(Former member, Plateau State House of Assembly, 1979-1983)
In Rebutting Gen Olusegun Obasanjo’s 18-page letter to President Goodluck Jonathan titled “Before it is Too Late”, it is not my intention to rise to the cause of a defamed leader; he has more than enough aides who are capable of setting the records straight. Yet, as a Nigerian patriot, I fervently believe that Gen Obasanjo’s latest outing is one act of infamy too many. Gen Obasanjo is right in stressing his immunity against constructive criticism, because in all material and spiritual particulars he has long crossed the threshold of humanity into that occult zone of existential perdition. For example, Gen Obasanjo walks the earth with an ungainly swagger apparently having survived what my Igbo compatriots classify as ALU (abomination) and NSO ANI (that act which the earth forbids); to wit, the well publicised series of conjugal relations he had with his son, Gbenga’s wife. If he could escape (for now) the wrath of his ancestors for such a sacrilegious act, is it any surprise that he holds the whole nation, including its elected President, in utter contempt and insolent disregard?
2. Having studied his letter to President Jonathan very closely; having excavated his long career in the military and politics; and having subjected his social psychology to close analytic test, I came to the inescapable conclusion that two motive forces drove him to overreach himself in his amoral posturing and sanctimonious self-justification. First, he wanted to demean the person and office of President Jonathan, tarnish his reputation, hold him up to public ridicule and scorn and destroy his legacy. On this score, he has already failed tragically for the simple reason that a moral crusading force must repose three crucial attributes: plausibility, credibility and believability. Nigerians have already rejected Gen Obasanjo’s thesis on President Jonathan for they have seen through his ‘fear of God’ and ‘for the good of the country’ sermon as a camouflage against his persistent neo-messianic hallucinations, irredeemable lack of credibility and an outright sense of permanent spiritual asphyxiation.
3. Two, Gen Obasanjo is well aware that time is no longer on his side and that of the members of his conclave (examine closely the names mentioned in the last page of his immoral epistle, with the exception of that of Dr Alex Ekwueme) who bent the arc of Nigerian history on 29th July, 1975 and have superintended Nigeria’s political transition from that date till now, including determining who becomes President, when, how, and why. Now, well in their 80s and 70s 2015 has become their political home call, their last act of individual and collective bravery; indeed their last stand. The 2015 succession politics is too good an opportunity to miss; thereafter nature may naturally begin to take its measured toll and run its eternal course. To pave way for his anointed President (a choice he and he alone has already made ) President Jonathan must be dehumanized, diminished and rendered politically impotent and helpless. With that done, the portals, pathways and apian ways of power will be drawn open for the anointed one whose political birthing Gen Obasanjo will procreate on our collective behalf.
4. Before examining closely the disconnected ramblings, ominous innuendoes, disjointed narrative sequences of improbable ideas, hearsays, twisted facts and outright lies that litter an epistolary exercise where his dissociation of sensibility, cognitive dissonance and split personality syndrome were all in full display, it may be necessary to excavate some of the highlights of Gen Obasanjo’s recent history. In 1988, Gen Obasanjo wrote a book titled Constitution for National Integration and Development in which he riled against multi-party democracy while insisting that a one-party hegemony is the best political option open to Nigeria in her search for strategies for sustainable national development. As an elected President in 1999, Gen Obasanjo saw through this warped political vision to its logical conclusion. He frustrated every effort to register additional political parties to make more competitive the nation’s political space until the victory the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi recorded at the Supreme Court paved the way for new parties to be registered.
