In Nigeria, the period of puppet government has passed but the nation’s former president Olusegun Obasanjo has always craved after puppetry, neck deep in electoral heists and horn- mad as a sore headed man, furious, and sticking out anger at full throttle, disorderly compulsive between two nearest breweries, unmindful of accuracy, lucidity and logic. The hysteria paradoxically, more often than not, triggers thundering rumble of ear-blocking silence first, then rancor and high decibel of ear shattering murmurs in the corollary.
The Obasanjo puppetry, not a minimalist abuse is planned to activate audacious hold on power that abruptly ended years back with the fall of his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)’s mentee, ex-president Goodluck Jonathan from power. The puppetry italicizes his open endorsement of Peter Obi, the Labour Party (LP) presidential candidate in the February polls. But Obasanjo is only routing for a puppet president in Obi, to have the sights and sounds of the presidency come from sources and distances outside the government. That’s, speaking to the puppeteer’s manipulation of the Obi puppet presidency.
In the familiar animal analogy, the Obasanjo puppetry has the characterization of a baboon, desiring the monkey in the puppet president to bring him what he must chop. Think out on the baboon, an economic man, insatiable of living in opulence and clout but with impunity manipulated the Jonathan presidency, most unscrupulously, most of the time. And Obasanjo, the proverbial baboon in his precincts, smiled all the way and at all times as he had his businesses empire expanded vertically and horizontally with the puppetry strings, enchanted and pulled by the aid of wands. That is what Obasanjo meant in his letter to Nigerian youths, the nation’s largest demography, that Obi “is a needle with thread attached to it.” The thread is the string Obasanjo prospects with the hazy others, North and South, always clinging to his coat tails on shaky, impeachable politicized adventures to trail, tow, not anything hard lug, and lure the puppet with a promise of a second term presidency.
Great Nigerian youths, ponder intently on this. The Jonathan presidency had force exerted on his threads or strings, fast one at that and more than half of the time, to the swings of the Obasanjos or else the rug under Jonathan’s feet got hauled out. The monthly payment of the salary of the staff of Obasanjo presidential library from the nation’s treasury _in flagrante delicto_ , caught rapid or red handed was one of the several threads pulled in the direction of the puppeteer until the All progressives Congress (APC) – President Mohammadu Buhari came in 2015, braved it and gallantly stopped the pillage of our collective patrimony. Such haughty and naughty blitzkrieg, an overwhelming ring of tragic irony on the economy of Nigeria, with the puppet Obi to be inanimated for manipulation, underscores Obasanjo, the puppeteer’s ground obstructions to the APC’s highly competent, analytically minded and incomparably clued presidential candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, assiduous, thoughtful and diligent who won’t tolerate ventriloquism, the art of Obasanjo’s projecting his voice without moving his lips in the nation’s next presidency.
And when the impedances, all manner of ruinous self help in calumny, skirmishes, sinister schemes and racket immoral utterances against Tinubu did not work till the twilight of December last year, Obasanjo, on the eve of the new year 2023, strenuously made very damaging epistle of falsehoods to the publics, aimed at plundering the electoral psyche of the youth population, in a letter captioned: “My Appeal To All Nigerians, particularly Young Nigerian.”
Let the youths mull over this deeply. Obasanjo’s looting of the 2007 general elections, his rampaging ‘do-or-die’ electoral misadventure in the history of Nigeria, attracted violent disturbances across the nation, particularly in Osun State, with disastrous consequences for democracy and moral authority that the popular mandate bestows. And the man further lost substantial degree of respect by his astounding failure to get the National Assembly tinker with the constitution to accommodate his desperate bid for third term agenda. His body language in millions of dollars doggedly hobnobbed his ambition with the national parliament that ironically spilled the bean. The agenda, its tenacious permutations became rag tagged by the sophistication of the nation’s political elite just as he was found to be too distant from the poor masses, the greater number of whom died of starvation from the conquest of economic rationalization measures under his government.
