Still on Obasanjo

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DIALOGUE WITH NIGERIA BY AKIN OSUNTOKUN, Email: akin.osuntokun@thisdaylive.com

“Buhari has succeeded in deceiving us the first time and we will be fools to allow ourselves to be deceived the second time. Even when figures, facts and statistics are made clear to Buhari, he keeps repeating what is untrue, either because he cannot understand or for mischief purposes and that places him on the level of a pathological liar. Buhari believes he can get away with impunity and deceit as he seems to have done on many occasions in the past.” Buhari’s…. It is clear from all indications that Buhari is putting into practice the lessons he learned from Abacha.

Buhari has intimidated and harassed the private sector, attacked the National Assembly and now unconstitutionally and recklessly attacked and intimidated the Judiciary to cow them to submission… The derailment of Nigerian democracy will be a monumental disaster comparable to the disaster of the Nigerian first military coup…Nigeria must not be allowed to slip off the democratic path nor go into anarchy and ruin”- Olusegun Obasanjo

Where Sonala Olumhense, Farooq Kperogi, Ayo Adebanjo, Dangiwa Umar are speaking the same language with President Olusegun Obasanjo on any subject matter especially Mohammadu Buhari, there should be no need to look any longer for the truth or conflate the message with the messenger. Is any of this eminent company implicated in the embezzlement of the phantom 16 billion dollars spent on power? Are they culpable of bad faith or perhaps it is corruption fighting back? Was Obasanjo instrumental to the transformation of Olumhense from a long standing proponent of the mythical virtues of Buhari to a bitterly disappointed admirer turned foe? Could it be that he sought gratification from the Buhari caucus and was denied and ignored? Is there a consistent thread of logic tying the declaration of Mrs Aisha Buhari to the effect that her husband is taken hostage by a few malevolent usurpers and the physical evidence provided in the past two weeks of a mentally and physically unraveling Buhari?

In my reckoning, the only opinion leaders who presently have the legitimacy to criticize Obasanjo are those who will not call black as white in their assessment of Buhari or employ it as dissemblance for their covert Buhari partisanship. Regardless of how his views and positions sit with you, the one quality no one can take away from Obasanjo is that he has the courage of his convictions.

There is hardly any gap between what he whispers privately and what he proclaims at the rooftops. In a society steeped in hypocrisy, deceit and backbiting, such a quality is not likely to be appreciated in the short and medium term. For a personality who, within living memory, suffered the life threatening deprivations attendant on standing up to the Sani Abacha dictatorship-staking a similar defiance, with potentially the same consequences, is the hallmark of courage and statesmanship.

Relative to his traducers, Obasanjo’s public life has been more an embodiment of transparency and accountability. Confronted with collective peril, other leaders of eminent standing, whom he might have otherwise offended, are called upon to unpack this injury from the obligation of attending to the present public danger-not prioritize the injury over the larger public obligation to focus attention on the existential threat to our mutual interest and wellbeing. What purpose will the obsessive criticism of Obasanjo now serve other than deflect from the accountability of the Buhari Presidency?

The Meltdown

If the allegations of corruption against the Nigerian armed forces leadership especially the one levied by the International Strategies Studies Association, ISSA (“the only significant engagement which the Nigerian military leadership – up to and including the National Security Adviser, Maj.-Gen. (rtd.) Mohammed Babagana Monguno – seem to prioritize is the fight to stop the leakage of information about massive corruption, running into the equivalent of several billions) is true then it will be difficult to argue that by omission and commission such leadership is not invested in the recrudescence and resurgence of the ISIS affiliated Boko Haram insurgency.

Indeed in one of the most defining media engagements of the 2019 electoral cycle, the question was posed to the commander in chief, President Muhammadu Buhari at the commencement session of the Nigeria Television Authority, NTA/MarcArthur Foundation sponsored two hours long Town Hall meeting with Presidential candidates. The presenter, Kadaria Ahmed pointedly sought the response of the President to the allegations of corruption in the management of the armed confrontation with the Boko Haram insurgency, of the President. Either by default of his trademark cognitive failure or complicity in the alleged corrupt practices (or both), Buhari sought to evade and deflect the question by focusing his response on the professional misconduct of the victims. To properly highlight and situate the compelling ramifications of the allegations, the presenter pressed the issue by attributing the widely reported desertion and rebellion amidst the rank and file as a consequence of the deleterious effects of corruption on the welfare of the men.

