offers his services free of charge. He has dutifully counseled the incoming captain on possible locations of cataracts in the vast water way. One of his many service outlets called Centre for Human Security of the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library has conducted an extensive research on “major social challenges facing Nigeria.”
The resultant report was described in one media mention as a “strategic development plan containing templates that would assist the incoming government to rapidly achieve its objective of taking the nation a notch higher.”
Last week, Prof Akin Mabogunje, who is chairman of the Governing Board of the Centre, submitted the report to the Buhari Support Organisation (BSO) in Abuja. He stressed that the document would help the President-elect to restructure Nigeria. I have not seen the report and so I cannot say if the Prof is talking about restructuring this country into a true federal system.
All the same, the President-elect was said to be full of praises and thanked the living messiah for ‘useful tips’ that even President Jonathan in his ‘cluelessness’ has not been able to offer less than two weeks to hand-over.
OBJ will always be there for Nigeria and Nigerians when it matters most. Can you now see why he has to live forever? Who would play this vital role of a national pathfinder if OBJ were to someday yield to the mortality of this physical world? May you live and rule forever, dear Messiah!