By Oji Odu
Why do Some Nigerians rage and imagine and say so many things, sometimes vain, against former President Olusegun Obasanjo, whenever he says his mind on national issues or criticizes the government in power? Does he, like every other Nigerian not have the right to speech and constructive criticisms?
Why is the government in power always jittery whenever Obasanjo speaks? Does that mean that the former President is not really a spent selfish force as some claim? Are his words prophetic, such that quake the wits out of those they are against? The government of former President Goodluck Jonathan can attest to this. May be, this is the reason why the present administration has not slept since the Obasanjo onslaught against it.
Speaking at the Island Club Quarterly Business Lecture in Lagos, yesterday, Wednesday, January 30, 2019, Obasanjo drew comparisons between the two leading candidates in the upcoming presidential election on February 16, President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), and concluded that Atiku would be a good leader. This to him is because he has experience, exposure and has learnt his lessons well, of which he (Obasanjo) tried to teach him a few of them than Buhari.
“I’ve been called names because of my position on Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the Waziri of Adamawa – my former Vice President. Those things that I have said, as far as my knowledge of Atiku is concerned, I stand firmly by them because they are to the best of my knowledge very true.
“And what I’ve said and written about Buhari are clearly true, and they’re not controverted, if anything, they have been confirmed and proved beyond any shadow of a doubt. Only two Sundays ago I said what I believe are understood as to the way the Buhari administration is going about the coming election. And within less than a week, things started showing itself. But, let us leave that because Nigerians are rising up to defend our fledgeling democracy, and to defend our future progress. Nobody else will do it for us. We have to do it for ourselves and that is why I believe that we have no better man to lead us out of the morass we are: morass in economic terms, the morass in security terms; morass even in international affairs terms.
“Atiku has done three things which are absolutely imperative for a leader to be followed and to be believed. First, a leader must know who he is and present himself as he is – a human being in blood and flesh, and susceptible to human mistakes and human frailties; don’t cover up with sanctimonious veneer of bogus integrity. Incorruptibility when you have corruption on your nose; uprightness when everything around you is crooked; goodness and false figures and statistics all of which are contrived to deceive, to cheat, to plunder and to destroy.
“Atiku never claimed to be a saint. (He turned to ask him if he had ever made the claim, and Atiku said no) And I never described him as such. I will never describe any human being alive, let alone calling him a messiah. On an occasion in the past, when I said that someone was not a messiah some Nigerians, out of bad belle were up in arms for me. But, as for me, as a Christian, the only Messiah I know and I serve is Jesus Christ.
“Secondly, a leader must be honest to himself and to the people he serves or he wants to serve. He must identify and acknowledge his situation, mistakes, shortcomings and inadequacy; show remorse where and when he has erred, seek forgiveness and repent; and not passing the bulk or keep blaming others and fail to accept responsibility. Atiku accepts responsibility for his mistakes, shows remorse and seeks forgiveness from his political party and subsequently from Nigerians.
“He asks for forgiveness from me and as a believer, a Christian as such, I forgave him in accordance with the teaching and instruction of my Saviour, ‘For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins (Matt 6:14-15 NIV). If anybody blames me for forgiving Atiku, I leave such a person with God Almighty, especially as both Christian and Islamic clerics joined Atiku to visit me to seek forgiveness. Anybody who does not forgive when forgiveness is sought with contrite heart cannot be a true believer and should not expect the forgiveness of God.
“Thirdly, as a leader, you must understand the fundamentals of the problems you have to solve and be courageous, visionary and ready to reach out sufficiently to build a credible team of experts, knowledgeable men and women, concerned and interested citizens and non-citizens to work hard and tirelessly for solutions that will benefit all Nigerians and indeed Africans and humanity.
“He must have ability to build a credible team, lead them, listen to them and give them enough leeway to achieve and make meaningful contribution without abdicating his responsibility. He must be accessible to them. From my personal knowledge of Atiku, he has these qualities.
“I must reiterate that Atiku is not a saint and who is? But from what I know of Atiku, he will be a performer in all respects. I can say that again from my personal experience. He knows the problems and he handled some of them or similar and in the past,” Obasanjo said.
Atiku, who was the Guest Lecturer at the event, said he believes that the private sector must be allowed to drive the economy and provide jobs while the government provide enabling environment for business to thrive.
Beside Atiku, the lecture was attended by PDP stalwarts, including Senate President, Bukola Saraki, PDP National Chairman, Uche Secondus; the South-west leaders, Chief Bode George and Gbenga Daniel, Afenifere leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, and the gubernatorial candidate of PDP in Lagos, Jimi Agbaje.
Does Obasanjo mean that in the last four years of the President Buhari-led APC administration, the President has shown that he does not know himself, pretentious, does not understand the problems Nigerians voted him in to solve? Has President Buhari and his administration lived the holier than thou life, engaged in blame games instead of having the will to tackle problems?
But, at the APC campaign rally in Eboyi State, President Buhari reminded the people that he was not a corrupt person, and has never been convicted on any corruption issues.
Buhari was former Head of State (1983-85), governor of the defunct Northeastern State (1975–1976) and chairman Petroleum Trust Fund (1994-95) said: “I can assure you that I, as the President, today have never been in a position of abusing trust. As a governor of the whole six northeastern states, as minister of petroleum for over three years and as a former head of state. I was arrested, detained and investigated but they never found anything against me.”
In a chat with the Magazine, Sunday Egboh, a political analyst asked: “ Assuming he is not corrupt, what about the people running the government with him, some of who have shamelessly said openly that sins of sinners will be forgiven them if they joined the ruling APC?
“ Nigerians of today are different from those of yesterday. They don’t take-in everything anyone says without asking questions, although they are hungry and suffering,” he said.
It’s 16 days to the February Presidential election, who will it be, as the gladiators continue to align and realign in last minute efforts to take charge of Aso Rock?