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Obasanjo’s self-debilitating funk on Buhari


former President Olusegun Obasanjo and former Head of State Abdulsalami Abubakar at the AU Summit in Addis Ababa. Photo: Twitter/mbuhari

The problem with Nigeria is the absence of a patriotic national establishment. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo – an establishment player needs to move away from letter writing to helping those in power to succeed.

The lack of collaboration by major actors to move Nigeria forward is the country’s greatest hindrance. Unlike someplace where statesmen come together to hold think clinics, looking for the way forward, ours are always busy in ego wars.

While this may sound conjectural, I think Obasanjo is green with envy at President Muhammadu Buhari’s popularity especially with his awe-inspiring admiration by the plain folks in the north.


No establishment player in our time has that advantage. Not even Obasanjo in his geographical block. This is not a campaign for President Buhari because he has also let me down on a number of issues, considering that I voted for him, having expected so much from him.

The system in Nigeria is the problem of Nigeria and not of personages. We have a system where elected officials rig their ways into offices, many places with deaths in tow. It is a system where statesmen don’t keep political undertakings and party pledges. Nigeria is a country with no genuine party structure leading to a real political party system.

This profited Obasanjo who brazenly did away with his party’s rotational presidency agreement on principle that should have seen us more united than ever. He could afford to do so because politics in Nigeria is not by training and experience but by twist of fate. The reason he wanted to run for office for the third time against the democratic reasoning of Nigeria.

The great number of Johnnys-come-lately in the political corridor is responsible for where we are. In the light of this, I expected him to go around addressing critical issues to make Nigerians have a decent life. I don’t see question and answer sessions between elected officials and the led to suggest a democracy in progress. No accountability seminars are held in all states of Nigeria that I am aware of and so good governance has been subordinated only to the central government.

Survivalists are everywhere in political garbs and there are no democratic heroes. Our borders are not only porous but Chadians, Malians, and Nigeriens are better treated in Nigeria than Nigerians in the north because of religious affiliations. Little wonder that it is so easy to get soldiers of fortune for fratricidal wars. And the purchasing power parity between Nigerians and Ghanaians (the latter’s advantage) has always been wide. Even during his terms in office.

The metrics for gauging our democracy is so low that road construction is celebrated by governors and documented on television. I wonder what the Romans who first constructed paved roads before Christ would say were they alive today or even the Egyptians that built the Pyramids? Even in Obasanjo’s presidency, the poor suffered from the activity of the rich. I didn’t see a Mo Ibrahim give him an award for good governance.

There were no ground rules set by him on carbon tax and gas flaring which is the order of the day in the Niger Delta. Neither did we see cottage industries and many emerging markets under his administration. People point to GSM and I can’t help but give them the look of askance.

He didn’t remove subsidy to fund more schools, build more or work in partnership with states to train more teachers. Today the teaching profession is an all comer affair. Most teachers are not able to teach the three Rs (rEADING, wRiting and aRithmetic), in education, even those out of Teacher Training Colleges. A chief executive owes it a duty to leave positive legacies for posterity.

On which school of thought did president Obasanjo run this country? I can’t remember him for any positive, life-changing speech mark. He acts like he has a mitt to protect always. The democratisation and patience with depraved groups is the reason Boko Haram and militancy which started on his watch cannot be contained today. It grieves me when I read of agents of state killed by these groups more often than not.

No disrespect but the system and not Buhari is to blame for the rot in Nigeria but those in charge of evaluating performances have chosen to create red herrings by blaming people and not the system, made worse at any rate by a sitting president who has settled for easy familiarity with the people of his religion and region instead of easy familiarity with all people and religion for the growth of the country.

The Armed Forces of any country is the only profession where soldiers are taught how to oil their gunnery for war and leadership. No other profession teaches the latter.


I know that the power of a president is titanic and a soldier-turned politician should know how to use such power. Look to the United States, half of that country’s presidents were military men, others were affiliated to paramilitary/militia groups. But president Buhari has shown total lack of capacity to use his presidential power to provide real presidential leadership. Power does not imply that people must agree and be acquiescent to controls of the holder even when it is dishonorable.

This president seems to think so and doesn’t care squat to give presidential speeches when lives are lost and expect Nigerians to understand him without a communication strategy. I think Buhari should run for a second term if his health permits. Ours is a democracy of conciliation.

This fourth republic heralded the emergence of two presidents from southern Nigeria who ruled Nigeria for 14 years with nothing to show for it. The first refused to be an officer and a gentleman and annulled a party’s agreement. And the last who is a scholar left this country more divided than he met it. All of the persons who plan to contest against Buhari do so for piquant symbolism. They can’t match his popularity with the average Joe in Wuse Market, not minding Kano State.  What is worse is that the ones I see do not have what it takes to unify Nigeria.

But he should rule with the rule of right if he succeeds and not approbate to region, people, religion and herders. Only this time, I wouldn’t vote for him. I feel strongly that social stability is important before economic and political stability. I feel strongly that Nigeria doesn’t belong to the north with its false sense of entitlement. It doesn’t also belong to Obasanjo’s south-west and its propaganda machine always, or to the south east that revels in sulking constantly. It belongs to us all.

If the arrangement is kept, we may see a president from the south east in 2023. After which a president should come from my region of the country. Who says someone from the Igala Kingdom isn’t fit to become president of Nigeria? But one man can change the political dynamic for Buhari.

If Bola Ahmed Tinubu pulls the south western plug from the present alliance with the north, Buhari wouldn’t be president because no thanks to Jonathan one only needs four regions to become president in Nigeria. Here is where Obasanjo got it wrong.

Abah wrote from Abuja.


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