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I Will Miss Obasanjo

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Posted to the web: 7/8/2007 4:56:45 PM

I don’t care what anyone says to the contrary, I hereby make a confession: I will miss the President [add ‘ex’ to that in four days time]. Yes, the same president you have known in the last eight years. The same man you know as Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, alias Baba. The same man I have often written unflattering pieces about since the debut of this column in this newspaper. The same man you will almost swear The Sun and its writers hate with a passion, given their criticisms of what they believe are the faux pas of the administration and its outgoing helmsman.Yes, if only you could see me as I write this piece, you will see my fire-red eyes as tears struggle from their sockets to roll on to my laptop from which deadly missiles have been hurled at Baba in the last eight years when he mounted the saddle of leadership. I know you will believe that I would be the last person to grieve over Baba’s exit from power. Sorry to disappoint you. Because, here am I weeping over the departure of the president from the presidential mansion. That’s life. You can never tell with human beings, especially a journalist!However, you will be dead wrong if you believe that I have just been allocated an oil well, what they call OPL, a licence to prospect for oil by Baba as parting gift or think that I am the one who bagged the mouth-watering contract to renovate both the Akinola Aguda House, where the President-elect [or select, depending on whether you are AC, ANPP or the angry army of opposition parties] was playing shadow president or the Aso Rock mansion where he will move to a few days hence. Far from it.I will miss Baba for these reasons: For the eight years he ruled, he was an action-packed movie, full of drama and melodrama. A man who provoked laughter, a humour bag. A man of fire and brimstone. A man who heat up the polity, generating furore in the land, instead of electricity. A man who promised us elephant at the inception of his administration, but delivered a mouse at the end. Now, ask yourself: When cometh another man like Baba? Now, you will understand why I can’t but miss him?Yes, I stand by the assertion that Baba was a humour bag, even if you call it wry humour. Who, but Baba, could go to Jos, the Plateau State capital and call a pastor, an ordained man of God, ‘stupid idiot’ because the man had the audacity to ask what the President considered a foolish question during the emergency period? He also claimed to be a better Christian than the stupid idiot of a pastor! And when an aviation expert became incoherent during the stakeholders’ conference in the aftermath of several air crashes, Baba dressed the poor fellow down. “Minister, if these are the kind of people you have in aviation, then you have nobody.” The poor guy almost pee in his pants as the president stripped him on national television, watched by all Nigerians, and perhaps his wife and kids. In other familiar instances, our dear president lectured journalists who had the misfortune of being on what was supposed to be televised presidential chat.Can we ever forget the TV image of the all-powerful president at the Ikeja cantonment site of the bomb blast which sent many to their untimely deaths, berating citizens who had come to hear soothing words from their leader?“Will you shut up,” he bellowed at the restive crowd. “You know, I don’t have to be here!” The grieving citizens didn’t have the opportunity of asking their President where he would rather be in moment of national grief.Humour bag? You bet, Mr. President was one. In the first four years of his administration, Baba cut the image of a man who lived in the sky. He was forever waving to us from the stairs of the presidential jet. He called it diplomatic shuttle to attract foreign investments home. So frequent were the travels that Chief Gani Fawehinmi gave himself the task of counting the number of times the President had left home on the bill of the tax payers. ‘He has gone again!’, Gani would scream in the headline of his press statements. But that didn’t deter the traveling salesman. It is doubtful if there is any Nigerian leader who traveled the way Baba did in his eight years’ administration. Result of the shuttle? Debt payment, few investors.To be sure, Baba had vision of the direction he would take during his dispensation. Did he accomplish his dreams for the nation? That would be left for historians to judge. However, as Nigerians whom he presided over in the past eight years, we do have a right to say if Baba did well for us or not, and how his administration impacted on us. No historian can take that from us. So, as I write this piece, I have before me Baba’s 8-page inaugural speech dated, Saturday, May 29, 1999, where he outlined his vision for the nation.In the lofty speech delivered at the freshly laid Eagle Square, Abuja, Baba promised “to tackle infrastructural decay; crisis in Niger-Delta; education; law and order, including armed robbery and cultism in our educational institutions; supply and distribution of petroleum products; the debt issue; corruption, drugs, organized fraud called 419; water supply, energy, telecommunication, ports, airways, national shipping, Nigerian railways; resuscitating the manufacturing industries; job creation, and creation of conducive environment for investment; poverty alleviation; housing - both civilian housing programmes and barracks refurbishment and new construction for the armed forces and the police; health services; political and constitutional dialogue; women and youth empowerment, amongst others.”Baba spoke of a nation that would reap bountifully under him, while pledging to work in harmony with other arms of government including the legislature. “Fellow Nigerians, I know what great things you expect of me at this new dawn….I am determined with your full co-operation to make significant changes within a year of my administration,” the President solemnly pledged.After eight years of this administration, can Nigerians honestly say the President lived up to his words? As enunciated in his speech, has he resolved the Niger-Delta crisis? What about energy and water? Youth empowerment? Poverty alleviation? Railways, airways and ports? Did he resuscitate the manufacturing sector? What about armed banditry and cultism, especially in our schools? Did he solve the housing needs of Nigerians?Could we honestly say this President has delivered on his promises? You, the people, be the judge. Let no historian or revisionists bamboozle you. Will you sorely miss Baba or you will be happy to miss him? Is he the leader who has truly transformed the nation or he deformed the nation? The ball is in your court! Last lineThe Nigeria police has done it again! On Tuesday, they promised to parade the alleged deadly drug barons who snuffed life out of former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Chief Ajibola Ige. Rather than parade the alleged suspects, they took the reporters who gathered at the Force’s Louis Edet House on a rigmarole. After wasting their time, the IGP, Mr. Sunday Ehindero, allegedly locked himself up in his office and asked his deputy, Mike Okiro to brief the reporters. Okiro had nothing substantial to say other than the parade would no longer take place. It had been postponed indefinitely. Police spokesman, CP Haz Iwendi also admonished the press photographers not to publish the pictures of the scruffy old men they had brought out, whom the reporters had thought were the alleged suspects. Just what’s going on? Nigerians want to see the alleged drug baron and his men that killed Ige? This is no time for monkey games. Is anyone listening?

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