Hello, Nigerian youths! The Obasanjo false epistle, not for the fun of it. It is out of malice, the sword of partisan wrangling from the scabbard appropriated, albert deservedly criticized, to derail Tinubu’s steady presidential campaigns, mobilize Nigerians, particularly the young generations against his election as president, and foist a puppet president in Obi on Nigeria. Alas and alark! Obasanjo whose military and civilian governments failed to coalesce and congeal the yearnings of Nigerians for growth and development is grossly bankrupt to dictate who our next president should be. The man whose public conducts slammed a huge question mark on his eligibility for the world leadership laurel, the highly coveted Nobel Prize for World Peace for which he travelled global in rowdy manner and never had it has forfeited aptitude to recommend to Nigerians to vote in a particular direction. And the man whose wife, Mrs Taiwo Obasanjo denounced in the public glare as being too harsh, too erratic, too uncivil and too dictatorial, getting incensed easily and talking down on people, has revoked his license, if he has any, to direct the nation’s votes in favor or against any of the presidential candidates.
Obasanjo is an epic fail where success ought to have been reasonably earned. The epistlist or letterman _apriori_ had only fired attention to his own horrible trademarks, always sticking out self like a sore thumb in a fighting mood. His epistle to the young people of Nigeria has back thrown him to a scrap of history that hallmarked unmatched facts of human right abuses in a democracy under his presidency: the nation consistently felt a surge of public anxiety and tension, with the soldiers drafted merely to quench internal insurrection but leveled Odi and Zaki-Ibiam towns, respectively in Benue and Bayelsa; human hands chopped up for offences not committed and teenage mothers publicly flogged for having sex without being married, the innocent aplenty were sentenced to various jail terms in his approach to the Sharia issues. What about the regime terrors unleashed on the nation and had critics hounded into prisons or assassinated? Such an Obasanjo is unfit, not eligible to force Nigerian electorate to cast their votes for his preferred presidential candidate.
Obasanjo, _id est_ , is a tragic example of moral crisis that stubbornly reflected in his politics and governance. What came with every ounce of his outbursts is neither finesse nor distinction but crudity and gracelessness. He has arrogated, with full authority, an omnipresent status across governments except his, burning so much efforts and _infra dig_ , making so much, a hell of noises, overly excessive with tumultuous zeal and inflammable readiness to ‘set the house on fire,’ the Samsonie option. He’s always the first to welcome each new government and also the first, _ex-cathedra_ , to want deliberately to truncate the same government to make it look like only his own military and civilian governments were urbane and unsurpassable.
But there’s nothing to salvage from Obasanjo’s own greed, high-handedness and self-errand _ex silento_ while in office as president. The Hallibuton case fingered him and Atiku to have shared about $180 million bribe that was given to Nigerian government officials for the various contracts won between 1995 and 2004. And when Obasanjo was confronted with agitations to probe the controversial Gulf Oil windfall scandal, his reaction was that he could not find the Okigbo panel reports that indicted some sacred cows on the issue.
Obasanjo is unimportantly central to how the February presidential poll will go. Ahem! The people of the East of Nigeria must ignore him outrightly for his role during the civil war and on the issue of the abandoned properties of the Igbo in Port-Harcourt which they accused him of failure to address when he was the military head of state. He’s not blessed with a good sense of judgement. His 6-point Economic Development Agenda (1999-2007) was abysmally a total failure, with classic symptoms of arrested development all over the place as aftermath.
The Nigerian electorate have overriding sense of responsibility with capacity for focused voting to know who to vote for despite the foul atmosphere by Obasanjo’s infamous letter to the youths. His statement, matter-of-factly is a huge flotsam and jetsam of malfeasances; chunks of misinformation, rotten, goddamn, gory and godforsaken; and debris of mal-information, manipulated, confusing and misleading, a conspiracy to obtain illicit votes at elections for his puppet. It’s a case of Obasanjo, more sinning against Tinubu’s grandeur, poise, rectitude and probity than being sinned against. How do I mean?
The banditry text to the youths, about the most reckless canard from a clueless former president, is a provocatively suffocating commentary on the nation’s collective sense of appreciation of Tinubu’s governance and administration in Lagos (1999-2007). The brigand statement provoked Nigerian publics into tepid, and no one correspondingly got excited than necessary. His intention was to stoke the fire of decession on the forthcoming presidential election by mudslinging at Tinubu. The severity of the rudely text _non-sequitur_ , so cynical, so scandalous would not make the ground swim around Tinubu’s election or ignite rumble and dust in the electoral scale, and neither has the swordplay statement entrapped the APC-Tinubu on any epic scale nor generated any certain level of panic reaction to the many overly excessive offences contained in the commotion statement.
