Obasanjo and the Dreams of Our Fathers

THIS REPUBLIC By Shaka Momodu, Email: shaka.momodu@thisdaylive.com. SMS: 0811 266 1654

THIS REPUBLIC                    shaka.momodu@thisdaylive.com  0811 266 1654

In just two months of President Muhammadu Buhari in office, former President Olusegun Obasanjo while canvassing support for the then-new government declared gleefully that Buhari had started to build the Nigeria of our dreams. I took it with a pinch of salt then and still do now; only that the need to talk about it has become more expedient in view of the spectacular collapse of change and also as another election cycle approaches. Some of us had warned Nigerians to reject the pretenders masquerading as agents of change, but they would not listen. Elections have consequences. The result of the choice we made in 2015 is bearing fruits and suddenly we don’t like the fruits. The danger signals were clear then but we chose to be willfully blinded to them.

Fellow Nigerians, permit me to refer to it as the Obasanjo August Declaration, especially so, in this season of declarations when quit notices and counter-notices are being issued by fratricidal midnight forces made up of demagogues, old and infirm ethnic and religious irredentists with deeply entrenched medieval belief systems anchored on “born to rule” and whose tools of trade are hate speeches. Unfortunately, they are now being matched against an intoxicated, extremely naïve, misguided and foolish nationalist idealism that is bereft of ideas – which is equally hate filled. They recently upped the ante with intemperate language and mindless militancy with a vow to blow this clay-footed giant still struggling to find its bearing 57 years after it gained independence to smithereens.

Painfully, two years after Obasanjo’s assertion that our dreams about Nigeria were coming true, I cannot in good faith and in good conscience point to anything that remotely looks like the berthing of the Nigeria of our dreams. I have been struggling to no avail to identify signs or efforts geared towards building the Nigeria of our dreams that Obasanjo spoke so delightfully about under Buhari.

I have decided to pose this question to the public to see if I am missing something here: Now, is there anyone out there who can stand up in good conscience to say he or she has seen the Nigeria of our dreams coming to fruition under Buhari? I doubt if any normal human being can make such a declaration because even the heavens know that Buhari is incapable of building the Nigeria of our dreams. But I will not be surprised if some nuts fellows still hold out to excuse him for all his failings.

I am tempted to believe that the August declaration was borne out of gleeful spite and not of any sincerity of heart or genuineness of purpose. It was predicated on malice instead of clarity of thought of the vision of a new future, and therefore lacked charity of the heart and empathy of the human spirit. To believe otherwise is to willfully demonstrate an arm’s-length relationship with the truth. Obviously, the former president was still celebrating the defeat of his erstwhile godson whom he had fallen out with for whatever reason. A little background to the declaration is necessary here.

He had shredded his party’s membership card and became the “navigator of change” that brought Buhari to power. He used his letter writing skills to great effect and leveraged his prodigious national and international profile to give weight to false alarms about trained snipers by the then government to assassinate leading opposition figures. And he endorsed Buhari for president despite admitting that the man had zero knowledge of managing the economy.

He could not believe his success when the people hearkened to his urgings and elected the frail general with a medieval world view as president. In those early days of Buhari’s victory, Obasanjo took every opportunity to rub it in. He idolised and heaped undeserved praises on the old general even when his early actions and inactions in the first two and a half months in office were totally detrimental to the Nigeria of our dreams. Goaded on by the effusive praises from Obasanjo, Professor Wole Soyinka, Pastor Tunde Bakare, and a host of other human rights activists in the country, Buhari went on to carry out the most egregious damage to our national cohesion.

It is therefore clear that Obasanjo was either still beclouded by hangover victory celebrations over his godson or his vision of Nigeria was as deeply flawed as that of the man he so effusively praised; a man who made it clear that he would not treat every part of the country equally with his 97 per cent and 5 per cent “dream” for Nigeria. He did not just say that, he actually went on to implement the “dream” in all his appointments. It is exactly his divisive and clannish approach to governance and the sense of alienation that he created that has exacerbated separatist agitations all over the country.

Now, if one may ask, has Obasanjo ever paused to wonder how Dubai leapt from scribbled drawings on an architect’s laptop into the sprawling commercial city in the sandy dunes in the desert with the world’s most modern infrastructure in a spate of 20-25 years? Has he for a moment wondered how Qatar, a once bankrupt peninsular whose terrain comprises arid desert and a long Persian shoreline of beaches and dunes transformed its economy to become the world’s richest country in terms of per capita income in just about 20 years?

