The struggle for power everywhere else in the world is a deadly enterprise. In one way or the other, this is true. The exceptions are too few to puncture this claim. That being the case, it is the better part of valour for those outside the ringside to keep their opinion. Intervention is breaking this unwritten rule to interrogate former president, Olusegun Obasanjo’s series of actions in the on-going transition process.
It is absolutely possible Chief Obasanjo has more information than many of us about what could be going on but even if he does, does he need to make a broadcast? Are there no ways he could have moved other than speaking of looming fire and danger?
In the face of unspeakable suffering and misery for over ninety percent of Nigerians, the question is compelling: must Chief Olusegun Obasanjo join in impoverishing the discursive space in Nigeria? Already, that space has been taken over by claims, postures and tantrums not worthy of a country of Nigeria’s global promise. That the sorts of people who mostly make the claims are believed is part of the big challenge for any coalition of dedicated patriots that emerges henceforth to work on after this transition. This is because, if every reality has a discursive condition of possibility, then it doesn’t require looking far to pin down why Nigeria is where it still is: the quality or direction of the conversation in Nigeria is simply incapable of performing a better Nigeria.
In such a situation where no banner of hope is flying before a captured citizenry, a Chief Olusegun Obasanjo is expected to fill the gap. The totality of his circumstances in life puts that burden on him. He has had the very best Nigeria can offer anyone. If we must be specific, then one of what General TY Danjuma said about him in his 2008 interview to The Guardian would suffice. Danjuma referred to Obasanjo as a man who was brought out from the prisons and made president without any debriefing whatsoever. Such a person should seek to elevate the soul of the nation at a moment like this and by which Intervention is referring to the cash crunch ordeal of the past one month or so which preceded the creases that seemed to have greeted the presidential election.
Without comparing one to the other, General Abdulsalami Abubakar is doing something in the direction of elevating the soul of Nigeria with his symbolic efforts at exploring the possibility of a peaceful approach to our struggle for power. Another retired General in his circle – TY Danjuma – is also doing something like that by establishing a Foundation the consequences of which no one can foretell. A single beneficiary from a facility of that Foundation can be a change agent on a global scale. These strides contrast sharply with Obasanjo’s who told the world that his ambition in power was to create billionaires. And then he went about building a Presidential Library that is substantially about the self.
Above all, he has been busy lecturing Nigeria on areas he himself was a failure as president, from corruption to conduct of credible elections and what have you. The solid economist, Prof Sam Aluko warned that Obasanjo would ruin the economy. What did Obasanjo do? He said Aluko was talking senility. So, instead of any remorse, he puts himself up as the only possible source of what is good, endlessly prescriptive and never beyond the paradigm of right or wrong.
Assuming that last Saturday’s election has manifested predictable creases – problems which could never be worse in magnitude or scale as they were under his watch – is the way out a statement by him which could be (mis)interpreted differently in its different spaces of circulation, with escalatory implications? Should any leader make himself party to any form of escalation anywhere in Nigeria today after the quantum of bloodshed in the Northeast, Northwest, Northcentral and Southeast for quite some time now? How does his last press conference add to a process of networking a force for good across Nigeria on more institutional or agentian diffusion of potentially explosive overhangs?
Is it possible Chief Obasanjo is so scared of a future in which he has no leverage on a sitting president of Nigeria? Could this later day activist disposition to suspected electoral corruption on the part of Obasanjo be coming from someone not able to bear a Buhari conducting an election that may turn out more credible than Obasanjo’s sham in 2007? If Buhari has come to terms with the disasters of the last eight years by trying to conduct a much improved election, people like Obasanjo should lend a helping hand because Buhari has finished his political shopping in Nigeria.
Is he so fearful of Tinubu presidency because of their past ‘civil wars’ or of Atiku Abubakar arising from his badly managed rift with his former deputy, his own creation and creature in politics? But the reality of Tinubu or an Atiku Abubakar presidency ought not to be his problem the moment neither he nor anyone else could stop any of them from clinching party nomination because democracy cannot be made to unfold at the pleasure of any individuals. The time for howling about the suitability or otherwise of certain candidates has passed. What is before Nigerians now is managing democracy and its paradoxes as in the victory of some persons so far in the on-going election and the defeat of some others.
Peter Obi whom Chief Obasanjo appears to be fighting for is the same candidate he blocked by transferring his own huge liabilities unto in writing a letter in endorsement. It was an absolutely needless letter that even the most celebrated neophytes in Nigerian politics would not have written. The first play of tragedy is that such a letter was written. It was as wrong footed a move as the strategy of pulling Peter Obi from the PDP at the time it happened on the unfortunate narrative that the youths are there for Obi as if the youths constitute a homogenous category.
Does he think that a Peter Obi who, at 61, still has an electoral future, will follow his fire and brimstone approach? It is very unlikely. Peter Obi is more likely to follow Goodluck Jonathan in saying his ambition is not a justification for the blood of any Nigerian, the statement that has transformed Jonathan into a leader.
Chief Obasanjo is well located in power terms. His connections outside Nigeria might have started to decline but the decline could not have been so complete. He should use such location to add value to this country in a radically transformative manner as opposed to the rofofo style he is practicing.
Obasanjo should grow beyond reprimand and punishing those he thinks have infringed on known and unknown red lines in his own world. God and Nigeria have been too generous to him that he has no option other than doing so. As much as we mouth democracy and egalitarianism, nation building is still not a task for everyone. It is still a task for the few. There is hardly anyone better placed by God, history and chance than Obasanjo in terms of those who owe Nigeria a debt of gratitude. It is still morning on creation day!