18th December, 2013
By Peter Claver-Oparah
There is little doubt that the recent letter by former President Olusegun Obasanjo to the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan has greatly rattled the president, his men and his supporters. The letter did nothing to mask the angst of Obasanjo who was at his sanctimonious best, as he reeled out a long litany of the misdeeds of Jonathan and asking that he improves on his lowly performance at the helm of the Nigerian statecraft.
From its face value, the letter was the brave effort of a statesman, peeved by the unrelenting downward plunge of the country under Jonathan’s floppy watch. The letter did not disguise the legendary abrasiveness that is vintage Obasanjo and he lurched at Jonathan for exacerbating, rather than abating, the multifarious woes that afflict the wobbly Nigerian state. The reaction from the Jonathan camp had been hardly coordinated as they have tapered to questioning the moral pedigree of Obasanjo to sound so self-righteous. Also, Jonathan feels that Obasanjo smacks of plain mischief and an attempt to play up the mob. In this, Jonathan and his men are very right and capture a readable knowledge of the person of Obasanjo and his knack for narcissism.
But then, this apt reading of Obasanjo does nothing to obviate the factuality of issues he raised in his letter. It does nothing to impugn on the credulity of issues he raised and made no effort to debunk what he said. What more, Jonathan and his men have done nothing to refute the allegations contained in Obasanjo’s letter. At best, they have been hauling poorly directed tantrums and invectives- as is typical of Jonathan’s presidential public communications tilt in recent times. Even as it has promised to respond in due time to the weighty issues raised by Obasanjo’s letter, little is being done to clear the air on some of the issues.
To be sure, Obasanjo is a moral destitute as far as governance of the country is concerned. He is a terrible exemplar in good leadership. On issues of corruption, Obasanjo is a very poor mimic of the holier-than-thou posture he cavalierly dons in public. He had been endowed with the greatest opportunity to make a great impression with governance but he lost it all to vain hubris, duplicitous demagoguery, sly pretensions. Obasanjo has no moral scruples and these were in full display as his eight awful years as Nigeria’s civilian president lasted. His reign was an unmitigated disaster that left the country prostate. His regime, even as he made a loud noise of fighting corruption, was bereft of financial discipline. Under his rouge watch, Nigerian wealth was purloined by choice lackeys who bandied together as Corporate Nigeria which was a synonym for corporate area boys, who were positioned to reap from the debased conduct of government business during Obasanjo’s time.
Obasanjo targeted the value systems for heinous destruction and made the pursuit of vain political expeditions that favoured him and his lackeys the primary business of governance. Obasanjo annexed the electoral process and twirled it to do his selfish biddings. With impunity, Obasanjo trampled on the rights of Nigerians and made the process malleable to his idiosyncrasies. As he selectively applied the laws, a clear demarcation emerged between his favoured cronies and other Nigerians. Defining elections as do or die, he played outside the rules to achieve personal interests even as the electoral system became completely submerged under Obasanjo’s elephantine desires. It was one of such fancy manipulations that threw up Jonathan even as most Nigerians have no idea what he stood to bring into the governance of such a complex entity as Nigeria. It was obvious that Obasanjo needed a pliable and malleable lackey to impose the arduous task of governing Nigeria on and this speaks of the gargantuan disaster Nigeria has become today under Jonathan’s seedy watch. I don’t believe that Obasanjo was more concerned about the parlous state of the nation as he was about the fact that his beloved Jonathan had been conscripted by buffoons, jesters and prurient sycophants who are presently goading him and the country to self-destruct, as rightly captioned by Obasanjo. The entire debacle was well presented by erudite lawyer. Femi Falana when he posited that Jonathan is a good apprentice of Obasanjo.
But Jonathan and his men have made no effort to dispute all Obasanjo said because they know he faultlessly captured what Nigerians have been loudly expressing since Jonathan began his wonky reign. He has fallen so far from the expectations of Nigerians that they have resigned to fate, suffering the burden of being inflicted with a regime that has not been able to espouse one workable template of dealing with the mounting issues that tug ceaselessly at the soul of the Nigerian nation. They cannot straight-facedly argue the points raised by Obasanjo because they know he was hitting straight. Yes, he is a bad messenger despite his pretensions but all he had said had formed the agitated reactions of Nigerians at every available space in recent times. The difference is that whereby Jonathan and his men have struggled to ignore or dub in mischievous political colorations the rising concern of Nigerians on the issues raised by Obasanjo, they cannot afford to treat Obasanjo’s own with similar levity knowing he fangled Jonathan out of nothing.
So I agree with Jonathan and his men that Obasanjo is a soiled and discredited messenger. Equally, I agree with the views of most Nigerians that the soiled messenger bore a correct and cogent message which must be addressed. I agree also that Obasanjo raised no new issues in his letter, which makes all of us come to the agreement that it is time President Jonathan hearken to the agitated demands of Nigerians that he take deliberate steps to steer the floundering ship of the Nigeria state away from perdition. He should dwell less on vain politicking where the sycophants and court fawners that have cornered him for their selfish interests have marooned him. He should play less of narrow ethnic and sectarian politics and see himself in the larger image his office deigns for him. He should arrest himself before he is arrested by the facts of his embarrassing incapacity. He should not hide under the cheap street coating of his public communication faculty which has chosen to migrate to the gutter and trade tantrums like area boys instead of addressing issues and garbing presidential communication with dignity. In this lies the present great devaluation the Nigerian presidency has suffered, which of course, began with the Obasanjo presidency.
Good enough, Obasanjo has, in deference to the noxious image he drags about, come out to tell Jonathan and his government to cut off his arms and take his message. I believe that the precarious nature of the country at present calls for clear and deliberate efforts shorn of divisive, little minded politics but a broad minded and informed search for solution to the myriads of problems that afflict the country. Yes, nothing must be made to leverage on the message to elevate Obasanjo above the sordid level he cut for himself. But nothing should be done to throw away a cogent message because it was borne by a discredited messenger.
•Oparah wrote from Lagos, e-mail: [email protected]