Obasanjo is now a activist, the founder of Coalition for Nigeria, a movement where A does not count, B does not count, the only thing that count is C which believes the sun only shine out of his own backside? Dare I say the biggest confusion we have to deal with today in Nigeria are the accidental emergency activists, half-baked in their thought process but carry themselves about with an air of annoying arrogance, the arrogance of a man who thinks he knows but actually does not know he knows nothing. You see them on radio, you see them on TV, you see them on the pages of newspapers, you see them scattered everywhere on social media, the product of a society with a suffocating abundance of half-baked graduates. The monster we created for years has come back to haunt us.
I carefully peruse Obasanjo’s letter wherein he asked President Buhari to “consider a well deserved rest”, and I could not see the basis for such irresponsible call. You see, if he were calling on him to rest after giving his entire lifespan in service to his country, after giving so much more than any nation could responsibly ask of its citizens, then I would understand, after all, the man won’t kill himself for us. If the call for him to “honourably dismount from the horse” were entirely on the basis of his age and in consideration of his health then any reasonable man with a conscience would understand, even though we all know that such decision ultimately rest with the man himself. But to call on him to step aside and not exercise his constitutional right to seek re-election on the basis of the banalities hurriedly scribbled down in that sermon is most unfortunate and uncharitable to a man who has done so given so much to his country, and it exposes Obasanjo’s poor understanding of the true nature and depth of the Nigerian problem.
Obasanjo listed a litany of things straight out of the book of lamentations to draw his conclusion that the government has performed poorly. He listed poverty, even though we all know that one of the largest social intervention programs to tackle extreme poverty and protect most vulnerable people anywhere in the world is today in Nigeria. He listed insecurity even though we’ve recovered all of our territories from the hands of Boko Haram, brought back thousands of people to their homes, successfully managed the threats posed by the Niger Delta Avengers, quell the heavily sponsored IPOB agitations in the South East that threatened to tear the country apart, nib in the bud the militancy that was rearing its ugly head in the south west, and are currently exploring measures to find a lasting solution to the herdsmen crises.
Obasanjo listed poor economic management, even though the government has stabilised the sinking ship of an economy it inherited, reversed the trend of the free-fall we inherited which has culminated in the country coming out of recession, grown the foreign reserves from 29 billion dollars to 40 billion dollars, the highest since 2014, and has recorded a 10 consecutive month drop in inflation. 27 Nigerian states were unable to pay salary, but now they do after receiving a streak of bail-out funds akin to the financial stimulus package of Obama in 2009. The efforts it takes to stabilize the sinking ship and reverse the trend of the free fall is absolutely masterful and cannot be swept under the carpet by ostrich-looking ingrates too eager to express their chronic narcissistic tendencies.
Obasanjo listed nepotism as one of the reasons behind his unsolicited advice that our hardworking president, the best in the history of this country I must add, should not continue in office. And I suspect that by “nepotism” he means the big ruckus created and advanced by the wailers crew about what is perceived to be the northernisation of appointments in the security sector of the country. But then he forgets that while Buhari may have, by omission or commission, appointed more northerners into key security positions across the country, that he has also by that very measure appointed more southerners into key economic positions in his government. While about 80% of those manning our security architecture are northerners, about 90% of those managing our nation’s economy are southerners. While the president takes direct charge of the security operations, the vice president takes charge of the economic management, a fair reflection of our strength as a people. So I asked a friend recently, that if he’s given a truckload of security men to guard him without money, or he’s given a truckload of money without security men, which would he prefer? And he said “the money of course”, because the truth is that while both of these are very important areas of our lives, the man with the economic power is the one with the real power. The reason America controls the world and not Russia is because they have superior economic power. Appointing qualified northerners to man our security architecture does not translate into security for all northerners and insecurity for all southerners; likewise, appointing predominantly southerners to head our economic drive does not translate into economic liberty to the south and the impoverishment of the north. When would elders stop wasting their precious time on mundane issues that only seeks to suppress merits and elevate mediocrity?
Obasanjo said Buhari condones misdeed even though both the SGF and NIA bosses have been sacked from their positions on account of misdeeds not yet proven in any court. There were times in this country, not too long ago, when convicted criminals were not only given state pardons but also a national merit award.
Obasanjo also said there is no hope for the future, but never was there any brighter hope for our country than we have today. For the first time in our country, we’re closer to attaining self-sufficiency in rice production and other staple foods. For the first time in our country we’re closer to becoming a net exporter of refined petroleum products. If we attain self-sufficiency in food production and energy as we’re poised to do before 2019, then what brighter hope was Obasanjo looking for other than the one already provided? I can go on and on, but the reality is that we have come a long way in the two years of this administration.
The biggest gripe of the people with this government, one which I can relate with, is that despite the president’s best efforts to turn things around, the people still do not feel the positive impact of change. And so they vent their frustration at the man in charge, not because they’re oblivious of his efforts, but because, well, the buck stops at his desk, they supposed, a notion that Obasanjo is catching in on, even though he should know better.
You see, the only thing Obasanjo’s letter has done is to expose him as a man who does not and has never understood the true nature of the Nigerian problem. The truth is that despite Buhari’s best efforts to change the country, his efforts is like a drop in the ocean in relations to what is needed to bring the impact of change to the people. We operate in a democracy and a federal system of government, which means there are three arms of government and three tiers of government, which means, by extension, that there are six layers of government by which the dividends of good governance can get through to the people. All these layers of government must work in harmony for the ordinary man to begin to feel the impact of change at a faster rate. And even at that, even though all the layers of government were working in harmony, it is preposterous to expect change to happen overnight, never mind the impact of change itself.
If the National Assembly are sitting on bills that should change the course of our destiny, then Buhari cannot beat them to do better, after all there is separation of powers. Trillions of money have been recovered by the EFCC, but because these monies are trapped in litigation as evidence, the government cannot spend it hence the people can’t feel the impact of such large recoveries. The three tiers of government must work in harmony for the people to feel the full impact of the change provided by the government. And same goes for the state and local governments. If you’re unfortunate as those of us from Rivers State, for example, where the state governor appoint his stooges as Local Government Caretaker Committee Chairmen and pockets all their allocations, then how would the ordinary people in these localities feel the positive impact of change? These are the realities that we must confront as a people, Buhari can only try as the head of the federal executive, but every other tier or arm of government has heads who must sit up too.
So instead of call on President Buhari to recuse himself from handling the Nigerian case as though there is another messiah who could do better, why don’t Obasanjo use his so called Coalition for Nigeria to call on the National Assembly to restructure the country? If the coalition were to insist on speedy trial of cases, if it were to insist on a clean electoral process, then you would see people like me join in. But if your whole idea of a coalition is to mobilise the people against President Buhari in order to play God in the affairs of men, then it is a shame, a big tragedy in itself that is bound to fail even before it starts.
Instead of call on President Buhari to “dismount from the horse” why don’t someone help me tell Obasanjo to get off the high horse himself? It is because we live in a country where leaders are not held accountable for their actions, where collective amnesia has crippled the whole citizenry that the likes of Obasanjo still live freely in a room large enough to write letters to those much better than him. The high level of insecurity we have in the country today, the militancy and kidnappings, the corruption and impunity, all took an unprecedented turn in his own time as president. But it is strange how he sits today to pontificate at those trying to clean up his own mess.
By Baridam Ben
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