5. Gen Obasanjo also set about the task of destroying the two opposition parties- the AD and APP as they were then called- with devious enthusiasm and insensate passion. He bribed the national leadership of the AD not to field a Presidential candidate in the 2003 Presidential election and duped the South West leadership of the party in a sham electoral alliance that exhausted the possibility of the party as a potent political force. He achieved this by corrupting the electoral system and unleashing the coercive apparatus of the state that muzzled the party’s voice during the elections. Thereafter, the AD imploded, never to recover. He next set his sights on destroying the APP, a feat he achieved between 2003 and 2007 during which time he used the party’s National Chairman, the late Chief Edwin Ume-Ezeoke, and some APP Governors like Sani Yerima of Zamfara State, to unhinge its corporate standing and administrative cohesiveness. APP soon imploded with a substantial rump of it fleeing with Gen Buhari to form the then CPC. More on his spirited attempts to destroy the PDP through his politics of impunity, garrison command mentality, insufferable arrogance and unconstitutional and arbitrary acts later in this rebuttal.
6. Gen Obasanjo disliked the late Chief MKO Abiola with scorching intensity and loathed the symbolism of June 12, 1993 in Nigeria’s democratic recovery. He never acknowledged Chief Abiola’s contributions to Nigeria’s democratic renewal in just one instance throughout his 8 years in office as President. Contrary to the popular fable peddled by him and his goons and lackeys he never went to jail because he fought for the de-annulment of the June 12 Presidential election. Gen Obasanjo was in close collaborative contact and strategic engagement with the Late Gen Abacha between late 1993 and late 1994. Rather than battle with the rest of the nation’s human rights and prodemocracy community for the full restoration of stolen electoral mandates Gen Obasanjo was heavily involved in negotiations for the formation of AN INTERIM GOVERNMENT WITH GEN ABACHA AS THE HEAD OF STATE AND HIMSELF AS PRIME MINISTER. It was when Gen Abacha turned down his numerous position papers, proposals and overtures on this arrangement and went ahead to consolidate his power base that Gen Obasanjo rebelled and became an emergency democrat, a tag that perfectly fits him from start to finish. I dare him to refute the above assertions and Nigerians will feast themselves on extant documents that support my case.
7. Dr ALEX Ekwueme’s leadership of the G-34, a coalition of liberal politicians who opposed Gen Sani Abacha from April 1998, placed him in an advantageous position to emerge the Presidential candidate of the PDP when the ban on political activities was lifted by Gen Abdulsalam Abubakar about July 1998. He was favoured by the nation’s dominant liberal political establishment as Nigeria’s next President but the Generals who overthrew their boss, Gen Gowon, in July 1975 were having none of it. These same Generals who helped nurture the Alhaji Shehu Shagari Presidency (Gen Obasanjo said as much in his letter), who overthrew him when fancy possessed them, who helped Gen Buhari become Head of State and humiliated and detained him after he was overthrown by them and who, of course, paved Gen Babangida’s path to power, moved very quickly. They secured Gen Obasanjo’s release from jail, procured a State pardon for him, cleaned him up, empowered him financially and packaged him as the next Big Thing. There are clear indications that Gen Obasanjo subscribed to a Mandela one-term Presidency arrangement with the members of his conclave but reneged on his commitment when he attained power in 1999. Nigerians would like more light shed on this matter by the likes of Gen Babangida, Gen Abubakar, Gen TY Danjuma and Gen Aliyu Gusau.
8.Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar may also have a lot to say on how and why he became a victim of the politics of succession in 2003 on the strength of tales told him about Gen Obasanjo’s one-term pact with his political handlers. Gen Obasanjo not only destroyed the businesses and political careers of all those who opposed him in 2003 but unleashed a torrent of demonizing and criminalizing political and financial attacks on all those perceived to be against his THIRD TERM NEO-MESSIANIC PROJECT, the lowest point of political infamy and moral ataraxia in modern Nigerian history. While President Jonathan, a leader so insolently vilified and demeaned by him, is yet to complete his first term in office, Gen Obasanjo will go down in history as one accidental president whose excess of political ambition, lust for power and unbridled egoism nearly destroyed the foundation of the Nigerian state.
