It is the prerogative of Nigerians to determine their president in 2019, writes Azibola Omekwe
Every country boasts of at least a saint. The life of a saint is in this regard the embodiment of the good values of any given society. We have seen these in the Mahatma Ghandis, the Abraham Lincolns, the Mao Zedongs, the Nelson Mandelas, and lots more. Their people, overwhelmed by their reference value, have found it worthy to canonise them.
Coming to Nigeria, our own ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo would arguably come to mind as one who should fit into being a saint. He can be described as the luckiest Nigerian dead or alive, because he has been part of Nigeria’s political history for several decades. It is expected that out of him Nigeria should have grown her own Abraham Lincoln and Nelson Mandela. But what does history have of him? Let me pause for a moment.
As at the last check on the meaning of a merger, it means the coming together of two or more groups, parties, etc., to form an alliance, an accord, and to further operate as one and for the interest of all. At that stage it is the opinion of the stakeholders of the new formation that matters. An outsider does not make or mar the marriage of these groups or even try to regulate the marriage once consummated. The love in the marriage is determined by the parties involved. Any other party who comes into the marriage is only an interloper, particularly where the union is purpose-driven. This said marriage also includes the marriage of political parties to form a mega party.
Obasanjo, being a journalist’s delight, would always have the political scene agog when he came out with a bombshell on the proposed mega party. A mega party is in the offing and he would not mind if it is formed so long as his former vice-president is not the presidential candidate of the party.
Reports have it that Obasanjo admits he has made too many mistakes in life and for the nation, including his blanket support for President Muhammadu Buhari and that he is not prepared to make further mistakes. To be fair to him, that is a candid admission of facts. Outside that, the Nigeria political actors seem to be making mistakes too – their blatant failure to see that some particular politically Neanderthals ought to have left the stage. The idea of always taking digital issues to crass minds is a fundamental mistake.
Apparently, the ex-president is used to benefiting from Atiku Abubakar’s political machinery. But since he is Obasanjo, Atiku must never exercise his constitutional right, the same constitution that he, Obasanjo, has benefited from over the years. While other Nigerians are groping for solutions to the dwindling state of the country’s economy, Obasanjo is busy talking about witch-hunt, about how not to let a particular person measure height with him.
Obasanjo’s problems with Atiku are quite a handful but the most outstanding – he wanted to obliterate term limits in the constitution – through his third term agenda. And Atiku, for the interest of the Nigerian public said No. The very reasons we have rules is because we are human beings. It is amplified in the maxim, “the constitution is supreme”.
The basic test Obasanjo is supposed to have passed in the furnace of Nigeria is on the supremacy of the constitution of Nigeria. Posterity should look for different areas to discuss the failings of Obasanjo, but not on bending the constitution to fit into his inordinate desires. That is too obvious. Baba should not be allowed to fail that simple test. But look at him now asking the Nigerian state to join him and punish Atiku Abubakar for insisting that the constitution must remain supreme! Honestly, persecuting Atiku for being law abiding would in the opinion of any prudent thinker be an endorsement. In fact that has been the plight of great leaders through the ages. Recall that in spite of all the hatred, Atiku has at various fora always addressed Obasanjo as his boss. That highlights that he is compassionate and forgiving. Many a Nigerian politician with a do-or-die attribute would find it impossible to forgive the other party.
Lest we forget so soon, during the dark ages of the Sani Abacha regime, some group of prominent Nigerians called G-18 demanded that the military return to the barracks because military rule was unconstitutional. Then Obansajo was serving an indefinite term in prison. The group knew very well Abacha had no enemies because he knew how to handle perceived ones. The most remarkable thing we know the G-18 did was to insist on the constitution, and the main beneficiary eventually was Obasanjo himself. And because of the colossal sweat of Atiku, Obasanjo emerged the president. The latter had no choice but to recall Atiku who was already settled to lead Adamawa State to come and be his vice-president. By 2003, Atiku who the “lords” of Nigeria, the gubernatorial corps, gave the marching order to become the country’s No One at the expense of Obasanjo, truly in a saintly gesture, directed his governor friends to vote for Obasanjo. Obasanjo should not be quick to forget that uncommon magnanimity so soon in his lifetime.
He has admitted several mistakes. That is understood, but he should not add to the mistakes he is purging himself of. It is a more grievous mistake on his side that he is developing paranoia and making uncontrollable outbursts about Atiku’s political interest now that Nigerians have overgrown a one-man controlled system. Nigerians are looking for the best material to salvage the country from the former mistakes Obasanjo has admittedly made. Rejecting Atiku now is another serious mistake.
To be fair to him, Obasanjo has done a lot for this country. But at this time he should be bothered about how to protect his name from profanities. Recently, the National Assembly in its frequent bickering with him laid the problems of Nigeria squarely on his head.
We are worried. Obasanjo too should be bothered of such weighty accusations from several other quarters in his “prime” age. He should not stretch the logic of who should be or not be the presidential candidate of a- would- be political party. That is not his business.
Recently, the world experienced a bombshell in the United States’ political atmosphere. The generals and field marshals of the U.S. political system pointed directly to Hillary Clinton to lead them while the very people that hold the ace went for Donald Trump. It is the prerogative of Nigerians to determine who becomes president in 2019 and not the order of a man from the comfort zone of his farm.
Hon. Omekwe is a former member of Bayelsa State House of Assembly