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Sigh of relief as Obasanjo quits govt today

Posted by By YINKA FABOWALE on 2007/06/01 | Views: 571 |

Sigh of relief as Obasanjo quits govt today


As the sun sets on the regime of President Olusegun Obasanjo today, giving way to a new era, Nigerians are metaphorically clinking glasses in euphoric celebration of what could be taken to mean: "We’ve had enough of a grumpy, brash, cocky, vindictive and unpredictable old man, who, like a Yoruba idiom says, defecates on the seat he is vacating."

As the sun sets on the regime of President Olusegun Obasanjo today, giving way to a new era, Nigerians are metaphorically clinking glasses in euphoric celebration of what could be taken to mean: "We’ve had enough of a grumpy, brash, cocky, vindictive and unpredictable old man, who, like a Yoruba idiom says, defecates on the seat he is vacating."

This is not because Obasanjo, who has ruled the country for the last eight years, is perhaps, lacking in goodwill and effort to better the condition of the 140 million Nigerians. Rather, it has to do with his tactless style and inconsistency, where his selfish interests would clash with values, even laws, unguarded utterances and the unpardonable self-perception to be above making mistakes.

Obasanjo sees himself as an emperor, perhaps even a demigod, infallible, and one who all Nigerians must cringe in worship, considering how he ruled the country. That is why he alone could see "an idiot, in fact, a total idiot," in a no less revered Christian priest humbly trying to put his view across in public.

It is such uncouthness of character and offensive use of foul language in public that Obasanjo could also recently see in his former friend and minister, the late Chief Bola Ige, a man who "did not know his right from his left," while trying to justify the failure of his administration to fulfil its pomise to end the crisis of power supply in the country.

Writing on the latest presidential vituperation on Ige and Vice President Atiku Abubakar in The Guardian of May 25, Levi Obijiofor condemned this character flaw that offends the sensibilities of decent Nigerians. Obasanjo had accused Atiku of having tried to bribe members of the National Assembly.

"A true statesman would never have made those comments," Obijiofor said, adding that such comments were insensitive and in bad taste. He noted particularly that they were uncalled for, since the president neither was under any obligation nor was under any pressure to speak on the issues.
In the case of Ige, Obijiofor said the statements showed Obasanjo as a man who has no respect for the dead, in particular members of the Ige family, who are still mourning their loved one, who was eliminated five years ago in mysterious circumstances that his outgoing regime failed to unravel.

Perhaps, one of the major stains that will remain in the record of the Obasanjo administration is its failure to solve the multiple high profile murders, including that of the late justice minister. As a critic pointed out: "A regime that cannot find and punish the killers of the attorney general cannot talk about having made progress in law enforcement and crime detection."

Besides this, Nigerians are feeling relieved to be rid of a cantankerous president who was always warring against his deputy, while the affairs of state suffered. It is a notorious fact that the president devoted the large part of the last four years to vicious campaign to rubbish and possibly remove the Vice President. It is even truer that this mission was driven by malice, vendetta and egoism that saw the futile attempt to stop its target from contesting the last presidential election.

Obasanjo indeed, is renowned for not having any lasting friends as he rewards friendship with betrayal. It happened to Atiku as it did to the former national chairman of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Audu Ogbe; the pioneer chairman of the party, Chief Solomon Lar, the late Senate President, Dr. Chuba Okadigbo and a host of others, who were forced to leave the party to found the Action Congress (AC).

Adamawa State governor, Mr. Boni Haruna, was reported to have broken down in tears at a thanksgiving service at the Government House chapel. When asked why he wept, the governor said he was overwhelmed with joy because Obasanjo, his ‘tormentor,’ was approaching the sunset of his tenure.
But Haruna was not the only victim. Governors Rashidi Ladoja of Oyo State, Bola Tinubu of Lagos, Joshua Dariye of Plateau, Orji Uzor Kalu of Abia, Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti and their erstwhile colleague in Bayelsa, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, also had stories of blatant persecution to tell. In all this, the president was ready to and often discounted with values and even the rule of law.
Rueben Abati, a journalist with The Guardian, defined it as "willful embrace of impunity and the flowering of misconduct under the banner of power and influence."

Indeed, another critic, Kunle Fagbemi, while commenting on Obasanjo’s recent arrogant assertion that he would have got the third term if he wanted, said the president only verged on heresy by implying that he could "make God move in a conformist way that baffle and sometimes mystify the rest of us. It is a measure of his enormous restraint that Obasanjo stopped short of declaring his own deity. If he had lived in the times of the Roman emperors,… and achieved some fame, he would have compelled us to build a temple dedicated to his worship."
Putting the lie to the president’s claim, Fagbemi observed that there were many things Obasanjo desired, including wanting Atiku out of office and in jail as well as subverting the Constitution for elongation of his tenure, which God did not approve.

Nigerians in the South-western part of the country would also not forget in a hurry, how Obasanjo, mindlessly using the instrumentality of state power, captured the region in 2003 and lately, 2007 elections for his party, a region known for its ideology of progressive politicking.
"You too can see the incredulity to say the PDP won in Esa-Oke, Bola Ige’s home town," a political watcher mused.
However, Obasanjo has his good sides and moments. One of these was to have made Nigeria exit from the Paris Club by paying $12 billion in exchange for a write-off of $18 billion debt, which has been adjudged the biggest deal in African history.

It is also to Obasanjo’s credit that many women played more active roles in government to the benefit of the nation. Among these Amazons are: Former Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, NAFDAC Director General, Prof. Dora Akunyili and former Education Minister, Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili.
However, another low point that has not endeared the president to Nigerians was the frequent hike in fuel prices, which led to several days of strikes and public demonstrations. The people only got a reprieve after another exercise last year when he promised there would be no more increase.
But, perhaps, Obasanjo’s greatest sin, was his half-hearted campaign against corruption.

Many Nigerians believed he only paid lipservice to this cause with the selective operations of its watchdog, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which was let loose on the president’s opponents and made to look the other way when it came to investigating and prosecuting cronies of the president accused of graft. An example is made till today of the Nigeria Ports Authority scam in which the deputy national chairman of the PDP, Chief Bode George, and others were fingered. EFCC chairman, Nuhu Ribadu, who initially showed zest to bring the alleged offenders to book, soon began singing another tune.

Successively over the years, the Nigerian media have also screamed how the presidency sought to corrupt the National Assembly to take specific positions on matters that were not necessarily in the national interest. People recall the third term gambit and attempt to get the then Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Ghali Umar Na’Abba impeached, during which cash encased in Ghana-must-go bags were brought to the floor of the House.

Although the Senate eventually cleared him, the president is going away with a slur cast on him by revelations of his role in the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) looting scam.
But Nigerians are heaving sighs of relief and thanking God for replacing him, not with any of his kindred in the military cult or known moneybags or corrupt member of the political class, but by two humble teachers. The glasses keep clinking.

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Comments (3)

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Abieyuwa(Edo, Nigeria)says...

Otasowie means evening life is better than morning life. There is an error in your “evening life is better than evening life”?

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Naija g(Houston, Minnesota, US)says...

Sokari doesn’t mean joy. Joy is Biobela. Go to the village and ask the meaning of the name.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.