Obasanjo’s chronic self-delusion By Ebere Wabara


THERE is no doubt whatsoever that the Olusegun Obasanjo presidency was wasted on a platter by all ramifications. It is also evidential that his regime was the most corrupt, as his ministers and subservient acolytes coordinated a bazaar of our national patrimony in a way that paled into insignificance the malfeasance of those before and after him in office.

I had thought that after God saved Chief Obasanjo from the jaws of death in the hands of the late General Sani Abacha shortly before his celebrated death, he would thenceforth live a life of gratitude to God and be at peace with humanity. In contradistinction, the rustic Ota farmer has been carrying on as if other people were villains and he a symbol of sainthood!

In fact, there is nothing to suggest the personage of a former Head of State or the hallmarks of leadership. This is why the governor of Ekiti State Ayo Fayase takes delight in endlessly traducing Chief Obasanjo despite the evolutionary and hallowed tradition of Yoruba land, which accentuates respect for responsible elders (not T. A. Orji’s kind of “Abia Elders” recruited solely to demonise, demystify and calumniate the former governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Kalu by his ungrateful and amnesic successor in office). Respect begets respect. When a nonagerian behaves like a kindergartner, respect from younger ones takes a flight. This aptly captures the case of Chief Obasanjo and lucidly explains why the boyishness of a Fayose will swim in rascally indecorum, to my appreciative contradiction.

Recently, the former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Alhaji Nuhu Ribadu, who, by the way, miscalculatively, joined to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) instead of remaining in the All Progressives Congress (APC), declared that Obasanjo used him to witch-hunt his political adversaries, Even without this belated confessional statement, most Nigerians knew that EFCC metamorphosed from being a dispassionate anti-graft agency to a political tool of vendetta in the vicious hand of Chief Obasanjo. What amazes me most in the Ribadu revelation is that he could allow himself to be so used by a scoundrel. Before this self-confession, Ribadu had hinted on this secret at the public presentation of a book written by Prof. Olatunji Dare in honour of the late Chief M. K. O. Abiola at the Muson Centre in Lagos sometime ago. He made a specific reference to one of Obasanjo’s targets and billionaire national leader of the APC, Chief Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Baba Oba of Ikorodu, who was present on the occasion.

While in government and power, Chief Obasanjo unethically summoned the country’s topmost billionaires to contribute to the construction of his private library, where he would retire to if his vaulting third-term ambition predictably crashes! Concerned Nigerians raised eyebrows over this behemoth’s impropriety, but to no avail as usual. The abuse of position went on and at the end of the day billions of naira hit the acount of baba. As far as he was concerned, there was nothing wrong, absolutely, with the official travesty. That is the man for you: kettle that calls pot black.

With regard to the deployment of the EFCC in haunting political foes, the list is interminably long. I cannot forget some of the prominent victims like the 74-year-old former Head of State, Gen. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (GCFR), the former vice-president Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Globacom proprietor, Dr, Mike Adenuga (GCON), Dr. Kalu, former Delta State Governor, Chief James Onanafe Ibori, his Bayelsa counterpart, Chief JSP Alamaeyeseigha. What was their offence? Simply their profound criticisms of burgeoning misrule and vehement opposition to the third-term inebriacy of Baba no regret! Indeed, of all the victims of this glaring abuse of mandate, Dr. Kalu was the most affected and is still being embarrassed, harassed and haunted/hunted by oppositional deviants over that clearly vindictive incident of unprecedentedness.

In party politics, the likes of the late Alhaji Abubakar Rimi, Chief Audu Ogbeh, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur— both former national chairmen of the PDP — among numerous others will have a bitter story to tell of their unforgettable encounter with the Ota farmer.

The regime of Chief Obasanjo will remain in the country’s annals as probably the most corrupt and nonchalantly retrogressive. Meanwhile, the impression was created that the government was the best thing to have happened in Nigeria! Presently, I will mention some of the perfidious and odious underpinings of that kleptomaniac tenure. Chief Obasanjo’s involvement in the Halliburton scandal is shrouded in contrived dubiosity and technical duplicity such that most people have lost track of events in the transnational fraud. Foreign accomplices in this swindle have all been sent to the gaol overseas. Undisclosed mismanagement of the country’s oil and gas as the President/Petroleum Minister, the National Stadium construction in Abuja, billions of naira spent on non-rehabilitation of federal roads, COJA 2003, CHOGM scam, and other innumerable infractions that were never addressed.

Chief Obasanjo’s sanctimonious posturings befuddle me to no end. How can a man with a questionable past be the one dictating the code of conduct for others? What pedigree qualifies him for such a sterling role? The mercurial Ota farmer’s highly controversial antcedents are enough to compel him to taciturnity in dignified self-respect. All former distinguished leaders have gloriously carried on to the applause of the public in contradistincton to a life of holistic nuisance, vulgarity and cantekerousness.