9. I will now turn my attention to a close consideration of some of the issues Gen Obasanjo raised in his letter to President Jonathan. Gen Obasanjo accused President Jonathan of NON-SPECIFIC acts of political impunity that has torn the PDP apart. He told tales of bitterness, anger, fear, suspicion, etc, the reasons adduced by HIS POLITICAL GODSONS in decamping from the party without one factual illustration. It is either ‘he was told’, ‘he heard’, or ‘it was mentioned or revealed to him’ the acts of President Jonathan that caused the rebellion in the first place. Yet, Gen Obasanjo’s political score card in the PDP is factually revealing. He humiliated the late Chief Sunday Awoniyi when the latter wanted to contest for the post of the National Chairman of the party. He literally put a gun over the head of Chief Audu Ogbe and forced him to resign as the National Chairman of the party for voicing opposition to Gen Obasanjo’s protection of political rascals, scallywags, touts and occult worshippers who made Anambra State ungovernable between 2003 and 3006.
10. He didn’t stop at this. He corrupted the Senate into impeaching the very popular and charismatic late Dr Chuba Okadigbo as its President. He went further to DE-REGISTER EVERY SINGLE MEMBER OF THE PDP and planted his goons and political enforcers at all re-registration centres to physically stop all those in his black book from being re-absorbed into the party. He declared the Office of his Vice President vacant, sacked all his staff, stopped him from entering his office and virtually evicted him from his official quarters. Just recently, a book was launched in Abuja detailing Atiku Abubakar’s harrowing political torment in the hands of Gen Obasanjo and his spirited and courageous legal struggles to expand Nigeria’s jurisprudential space in landmark legal judgments he obtained against Gen Obasanjo’s culture of impunity, unconstitutional conducts and even outright criminal political acts. I advise Nigerians to get copies of that book to really begin to understand the devious and dangerous human specimen that Gen Obasanjo is.
11. Gen Obasanjo claimed, without any substantiation, that Alhaji Bamanga Tukur is merely doing the biddings of the paymaster, meaning President Jonathan, without adducing any single proof of such unbecoming acts or providing factual evidence of such occurrences. He also regaled Nigerians with tales about President Jonathan’s avowal of a one term Presidency without a tissue of truth in his pathetic lamentations. It is either that he heard it from Governor Suswan, or that President Jonathan’s 6-year single term proposition is an indication that he wants to serve for one term only. He spoke inelegantly about a pact President Jonathan entered into with faceless and unmanned persons and even his long quotation from his campaign speech only implicated the press as the source of President Jonathan’s one-term decision. These indeed are the ‘acts’ capable of plunging Nigerians into disaster; acts that Gen Obasanjo wants stopped forthwith BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE.
12. One begins to wonder why it was not too late for the nation when President Obasanjo illegally removed Governor Joshua Dariye from office and appointed a MILITARY ADMINISTRATOR to govern the hapless state under the cover of a state of emergency declaration, the true, legal and constitutional nature of which President Jonathan has revealed in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states. Nigerians will also want to know why it was never too late for the country when Gen Obasanjo purchased the conscience of a few legislators and illegally removed Governors Ladoja and Fayose from office in Oyo and Ekiti states respectively. Nigerian will also love to know why it never was too late for the polity to radically unravel when Gen Obasanjo turned the INEC into his private rigging machine and subsequently declared that politics is A DO OR DIE AFFAIR.
13. It is strange that Gen Obasanjo adopted two personas in his letter to President Jonathan; the private communicator and the public pseudo-oracle. On the one hand, he gave 10 reasons why he adopted the public medium (open letter) in communicating to President Jonathan but strangely solicits him to share the content with only a very select audience, implying that he wrote the President a confidential letter away from the prying eyes of the uninitiated public! This dubious narrative mode is meant to cover his tracks, especially when he makes outrageous remarks or regales his audience with tales by the moonlight which he struggles to pass off as hard facts. He talked about over 1000 persons under political watch list, killer squads, snipers and trained assassins waiting to devour all President Jonathan’s opponents. He wrote about a murderer being released from prison to continue his killing spree.
