By Ademola Adeola
Better a poor and a wise child than an old and foolish King, who will no more be admonished. For out of prison he cometh to reign; whereas also he that is born in his kingdom becometh poor. Ecclesiastes 4:13-14
It seems King Solomon was talking about the likes of former President Olusegun Obasanjo when he wrote the above wise saying. In his recent vituperations, Obasanjo said that Nigeria needs leaders with a ‘Touch of Madness’ to move forward. During his tenure, Obasanjo ruled with raving insanity but did not solve the problems of Nigeria. He recommended executive madness as panacea to the problems of the country. Yet his own psychiatric case did not lead to the recovery and development of the nation. Today, it is obvious Baba’s mental disorder has caused him selective amnesia. He was indeed mad as a leader but did not use that to benefit Nigeria and her people.
Let us remind him that it is his madness that made Nigeria witness absurd political assassinations and unexplained plane crashes that occurred under his tenure. Sudden and mysterious deaths of Chief Bola Ige, Ogbonnaya Uche, Abigail and Barnabas Igwe, Ayo Daramola and many more characterised his madness. In his delirious mindset, he also refused to investigate the issues surrounding the death of his bosom friend, Chief Bola Ige who, to the consternation of the entire nation was killed in broad daylight. In fact, those strongly suspected of murdering Ige were rewarded by Obasanjo. Political figures who directly or indirectly posed a threat to him, including that of Marshall Harry and Funsho Williams were all gunned down. Are these the attributes of the mad leader Obasanjo recommends?
Another case of mental derailment exhibited by Obasanjo was the order to annihilate innocent wives and children in Zaki-Biam and Odi communities. Other recorded massacres were in Igwuruta, Biogbolo Choba and other places in the Niger-Delta. Several hundreds of unarmed Nigerians were killed. His inaction to the plight of the Niger Deltans provoked youths to take up arms against government leading to the destabilising militancy situation in the region. In display of total lack of foresight, Obasanjo transformed a peaceable agitation for equity, justice and fairness in the region into a full-blown war.
No administration after Obasanjo has experienced these kinds of senseless killings and bloodletting. His records of brutality and leadership failure remain unbeatable and matchless. It was also under the watch of this “mad” leader that Nigeria lost its chance to enjoy stable electricity. Reports have shown that about $11b for rehabilitation of the entire power sector was squandered by Obasanjo and his associates. For someone who has a grass to grace story, he lacks empathy in all ramifications. Coming from Prison to the Presidency, one would expect that the plight of the common man would be his priority, but alas, he turned out to be the bane of the poor masses. Not even the Prisons got the required reforms. King Solomon really foresaw this. He captured Obasanjo’s Prison to Kingship status and the impoverishment of common people under him. He became a monstrous leader who made little or no effort to alleviate the sufferings of Nigerians. In transportation, economy, security and provisions of basic social amenities, he performed abysmally yet what fuels the audacious inclination to call out successive administrations beats one’s imagination.
A complete hypocritical failure, having the moral grounds to castigate governments that are trying to clear the large stack of his administration’s mess is beyond outrageous! Obasanjo is so engrossed with power that he engineered the impeachment of number of governors who opposed his dictatorial leadership style. From deposing governors, enforcing state of emergencies to denial of allocations to states, no one has shown disregard for the rule of law like Obasanjo. Chris Ngige, Joshau Dariye, Rashidi Ladoja, Peter Obi and Ayo Fayose were all victims his power drunkenness. No successive President has demonstrated such magnitude of constitutional infractions.
Obasanjo lacks the integrity to haul condemnations. It is now evident that since leaving government, he has been itching to return to power after his third term bid suffered a knock back. It is even more hilarious that he has now resorted to lobbying for interim government by using a long-time associate, Afe Babalola as a front. Everyone knows that he will no doubt appoint his protegees if that proposal were ever to be realised. So who in his animal kingdom does the cap fit? Aliyu Gusau or Sanusi Lamido? Obasanjo is sure looking for a lackey, an oh yes man. But unfortunately, the constitution does not allow for an interim Government. Simple and Short!
Unlike him, the Buhari he constantly criticizes is not given to corruption and self-aggrandisement neither is he planning to extend his tenure. Since inception, the current administration has prioritised security and taken several steps to curtail the growing threat whose foundation was laid during Obasanjo’s rule. Nigerians are not blinded by the truth and his claim that the present administration and its leaders are not doing enough to tackle insecurity. His blind argument could at best be described as clueless and ignorant of a three-time leader of this country. The issue of terrorism is historical and has foundation in the administration of Obasanjo. The Yobe Taliban birthed in his time. He encouraged political sharia as a way of destabilising the North nay Nigeria. He had other reasons for the tacit support he gave Yerima and his cohorts. This was how Boko Haram originated. Obasanjo later pretended to have the magic wand to solve the problems created by the emergence of Boko Haram. But it was late. His visit to the family of Mohammed Yusuf, late head of Boko Haram was a mere stunt. Obasanjo indeed had other hidden interests. Shame! His mischief has festered like a sore; his crocodile tears notwithstanding. Nigeria is actually at the point he desires. But darkness will give way to light.
Obasanjo can say whatever he wants but President Buhari is more an epitome of morality than he (Obasanjo) would ever be. For one, Buhari has never been accused of sleeping with his daughter-in-law let alone canvassing for the construction of a Library in his name with tax payers’ money. Years after leaving office, Obasanjo is only remembered in Nigeria as a brutal and corrupt leader, a lecherous father-in-law who slept with his son’s wife and a bloodthirsty oppressor that masqueraded as a democrat but clearly acted in a manner inimical to national interest. Despite being in a democracy, Obasanjo ruled with military authority and his hands are severely soaked with the blood of innocent Nigerians.
King Solomon going down further, in Ecclesiastes 4:14 stated that a poor but wise youth could rise from poverty and succeed. He might even become king, though he has been in prison. This bible verse would have best suited Obasanjo if only he was a wise youth especially that he rose to the throne from penury. All his successors who are younger than him, can best be described as the proverbial wise youth for not towing the brutish legacy of his tenure. If they had been foolish like him, Nigeria would probably have long ceased to exist. Obasanjo ruled Nigeria like a drunken foolish king and since leaving office, has sustained this careless attitude garnished with incoherent rants. And because he has refused to heed warning, only waterloo awaits him. For the record, Nigeria did not get better under Obasanjo. What is even laughable is that Obasanjo is incorrigible. But he is an unwise King.
As the 2023 elections draw near and several political candidates clamour for recognition and endorsement by political juggernauts, Nigerians need to remember that electing a forward thinking, selfless, rational and progressive leader is the most important. The country needs a leader that is not prone to misplacing priorities or pushed by a Godfather. Nigeria does not need an unwise self-serving King like Obasanjo.
Adeola is a Social Commentator and resides in Lagos.