Rather than respond to this specific allegation Buhari rambled, in circumlocution, on the disciplinary retribution awaiting the rebellious soldiers while glossing over the consequential graft and corruption attributed to the military leadership. Taken together-with the officially acknowledged occasional concession of truce and ransom payment to the insurgents there is sufficient ground to conclude that, in one form or another, the armed forces leadership have a relationship with the insurgents that is not always adversarial. So therefore when the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, sought to impugn the opposition as culpable in some sort of conspiracy with the insurgents-the evidence of the twists and turns of official engagement with the insurgents actually suggests that the more plausible culprits are within the ranks of those crying wolf.

The likelihood is that the diversionary dust being raised by the Minister is integral to a masterplan on working to the answer of stealing the 2019 Presidential election. According to President Olusegun Obasanjo, “It is also planned that violence of unimaginable proportion will be unleashed in high voting population areas across the country to precipitate re-run elections and where (Buhari) will be returned duly elected after concentration of security…” Yet even as a ruse, this is a no brainer and a further demonstration of a Buhari regime penchant for poverty of thought and imagination, in all matters, great and small, including giving the dog a bad name in order to hang it.

What does it say of the government, for instance, that when it finally felt sufficiently stung to substantiate the fabled allegation of corruption against the opposition candidate, they needed to go back 10 years to plumb the depths of dossier and come up with a meaningless 2009 bank investigation as the smoking gun! Rather than conscientiously apply itself to containing the widening theatre of anarchy and implosion marked by the incorporation of more states like Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna into the orbit of the advancing war zone (pungently illustrated in a Daily Trust report of Nigerians relocating from Katsina State to neighboring countries to escape the descent of Nigeria into the abyss)the government has become notorious for its ready disposition to weaponize the crisis as instrument of all manners of nefarious ulterior agenda.

You will recall the unprecedented request of the Zamfara State governor for the declaration of a state of emergency in that beleaguered state and the scream of the Katsina State governor that not even the precincts of the state government house is insulated from the armed banditry that has overtaken the state. And haven exhausted the limits of hypocritical posturing and the demonization of President Goodluck Jonathan, the Borno State governor has finally come to terms with the reality of the deterioration the state has grappled with since 2015-and broke down in tears in front of media cameras covering his SOS visit to Buhari the other day. This is the reality and responsibility that this government has abdicated to launch into a stupid red herring of a non-existent opposition conspiracy.

And where the falsehood predicated career of the purveyor of deliberate disinformation (Lai Mohammed) is concerned, the morning that showed the day was the refrain that has persistently called to question the credibility of whatever claims the government would make on the prosecution of the fight against the insurgents-the self-deluding hollow retort that Boko Haram has been technically defeated. Yet here we are, three years after, still searching the dictionary to fathom the meaning of “technical defeat” in the face of an insurgency increasingly running wild and rampant.

What Ails Buhari

At the last council of state meeting held earlier in the week and in furtherance of a weeklong auditioning turned sour, members of the select group were treated first hand to Buhari’s ailment. In fulfillment of a pretentious Nigerian religiosity, the President called on ‘Nigeria’s former Minister of Justice, Mohammed Uwais’ to give the opening prayer! The image cut by the President at the NTA town hall meeting encounter is not that of a man contesting for re-election. It is that of a man who should have heeded the advice of his London medical attendants to, in the words of Buhari himself, to eat more and sleep more-an understated euphemism for recommended retirement to a secluded old peoples’ home.

It is the image cut by the infirm oldest man in the village at the periphery of natural biological extinction- who is thereby entitled to the trials of dementia that is characteristic of one who is at the departure hall of earthly existence, knocking at the door of heaven or hell- depending on how well he has acquitted himself in the race of life-in the estimation of his maker. It is the image of God’s creature naturally fulfilling the inevitable and ultimate biological disintegration.

According to Olumhense ‘Buhari is clearly a sick man: he appeared unable to hear; or hearing, to comprehend; or comprehending, to offer decent, relevant answers. The man did not know when he took office, or often what he was doing or saying. Anyone who advocates Buhari as being capable of leading even a local government insults that council. In my estimation, we have reached the end of this road, irrespective of what the options are. Only a suicidal zealot places prescription glasses on a blind pilot and gives him control of an aircraft of 300 people, including his own family.”