From: Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa <email@example.com>
Date: Tue, Feb 24, 2015 at 9:45 AM
Subject: This week's article
To: "Prof. F Nwagbara" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Fidelis Ntufam Ugbo <email@example.com>, Foluso Phillips <Fop@phillipsconsulting.net>, "Chukwuemeka Fred Agbata Jnr. CFA" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Femi Paul <email@example.com>, Felix Oti <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Ifeanyi P. Nwabuoku" <email@example.com>, Olu Fadoju <firstname.lastname@example.org>, email@example.com
OBASANJO : DEMYSTIFYING AND DENIGRATING THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT
I have found my self often defending Chief Olusegun Obasanjo's Performace while in office as the President of Nigeria for eight years( 1999-2007). I have done so on three grounds. The first is that I like to base my criticism or commendation for any political office holder, or I dare say any individual based on objective criteria. I am never one to join the crowd to shout "crucify him, crucify him" for some one I shouted "Hosanna,Hosanna" for yesterday. Many People are swayed by mass media to denounce a man they praised yesterday based on hearsay. Many swing with public opinion and so would like to be on the side of the gallery to lampoon a man who has done them no evil, just because some people with loud voices or access to the media brand such a man as evil. Some do not even as much as ask what evil the man did, not to talk of the evidence before joining in the condemnation band wagon. They want to be 'politically' correct and would not like to offend the crowd or be seen to be going against popular opinion. So they acquiesce to the murder of the innocent . No, not me.
Secondly and more importantly is that I fear God and would not bear false witness against my neighbour. When I deny the good that a man has done, I am bearing false witness; same when I join others to accuse a man falsely. I believe that my God will hold me accountable for everything I think, say and do, I try to be fair to all I encounter in my journey of life. And because of this, I am always drawn to defending the disadvantaged and the maligned. Many suffer unjustly, because of false accusation or because they do not know how to speak or how to defend themselves. I personally have been a victim of false accusation and I know what it is to be falsely accused especially by those who have the means to stir up the crowd against you. So I always empathize with such lambs or victims. I also believe that it is wrong to do a wholesale condemnation of any leader. I am a strong believer that for every bad thing that a leader is said to have done, there are at least two good things he has done. But it is the way of the World to often ignore the good and focus on the bad.
The third reason I have had to defend Obasanjo was that I believed and still believe that he did a great job as the President of Nigeria on many fronts. Though he did not like the cover of the Vision 2010 document which we had prepared before his arrival(because of the picture of the man on the cover wearing dark glasses),he eventually accepted an adaptation of it called NEEDS prepared under the supervision of Prof Chukwuma Soludo and that enabled his government to stimulate the economy in the 2nd term( 2003-2007), after what was a lackluster first term. Obasanjo pursued a novel anti corruption campaign that used drama to full effect. Nigerians love drama! He used maximum impunity to good effect, especially after the reign of the military ( of which he had been part). He launched a major effort to deregulate and privatize the Nigerian Economy and many of us in the private sector supported his several battles with Adams Oshiomhole and the Nigerian Labour Congress( NLC). I was a member of the Political Reform Conference which Obasanjo called, in some effort to respond to the strident call for Sovereign National conference.Obasanjo meant well for the Country and showed enviable Patriotic zeal.
And so, when People especially those who now call him "messiah " said that Obasanjo did nothing, I opposed it and presented evidence of what he did. When they said that Obasanjo ran the most corrupt government, I opposed it vehemently, and provided evidence of what he did to fight corruption. In deed when they wanted to 'roast' him for trying to perpetuate himself in power through the third term project, I took it upon my self to assert that Obasanjo was not the original author of the ' third term' idea. I believed that he accepted the idea in the strategic interest of the Nation. Nigerians know what the Country goes through and indeed what it Is going through now because of second term elections. In my understanding, the 'third term' was just an additional two years to enable him launch the new single term of Six years, so that the Country will be saved from the convulsions it goes through each time a sitting President wants to get a second term. Nigerians especially the so called 'progressives' with whom he is now hobnobbing, did all they could to denigrate all that Obasanjo achieved for trying this "third term' project. But I stood firm and empathized with President Obasanjo and defended his achievements and felt that he was unfairly criticized and maligned by the opposition party.