According to Forbes, “Qatar has the third-largest reserves of natural gas in the world and it has invested heavily in infrastructure to liquefy and export it, as well as to diversify its economy. Qatar has lured multinational financial firms to the country, as well as satellite campuses of US universities. The government is pouring money into infrastructure, including a deep seaport, an airport and a railway network, all with an eye to making the country a better host for businesses and the 2022 World Cup.”

BBC reported in 2014 that “oil and gas have made Qatar the richest country in the world – rich enough to be ready, apparently, to spend $200bn (£120bn) on stadiums and infrastructure for the 2022 World Cup”.
My question is, have oil and gas made Nigeria rich? Has Obasanjo not heard about the sheer scale of human progress in the United Arab Emirates, Oman and other such places where visionary leadership and dreamers have turned things around for their people and forced the world to take notice? These places mentioned and many others are where the impossible have become possible and where dreams have not only come true but continue to challenge and expand the frontiers of human imagination.

The destinies of nations and their people are shaped by a few extraordinary individuals who rise to the occasion of their call to duty and immortalise themselves in the hearts and minds of their people and their country forever. Obasanjo is unarguably the only Nigerian that has had the inexplicable good fortune to shape and reshape the destiny of the country for good. But what did he do with it severally, he threw away the opportunity. Two particular moments stand out – 1979 and 1999.

I will focus on 1999 which was his second coming to make my case against him. This is someone that has been through near-death experiences with a golden opportunity to reshape our values system, institutionalise discipline and order in our polity and build institutions that would not be beholden to any individual’s whim and caprice. He had the opportunity to make the most sweeping and consequential decisions of a lifetime, to set the tone of our politics, re-engineer it for good, by making sweeping reforms of our nation’s structure, and lay a solid foundation for the much-delayed take-off of the Nigeria of our dreams.

But he failed miserably. Instead of looking to create a new nation whose diversity is its strength, Obasanjo built temporary alliances and ersatz loyalties for himself to advance his interest only. He encouraged gangsters in politics and entrenched a culture of violence, financial inducements and fraudulent elections all in a bid to advance his narrow personal interest. Loyalty to godfathers was elevated above ideas, competence and suitability for elective office, and it became the single most important criterion to gain power. Things are what they are today because Obasanjo instead of being a statesman opted to be a politician. Statesmen earn votes, politicians buy them.

We are still struggling to get out of that pervasive culture of wuru wuru elections that even though he (Obasanjo) might not have introduced, but he entrenched and exploited to impose his candidates on the people. The Savage Kingdom that he helped to groom and nurture is in full bloom now. It is an irony of unlimited proportions that this same Obasanjo who failed to build the Nigeria of our dreams like the leaders of Dubai, Qatar, UAE, Oman and others was so effusive with praises for a man who had no positive vision of Nigeria, who did not have the wherewithal to even preserve the status quo, and hence was groping in the dark on assumption of office; a man who clearly had no business at the helm of our national affairs but was packaged by desperate power seekers who lied to the gullible majority to get elected. How can a person who remains stuck in the past be building the “Nigeria of our dreams” today and into the future?

Certainly, our dreams of/for Nigeria are not the same with that of Obasanjo which Buhari is actualising. We have no heroes to look up to and none to emulate, neither do we have statesmen in this Obasanjo’s Nigeria. The politicians we have in the Nigeria of Obasanjo’s dreams are only skilled in the art of corruption, dereliction of duty, lack of respect for the rule of law, election rigging, avarice, nepotism, clannishness, ethnicity, religious bigotry, and strife – that have ensured Nigeria does not progress. The Nigeria of Obasanjo’s dreams is not built to work, because it is not founded on equity and therefore is incapable of dispensing justice and fairness.

No one is saying that mere wishful thinking will give birth to the Nigeria of our own dreams. It is going to take a superhuman effort to displace the current old guards and their collaborators to give way to a new nation to rise. It is going to take bold and audacious actions driven by passion, vision, foresight, unblemished and undiluted patriotism. The type that is rare to come by these days.
The Nigeria of our dreams is a country that works for all, irrespective of state of origin and not for a few people and their collaborators. A nation built on truth, justice and fairness never loses the faith of its people. Anything short, it faces a perilous fate such as we now face.

