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Does Obasanjo have short memories?

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo was once a respected statesman but his recent descent into despicable political chicanery has seriously undermined his public image. His recent…

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo was once a respected statesman but his recent descent into despicable political chicanery has seriously undermined his public image. His recent public comment that he handed over power to Yar’adua out of patriotism has left many Nigerians ever sceptical of him.

According to Gen. Obasanjo, it would have been improper to hand over to a southerner after he had served eight years in office because it would have undermined national unity. It was this consideration, he said, that made him to choose Yar’adua as a successor, despite his previous record of poor health.

One is not interested in the debate over the wisdom of choosing a sick president in 2007; rather, one is going to expose the hypocrisy of Gen. Obasanjo in his attempt to fool both northerners and southerners. Did Obasanjo forget that he attempted a tenure elongation, despite the fact that it was against the constitutional term limit and the principle of power shift? In what way would his personal ambition to hold power perpetually promote the interest of the north and south?

In fact, if his third term ambition had succeeded, Yar’adua would not have become a president. When the unpopular third term agenda collapsed on May 16th, 2006 Obasanjo was desperate to impose a puppet successor. Worse still, he shamelessly told an emergency meeting of the PDP that he never wanted a third term in office, despite his open approval of those promoting his ambition to cling to power perpetually. If indeed he wanted to protect national unity, why did he introduce power shift on his own terms? Why did he deny delegates to PDP convention the choice to freely choose the right presidential candidate?

Chief Rochas Okocha, one of the presidential aspirants, said Obasanjo forced them to stand down for Yar’adua without following democratic processes. Since Obasanjo was determined to impose a president on Nigerians, he didn’t allow any room for debate about the wisdom of choosing the party’s Presidential candidate.

It is surprising that the same Obasanjo is advising Yar’adua to resign on grounds of ill health. Did he forget how he vigorously defended Yar’adua’s physical and intellectual capability for the office of president? Is Yar’adua’s chronic ill health a new thing to Obasanjo? Why is he now using the man’s unfortunate sickness to exact revenge by advising Yar’adua to resign?

Strangely, Obasanjo was preaching the path of honour and morality to Yar’adua. The former President was openly accused by  Gbenga (his son) of sleeping with his wife and it was the biggest moral challenge to Obasanjo’s reputation. Why didn’t he resign as the chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees? How can a man with such stigma continue to be leader of elders? Does he command any moral authority to preach honour to others?

However, since Nigeria is a funny country where we tolerate every trash, nobody is challenging the continuation of Obasanjo as the chairman of PDP Board of Trustees. How can you give what you don’t have? According to Mahatma Gandhi, “You are not an elder by a mere lock of grey hairs; he is an elder in whom reside truth and justice.”

Yar’adua was a product of Obasanjo’s mischief and divide-and-rule politics. Why is he now crucifying Yar’adua over his ill health? It is on record that Yar’adua had declined the offer to become president in 2007 but Obasanjo insisted that the former Katsina State governor was his safest choice as successor because he had dark motives. Therefore, former President Obasanjo’s claim that Yar’adua didn’t tell him the whole truth about his health status was a brazen lie. Why did he ignore genuine concerns about this issue by other Nigerians? President Yar’adua’s crime is his refusal to play the marionette as Obasanjo had wanted and he is now using his medical crisis as a pretext to throw him out of office.

It is high time former President Obasanjo stops insulting our intelligence. His decision to bring Yar’adua as his successor was borne out of ulterior motives rather than protecting national unity or doing justice to power shift to the north. A political trickster like Obasanjo can only succeed if we are ready to be fooled by him. His hypocrisy sticks out like a sore thumb and he is no longer trusted by Nigerians. The biggest baggage on Vice President Goodluck Jonathan is Obasanjo. His closeness to Obasanjo is making well-meaning Nigerians suspicious of him. By his snaky nature, Obasanjo does not keep loyalty for too long.

Though he demands absolute loyalty from others, he doesn’t have a reputation of living by the same principle in his relationship with his friends and supporters. Former Senate Presidents, Anyim Pius Anyim, Adolphus Wabara and the late Dr. Chuba Okadigbo are a few examples of Obasanjo’s capacity to dump his friends after using them. At least four former PDP national chairmen, Engineer Barnabas Gemade, Chief Audu Ogbeh and Chief Solomon Lar and Chief Sunday Awoniyi were also victims of Obasanjo’s treachery. Goodluck Jonathan shouldn’t therefore forget the adage that if your neighbour’s house is on fire, you should be on the look-out!

Soba writes from Block 42, Maiduguri Road, Kaduna

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