Obasanjo’s Message To Troublemakers In Imo – By Collins Ughalaa KSC


On March 5, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, clocked 85. He was celebrated by Nigerians across party lines. Obasanjo, a foremost Nigerian leader, served the country as a Military officer from 1957 when he joined the Nigerian Army and 1979 when he retired, after serving as Head of State from 1976 to 1979. In 1999 he emerged President of Nigeria. Since leaving office in 2007, Obasanjo has been different things to different people. His comments on national issues are sought. His blessings on political engagements are sought. He is one of Nigeria’s biggest exports.

Jovial but frank, Obasanjo understands every part of Nigeria. At 85 everyone expects him to speak the truth at all times. It was therefore not shocking that the Shared Prosperity Government of Distinguished Senator Hope Uzodimma feted Obasanjo at the Government House on Tuesday, March 8, to celebrate his birthday. The ocassion attracted Imo leaders. When it was time for speech making, Obasanjo was at his elements.

Anyone who knew that Imo State had knocked engine when Distinguished Senator Hope Uzodimma took over the reins of power on Wednesday, January 15, 2020, would give the Governor a basket of praises. Anyone who knew the level of insecurity that was unleashed on Imo people by disgruntled politicians and their cohorts would only marvel at the audacity, dexterity of Hope. Those politicians who wrecked havoc on Imo thought that by now Imo would have submerged and rendered uninhabitable, are now surprised how the Governor restored hope to Imo people. They keep asking what magic the Governor performed, forgetting that one with God is a majority. A man carrying nothing would break nothing.

Many people know about the ongoing fight against insecurity and how the fight is being won in Imo. They know that no Executive Governor or President would acquiesce to terrorists. That was why Obasanjo began his speech by eulogizing Governor Hope Uzodimma for the good work he is doing in Imo State. Obasanjo noted that he was satisfied with the steps taken so far by the Governor to ensure that peace reigns in Imo. He advised the Governor to do more towards finding a lasting solution to the insecurity in the State and not ignore the youths regardless of how bad their behaviour may appear.

Obasanjo was not asking for amnesty for terrorists or red carpet treatment for those who wage needless war against Imo State. That was why he made himself very clear by identifying three categories of bad boys: those genuinely frustrated and angry, those who are being sponsored by politicians for political vendetta and those who are criminally-minded by nature and wired to act true to type.

The former President had some words for troublemakers, though. He advised them to resolve all their differences through dialogue and without recourse to acts that would impact negatively on the society. “Anywhere in Nigeria, if you have political disagreement, resolve it politically. Don’t hire thugs. Don’t hire militants. Don’t hire killers to deal with your political opponents, to address your political dissatisfaction”, he said. “We have to find a solution if insecurity remains a problem in our society”, he added, saying: “for the genuinely frustrated, we have to learn to deal with them by talking to them.”

Obasanjo’s patriotic message jolts the troublemakers in Imo. He pierced their conscience like a double edged sword and they are sad. That is why they run staccato and want to cherry-pick. Thinking they saw an opening they are twisting Obasanjo’s stastesmanly message to mean that he rather tongue-lashed the Governor. They claim that the Governor was advised to settle issues with political opponents amicably and not resort to violence. By this claim they mean the Governor is the aggressor, contrary to what the facts say. They are happy, thinking it removes attention from their corner. They think they are not to blame, that Obasanjo’s message absolves them. They forget that Obasanjo said he is satisfied with the actions taken so far by the Governor.

By their action, the troublers of Imo State miss Obasanjo’s message and the lesson. But, like the elders say, if the troublemakers throw away Obasanjo’s words, they did not throw him away. He remains an enigma, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, and his words remain true. You can bury the truth because it will resurrect.

While the troublemakers run staccato looking for whom Obasanjo was talking to, let us look at few events that unfolded in Imo from 2020. The first major event of 2020 was the earth-shattering loss of power by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), the ouster of their supposed darling, and the enthronement of Distinguished Senator Hope Uzodimma as Governor of Imo State following the landmark judgement of the Supreme Court. While Imo people were happy and grateful to God, the PDP cursed their god. Few days later the party took to the streets in a bid to make the State ungovernable. They would later be reported to have threatened to make the State ungovernable. The witch cried in the night and the baby died in the morning.

About a year after the ouster of the PDP – about two months after the government sealed an estate belonging to the wife of a former Governor – there was a historic jailbreak where over 1,800 inmates were unleashed against the society. It was not long after the jailbreak that Imo began to witness heightened attacks, culminating in attack on the countryhome of the Governor on April 24, 2021. For several months, Imo State, especially the capital city of Owerri, was held hostage. Life became brutish for many. These events do not show Governor Uzodimma as the aggressor. If the Governor had not rolled up his sleeves we would have been finished by now!

Another scenario: Ihedioha was sworn-in as Governor on May 29, 2019. He began the process of probing his predecessor, setting up judicial panels of inquiry and assets recovery team. When the panels submitted their report and recommended that those looted assets be recovered, the Governor had no other choice than to comply with those recommendations. Thus the government sealed Royal Spring Palm Estate, located at Akachi Road, said to belong to a former first lady.

But what did those affected do? According to a report by the Nation newspaper of February 22, 2021, the former Governor “allegedly broke the keys [of the estate] in a bid to recover the property belonging to his wife”. The report also noted that the former governor took some thugs to the estate and forcefully broke the government seal to gain entry into the property.

There is plethora of examples that could lead any sincere person to the direction Obasabjo was pointing at. That was why he said that those who deserve talking to are the genuinely agitated. Those who are sponsored by disgruntled politicians and the criminally minded deserve no talking to, in the real sense of it, unless in the language they understand.

We think that rather than engage in bulk-passing, politicians should take Obasanjo’s message, chew it and digest it, and give peace a chance in Imo.



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