The fact remains that our country needs restructuring, redemption, restoration, and reconstruction premised on fresh thinking, new ideas, and a bold vision. The Nigeria of our dreams cannot come to reality if we sit on the sidelines and do nothing. We should use the power of our numbers to vote out Obasanjo’s dream of Nigeria which is antithetical to the change we need. Well-meaning young Nigerians should rise to the beckon of their destinies and bend the arch of this country towards a new dawn where they can exploit its limitless potential and create opportunities for all, in peace and security. In this way, our children will have a country to call theirs and they will make heroes out of us. They will teach their children, our grandchildren, the history of our struggle to build a more caring, equitable and just society that works for all its members. Hopefully, in the not too distant future, we shall be able to hold all those who brought this disaster on Nigeria to account.
Obasanjo’s dream for Nigeria will not get us past the red sea, let alone, take us to the Promised Land.

  • E.Saunders

    ………”We have no heroes to look up to and none to emulate, neither do we have statesmen in this Obasanjo’s Nigeria.”…….

    Shaka, I usually agree with your views but I must disagree with you on that particular statement quoted from your article.

    What about Akinwunmi Adeshina – former Minister for Agriculture? Have you considered him? He did well in the Ministry of Agriculture during the Goodluck Jonathan’s Administration. He elevated agriculture to a business. Why! He demystified fertilizer distribution and accessibility among other achievements. He went about his duties without throwing childish tantrums about budgets nor did he dissipate energy and time engaging in verbal wars with members of the NASS. We know them. We see them.

    While noting that a lot of bright Nigerian technocrats upon being given government appointments or get elected to public office positions shamelessly sell their souls in the dark market of greed, diabolism and self-aggrandizement, there are a few outliers still out there who excel and shine brightly on the world stage.

    Per your “not having statesmen in this Obasanjo’s Nigeria” assertion, I am totally with you on that! None.

  • moribund9ja

    Shaka thank you for calling a spade a spade all the time. You are certainly the best columnists in Nigeria at moment. Abati was our oga for pen for years until he went to “chop”. He is back but that chop really affected him. Your brother Segun is busy dropping names all over the place…..sitting on fence in all his writings… That’s by the way.

    On your piece today, it is rather surprising that many people are still nurturing hope about great Nigeria. It’s really surprising. It is like praying for yesterday to come back.

    My honest understanding is that many people including Shaka cannot grasp what irredeemability of a situation is all about. The greatest lie is the one that is told oneself.

    Anyway I frankly wish you all good luck in your dream of great Nigeria.

    I’m a proudly Biafran. Our ship is about to sail out. I won’t go further.

  • ychukwuka

    Shaka, it’s good to note that in this season of rain, there is still a dry yam to eat. o’ how tasty, sweet and good it comes. Brilliant minds know who you represent. You stand for truth in this era of madness and deceit in the Fourth Realm. Posterity will be fair to this name SHAKA MOMODU.

  • Intrepid

    The name obasanjo means EVIL.

  • Daniel

    The intellectual discourse on this forum is very decent . Kudos all.

  • Orphic

    Here’s my kobo worth. Nigeria is just not a serious country. It has the seed resources, more so than many countries that have overtaken it.
    Nigerians are obsessed with selfish and tribal politics and governance, this they elevate above all other issues in their national discourse.
    Successful countries are obsessed with economics, how resources are applied towards current and future growth. Go to the UK and their national political discourse is about widening income inequality, government expenditure and public sector pay restraints, interest rate policy etc.
    This is replicated in most advanced countries, the issues that impact political discussion are not “you be thief… I no be thief” political exchanges.
    In so far as a Nigerian is interested in economics, it proceeds no further than how to divide the spoils of oil revenue.
    Ethiopia offers Nigeria a poignant example of what it takes to create national prosperity and growth. The Ethiopian government has mandated that it would spend 10% of GDP every year on investments, and it shows with new rail lines, dams, light industry etc..
    This contrasts with Nigeria where over 55% of government revenue is used to pay public sector salaries, where the finance minister can borrow $5 billion in two years for recurrent spending and no one says anything.
    Economic prosperity is not about leaders, it is a national and public responsibility to know, understand and question government economic policy. By questioning aspirants to office on their understanding of the management of national resources. Until Nigerians learn to do this, they would always get mediocre leaders.

