Obasanjo’s letter and leadership quest
Sir: Former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s open letter (his regular trademark), released to Nigerians, where he among other remarks endorsed Peter Obi, the Labour Party standard bearer in the forthcoming general election in the country has expectedly provoked mixed reactions across the country. Obasanjo described Obi as a Presidential candidate that has an edge over others in terms of knowledge, discipline, vitality and character, and, therefore, admonished Nigerians not to allow opportunity that Peter Obi represents in the February 25 presidential polls slip through their hands.
Supporters of Peter Obi believe that Obasanjo’s insight remains credible, and encouraged other past leaders to emulate the former President by preaching honesty in governance and a need for society of equal citizens. On its part, the APC Presidential Campaign Council sees the endorsement as worthless because in their estimation, the former president does not possess any political goodwill or leverage anywhere in Nigeria to make anyone win a councillorship election, let alone a presidential election. The Atiku/Okowa Presidential Campaign Organization shares similar opinions with APC. To them, the support for the LP presidential candidate by Obasanjo was his personal wish, which did not reflect the opinion or position of the overwhelming majority of Nigerians across the country.
First, it takes an illuminated mind to write a good letter and it is therefore important that readers focus more on the message and not the messenger as no one is infallible. In the same way, one of the intrinsic privileges participatory democracy and election of leaders confer on all is the enjoyment of access to free flow of information. It gives each individual more standing within the society without reference to a class or fortune- to claim a measure of dignity equal to all others and empowers individuals to scrutinize the use of power by those in government so as to ascertain if we are the one using power or whether power is using us.
More than anything else, Obasanjo latest letter, in my views, further confirms that Leadership holds the key to unlocking the transformation question in Nigeria- as only a sincere and selfless leader and a politically and economically restructured polity brought about by national consensus can unleash the social and economic forces that can ensure the total transformation of the country and propel her to true greatness.
There is need to work to build a new social and political order that can mobilize the people around common interests, with visionary leadership to drive this venture- as only then can we truly begin to resolve some of the socio-economic contradictions afflicting the nation.
Therefore, the youths should look towards to building the future that is free of suspicion, and a nation that will be viewed at the world stage as the zone of peace and prosperity.
• Jerome-Mario Chijioke Utom
is the Programme Coordinator (Media and Policy), Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), Lagos. He could be reached via;email@example.com/08032725374.