14. Yet NOT IN ONE SINGLE INSTANCE did he provide any evidence to substantiate his wild, outrageous, frivolous, defamatory and libellous accusations. However, what cannot be wished away is the fact that Nobel Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka spoke passionately and unceasingly about the nest of killers in Gen Obasanjo’s Presidency; a nest that may well have bred the murderers of Chief Bola Ige, Chief Harry Marshall, Chief Dikibo and Engr Funsho Williams. None of the killers of these eminent Nigerians was ever brought to justice throughout Gen Obasanjo’s 8 years in office. Apparently, the nest is still very much alive and well, nurturing new killer-birds. So when next we hear of killer squads, trained assassins and snipers Nigerians should know where to begin their search.
15. Gen Obasanjo does not need to remind President Jonathan and Nigerians about the critical security challenges the nation faces. These are well documented. Yes, some more work need to be done to improve security, stop the theft of Nigeria’s oil resources and deal squarely with the Boko Haram terrorism. But I believe that as deep as these challenges are they do not require the ODI and ZAKI BIAM approach where Gen Obasanjo authorized the mass annihilation of the citizens of the country and the comprehensive destruction of their means of livelihood in a scorched earth war strategy. Again, if he is as knowledgeable about the Boko Haram phenomenon and the interface between political and economic exclusion, poverty, arms trafficking and drugs as foundational causes of that extremist insurgency as he claims he does in his meaningless pontificating on the subject, he would have realized that the Nigerian security forces have defeated Boko Haram’s domestic franchise. What is at play is the mutation of that force into a regional and international terror network. The Americans know this and took a well thought-out decision in naming it a foreign terrorist organization. It is like blindly arguing that the Syrian government is not doing enough to secure its country when in actuality the spirit of the popular resistance to the Assad regime has long gone. Just as over 80 percent of the armed insurgents in Syria are foreign terrorists and radical Islamists, over 80 percent of the remnants of Boko Haram in Nigeria are terrorists and radical Islamists from the Maghreb region and elsewhere.
16. Gen Obasanjo wrote passionately about corruption attaining a level of impunity in Nigeria under President Jonathan’s watch. The responsibility of providing data on this and the robust efforts being made to stem this epidemic is not his alone. This much is granted. The Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation/Minister of Justice, the EFCC, ICPC, the Police anti-fraud unit and the law courts should do more in providing details about on-going high profile corruption related cases and in disseminating information on the strides and steps taken by government to achieve better prosecutorial results. Having said this, it is imperative that Nigerians still ask Gen Obasanjo searching questions about the over $14 billion appropriated for the power sector under his watch and the source of the hundreds of billions of Naira deployed to procure his THIRD TERM agenda. He should also be questioned about the source of the over N3 trillion declared by one of his domestic aides as his well-earned money. Nigerians also need to know how come he is currently touted as one of Africa’s richest sons while, in actuality, he came out from jail in 1998 as a ragged ex-convict with hardly a dime to his name. Yet he is now the proud owner of a private university, a multi-billion Presidential library and several blue chip companies (acquired when he dashed Nigeria’s corporate patrimony to his cronies), all under Obasanjo Holdings.
17. I did state at the beginning of this piece that my intention is not to hold brief for President Jonathan as his ministers and other special aides are more than capable of defending his legacy-in-the-making. Nigerians also know that it look tremendous political will, vision and foresight to unbundle and privatize significant portfolios in the power sector value chain, a situation Gen Obasanjo shuddered at and fled from for 8 whole years, his tail between his legs. Nigerians also know who is revamping the rail transport sector; a national enterprise that died over three decades, yet Gen Obasanjo was President for 8 years without lifting a finger in that direction. A lot have been written about the quiet revolution going on in the agricultural sector, Nigeria’s expanding GDP, sustainable growth rate and macroeconomic stability. Currently, the most comprehensive institutional and strategic reform of the oil and gas sector is with the National Assembly in the form of the PIB awaiting passage.
