Posted by By Sonnie Ekwowusi on
Olusegun Adeniji's book: The Last 100 Days of Abacha should indeed provoke some thoughts on the last days of President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Olusegun Adeniji's book: The Last 100 Days of Abacha should indeed provoke some thoughts on the last days of President Olusegun Obasanjo. Minutes, seconds or hours of the last days of the Presidentís current tenure (which Sonala Olumhese has at his fingertips), will come to an end in May 29, 2007.
Political events unfolding themselves in the past few years culminating in the latest rift between the President and Vice-President Atiku Abubakar tend to unmistakably show that President Obasanjo is either jostling to remain power as President after 2007 or implant some political stooges in power to hold forte for him to maintain the status quo.
Already Professor Maurice Iwu, the new INEC helmsman, looks good as the new deus machina to make that happen. Although Prof., Iwu's appointment has been greeted with criticisms but those who gave him the dirty job know that apart from criticisms and grumblings the people don't act when they should act. This is the people's greatest burden. They have grown accustomed to grumbling but at the moment of truth when it matters most, when they are supposed to stand up and act, they suddenly relapse into stupor only to wake up later when it is already too late and start grumbling again. For example, prior to the 2003 elections, a group that called itself The Patriot, led by late Chief Rotimi Williams SAN raised an alarm that some big politicians in Nigeria had perfected plans to rig the 2003 elections. Unfortunately that alarm died down unheeded. The people failed to act. The bitter fruit of that inaction is what we are reaping today in Obasanjo government.
Today, before our very eyes, another Dr. Abel Guobadia has been handpicked to parade himself as a new INEC chairman and the people have once again gone to sleep. They would wake up tomorrow after the elections had been rigged and start grumbling again. The PDP is so sure that the rigging would be in its favour that many people are now fighting tooth and nail to join the party. Old PDP top notchers who feel threatened by the admission of new members are trying to secure their positions in the party. Forget all the talks about the great splits in the party. Pragmatism is the new mantra of today's politics. Besides, in politics, there are no permanent enemies but permanent interests.
Back to the trust of this piece. How would President Obasanjo fair in his last days in government? Some say the man would precipitate a state of anarchy or confusion necessitating his declaration of a State of emergency in the country to prolong his stay in power for some time. Whether the President manages to bulldoze his way and secures a third term for himself or reincarnates through Marwa or IBB, one clear thing is that the man is very conscious of his rightful place in history. I wouldn't be surprised if soon after quitting power a humble and self-effacing Mr. Olusegun Obasanjo would travel to Anambra State accompanied with some money-miss-road Igbo chiefs to ask for forgiveness for the destabilization of that State. Right now, the President cannot do that for obvious reasons. But this is not to say that he is not full of regrets for what he and Chris Uba did in Anambra. He regrets it. He feels bad about it. He wishes that that abduction didn't take place. He wants to win over the hearts of the people of Anambra people. Apart from Anambra people, he wants to win the hearts of all the aggrieved. Watch his lips as he speaks and you will be convinced of this. He makes all the efforts, deploys all the dictions at his disposal to convince his listeners that he is doing well, pity that at times the whole thing ends in insults. He wants posterity to judge him well. He wants to be recognized as a charismatic leader who bequeathed enduring legacies to his people.
Having flirted away the first four years of his tenure in inanities, he is now in a hurry to make up for it. He wants to make up for his lapses or past mistakes. So he is embarking on reforms. Good. There is nothing wrong with making up for one's lapses or past mistakes but one should know how to go about it. Reforms in itself are not bad but it is only a means not an end in itself. Afterall, Sani Abacha also embarked on several reforms. He tried to sanitize the country's banking industry as well. He declared some banks as failed banks and even sent some "untouchable" bank lords to jail. But you know what happened after his mysterious death.
As I have repeatedly said, any reform incapable of improving the welfare of the people is a reform from the devil. The welfare of the people ought to be the ultimate goal of all reforms. The questions Obasanjo reforms should be addressing are: Is the safety of the people guaranteed? Do they have access to justice in the law courts? Are they able to read and write? Do they have access to drinkable water? Are policemen harassing them in the streets? You may dismiss these questions as cynical questions but they constitute the core of living in Nigeria. The answers to these questions should re-define our existence in Nigeria. Despite all the sophistries about reforms and fight against corruption, the people know that the top people in government are still knee-deep into illegal oil bunkering and nobody is doing them anything.
They see their friends who enjoy government patronage getting all the juicy jobs and living in scandalizing affluence while they gnash their teeth in dignity of labour in scandalizing penury. To many of them the real meaning of democracy (forget all those theories) is when a governor of State slaps his deputy in the full glare of the public and his deputy retaliates with another slap and says: "I am also a man who can slapÓ or when a governor of a State is about to travel abroad for medical treatment he hands over the rein of power to his mother instead of his deputy governor. The dividend of democracy, to them, is looting the State treasury, emptying it in a bag and fleeing with it abroad. In their definition, 2007 elections means 2007 riggings.
So if Obasanjo wants to be assured of an enviable place in history he should repent and start doing good works in these last days. If he wants forgiveness from the people of Anambra he should get Professor Iwu and INEC to put a stop to their evil plan in Anambra State. Then if President Obasanjo likes it he could embark on many humanitarian projects if not for anything to calm down his conscience and stop it from asking many questions. I wouldn't suggest he donates part his wealth to the Nigerian poor. That is putting it too strongly.
He has started well by promising to feed poor students. Aside from feeding students, there are many other good works the President could promote in has last days. He could visit the sick in hospitals to console them. Instead of wasting money on vanities and vanity of vanities like the Obasanjo presidential library project, he and his friends could dole out scholarships to many indigent students.
After all Olusegun Obasanjo has been a lucky man both in the army and as a civilian who has ruled Nigeria more than any Nigerian leader had done. He acknowledges that God has been kind to him, that He delivered him from the valley of death and from Abacha's gulag. He also publicly acknowledges that Pope John Paul 11 saved his life. At the Pope funeral in Rome, a grateful President Obasanjo was there in person. But he should reciprocate all these good things God has done for him with good deeds. How do they say it again in native proverb? Yes, those whose palm kernel have been cracked for them by a benevolent spirit should not forget to be humble. President Obasanjo should be humble. He should stop abusing people. He should live temperance in his speech. There is a time for everything. These are the last days. This is not the time for picking up quarrels or hating or a time for pillaging or accumulation of more material wealth. It is a time for amendment of life, a time for loving and a time for forgiving.
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