Obasanjo: The big political masquerade?

By Emma Maduabuchi on

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As Nigerians head towards the general election of 2014, one undisputed fact is that its current President Goodluck Jonathan has been faced with lots of criticisms from many quarters. Out of all the merchants of these criticisms, particularly among the elite class, none has been as strident and as consistent as former military head of state, Olusegun Obasanjo.

With the way Obasanjo has gone on about his own criticism of the man, people who do not have knowledge of Jonathan’s emergency, will doubt that he (Obasanjo) had a hand in it. But he had. Obasanjo was instrumental to Jonathan becoming governor of Balyesa State; he was instrumental to Jonathan becoming Vice President, and he was also instrumental for Jonathan becoming the President from the position of Acting President.

However, among many political pundits across the country who gave Factnewsonline their views on the matter, there is a subtle agreement that though Obasanjo has always criticised governments in the past, that his criticisms of Jonathan have been unparalleled.

Not surprisingly, Obasanjo was at it again recently as he criticised Jonathan from three fronts. First, he criticised the President by accusing him of trying to destroy the opposition from all quarters. He then insisted that “management of democracy without resorting to brute force and dictatorial tendencies must be cultivated.”

Then, on insurgency, Obasanjo argued that Jonathan was clueless, which was why it took him several years to understand the demands of the Boko Haram insurgents. Finally, he took him up on corruption; positing that it was a top/bottom thing, meaning that “when the head is rotten, the whole body is useless”.

Expectedly, and as is always the practice in Nigeria, some Nigerians did not waste time to took on Obasanjo marshaling reasons why Obasanjo was wrong. Among such people were those who thought it wrong that Obasanjo has made it a habit of criticising Jonathan just to be noticed, which must stop; to others he has no moral standing to criticise a man that has done better than him in all facets of governance; and to others, he is a yesterday’s man that should rather go and enjoy his retirement. There were yet others who believed that the time has come when the former president must make himself less visible in the public space.

Ayo Fayose, Governor of Ekiti State, was among many who took Obasanjo up on the point of moral justification, insisting that on all indices of governance that the Jonathan Presidency performed better than that of Obasanjo. Speaking at a summit in Ife, Osun State, where he said Obasanjo was more corrupt in government than Jonathan and handled insurgency worse than Jonathan, Fayose advised the incumbent President on what to do.

Part of his advice to Jonathan was to completely ignore Obasanjo and his criticisms at all times. He believed the former president was continuing in his attacks on the incumbent because Jonathan had always condoned it and tried to appease him. “Your Excellency’ he said ‘the more you try to curry Obasanjo’s favour, the more he would continue to disparage you. If you continue to curry his favour, we are not going to curry him. He doesn’t like people that give him respect.”

Another respondent who spoke to Factnewsonline, Eze Eluchie, a prominent Lagos/Owerri-based lawyer held similar views. He insisted that Jonathan was responsible for Obasanjo’s stubbornness towards his government. “My reaction is that the Jonathan Presidency asked for it. The Jonathan Presidency gave room for all the nonsense Obasanjo is having the temerity to talk about the present administration” he said.

He explained that Jonathan caused by “having descended to the point of going to meet Obasanjo in his house; trying to raise Obasanjo to a level and a pedestal that Obasanjo least deserves”.

He said the former president was having the effrontery to cast aspersions on the present government’s efforts because Jonathan has not put him in his place. He said all the ills besetting the country at the moment – from the power supply situation to the Boko Haram terror activities, to corruption – were all traceable to Obasanjo’s poor performance while in office. He saw that as a good reason why Obasanjo should not be given the leeway to constantly disparage the government that was trying to remedy the things he destroyed

“Jonathan can decide to put a stop to all such nonsense, anytime, by setting the proper machinery in progress to question and look into the activities of such a sneaky and slimy character as Obasanjo” he said.

But it does not seem as if the Presidency and its men have heeded the advice from Fayose and Eluchie. Just yesterday, reports had it that Jonathan sent some five trusted, serving governors of his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to Obasanjo, to plead with him to forgive Jonathan and lend his support to him for the coming election.

They governors were Liyel Imoke, Cross River State; Godswill Akpabio, Akwa Ibom State; Sule Lamido, Jigawa State; Babangida Aliyu, Niger State; and Isah Yuguda, Bauchi State.

There were even pictures on social media of five men, said to be the governors, prostrating and begging Obasanjo for forgiveness on behalf of Jonathan.

With this latest development, the questions many people are asking now are “Is the fear of Obasanjo the beginning of wisdom?” Or “Has Obasanjo turned to that one huge political masquerade that nobody should ignore in Nigeria?



Posted on December, 5 2014

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