18. However, assuming that the catalogue of Nigeria’s economic woes is as real as Gen Obasanjo painted them from oil theft to a negative investment climate, Nigerians are entitled to know WHAT GEN OBASANJO DID IN 8 YEARS THAT PRESIDENT JONATHAN IS NOW BEING CALLED UPON TO DO SO MUCH MORE FROM THE SCRATCH. Were Gen Obasanjo to be just another regular folk Nigerians may take his ranting very serious, but he was an Executive President for 8 years and yet is writing as if President Jonathan is indeed Nigeria’s first political leader with no 50 years of political governance before him out of which Gen Obasanjo accounts for 11 years. It is not President Jonathan who is living in a world of denial and passing the bulk; it is the likes of Gen Obasanjo who wasted and squandered opportunities in office but now turn around to blackmail their successors into covering their tracks of incompetence, ineffectual leadership and monumental failure of governance. Had Gen Obasanjo did his bit while in office the burden on President Jonathan and Nigerians would have been lighter but he failed to perform therefore saddling a President in his first term in office with responsibilities he could not shoulder in 8 +3 years.
19. It is unprofitable to dwell in Gen Obasanjo’s meaningless moral prattle about God, country, good conscience, life and death that covers nearly 7 pages of his strange epistle as that will be wasting my readers’ precious time but his stupid remark about President Jonathan committing anti-party activities by aiding opposition governorship candidates is worth responding to. The logic behind this monstrous accusation is difficult to fathom out. I can only make the following observations. Is Gen Obasanjo saying that the PDP governorship candidates in those states he listed are all anti-Jonathan elements who must be stopped at all cost to pave way for opposition candidates who are more inclined to supporting him? This is laughable. I suspect that what Gen Obasanjo cannot comprehend is that the PDP is strong in some states and weak in others and unlike him who deployed his INEC rigging machine and played the politics of do or die, President Jonathan, as a true democrat and constitutionalist, allowed due, credible and transparent elections to take place.
20. These elections ultimately affirmed the people’s popular sovereignty to the chagrin of Gen Obasanjo’s revolting belief that electoral banditry and stealing of people’s mandate is a fair game in his spiritually sterile school of democracy. Regarding the Anambra State situation, Nigerians should read between the lines because what Gen Obasanjo wanted President Jonathan to do was to foist on the PDP his erstwhile domestic aide as the party’s governorship candidate. The failure of that perfidious project to fly naturally translated to President Jonathan playing anti-party politics in Gen Obasanjo’s warped mind and crude sense of illogic.
21. One is tempted to go on and on but suffice it to stress that Gen Obasanjo clearly overreached himself with his latest act of infamy. Nigerians are plainly tired of Gen Obasanjo and his tricks and uncouth antics. Having played God for so long Gen Obasanjo’s de-robbing is manifestly self-inflicted. By not holding his peace Gen Obasanjo, like Macbeth, has murdered sleep. I sincerely believe that he will sleep no more. In one breath he claimed that he adopted the public mode of communication because his two previous letters were unacknowledged, yet in the same letter he made us understand that he has virtually unlimited access to President Jonathan and narrated several instances they met in recent time. Wise counsel should have dictated that he continued his quiet dialogue with the President. By choosing foolishness over wisdom, the naked dance he has embarked upon now has since left the homestead. He is currently dancing at the market square . And this is tragic, very tragic for a life so misused and opportunities for greatness so fragrantly and scornfully discarded. Quite a pity.
Hon Tarok was the Chairman, Plateau State House of Assembly Committee on Inter-Governmental Relations, between 1979 and 1983. He lives at N0. 86 Yakubu Gowon Street, Jos, Plateau State and could be reached at email@example.com