By Tony Eluemunor
There is this malaise that former President Mathew Okikola Olusegun Obasanjo has refused to extirpate from his character, so, it looms large in the despicable footprints he has left on Nigeria’s unfortunate history. And if we could look earnestly at this man, whom chance and bad judgment of otherwise well-meaning persons have thrown up at various times in Nigeria’s history instead of gawking, we would easily notice the terrible streak I’m addressing.
No, there is no need to blame Gen. Alani Akinrinade and Brig. General Alaba-Isama, erstwhile able assistants to late Brigadier “Black Scorpion” Benjamin Adekunle, for recommending Obasanjo to be the new General Officer Commanding (GOC) for the Third Marine Commando, in late 1969. Yet, when the Nigerian Civil War ended months later in January 1970 when a hunger-flagellated, arms and ammunition-forsaken and totally fatigued Biafra welcomed peace and gave up the struggle, Obasanjo alone claimed all the credit. And he wrote a brash book to celebrate it and mislead those who would have the misfortune of thinking that a book written by an officer about the war he fought in should have a modicum of truth.
Then, on Nigeria’s tragic day of 13th February 1976, Lt. Col. Buka Suka Dimka and his collaborators assassinated Gen. Murtala Muhammed, who had been in power for all of 200 glorious days. The officers who rallied together to stop the coup attempt did the supposedly right thing by insisting that Murtala’s second in command should assume office. Thus, Obasanjo who was hiding under the bed of the late business mogul, Chief S.B. Bakare, while other officers risked their lives to rout Dimka and his fellow malcontents was pushed onto Nigeria’s centre-stage. 20 years after he left office, lightning struck at the same spot a second time; the same Obasanjo, a Yoruba, was invited to come and lead Nigeria, in recompense to the Yoruba, for the presidency denied the late Chief Moshood Kolawole Abiola, though he had cleanly and clearly won the June 12, 1993 election. Actually, this was another attack on Abiola, for by then Obasanjo was already a known enemy of Abiola as Abiola, Obasanjo’s school mate had become far richer than Obasanjo; and Obasanjo brooks no competition. Former Vice-President Alex Ekweueme and other members of the G48 who stormed late Gen Sani Abacha’s Aso Rock lion’s den and asked him to “halt and desist” from mutating into civilian president, were almost all hounded and humiliated by the ingrate who reaped where others had sowed.
Now, Obasanjo has left office; no, he was forced out, in 2007. He had his eyes fixed on a life presidency. The rest of us had actually thought the man was bent on just having a Third Term of four years. But his then Vice-President, Atiku Abubakar has let the world in on the great secret that Obasanjo was embarked on a life-presidency gambit. And because Atiku had the gumption to stoutly oppose that inglorious life-presidency bid, for which some $5 billion (yes, five billion United States of American dollars) was amassed. Then the money was expended in the largest and most despicable bribery effort in Nigeria, and perhaps the whole world. Or, in which other country and for what purpose did anyone, no matter how demonic, attempt to bribe the entire legislature of any luckless country? The parliamentarians received from N200 million to N50 million apiece. It was the world’s most inglorious bazaar.
Atiku, also led the fight against that life-precedency bid. He found like-minds in Gen. T.Y Danjuma who said Obasanjo wanted a Fourth Term and told his former friend: “we did not fight the Civil War for you alone”, Sens. Suru Yari Gandi, Uche Chukwumerije, Idris Kuta, B.M. Maccido, Ben Obi, etc, and a gallant Senate President Ken Nnamani ensured that the obnoxious bill to benefit an obnoxious man died an obnoxious death.
Please note that, here, we are dealing with an Obasanjo whose ego is so outlandish that he could oftentimes equate himself with God. In fact, he has even insulted God Almighty, claiming that God, is at his beck and call. Or what would any right thinking person make of Obasanjo’s saying: “If I had asked God for Third Term, He would have given it to me”. So, to this Mathew, God’s will is always trumped by Obasanjo’s whims. Perhaps, never before has a so-called Christian so dastardly insulted God.
So, having situated Obasanjo’s rabid aggression against Atiku, an aggression worsened by a hidden and defiant loneliness because he has few genuine friends and poor filial love, coupled with his rampant egotism, which does not admit of the fact that Nigeria could do without him; an egotism rendered more toxic by tons of guilt he needs to hide, plus a total lack of honour corrupted by copious lying, the next stage is to show that his administration was not the Nigerian version of the Belle Époque (“Beautiful Age”) in France and Europe. That will be the part two of this series.