  • Daniel

    First, let me laugh : 😀😀😀😀😀!

    With every sense of humility ,I live in Qatar, a country of just 2.7 million population.

    Where Qatar sneezes, Nigeria dare not come close.

    Obasanjo and co are comedians we must learn to live with until they are called by God or the devil.

    As for Buhari, nature is taking a very ‘good’ care of him. The London prison is very adequate for his age.

    Thank you Shaka. You remain one of the very few courageous journalists in Nigeria.

    And you truly do a good research.

    Let the unity beggars and APC dreamers continue fooling themselves.

    Nigeria ,as of today, has no future to behold.

    What a wasteland!

  • Dunu Anselm

    Our country needs restructuring, reformation, reconstruction based on fresh thinking, new ideas and new vision. Shaka, Na gi nwe akaa. Na your side I dey. You will not only have my vote, you will have my support both financial and leg work if you would consider giving leadership recruitment a thought.

  • soulchild

    Clearly the e-rats who infest the punch site have not been allowed to contaminate this one. It’s refreshing to carry out intelligent debates here with those paid goons using abusive and inciting language in punch.

  • Gloveman

    Thanks Shaka for this piece. Very insightful as always. They were power hungry and led us into a cul de sac.

    Meanwhile has 2019 preparations have started? This your articles signifies the commencement of the search.

    You have written very well. Please keep them coming. I enjoy them.

  • duleno

    My second novel is called The Gods of the Land. It based on a true story, the hijack of a shell development company Ltd helicopter at Enwhe in Anoada West Local Government Area. Mr. Trroper collected the ransom and used the money to fight the government and oil industry. The Joint investigation Team could not do anything, but somehow they met in central Abua, and a bloody shootout ensued.

  • henry price

    comrades Obasanjo is correct about President Buhari building Nigeria of your dreams. Despite being absent President Buhari is attending to well being of those who did for Africa what it could not do for itself thus, thereto is passage that release Africa from hundreds of years of financial plus physical bondage to colonialists. President Buhari did what Obasanjo fail to do as president had he not Africa was on steps of In Kind treatment that would have worsen bad conditions in existence in Africa. Instead patience plus tolerance is being shown plus it is happily witnessing speedy rising of African ingenuity. This upgrading of living conditions of Buntu people above curve of annihilation they were firmly within 20 years ago is evidence of what Africans may do where corruption is controlled plus leadership is competent plus free of nepotism. Very much sincere, Henry Price aka Obediah Buntu IL-Khan aka Kankan.

    • obinnna77


      • henry price

        comrade I am American born plus unfamiliar with intended meaning of word claptrap. Would you please define meaning in this case?
        Very much sincere,
        Henry Price aka Obediah Buntu IL-Khan aka Kankan.

        • nwaurualla

          You just escape from a Psychia????????

          • henry price

            comrade I am truly Kankan. Citizens of Nigeria have been with since 1980’s. Omar at Nigeria US embassy have known me since 2001 plus know as soon as my business in America is completed I will return to Africa this year. I will go to Abuja, Nigeria. I am as real as Mansa Kankan Musa was when he left Africa plus ended up in north America. I am number one in this world at “hunt would would” interrogation or/plus providing like spiritual covers. Very much sincere, Henry Price aka Obediah Buntu IL-Khan aka Kankan.

    • Daniel

      😀😀😀😀! Wetin you dey write?


      • temple

        I thought I was the only person that could not comprehend…

  • Drake Solo

    Here comes one of the best writers in the country today, a man whose conscience has remained unshakeable.

    This is a brilliant write-up as usual,and like i keep saying on your articles, “End of Discussion”. I just plead that you make this Wednesday thing a steady one, you write well bro.

    • remm ieet

      Did you read everything?

  • Mystic mallam

    Nigeria is a country where people shy away from the truth, but not Shaka Momodu. How does he do it, from whence comes his courage? Obviously from the inner depths of a man at peace with himself and his God. Cheers Mr Momodu, with people like you still around, we can’t despair.

  • RumuPHC

    It is quite true that Olusegun Obasanjo more than any other Nigerian had the unique opportunity to have shaped the destiny of Nigeria.

