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Atsar Terver
Public Commentator
Port Harcourt
more articles by Terver



Understandably Obasanjo may be desperate to clear his name before he goes to the grave but he should not insult our sensibilities with bogus claims of piety because he can never deceive some of us who still remember his deeds


Obasanjo: The Curse That Jinxed Nigeria.

Old age may come with wisdom but for Obasanjo the former President of Nigeria, it appears to be coming upon him with folly. Whereas words from elder statesmen ought to bring succor and hope to the younger generation, Obasanjo’s unguarded statements are often rather hurtful and ultimately a sad reminder to us of the mistake the nation made in making him a civilian President in 1999.


In an address at the 4th Annual Ibadan Sustainable Development Summit in the University of Ibadan, on Tuesday, Obasanjo was quoted to have said if Nigerians were yet to commend a leader after 53 years of independence, “Then we are jinxed and cursed; we should all go to hell.”

Well, it is good to know that Obasanjo knows the way to hell and if Nigerians should go to hell, he will lead the way!

Perhaps the gullibility of Nigerians and their ability to forget historical facts quickly emboldens the likes of Obasanjo to attempt rewriting their history in gold, but a good number of us can recall how Obasanjo squandered an extraordinary dose of goodwill and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to lay a sustainable foundation for democracy, the rule of law and good governance in Nigeria. It is ironical that the very man who prevented all efforts by genuine democrats to build a strong foundation of participatory electoral democracy in Nigeria (where votes counted and people are elected by merit), choosing rather to impose ‘selectocracy’ (selection and imposition of unpopular candidates on the people) with the hope of himself becoming a life-President, is now seeking to blame the youth for the failures of leadership in Nigeria.

Perhaps the most poignant evidence of failure of leadership is the inability of a leader to positively mentor a successor; so if Obasanjo now claims he could not produce a competent disciple who is not corrupt to take over from him, then which better admission of failure on his part do we need?

That thugs and known criminals occupy leadership, positions in Nigeria is one of Obasanjo’s evil legacies. He foisted that practice on us and it has since become the standard method for leadership succession. The incumbent shops for thugs who do dirty jobs for him and when he is leaving that position, he looks for a loyal thug who would protect his dirty past and hands over to him. Obasanjo did not teach us that loyalty should be to the nation and its constitution, rather he thought us that loyalty must be to the person occupying a leadership position irrespective of whether he is doing the right things or not.

Obasanjo did not entrench a reward system based on merit, productivity and value-added. He thought us that, sycophancy, proximity to power and the ability to praise-sing a leader are the ultimate pre-requisites for government patronage, promotion and reward.

It is Obasanjo’s bad precedence in abuse of due-process, whereby he used 6 House of Assembly members to impeach a governor, that emboldened Jonathan (who claims to be his son) to take after him, in his recent failed bid to remove Amaechi using the same crude undemocratic formula. So where exactly did Obasanjo derive the moral right to cast aspersions on succeeding leaderships after him?

If Nigeria is jinxed and cursed, perhaps Obasanjo is the Curse that jinxed Nigeria. Had he set a good example of leadership for the eight years that he held sway, the youth of today would have had a good example to copy from, but alas he set a bad example. Of all the people that worked for him, even he cannot now vouch for them. His erstwhile finance Minister is the same person under whose watch Nigeria is said to be broke and can’t pay university teachers allowances. A huge sum of money was paid out as fictitious subsidy claims under the watchful eyes of the leaders Obasanjo groomed.

Talking about corruption, one wonders why Obasanjo never saw evil in it until now. The Power sector probes by the National Assembly after Obasanjo's tenure actually indicted his administration of wanton corruption which he was engaged in while pretending to be fighting corruption. Under his very nose the Nation was swindled in the name of a national ID card Project. Public corporations were sold out (or bought over by himself or cronies) at give away prices; we had the $180million Halliburton scandal. That’s not the kind of person to be telling us now that the youth are corrupt.  

When Bode George, a convicted criminal came out of Prison, Obasanjo left Ota Farm to go give him a ‘heroes welcome’ where he eulogized him as a ‘great party leader’. How does that reinforce his anti-corruption credentials? It is instructive that Obasanjo in choosing to name names of corrupt leaders forgot to mention Bode George and his own daughter Iyabo. What a cunning comedian he must be, if he thinks we would take him seriously when he failed even at the family level to raise corruption-shy children and now wants to castigate the rest of us to go to hell.

It is Obasanjo’s legacy of corruption that is hounding us today. The wrong foundation upon which the EFCC was built (that is to be a political attack dog rather than an impartial and independent anti-corruption agency) is what has been hunting the Agency up to date! It’s very convenient for his defenders to say that those people OBJ hunted actually had skeletons in their cupboards but that is where the argument stops. How many were actually convicted and sent to jail instead of just making political capital from their arrests and media propaganda by Ribadu to halt their political ambitions? Without convictions, the war against corruption is empty noise as we have no way to conclude that those people were actually corrupt as alleged by Obasanjo and his gang of political propagandists!

If Obasanjo says he could not find a suitable person to take over from him in a country of 160million people, that would be the height of conceit and an insult on our collective sensibilities and anyone who believes him is probably suffering from acute dementia. For one, it was not and should not be his duty to select a leader for us. In a democracy, the people should be allowed to choose their leaders through transparent election-something Obasanjo never fostered.

Given the freedom to vote for their leaders, and allowing the rule of law to operate unobstructed, Nigerians are capable of selecting their true leaders who would serve them rather than their pockets. They are also capable of removing those leaders who fail to meet their expectations. So as Obasanjo prepares to ‘go to hell’ he should take his theory of ‘jinx and curse’ along.

Good leaders are known by their legacy. Mandela spent one term and left an enduring legacy in South Africa that subsequent leaders in that post-apartheid country have a benchmark to work with which Obasanjo could not achieve in two terms. If Obasanjo falls ill tomorrow, Nigerians will not waste their time on prayers and get-well flowers the way South Africans did when Mandela was hospitalized. That should be a lesson for Obasanjo to ponder.

Understandably Obasanjo may be desperate to clear his name before he goes to the grave but he should not insult our sensibilities with bogus claims of piety because he can never deceive some of us who still remember his deeds



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