Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has once again resorted to cheap rhetoric in a bid to remain relevant in Nigeria’s political arena. This is without minding the tainting effect such could have on the dynamics of the current political structure.
In a recent lengthy letter in circulation and titled “My Appeal To All Nigerians Particularly Young Nigerians”, Obasanjo, made ludicrous claims against President Muhammadu Buhari’s government emphasizing that Nigeria of today had been dragged down way below what it used to be from the beginning of his (Obasanjo’s) presidency in June 1999. Obasanjo in his usual manner described the last seven years as stressful for many Nigerians, adding that the nation has moved from frying pan to fire and from mountain top to the valley. He stressed that Nigeria is “facing inscribable level of pervasive and mind-numbing insecurity, rudderless leadership, buoyed by mismanagement of diversity and pervasive corruption, bad economic policies resulting in extremes of poverty and massive unemployment and galloping inflation”.
In his letter, Obasanjo mentioned a lot about the contestants of the forthcoming 2023 presidential elections, their competence, antecedents, his opinion, however, my area of interest is what effect such messages have on Nigerian citizens, given that allegations were made, which can degrade the image of the current government.
He is quoted saying, “Our leaders have done their best, but their best had turned out to be not the best for Nigerians at home and abroad. For most Nigerians, it was hell on earth.”
Already, several prominent Nigerians in different sectors of our society have reacted negatively to Obasanjo’s recent letter, citing that it does not reflect the opinion or position of most Nigerians across the country.
The Directed of Media and Publicity of the All Progressives Congress Presidential Campaign Council (APC-PCC), Bayo Onanuga has described Obasanjo as a “political paperweight”, adding that his endorsement of Labour Party (LP) Presidential candidate, Peter Obi is worthless because Obasanjo “does not possess any political goodwill or leverage anywhere in Nigeria to make anyone win a Councillorship election, let alone win a Presidential election. He is also not a democrat anyone should be proud to be associated with.”
Onanuga noted that although the former president had attempted to force his candidates into elective offices during his tenure as President, he would be unable to deliver his polling unit in Ogun State to the Labour Party. He recalled that in the 2003 and 2007 general elections, when Obasanjo was a sitting president, he used all the coercive instruments of state at his disposal to force people into elective offices against the will of Nigerians as expressed at the polls, adding that Obasanjo declared the polls a do or die affair after he failed in his bid to amend the constitution to have a third term.
Equally reacting to Obasanjo’s move, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential Campaign Organisation stated that the presidential flag bearer of the party, Atiku Abubakar would be president in Obasanjo’s lifetime, adding that Obasanjo’s support for the LP presidential candidate was his personal wish/opinion and did not reflect the opinion or position of the overwhelming majority of Nigerians across the country.
This piece is not in support of or against any political party but a clarion call especially to our past leaders to see the need to remain as objective as possible in their deeds and thoughts, especially regarding governance. Around the world, it is common practice to see past Heads of State and Presidents watch from behind the scenes and if necessary, assist successive administrations by offering counsel and proffering solutions to issues based on experiences gathered. Sadly, however, Obasanjo seems not to align with such practice.
Mr. Obasanjo’s blame game most times begs the question if it is constructed from the point of objectivity or maliciously crafted to project personal self-interest against national interest. He should look into a mirror because he had led Nigeria for a total period of 11 years both as military Head of State and democratically elected President. All the challenges labeled by him in his message were abundantly present during those times he led the country, which is why his messages can easily be put aside as irrelevant and devoid of substance.
Femi Alao is a public affairs commentator from Lagos.