And this is why Iam thoroughly shocked and disappointed by the serial undignified attacks he has unleashed on President Goodluck Jonathan since the last two years. After some side snippets and shots at the President, he went full blast with an open letter to the President, widely published in the media, where he accused the President of everything he, Obasanjo was accused of when he was in office including series of state-mediated murders. This most repulsive method chosen by an ex-President to communicate to a sitting President saddened me and many right thinking Nigerians. It was most unpresidential. How could a two-time President be indulging in wicked rumors that could destabilize the Nation? In response to this , many reactions appeared in the media which out rightly insulted the person of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, a two-time head of State of our Country, an icon that should otherwise receive the highest Honour and respect. When I read the open letters written by his son Gbenga and his daughter Iyabo I wept. I first refused to believe that the letters were true until the authors re confirmed that they wrote the letters or granted the interviews. I could not believe that a man who had ruled our country twice had those kind of serious character flaws and that his character would be so repugnant that even his own biological Children would rebuke him in Public. It was unheard of and un african . I had thought that such vicious attacks on his personality would indicate to Chief Obasanjo that his open attack on the sitting President was offensive to many including his own direct family. As Past President , past Chairman of the Board of Trustees( BOT) of PDP, and a statutory member of the Council of State, he had ample opportunity to advise or even rebuke the President in private.
But lo and behold, Chief Obasanjo has continued to demystify and denigrate the status of the office of the President of Nigeria. He has remained unrelenting in his daily attack on the sitting President, badly damaging his own prestige in the eyes of many in an effort to damage the prestige of the current President. How would he have taken such attacks especially from his predecessors in office when he was the sitting President? I have been trying to find out what really Jonathan has done to him to merit the intense hate he has displayed in his daily vituperations. Is it about the management of the Economy? My records show that Jonathan has essentially followed his footsteps including reappointing Dr( Mrs) Okonjo- Iweala as Minister of Finance. He has followed the deregulation and Privitization route started by Obasanjo. He has hired professionals like Dr Akinwunmi Adesina, Dr Omobola Johnson, Professor Chinedu Nebo and Dr Olusegun Aganga to run the Ministries unhindered. Is it just because of declining reserves and drop in excess crude account? Is he not in a position to know that both the National Assembly and many of the opposition governors did not want any excess crude account to accumulate? Can't he find out from the president why the Reserves declined after he left office,if he forgot that between 2008-2010, there was a global economic crisis that led to the shrinking of the Global economy and that prices of oil fell from 140 dollars per barrel to 40 dollars ( close to what is happening in the economy now) and that these massive swings in global oil prices were not caused by Goodluck Jonathan or Diezani Madueke. Yes Jonathan's anti corruption battles have not been as dramatic as Obasanjo's, but transparency International rankings indicate that Nigeria's Perception as a corrupt Nation has improved under Jonathan than it was under Obasanjo. Is it about the integrity of elections?,Nigeria's Worst election ever was in 2007 under Obasanjo whereas Nigeria's best elections so far was in 2011 under Jonathan.
In which area has Obasanjo done much better than Jonathan? Is it in healthcare? where Life expectancy has climbed from 48 years in 2010 to 52 years in 2014 and both Maternal Mortality and infant mortality have improved by over 30% since 2011. Is it in Education where new schools and Universities have been built both in the public and private sectors and the rate of success in the West African School certificate Examination has shown consistent improvement ( especially in the critical subjects of English Language and Mathematics). What about the novelty of the almajiri schools, a first in our educational history. Is it in infrastructure- Power, roads, bridges, railways and airports? Any one who was an adult in 2007 and can see, must see the significant improvement in these areas. Many of the lingering projects started many years ago have been faithfully completed by Jonathan,abandoning none. What really has Jonathan done so badly to merit the sort of hatred and disdain he has received from a past President. Is it in civility and democratic culture? No President has been tolerant of the democratic processes and procedures as Jonathan. How many Senate Presidents or House Speakers have been forced out since Jonathan became President? Is it in impunity?. Obasanjo holds an unbroken record in impunity, disobeying the laws he caused to be made, including ignoring court judgements and using extra-judicial methods to change or remove State governors?
What unforgivable crime against the People of Nigeria or against Obasanjo, has Jonathan really committed that Obasanjo has been most unrelenting and implacable in denigrating a sitting President and doing everything possible to destroy the house he participated in building ? Could it be because Jonathan has been unable to win the war against the Boko Haram insurgents? But despite being an Army General and a hero of the Nigeria-Biafra war, Obasanjo could not defeat the' local 'Niger Delta Militants. His strong arm tactics that led to the destruction of Odi Town in Bayelsa could not resolve the problem until The Yardua/ Jonathan regime came with the clincher of the amnesty program. Or Is it just because of the refusal of Jonathan to respect an alleged promise not to seek a second term? Is this such a heinous crime? How does that match his own effort to seek a third term( even if only for two extra years!). Did anybody send him to jail for that attempt?. What of his 'epitome of integrity'General Muhammadu Buhari who swore in the presence of all Nigerians that the 2011 elections would be his last. I have not heard anybody ask him why he reneged on that solemn declaration. Perhaps, it is the way of Politicians that they do not always keep their promises. So why would a man be so oblivious of the planks in his own eyes while he threatens to commit suicide because of the speck in another fellow's eyes. God please save us from the Pharisees and the Saducees ( Hypocrites!)
Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa OFR