It seems that, ahead of the elections, Nigerians of all walks of life have taken to drawing conclusions and summarising past events before entering a new political era. Legit.ng's guest contributor Maxwell Adeyemi Adeleye assesses Olusegun Obasanjo's impact on Nigeria during his years in office and beyond.
Dear readers, I am tempted by the current state of affairs in Nigeria to coin this piece. I am angered by the attitude of the creature whom God has favoured with long life and prosperity despite his many sins against Nigeria and her people. The Owu, Ogun State-born former Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo, who doesn't need introduction in the political firmament of Nigeria and outside the shore, is the man.
From a relatively unknown soldier, he rose to become the number two citizen of Nigeria in 1975. In 1976, God extended the tentacle of his mercy to him by promoting him from number two to number one citizen of the most populous black nation in the world. In 1999, he was, through the support of the majority of Nigerians, catapulted from prison into Aso Villa by some leaders of thought such as Generals Ibrahim Babangida, T.Y Danjuma, Chiefs Alex Ekwueme, Orji Uzor Kalu, Atiku Abubakar, etc.
Today, Obasanjo is known globally for resolving international disputes, most especially on the continent of Africa. Obasanjo is also known for his unique speeches at both local and international events. He is also reputed for constantly penning emotional and controversial letters to leaders within and outside the country.
However, let me confidently state that Obasanjo has not done much for Nigeria despite miraculously rising through the rank and file of the country's military and democratic institutions to become crème de la crème. Obasanjo has impoverished Nigerians more than any other Nigerian leaders via his impious policies and actions.
Prior to the 1979 presidential election, most Nigerians preferred the revered the late political sage Obafemi Awolowo to be their President. But Obasanjo, as the military head of state, with the assistance of some internal and external forces, foisted an unpopular intellectual Lilliputian operating in an unbefitting office as a secondary school principal in Shagari Village, Sokoto State, on Nigerians. Awolowo and Obasanjo hail from the same state in Southwestern Nigeria.
As a result of Obasanjo's action, Nigeria went up in political and economic flames. History has it that Obasanjo perceived Awolowo as a "hard nut" that would be too hard to crack for him if he was allowed to be the President; hence, his decision to impose a "Lilliput" on Nigerians. Obasanjo was apparently scared Awolowo would probe his failed Ajaokuta Steel project. He was scared Awolowo would probe the billions of Nigeria his Operation Feed the Nation (OFN) has gulped from the treasury.
In 1993, when most Nigerians within and outside diaspora were agitating for the affirmation of the results of June 12 presidential election believed to have been won by MKO Abiola, Obasanjo conspired with his clan in the North to ensure that the struggle to actualize the lawfully given mandate of Abiola never materialized. Abiola died in prison.
In 1999, upon the return of the country to civilian rule, the Southwestern Nigeria was ceded the presidential slots of the two political parties in the country. The PDP handed its presidential ticket to Obasanjo and went on to triumph over his opponent, Olu Falae of the Alliance for Democracy (AD). However, for all eight uninterrupted years Obasanjo ruled Nigeria, not a single street was named after MKO Abiola whose glory he (Obasanjo) rode to power. Instead of empowering Abiola's clan, Obasanjo strangulated his family, killed all his business empires. Under the watchful eye of Obasanjo, the once-happy home of Abiola became a history. He got power and betrayed all his benefactors.
In 2007, well-meaning political actors with sound minds, blessed with intellectual sagacity and erudition, grounded and rooted, suave and courteous, signified their interest to run for the Presidency of Nigeria. However, just like he did in 1979, Obasanjo imposed a visibly unfit and weak Umaru Musa Yar'adua on Nigerians.
His goal was, however, not met as the physically unfit Yar'Adua distanced himself from him. As usual, Obasanjo joined opposition forces to declare war against Yar'Adua when the latter was terribly ill. The tenure of Yar’Adua was terminated through the help of a civilian coup called doctrine of necessity.
In 2011, when Nigerians agitated that for the sake of peace, fairness and natural justice, the North should be allowed to produce presidential candidate of the PDP, Obasanjo kicked. He colluded with his footsoldiers across and outside the shore of Nigeria to impose Goodluck Jonathan on Nigerians thinking he would be able to remotely control Nigeria from his farm in Otta. But Obasanjo met a stiff resistance from Jonathan and his crew. Obasanjo's move to neo-colonize Jonathan’s administration was rejected, hence, the beginning of another war.
Between 1999 to 2007, Obasanjo had a golden opportunity to write his name in gold among his Yoruba ethnic nationality but failed. He fought Nigerians from the South of Limpopo to the desert of Sahara. He sent his snipers in army uniforms to Odi village in Bayelsa State to roast the community. The offense of the people of Odi was that they killed an armed soldier on duty in the town. Odi people were wrong but Obasanjo goofed.
