By Idris Jibrin
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s latest public but essentially morally bankrupt epistle to President Muhammadu Buhari(PMB) has clearly revealed the self – inflicted afflictions the former President is presently contending with. Coming weeks after the same Obasanjo had, in a Church function in Delta state, deliberately triggered the ongoing choreographed ‘ Fulanisation and Islamisation’ phobia in parts of the country, and, also coming some days after former President Goodluck Jonathan blamed the current challenges in the country on the non – implementation of the resolutions of the 2014 National Conference. There is certainly a larger underlying political picture which has been underscored by President Buhari’s resounding electoral victory in the last general elections.
However, more than anything else, Obasanjo’s recent open letter to PMB has clearly revealed a man(OBJ) coming to the painful realisation of his demystification and new status of a spent force in Nigeria. When he released the first open letter to PMB in early 2018 and the President gave it the cold shoulder and precluded his aides from responding save for Lai Mohammed who was reluctantly allowed to react, it was obvious to all politically discerning minds that PMB would eventually be Obasanjo’s nemesis. It was just a matter of time and this happened sooner than later.
First, being the accomplished General that he is, the otherwise taciturn but politically deft PMB suddenly and in a move that belied Obasanjo’s invincibility, famously raised the sixteen (16) billion dollar question, where is the light? This not only initially shocked and awed Obasanjo, but has since left the so-called oracle of Nigerian politics without his mojo.
Secondly, and when he thought and acted as if the 2019 Presidential election was one golden opportunity to settle matters, PMB once more destroyed with one blow of emphatic electoral victory over his new desperately found political ‘messiah’ Atiku, whatever that remained of Obasanjo’s standing in the nation’s political firmament. And lest we forget, it was not Obasanjo alone but a whole coalition of disparate elite forces operating in an unprecedented gang up of hate and determination to halt the nation’s repositioning under PMB that was politically thrashed.
Among the forces that vigorously campaigned against and were eventually demystified by PMB on February 23, 2019, were: the dislodged so-called political oracles, nay, socioeconomic predators and vampires that hitherto held the nation by its jugular; representative forces of corruption fighting back; mercenary and jaundiced religious clerics; sectarian profilers and anarchists; intellectual and social media gangsters; and, of course, the misguided lazy Nigerian youths.
Not enamoured of their defeat at the polls and with Obasanjo acting as both the poster boy and agent provocateur of these elite forces, it would seem the lot fell on him to spearhead the ongoing hate driven onslaught against PMB and his regime, using the seemingly only viable means to them now: ethnic and religious profiling. However, the dangers of hate politics are too real, present and unpredictable for people like Obasanjo not to be occasionally jolted and compelled to retrace their steps, or pretend to do so, as the case may be.
This explains Obasanjo’s rather sanctimonious intervention on the sad and unfortunate murder of the daughter of the Afenefere leader, Mrs. Funke Olakunri. After stoking the embers of ethnic profiling and hatred for some time, disguised as anti-PMB rhetorics and antics with the inherent dangers, including provision of the ambience for the perpetration of dastardly acts by criminals and other evil forces. Obasanjo is now trying to wear the garb he has long abandoned for the costume of the gallery: statesmanship.
That is why in his letter he is making the clarion call for a national forum to coalesce with the Buhari led government to address the current challenges and chart a way forward for the country. In doing so, however, he is recommending the involvement of the same forces many of whom have remained antagonistic to what PMB and his regime stands for. The ground being that the nation is at a critical juncture requiring all hands to be on deck to secure the country.
But then it is too late in the day for Obasanjo to recover his lost glory. Stripped of his talismanic touch by PMB, and, coupled with the fact that Nigeria is greater than any individual, Obasanjo has simply lost the plot. In consequence, he is at the moment only gasping for a political breath and lifeline for which the current security challenges cannot provide him the platform to bounce back, due mainly to the famed resilience of the Nigerian nation.
Talking of the virility and greatness of Nigeria, and since all politics are local and personal, it is evident that most Nigerians have, at their various local spaces of engagement, remained believers in the Nigeria project. In their daily chores, Nigerians are always a dynamic and beautiful manifestation of our unity in diversity in all ramifications. This is notwithstanding the shenanigans of some of the desperate and unconscionable elite forces that are often aimed at dividing the citizenry for their selfish ends.
Again, at a personal political level, I have since 1999 voted for only two Presidential candidates, namely, Olusegun Obasanjo in 1999 and Muhammadu Buhari in all subsequent Presidential elections to date. While I do not regret voting for Obasanjo in 1999, his current sojourn in the political wilderness is his comeuppance and worthy of celebration by all well meaning Nigerians. After all, the demystification and consignment of Obasanjo and his likes to political perdition may be the tonic Nigeria needs to reposition itself and move to the next level.