From time to time, Chief Obasanjo indulges in sterile preachments about leadership trajectories and benchmarks. Such pontifications and nauseating holier-than-thou attitudinal disposition has degenerated to a periodic feature of Baba Iyabo so much so that it has become an exercise in self-delusion. I have never seen thi kind of self-immolation that explicates one’s moral bankruptcy. If a man sleeps with his son’s wife, he should have some scruples coming to the public sphere to haul attacks on men that could be said to be good men, comparatively speaking. You cannot have skeletons in your closet and yet be hostilely rationalising about living in glass houses and be throwing stones. If you use one finger to point at another person, the remaining fingers will point at you. He who comes to equity must come with clean hands. Justice is not for perverts or those who are morally bankrupt.

You may distinguish in the military in Nigeria not out of cerebral excellence, but a combination of other extraneous factor. In civilised nations, soldiers rise because of their intellectual ization of service and demonstration of good character—not just years of long service or betrayal of colleagues in one form or another. Just like the university community, there are professors and there are professors. So, there are also Generals by providence, by circumstance, by the elementals of luck! Not all Generals should gloat, for when the chips are down we know the officers who can enter the evil forest.

There is nothing confirmatory of the life of impeccability, which Chief Obasanjo bullishly presents. If I were Obasanjo, I would just try to be a political leader, be at peace with as many men as possible and continuously give thanks to God for sparing my life for the rest of my existence here. Engaging everyone in combative and loquacious battles over mostly worthless issues will not worth my time, especially in recognition of my adjacency to translation.

In a recent interview with Premium Times, Chief Obasanjo uncharitably averred that Nigerian media professionals were essentially corrupt (with a few exceptions). His words: “Or Reuben Abati, the one who said ‘ehhnn, he too wants to build a house.’ Can anybody say that to me and you think I will have regard for him? Or for the profession he claims to belong? And you know it. You know it. That you can write anything in any paper and if the price is right, it will be published.” What kind of generalisation is this? There are bad eggs in every profession. For Obasanjo to make it look as if every journalist has a price tag is most unfortunate. In any case, which segment of the society is not as bad as journalists if not worse? No doubt, some colleagues of mine are not credible, but that does not call for blanket condemnation of the profession. For purposes of argument, which segment of the society is not corrupt? Why would Chief Obasanjo be mentioning names of specific journalists he suspects are corrupt? Does he have any proof of their corruption? So, if a journalist says he, too, needs to build a house it becomes a synonym for corruption?

Whenever I recollect the invasion of the residence of Dr. Adenuga on Victoria Island by the EFCC in the twilight of the Obasanjo years, I get bemused. At the funeral of Dr. Adenuga’s mother, Chief Obasanjo attended and participated very well in the unprecedented passage rites of the Adenuga matriarch in the history of Nigeria. Shortly thereafter, things fell apart. What was the issue? Dr. Adenuga did not support the third-term fiasco and was perceived to be closer to Alhaji Atiku who, at that point, was and remains one of Baba’s worst enemies. If you are a bosom friend of my enemy the centre cannot hold for us. In the circumstance, the EFCC was let loose like wild cannon on blistering chase of Dr. Adenuga! If a person of that esteemed personage could be so ambushed at the instance of his erstwhile egbon (elder brother) of chumminess, then who is any other person! The Otta farmer has great contempt for relationships and utter disregard for people’s sensitivities and sensibilities. In the same unfortunate vein, experiences do not matter to him as he amnesically and senilely lives for the moment. If not for dignified royal intervention of a first-class Oba in the Obasanjo-Adenuga fleeting tiff, I cannot contemplate the humiliation that would trailed the greatest philanthropist of our time.

The more I think about this man the more I get perplexed because of the contradictions in his behavioural inclinations that border on antagonism, pugnacity and haughtiness. I do not know if Chief Obasanjo’s obstreperousness is a function of obsolescence. If not, why is everyone bad in his estimation? He appears to be the only good man on earth! Every other person is a thief, criminal, adulterer (eh?), et al. He does not even have respect for the dead. This explains why he regards the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo as a sectional leader and not a pan-Yoruba leader.

I used to think that age confers some measure of candour, respectability and maturity on people. In the case of Baba, the older he becomes, the more garrulous, restive and restless he becomes! I am yet to see anyone in the good books of this Owu chief. Is it that the man is naturally complex, difficult and extrapolatively fastidious? It cannot be age because there are even older people whose carriage and interpersonal relationship profile is such that templates leadership. No man should be slavish to age or encumbered by senility lest he becomes a public nuisance.

From Chief Obasanjo’s periodic outbursts, mercurial tantrums and blanket condemnation of everyone who comes his way, I have the conviction that Baba may be suffering from aggravated hallucination of knowledge and wisdom circumscription, which results in incurable affliction of the bucchal cavity.

Whoever loves this erstwhile civilian dictator should plead with him to revolutionize his interpersonal relationships. He has unnecessarily ruffled many feathers and is not relenting on kicking up more dust and stepping on as many toes as possible! With OBJ, you do not need another foe. I disagree with Dr. Kalu that Chief Obasanjo is merely a clown/jester. Baba is an inimical embodiment of unrivaled vindictiveness, indecorum, clownishness, viciousness, brazenness and gerontocratic retardation.

Someone should volunteer to end this grandeur of self-delusion and self-deception by Baba. Nigerians have had and heard enough of him! A country’s former leader is not just any other citizen: there are basic expectations of responsibility and comportment—shorn of adult rascality!