    OBJ’s opportunities to shape and make Nigeria a better country were numerous, fundamental and came up at critical points in the history of Nigeria. Unfortunately it appeared that these were opportunities missed and is not difficult to know where and with whom the blame lies.

    How well the OBJ help to shape the destiny of Nigeria under the following : As a leading member of the top echelon of military officers shortly after independence; military commander of the victorious federal army during the civil war; senior member of the ruling military elite post civil war ; Head of State 1975-1999 and presiding officer of the process of handover to civil rule; and most important of all, the first and precedence setting president of Nigeria in the new and current democratic dispensation?

    Even if OBJ can be credited with some accomplishments, it will be extremely difficult to absolve the retired general and former president of the current precarious situation of Nigeria .

    • Jon West

      You cannot give what you do not have. Opportunity, education, vision and intelligence need to coalesce before a leader can move his country to the other level. The Ota Ape had opportunity but none of the rest of the ingredients of leadership success, hence the sub-optimal result. To be fair to him, no body has done better than him , since his first shot at Nigerian leadership.

      • Leo Ben

        Shaka Momodu I share your passion for Nigeria, I share your frustration. A lot of us do, the problem is how we can get somebody we can trust to position of leadership. I think Jon West will really make a good material as education minister or minister of science and technology but his frustrations about Nigeria runs so deep that one is scared he might be unable not to let this becloud his judgement. I suspect he is still a very patriotic person at heart and wish Nigeria well, I suspect he is a very good man but the system has not been fair to him and he reflects it in all his posts. But he is not alone so many of us are also suffering from the system. I think he should tone down his advertised dislike for Nigeria. He is a good material, he is an intelligent fellow no doubt.
        Shaka, how do you convince Jon West so deep in his frustration to join hands with you and others such as Mystic Mallam to articulate a new vision for Nigeria? I Like Jon West and Mystic Mallam a lot, these guys are brilliant. They are the best of the best. Just from their regular posts it is very clear that Nigeria is missing what these guys have to offer.

        • Priestley Okorro

          Please do not bother yourself about redeeming Nigeria. I am keen and ardent student of history and i can bet you a million naira that Buhari has finally killed Nigeria. I am an eternal optimist but i have been warning Nigerians long before the election of 2015 that Buhari will kill Nigeria but nobody paid attention. The only model that can redeem and retain the name Nigeria is a confederation of the six regions with full autonomy including airports ,seaports ,defence etc after reverting to pre 1905 boundaries especilly with the Igbos with referendum confirmation. This is because the Igbos were gerrymanded into twelve or thirteen states outside the five known Igbo states. In the alternative let there be a referendum first in Igbo speaking areas for self determination.

          • Don Franco

            Dear Priestly,

            Me, I have just up voted you for your extraordinary gift of perspicacity and honest talk! .

          • Daniel

            You really get it. I am a historian .

            Things have truly fallen apart.

        • Netanyahu

          Totally agree with you. Brilliant.

        • Don Franco

          Dear Leo Ben,

          Jon West and Mystic Mallam are both bona fide Biafrans that form part of our intelligentsia, their minds are too brilliant for a Lugardian zoo.
          At any rate, they know that the gleanings of Biafra is by far better than the vintage of Nigeria, and their Igbo blood disqualifies them from benefitting the zoo in the thoughtful and analytical ways you suggested to Shaka. .. such a pitiful damned shame eh.

          • Leo Ben

            Don Franco I didn’t think of where Jon West or Mystic Mallam came from, but from their posts I could see they are the best of the best. Let’s stop stamping ethnicity on our people, let’s embrace merit and Nigeria will move forward. Let merit reign in all appointments, let merit and competence be the watch words that are driving policy decisions and see where Nigeria will be in a few years. Jon West, Mystic Mallam and many others like them will be shining stars in the true Nigeria of our dreams Shaka wrote about.

          • ebele

            Oh! Leo, what’s the cause of the down fall of Nigeria? Is it not mediocrity? (my family members must have job first, no matter how much dunce, b/4 any other) When the brilliant minds were in the system, things were working perfectly well. Now it became ‘unfortunate’ that the brilliant ones were from a particular region, jealousy crept in; instead of healthy competition. Quota system destroyed everything. Like we all know one cannot give what one doesn’t have. Select the best brands and put them in strategic places and see the miracle that would happen to this country. The “owners” of Nigeria know this, but they don’t like that development we all are craving for. They want it at their own pace. That is why Nigerian project can no longer work ; unless we are ready to submit to their whims and caprices.

