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Obasanjo and his fake democratic credentials

He presided over one of the worst elections ever conducted in the political history of not only Nigeria but also in the African continent. Both…

He presided over one of the worst elections ever conducted in the political history of not only Nigeria but also in the African continent. Both the Commonwealth and African Union Observer teams had described the 2007 election as one of worst in Africa and the world. In fact, the condemnation was so unmistakable and overwhelming that President Yar’adua himself admitted during his inauguration that the election, which brought him to power, was significantly flawed and promised electoral reforms to salvage Nigeria’s democratic image. (The reforms are still a matter of public debate).
Former President Obasanjo is one of the deadliest enemies of democracy in Africa and his record in office will confirm this perception. He introduced the culture of “imposition”, “affirmation”, “consensus” and “anointment” at the expense of voters’ sovereignty. His do-or-die politics sent the wrong signals across the country to the extent that politicians took the license to kill their rivals or perceived opponents. Freedom of choice, which is one of the key elements of genuine democratic system, received a kiss of death under former President Obasanjo’s rule.
He attempted but woefully failed to tamper with the constitution in order to extend his term limit in office in 2006. The third term agenda was so obviously unpopular that its ultimate collapse was just a matter of time. Billions of public funds were deployed to achieve the ambition but the National Assembly threw out the attempted amendment because of the high political risk of swimming against the tide.
Former Niger Republic President, Mohmadou Tandja, was a student of Obasanjo’s tenure extension school. He was convinced that where his Nigerian teacher (Obasanjo) failed, he would succeed. He destroyed all the formidable sources of opposition to his ambition, including the dissolution of parliament, the constitutional court and the detention of political opponents and forcing others into exile. Where does Obasanjo derive the credibility to qualify for the role of monitoring elections on behalf of ECOWAS?
The spate of political assassinations in Nigeria was a consequence of the dangerous do-or-die politics former President Obasanjo had entrenched in our political culture. As a result, the sovereignty of the voters no longer counted; unpopular candidates were imposed on the people. Where leaders govern without mandate, can Nigeria boast of practicing democracy? Convinced that they lost the power to elect leaders of their choice, the electorate retreated into the cocoon of despondency and apathy.
With his dirty and unenviable democratic record, former President Obasanjo doesn’t have the credibility to preach about democracy any more, let alone monitor elections on behalf of ECOWAS. He used his former Africa Leadership Forum to deceive the world about his “passion” for democracy. And unfortunately, the world leaders failed to subject his record to critical evaluation merely because he “voluntarily” handed over power to civilians in October 1979.
If the ECOWAS leaders respect their own credibility, they wouldn’t have taken the unwise decision of appointing hypocrites like former President Obasanjo to monitor the Togo elections or anywhere else for that matter. The crises trailing our democracy were largely caused by Gen. Obasanjo’s insincerity. President Yar’adua appears more sincere about his commitment to democracy than his predecessor.
Throughout his autocratic rule, former President Obasanjo had no respect for court orders. Despite an unambiguous Supreme Court ruling, which told him he had no power to withhold more than N30 billion belonging to the Lagos State Local government councils, the former President flagrantly ignored the decision of the apex court. He frequently used the EFCC to blackmail and frustrate the ambition of his perceived political enemies.
Most of the Problems confronting President Yar’adua he inherited them from Obasanjo. There was no transparency in the privatization process and the award of contracts. Billions have gone into the so-called power projects, but Obasanjo left office, leaving behind unfulfilled promises, including his pledge to raise power generation to 10,000 megawatts by the end of 2007. His administration was characterized by needless waste of funds and hypocrisy in the implementation of the anti-corruption crusade.
Obasanjo is a failure and one cannot understand why a man with this awful record in office should be appointed to monitor the Togo election. The political confusion in Nigeria was caused by Obasanjo. He assumed that President Yar’adua was a dunce whom he could bend to his wishes. However, when Yar’adua began to assert himself, Obasanjo is now using his sickness to stampede him out of office. The late General Sani Abacha was a military ruler but his tenure elongation project was more tolerable than Obasanjo’s third term ambition. Though un-elected, Gen. Abacha was performing remarkably through the former Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF). Obasanjo was frequently attacking Gen. Abacha’s perceived anti-democratic tendencies. At the end of the day, however, Obasanjo tured out to be the worst enemy of democracy. Therefore, appointing him to monitor the Togo election is the greatest insult to the democratic sensibilities of Nigerians and other black Africans who are struggling to free our democracy from civilian dictatorship for which former President Obasanjo became a notorious symbol.
Donatus Okafor Nwachukwu, Block 13, Chindo Yamusa Road, Keffi, Nassarawa State

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