Obasanjo gave Nigerians GSM but he didn’t end his tenure without killing the Nigeria Telecommunication (NITEL), sending thousands of bread-winners to the labour market without terminal benefits. Many died in the process while those still alive among ex-NITEL staff live in squalor and starvation. Instead of re-organizing NITEL, Obasanjo sold Nigeria to a South Africa-owned company MTN. Obasanjo ensured that FSTV is killed for another South Africa-owned firm, DSTV, to take over Nigeria’s market. What a leader!
Furthermore, as a president for eight years, Obasanjo had an opportunity to reconstruct Lagos-Ibadan expressway, but he did not. Being an Owu-born, he failed to rehabilitate Lagos-Abeokuta road. Ibadan-Oyo-Ogbomoso-Ilorin roads were death traps during Obasanjo's reign. Ikorodu-Sagamu road was a no-go area when Obasanjo held the insignia of power. Ibadan-Ife, Ilesa-Akure and Benin-Ore-Ijebu Ode roads were left untouched by Obasanjo despite him being the Nigerian Minister of Works for about 3 years. Obasanjo awarded the dualization of Lokoja-Abuja road without mobilizing the contractor.
Obasanjo would always be remembered for how he subjected Lagosians to hardship for 3 years. As a sitting president, Obasanjo disregarded the ruling of the Supreme Court of Nigeria that the Lagos State local governments' allocations, which he withheld, be paid.
Obasanjo and his deputy Atiku Abubakar sold virtually all Nigeria's public properties and corporations to their cronies. All what the founding fathers of Nigeria labored to build went into the flame of few pockets. He spent $16billion on power without giving Nigerians the power proper.
Moreso, Obasanjo increased the price of petroleum from N11 to N70. He met a US dollar at N83, but left it at N150.
Without creating an enabling ground for automobile companies in Nigeria to innovatively and productively operate, Obasanjo banned importation of fairly used cars into the country.
As a sitting president, Obasanjo, in flagrant disregard of the rules, tactically summoned all the stakeholders in Nigeria's economy and politics to Abeokuta to donate to his personal presidential library.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which Obasanjo established, directly and indirectly became a tool used between 2004 to 2007 to wage war against those not the liking of the Federal Government. Nigeria was ranked by Transparency International as the second most corrupt country in the world during Obasanjo's presidency.
Let me also remind Nigerians that the 2007 election that Obasanjo supervised was declared by the United Nations as the worst in the history of democratic governance in Africa.
Obasanjo's military training could not save the people of Niger Delta when he was ruling Nigeria. During his reign, militants operated unhindered on the streets of Port Harcourt, Warri, Yenagoa, etc.
The level of political killings and human rights abuse during Obasanjo's presidency was second to none. Under Obasanjo, a sitting Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Chief Bola Ige, was gruesomely murdered inside his bedroom in Ibadan. A sitting Nigerian Governor Dr. Chris Ngige was kidnapped for three days. A prominent Lagos politician, Engineer Funso Williams, was gunned down inside his bedroom in Ikoyi. Gbenga Aruleba of the African Independent Television, a journalist, was held in police custody for two weeks for daring to criticize Obasanjo's administration while on air. Governors Ayo Fayose (Ekiti), Joshua Dariye (Plateau), Rasheed Ladoja (Oyo) and Peter Obi (Anambra) were controversially and allegedly impeached on the instruction of Obasanjo.
He awarded contracts to his cronies without monitoring them leading to non-execution of the jobs.
Despite Obasanjo's countless sins against Nigeria and her people, today, he is regarded as a pro-Nigeria by some hypocritical elements because he has agreed to be recruited as an advocate of change echoed by the opposition APC. With due respect to the APC leaders and its presidential candidate, General Muhammad Buhari (rtd.), I want to expressly declare without any fear of intimidation that the open endorsement of Buhari's candidacy by Obasanjo is an automatic indictment of the party and an affirmation that the APC were those who misgoverned Nigeria between 1999 to 2007.
As a Nigerian, I am against any attempt to return Nigeria to Obasanjo. Obasanjo and his trusted allies do not deserve top leadership positions again in Nigeria. He's one of the major architects militating against Nigeria. Therefore, I see the battle that Obasanjo has declared against the incumbent President, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, as a battle against the nation of Nigeria which must be repelled by all means necessary.
As a general and at 77, Obasanjo is certainly fighting his last political battle. Those who love Nigeria must join hands together to ensure that the coming battle is pursued and fought by all means necessary.
Mr. Adeleye wrote from Magodo, Lagos. Please note that opinions expressed by our contributors are strictly their own, and do not necessarily coincide with individual viewpoints of the Legit.ng team. Also, remember to respect the author, each other and Legit.ng editors when commenting!
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