          • Don Franco

            Dear Leo Ben,

            I couldn’t agree more with you, but I’m of the only ethnicity that had believed and acted out the “one nigeria” creed through and through. .to the point of bearing the native names of my detractors; marrying into their tribes, worse adopting their cultures, traditions and customs; investing and developing their parts of the Zoo; only to be scorned and hated for it; with no justification.
            I wish I shared your optimism that Nigeria isn’t beyond redemption, alas, l don’t.

          • onyema22ohaka

            Mystic mallam has explained that he is a northerner who I rebaptised conscientious mallam!

          • Don Franco

            The beauty of the Internet is that we can be whomever we want to be online. …I can tell from his exact prose that his DNA is of the lower Niger… Me, Donatus Francis; I’m from planet Uranus.

          • onyema22ohaka


        • onyema22ohaka

          Nigeria needs to be restructured as a way forward for starters !

      • Akins

        You are being fair for the first time to Baba Iyabo but only for your derogatory words “Ota Ape”. I wonder how intelligent guy like you lacked respect for elders.

        • Paul

          ” Elders”!!! That’s the Nigerian talk. “Elders” my foot!

        • Ojoko

          Respect begets respect and baba iyabo is least qualified.

        • Don Franco

          Dear Akins,

          But Obasanjo is really the “Ota Ape”; how else would you describe a man with his physical attributes, Can you not see the composure of his countenance? Now is it not only apes that sleep with and impregnate their own son’s wife? The man na Ota Ape, joh!.

          • 51O

            The so-called “son’s wife” was baba’s girlfriend before baba’s son met her. The fact remains that baba and the girl’s told (adviced) baba’s son to seek another girl, because she wasn’t a good girl and wife-product. Baba’s didn’t adhere.
            True life story: I liked a girl who was 14 but looked 18 and looked over 20 with makeups, before furthering my studies abroad in 1982. Although, we asked after each other all the years in between however, we didn’t see/meet again until 1996/7, when I wanted someone to marry. She was the love of my life, I had thought! I knew nothing about her between 1982 and 1997, practically nothing except that she’s now a big-girl, looking beautiful and innocent as ever. And I wanted to marry her. Many in my family especially, the male ones, kicked against it without giving reasons. I insisted until the girl herself gave reasons why our marriage would definitely hit the rock: practically, at one point in time and in her life, males in my family had taken advantage of her and had had relationship with her!!! Even then, thinking Nigeria is a western world, I insisted on marrying her but she refused and rejected.
            Now imagine I had really married her? In 2002 I thanked God I didn’t/hadn’t married her.
            I’m not saying OBJ did well but I remember, OBJ came out to say he told his son look elsewhere for a wife!!!
            What an elder sees while seated, a youth will never see even if he stands on top of the tallest building in the world.
            A typical Nigerian would rather blame someone else than himself, for his mistakes.

          • onyema22ohaka

            On point!

          • Don Franco

            Thanks, quite revealing. … but OBJ is still the Ota Ape, the moniker fit’s him perfectly.

        • Daniel

          How can you respect elders that have destroyed the future of the youths?

          Please, the problem with Nigeria does not call for foolish respect and loyalty to idiotic elders whose families are doing well abroad with our stolen wealth.

      • RumuPHC

        Sir, I am in complete agreement with you on the equipment of transformation leadership .

        Although I do not accept the derogatory description you ascribe to OBJ, I nonetheless agree with you once more that the acclaimed Ota farmer has been the most progressive and outstanding of all Nigerian leaders.

        OBJ seem to have had the sheer will and determination to do good for Nigeria but his ability was limited by his humble beginning including restricted exposure while in the military.

