Nigeria is regaining her due respect in the comity of nations after some decades in international political antipodes.
The reception for President Muhammadu Buhari at the White House by American President Barack Obama, with such an unusual grandeur, tells the grade Nigeria now occupies in world reckoning. America would not have extended the respect reserved for the late Emperor Haile Selassie to Idi Amin Dada. There are leaders and there are villains.
This is why integrity is not purchasable but earned in the way one conducts oneself for good or ill. If a person inflicts himself on the people, displaying his emptiness at every turn, he becomes a joke in the eyes of the public.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo is taking his joke too far. He is choking Nigeria with tantrums and calculated noises to rewrite a very odious past in political adventure, which has always placed him on the wrong side of history. Won’t this man allow us to breathe without his half-truths and deliberate perversion of history?
Former President Goodluck Jonathan’s tenure was Obasanjo’s fourth term. Joe had merely helped to finish Obasanjo’s demolition campaign against the Nigerian people. What did Jonathan really execute without Obasanjo’s imprimatur? All the trunk roads in Nigeria were in disrepair when Obasanjo left in 2007 because of lack of maintenance for eight years, though billions of naira was voted for the purpose. He also openly lied against Anthony Anenih, his works minister, that he gave the ministry N300 billion for road works whereas only N150 million was released by him. Benin–Ore–Lagos journey took 10 hours instead of three hours under Obasanjo and Jonathan. It became the rule, not the exception to lie on public infrastructure. It took nine hours to travel from Abuja to Lagos, at the worst, when General Abdulsalami Abubakar handed over to him in 1999, but in December 2006, such trips became 12 hours because of bad roads, which caused motorists to detour at different sections of their journey. They avoided the Shagamu–Ore–Akure road for Ibadan–Akure, which in no time also collapsed at many sections because of lack of maintenance. Joe only helped to extend the trip to 16 hours in continuation of the demolition work of Obasanjo, his minder, who always likes to take undue claims of excellence.
All Nigeria’s infrastructure collapsed under the Ota farmer. Sani Abacha raised power generation to 8,000 units with a 2010 pledge for 20,000. Obasanjo inherited 6,000MW from Abubakar. But when Obasanjo left, it was barely 2,000MW with more than $16 billion spent on generating darkness.
All the major manufacturers left Nigeria in the empty reign of Obasanjo because of absence of electric power.
Why blame Joe who loyally helped him to complete the wreckage of our institutions and economy?
Obasanjo illegally introduced the Power Holding Company of Nigeria. The company was not registered in the Corporate Affairs Commission. It had no locus standi, yet he made it to usurp the place of the National Electric Power Authority, which still exists in law because it was created by a decree, which became part of our statute. That was arrant impunity that warranted his removal from office, but Nigerians had become dulled then by his apportioning every evil that ever befell Nigeria to Abacha. He ran out of blames to be heaped on Abacha when the people found his antics that he exploited them and created a new class of extortionists. Joe merely continued from where his mentor stopped when he muddled further Nigeria’s electric power supply with impunity, backed by no known law. But Joe is now Obasanjo’s new whipping boy, no more Abacha.
The so-called decree on privatisation did not revoke existing laws that created public corporations. What they have done, so far, is backed by no known laws in our books. Besides, Obasanjo introduced a system whose time passed in many parts of the world. The result is the present economic downturn in Nigeria, which now perpetually lives on imports, even at primary level. Obasanjo is selfish. Instead of encouraging farmers to go into co-operatives, and the government providing such inputs like rural electricity, dams, fertiliser and extension agriculture officers to teach modern farming methods, he resorted to acquiring for himself hectares of land in fertile parts of Nigeria for his own farms. Government did nothing for the farmers, the artisans, the manufacturers and on public infrastructure as he bestrode the wide world of Nigeria. Obasanjo should leave Joe alone because the pot should not call the kettle black. He sold NEMCO House, all NEPA housing estates, Daily Times and more for a song.
We are facing a serious period of change and reconstruction, which demands thoughtfulness and clarity of purpose at every stage of our development. Is he the only man who has ruled Nigeria? Why won’t he leave those who are in power to their devices? Did Shehu Shagari, Muhammadu Buhari, Ibrahim Babangida, Ernest Shonekan and Abubakar send lists of who to appoint as ministers to him in the eight years he spent as president?
Obasanjo continues to pester those in office with lists of people to be appointed as ministers. Judging from his choices, can anything good come out of Nazareth? Is it true that he sent the names of some persons the EFCC had brought before the court?
If we are to visit the recent past, Obasanjo inflicted on Nigeria some of the worst corrupt officials. Almost all his former ministers had one question or the other to answer about deals not in conformity with due process or standard practice.
Is he recommending Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and the crowd to us again to continue his unfinished demolition work on our polity? Obasanjo introduced them to the Nigerian public, though their antecedents in public life were scanty or non-existent.
He created a larger-than-life image for them to mishandle the Nigerian problems. The banks became slush machines for laundering public money in his tenure while major industries were collapsing from lack of the desired municipal and financial support. Obasanjo’s administration distorted the economy and Joe continued loyally in the same stead. The duo sold all Nigeria’s free-hold assets and corporations without due process. Who introduced massive election rigging to Nigeria? Remember 2003 and 2007. Obasanjo should give Nigeria a break instead of gallivanting about for acceptance after he has burnt the bridge with the people. He is not relevant and he should be told in plain language. It will need a book to chronicle his negativity in Nigerian politics, starting from 1999.