Never mind, Obasanjo is not a new face out of the old body. He has always oiled the wheel of fawning hypocrisy to habitual status, ironically, damning himself. He’s a vivid personification of shifty character and he’s not one to be taken seriously on any splendid scale. He had earlier promised Nigerians soonest after he left office as military head of state in 1979 that he would not join any political party. “Oh, yes, I do know there is a vacancy at the top, I’m not looking for job.” Obasanjo reportedly said in an interview. But that same year, 1979, he paddled himself into politics when he accepted a PDP membership form. And a decade or so after, he publicly trashed his PDP membership card and hexed himself if he ever had anything again to do with the party just as he abjured: “With what I know of Atiku Abubakar, if I support him to be the president of Nigeria, God will not forgive one.” Obasanjo’ s poor peddling, a theatrical example!
Reflect on this. Obasanjo conducted himself in a series of zigzags in the built up to the 2019 presidential elections to have the presidential candidate of PDP, Atiku inaugurated as the president of Nigeria. But the Obasanjo hair-raiser outburst against the re-election of president Buhari was not that God was speaking. And the Supreme Court dismissed Atiku, impliedly his godfather-mentor, Obasanjo. And the re-election of Buhari, re-affirmed. In the aftermath, Atiku was worst hit by Obasanjo’s outburst effrontery. Regretfully, Nigerians have always had to cope with Obasanjo’s inordinate recklessness with barren nostalgia of his unedifying years of issuing alarming public statements _extensio_ , at full length. His hocus-pocus statements were part of what quickened him out of circulation away in the Yola mega gulag by Sani Abacha, the nation’s worst military dictator as Obasanjo attempted with arrogance and obtuse logic to poke through the rump of the Abacha dictatorship.
Today, in a democracy, Nigerians haven’t gotten rolled up at every turn of Obasanjo’s illusionist and hare-brained statements full of double intrigues, double dealings, double standards, double crosses, double ambushes and double grandstands. Consider this. Obasanjo practically devastated, worked heard, so mischievously and had the MKO Abiola June 12 1993 presidential election mandate scuttled, and aggressively preached, “MKO is not the messiah Nigeria is waiting for.” But after his release from the prison, he stated at his Abeokuta thanksgiving church service that “unless the June 12 annulment is revisited, Nigeria is not likely to have progress.”
And Obasanjo was even benumbed by the former president Ibraheem Babangida (IBB)’s announcement of Earnest Sonekan, a Yoruba man as Head of Interim National Government (ING) that succeeded IBB, the ING position Obasanjo ravenously bargained for and was promised but never to be. Obasanjo, in manner and form, is ever desiring to tower in stellar performance and intercontinental influence, far and above any of his Yoruba tribe man, to dignify his own relevance and standing in the polity. Obasanjo, then the military head of state (1976-1979) loathed with audible bitterness Obafemi Awolowo, also a Yoruba man to be president of Nigeria and he bullied the 1979 electoral process for it. And the Yoruba people of Nigeria still wail at Obasanjo’s prodigality.
The Obasanjo new year letter has rather opened more fronts against him, wrecking damages on his image to cut him to size. But if he continues enamoured of obsessive and offensive meddlesomeness, ostensibly unrepentant of his acutely tormenting and morbid own saga now that the 2023 general elections inches closer, then he will need sure make worst his awful efflorescence, and will need to change track now to get fired in him a new world order of criticism as a basic thrust of sustainable democracy. Otherwise, the murderously virulent stress and strains of further ageing pressures will mangle him into a robot, unruly contrarian and euphemist rabble rouser, presently he’s one, _ad nauseam_ until disgusted to a sickening degree, a regressive caricature of his former soldierly, euphoric self, a pathetic damaging parody, dotaged beyond repair. The domino effect to be.
But for now, Obasanjo’s current insight into Nigerian democracy, elections and governance is also accompanied by blindness.
OLUSESI is Deputy Director, Directorate of Publicity, Research & Strategy, All Progressives Congress (APC) Osun State
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