      • BB

        When you say education, what exactly are you referring to? Leadership education? if it is basic education you refer to- I recall a certain gentleman with a ‘PhD’ who ruled Nigeria a few years ago, and I have to rate him as the worst president in the history of Nigeria

        • American Abroad

          You need the quartet of Education, Patriotism, Courage and Personal Integrity
          We have never had anyone in the life of this unfortunate Republic with all four. Obasanjo lacked both Education and Integrity, whilst Gowon, one of the most likable persons I have ever met, was sorely lacking in courage (which was why he “fed the Monster” by reneging on Aburi, and allowing his government- and legacy- get hijacked by civilian & military adventurers) and education (would that he attended Warwick University prior to, not after, his leadership stint).
          Both were very patriotic folk, but that quality alone, as history so clearly demonstrates, is never sufficient.
          But Jon West is right: warts and all, even with his egregious hypocrisy in matters of personal corruption, any divining mirror would reveal that Obasanjo remains the “prettiest of them all”.

          • Grelia O

            You cannot credit him with patriotism when directly or indirectly reneged on Aburi and, instead, opted for an alternative which put the nation on a trajectory that today’s mess. How does replacing meritocracy with his brand of quota system pass for patriotism?

            Neither Gowon nor Obasanjo is patriotic strictly speaking unless we are now using a version of patriotism that not objective.

            After the counter coup, and especially after the war, Gowon had a golden opportunity to either revert to the 1963 Constitution or another progressive governing formula. You cannot excuse his abysmal failures on the influence of those around him. He was a commissioned combatant officer, and he had the option of standing on principle, if he had one, or stepping aside. He failed to stand for the good of the nation.

            Obasanjo has a similar opportunity to steer the nation toward a progressive Constitution before handing over in ’79, but that Constitution was rooted on Gowon version of Decree 34. He had another opportunity with the entire world behind him after the horror

        • Don Franco

          Dear BB,

          I recall a certain Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe who was the epitome of education, integrity, courage, patriotism and patience.
          I rate a certain genocidaire from Kano State who ruled for only six months, before joining his colleague Ibrahim Taiwo in the hottest part of hell, (via a hail hot lead) as the worst person to rule Nigeria.

          • onyema22ohaka

            on point.
            And two comtemprories of theirs,a certain Alao Shittu who perished in a deserved a crash and mohammed shuwa dispatched accordingly by boko haram.!

  • Jon West

    You cannot give what you do not have, that is the first principle in law and in life itself. The Ota Ape and his gang of military marauders and carpetbaggers have nothing to give to Nigeria or anybody else for that matter. Pray, where will the vision that will transform Nigeria arise among these barely educated and vindictive men with a rustic mindset?

    Military rule in Brazil, South Korea, Thailand, Spain, Chile, Egypt and Taiwan etc., transformed those countries to the thriving economies that they currently are, so also the feudal ,perternalistic dictatorships of the Gulf states of the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait , Iran and even the culturally hermetically sealed Wahabi state of Saudi Arabia. In Africa ,little economies like Rwanda, Ghana, Botswana and even mighty South Africa , have overtaken the clayfooted giant of Africa as more attractive investment destinations. Today we are celebrating our position as the 19th most attractive investment destination in Africa, and we are Africa’s second largest economy!!!

    The destruction of Nigeria’s potential started the day we allowed Yakubu Gowon and his gang of merry looters into the Nigerian firmament. Truth be said, Yakubu Gowon tried his best to develop Nigeria, but you cannot give what you do not have. He did not have the education, the background ,and therefore the vision , to really develop the country with a global mindset, hence the notorious quip that the problem with the Nigerian economy was not money, but how to spend it. How can you think you have too much money when you have no electricity, running water, roads and other physical and social infrastrucuture required to create a modern state like the Gulf States and the Asians have done with such stunning success?

    Those who still have hope in Nigeria may therefore turn to God for the realization of their dream. The country is too far gone on the road to perdition for anything but a real miracle to save it from its imminent disintegration. However greater miracles have happened in the lives of countries, but these were helped by the emergence of revolutionary leaders with a real vision of the sacrifices required to save a country apparently destined for destruction, like Nelson Mandela and Frederick de Klerk did for South Africa. Looking at the available pool of potential saviours in Nigeria, the prognosis for success is not good, but hopelessness is not really an option now.

    Shaka , perhaps you may wish to step into the ring; at least you know what the problem really is.

