By Abubakar B. Tsav
In Nigeria or African generally, septuagenarian or octogenarian ages are like a double edged sword. It could be a curse or a blessing to someone depending on how he utilizes this special favour from God Almighty in spending these rare years of grace. So, both suffer either of these two afflictions.
They can be treasures of wisdom in their communities or nations. But the worse experience is when such people bow to the strings of senility and the instinctual drive of incoherence. The latter category is the problem tormenting Nigeria’s former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo (OBJ). And his case seems on the wayward side because innately, he brooks no opposition to his views and parades a fake aura of superior wisdom.
While serving as a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999-2003) Sen. JKN Waku (of blessed memory) saw the dictatorial personage of OBJ in democratic garbs quite early in the day. And he exposed and demystified OBJ in a lengthy interview he granted, Crystal International Magazine, with the caption, “Obasanjo’s Days Are Numbered.” What has stamped on the psyche of many Nigerians is OBJ’s flaunted penchant of Mr. Know-All. He erroneously passes himself as an embodiment of the collective wisdom of over 200 million Nigerians.
So, OBJ, the former Military and democratic leader of Nigeria has been restless on the political turf of Nigeria; making pronouncements at every point and countering or reversing himself on national issues in a manner that belittles his status, as elder stateman. More than a few Nigerians believe Nigeria has found itself in the subsisting mess President Muhammadu Buhari has bent backwards to re-fix because the likes of the nation’s former leaders like OBJ fretted away the golden opportunities they had to consolidate on the foundation laid by the country’s founding fathers and nationalists.
Therefore, the problems of Nigeria are created and nurtured to fruition by OBJ. But how he finds the conscience to exonerate himself and a heart to blame other leaders who are more transparent and honest with the leadership of Nigeria remains baffling. But it is not strange, if anyone is acquainted with OBJ’s obsequious character.
His inconsistent utterances in recent years have earned him all manner of derogative epaulets. But it appears, OBJ has no sense of shame. And so, he keeps parroting in Nigeria and around the globe on issues he embellishes to blend with his selfish agenda and egoistic pride.
A few days ago, OBJ was in Johannesburg, South Africa at the launch of a book he co-authored with Zimbabwe’s opposition leader and former finance minister, Mr. Tendai Biti and others titled, “Democracy Works — Rewiring Politics to Africa’s Advantage.” But in an asinine twist during an interview he granted AFP, OBJ deviated from the core issues in a book he co-authored to innuendic references in acerbic tirades on the reelection of Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari for another term of four years.
One would empathize with OBJ’s failing senses when what he said in the interview is analyzed. He spoke distastefully about African leaders who are septuagenarians’ and octogenarians’ clinging unto power and promoting the sit-tight syndrome, which he opined, has slowed down the progress of democracy on the African continent. Good submission, to say, the least on face value.
But read OBJ’s suggested panacea to the younger generation of Africans in solving the problem; “If the youth think that they will get into power on a platter, they are not getting it right…They will have to snatch it, those (ageing leaders) will not go.”
It’s really amusing; but what good can anybody expect from OBJ, a leader without scruples? He imposed the politics of “do or die affair,” as serving President of Nigeria on the platform of the PDP. OBJ introduced anarchy and chaos in Nigeria’s electoral system and by this utterance; by all nuances means he has refused to purge himself of such tendencies.
Again, his words; “They will have to snatch it, those (ageing leaders) will not go,” is apt reference to the violence Nigerian people encounter during democratic transitions in Nigeria today. It explains why the people perceive general elections like a war, instead of a peaceful exercise of electing and empowering fresh leaders through the ballot.
Signs that senility has heavily weighed down on OBJ, he tacitly lampoons President Buhari for insisting to remain in power at his age, but based on popular demand by Nigerians. But in OBJ’s jaded perspectives, Buhari ought not to have sought reelection in 2019.
But who was OBJ’s preferred candidate against Buhari in the 2019 presidential contest on the platform of the opposition PDP? Shockingly, it was the septuagenarian Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, his former deputy and a man he had several condemned, even in his published book, “My Watch,” as corrupt, dubious and someone “with shadowy ancestry,” at the expense of other younger generation candidates in the 2019 general elections. Its not only when a man walks the streets naked that his insanity is confirmed. OBJ is a classic example.
Laughably, OBJ has forgotten that when he plotted his failed third term bid in 2006, on the eve of the expiration of his second term as Nigeria’s democratic President, he was in the twilight of his septuagenarian age. Yet, he dubiously and criminally sought to cause an illegal Constitutional amendment that would warrant him to contest the presidency for the third time. Nigerians rejected the idea. And he has nursed the wounds eternally, which accounts for why whoever occupies Aso Villa Abuja, the Presidential seat of power easily incurs the wrath of OBJ, if he fails to accept his besmirched counsels. Buhari is such a victim.
OBJ believes in his words or actions only when it serves his selfish agenda. He may feel pained that Nigerians have overwhelmingly reelected President Buhari for another term. But the difference between OBJ and Buhari is that the latter does not use his powers indiscriminately and dubiously to secure leadership unlike the former.
Buhari won his reelection on a clean slate, in free, fair and credible elections. Political spinners or jobbers couldn’t even buy car tyres off him in the guise of fixing his reelection victory. It’s novel in the history of Nigeria’s electoral process. OBJ’s lone desire cannot surpass that of millions of Nigerians who prefer President Buhari and, at this stage silence from OBJ would be more golden.
Truth is sacred and it must be told, no matter who is embittered by it. The series of gaffes committed by OBJ is an indication that he has more issues with aging than President Buhari. His inconsistency in actions and utterances have confirmed it indubitably. Conversely, Buhari has never changed unlike OBJ, his accuser, who changes from time to time like a chameleon. He needs real help to overcome his multiple personality issues from his nuclear family, to politics and leadership, which many believe undoubtedly, it is as a result of his age which has blurred his wisdom.
Those close to OBJ should begin to tinker with the idea of working on his senses and public outings. He is bringing too much shame on himself and his family for no justification. For all it takes, OBJ is not the only former President of Nigeria still alive. There are the likes of Gen. Yakubu Gowon; Gen. Abdulsalam Abubakar, and Gen. Ibrahim Babangida. But none of them is this excited on checkmating every shadow of the occupant of Aso Rock. And until recently, when he joined his ancestors, Alhaji Shehu Shagari was choosy in commenting on national affairs.
There is potent evidence that OBJ has wronged God and needs to plead for His forgiveness. It is shameful that OBJ who is a supposed elder statesman will embark on such an empty voyage to satisfy his ego and pride. A genuine Christian ought not to be as vindictive as OBJ portrays himself everywhere. He needs prayers and God’s attention urgently.
Tsav is former Commissioner of Police and Commissioner at the Public Complaints Commission, Abuja.