EULOGIZING former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo as Nigerian “icon, patriot, nationalist, leader per excellence, political oracle”, among other beatitudes used by many to described Obasanjo’s “acumen” – both in the past and present – such beatitudes may soon become obsolete.
While present and future political leadership and economic governance model are being engineered by dynamics, analysts believe that Obasanjo’s refusal to restrain his public utterances on national issues may gradually become his albatross – navigating himself out of political relevance.
Obasanjo’s special press statement in January 2018 to President Buhari titled: “The Way Out: A Clarion Call For Coalition For Nigeria Movement” and his Monday, April 2, criticism on Buhari’s government in Abeokuta have been attracting public comments.
On the latest, Monday, April 2, criticism of Buhari’s administration; eminent Nigerians are regarding Obasanjo’s criticisms of the present All Progressive Congress, APC, government performance, and his former political party, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP – the platform on which he served for eight years as president of Nigeria as “mischief”.
Elder statesman, Tanko Yakasai, in recent reports, described Obasanjo as shedding “crocodile tears”. He said Obasanjo knew Buhari’s capacity but chose to support him all the same. Yakasa said: “The former president knew Buhari’s antecedents and capacity having worked together in the military, but chose to support him nonetheless.”
Obasanjo acknowledged Yakasai’s position in his special press statement in January, when he said: “First, I thought I knew the point where President Buhari is weak and I spoke and wrote about it even before Nigerians voted for him and I also did vote for him because at that time it was a matter of “any option but Jonathan [aobj]”.
Ebun Adegboruwa, Lagos based lawyer on his part said Obasanjo, presently, lacked moral clout to reverse himself and tell Nigerians who to cast their votes for this time around. He said Obasanjo “introduced us to the late president Musa Yar’Adua, but that was aborted because of Yar’Adua’s demise. He then introduced us to Goodluck Jonathan, but that didn’t work; he is also now saying that Buhari is a failute”.
Adegboruwa said: “It means that out of the three projects that he introduced to us, it didn’t work because none has taken us to our Eldorado. As a citizen of Nigeria, Obasanjo has the right to assess any administration, but he is not in a position to guide us on who to vote for, especially because of our three previous experiences over those he had recommended to us”.
Alexander Mwolwus, PDP chieftain in Pankshin, Plateau State, berated Obasanjo of plotting to discredit the party to promote the Social Democratic Party, SDP, which Obasanjo seemed to be championing. According to agency report, Mwolwus said: “Even though Obasanjo’s plot to discredit PDP to promote his own political party, SDP, he seems to have missed it, and does not know what he is doing”.
Mwolwus said: “He is the most ungrateful and corrupt Nigerian leader, who never knew how PDP was formed. “Obasanjo was never a member of PDP but out of sheer pity and magnanimity, the party brought him out of prison and made him president on a platter of gold”.
Mwolwus added: “we made him who he is today, yet he had the guts to spit and shout against us”. Obasanjo is known to have publicly dramatized the destruction of his PDP membership card, for what he claimed was his distaste for the party’s leadership before the general election in 2015. Obasanjo’s action of publicly destroying his party membership card was then described as “un-statesman”.
Today, the ruling APC government in Nigeria collectively ridicules PDP’s 16 years rule as “government of looters”. Does this not bother Obasanjo? Of 16-years PDP’s rule, Obasanjo alone ruled for [eight years] two terms and sought for aborted [third term].
If corruption in PDP’s 16-years rule is [100 per cent], Obasanjo’s eight years rule, alone, should share [50 per cent] of corrupt leadership. Yet, Obasanjo could not be deterred by referring to PDP as corrupt political party, as if he was insulated from reference to PDP as “government of looters”.
Mwolwus said Obasanjo introduced corruption and corrupting the National Assembly with his third term failed ambition. He alleged Obasanjo corruptly sold government properties to his cronies and spent billions of Naira on fixing electricity that is epileptic till now.
Obasanjo, no doubt, passes for a distinguished leader, highly respected within and outside his country. To continue to enjoy relevance in Nigerian politics, Obasanjo should be more engaging and work on strong political leadership model, not needlessly criticizing. Obasanjo should rekindle inclusive communication style. Models do not build themselves, people do.