    • Pete

      Shaka Momodu normally writes on Fridays why today Wednesday? I was looking forward to Friday but suddenly stumbled on it today. Am sure a lot of your fans will miss today’s diet. In any case, thank you for this beautiful piece. I am delighted each time I read your articles, there is so much energy and passion and audacity about it. Indeed there is hope for Nigeria no matter how slim it looks now with people like you still speaking up when other have either gone silent or are collaborating. I hope all those who helped to foist Buhari on us all have seen the damage the man has done to Nigeria. Tinubu, Obasanjo, Amaechi, Saraki, too many to count here but we know them.
      Jon West is quite right step into the ring because you really seem to have a good understanding of our problems. We will support you.
      God bless you for this piece but please let us have a particular day we look forward to you because it can be depressing to miss your articles.

      • Netanyahu

        Mr. Shaka, this may sound like a tickle, you might not realize the size of informed followership you have out here. Give it a thought. You will be shocked at the number of supporters you will have from all over the land to move on. We need a torchbearer and you fit it succinctly. Thank you as always. This is another wake-up call to Nigerians to have a rethink come 2019. Cheers.

    • Priestley Okorro

      Thank you very much. I was just rounding off my A-Level when Gowon made that foolish statement but please note that Ian Smith of then Southern Rhodesia now Zimbabwe was then building modern electric railway in his country. Till today we are still stuck with medieval narrow gauge railway. What a calamity?

      • Lawrenece Ifo


    • Paul

      Jon West, thanks as always for yours insightful contributions. I want to also add that ,while the foolish Nigerian Military regime ( of, mutala mohammed , Obasanjo and the rest) were unintelligently wasting Nigerian resources fighting apartheid in South Africa, The apartheid regime in South Africa was busy developing their country , that today South Africa is decades ahead of Nigeria in development.

    • Ngo_Zib1

      Didn’t military encroachment into government start with Gen Ironsi?

      • Grelia O

        How did whatever Ironsi may have done wrong justify what Gowon, Mohammed, Obasanjo, Buhari, IBB, Abacha and Abdulsallam did to the nation?

        As much as I fault Ironsi for not upholding the ’63 Constitution, he at least retained the fiscal autonomy of the regions. 50% derivative and meritocracy were not abolished.

        Yes, Ironsi erred, but Gowon utterly destroyed Nigeria through his backward restructuring. He sentenced the nation to death via state creation and economic castration of the states. He removed every incentive for the states to generate revenue, thereby creating and enforcement the culture of indolence/dependency. The regions until then were self-sufficient and collectively funded the federal government. Many states are insulvent today, thanks to the new Nigeria that Gowon created in 1967, 9 months after the death of Ironsi, and after he inherited four fiscally autonomous and economically healthy regions from Ironsi.

        • Daniel

          You are right. The alibi that Ironsi coup is the architect of our problems has to stop.

          Decades later, we still talk about such past even when we have wasted opportunities since then.

          Very truly, Buhari/APC has done damage that will take decades to correct, if the country still remains one.

          The future is very bleak for Nigeria.

        • Ngo_Zib1

          I was not faulting anyone. Just point of correction (clarification). It is interesting you believe all past leaders erred but Ironsi is of lesser evil. You have right to hold that view. Every issue about life is perception. After all sentiment is not because your origin is SE.

          • Grelia O

            I meant all military leaders. He didn’t participate in the coup; in fact, he was part of the faction that foiled it.

            His biggest mistake was suspending the Constitution. However, to the extent that he was the only dictator that ruled without suspending regional fiscal autonomy and did not replace meritocracy with mediocrity, his regime, in retrospect, was heaven compared to what Gowon did, which birthed every manner of the monster we have now.

            Consider where we would have been had Gowon allowed internal revenue generation by the federating units, either the 4 regions or the 12 states. Did we have to sacrifice agriculture because of oil? Did we have to lower our overall standard because of quota system? Did the central government need to become this powerful and presidency a do or die affair? Gowon started all of those and more, and look at where we are today?

    • Daniel

      Very eloquent and on point.

      As a historian, I simply have lost hope in Nigeria.

      It has nearly become irredeemable with the likes of Buhari almost putting a nail on the coffin.

  • 4T2

    Nigeria (1914 -2014), has officially EXPIRED.

    […Biafra reloading]

  • Daniel Obior

    Nigeria in a bad state, is the Nigeria of Obasanjo’s dream.
    What else would one expect from a bad dreamer like Obasanjo?