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Published On: Fri, Jan 26th, 2018

2019: When men play God

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The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed

2019, the year of decision, is around the corner.
In such period, different prognoses from those regarded as well versed in national political calculations and those not too experienced have, expectedly, gained currency. Permutations as to where the pendulum will eventually swing have started to pour in from those who feel they could gauge the nation’s political barometer, whether accurately or in default.
Observers, who feel they have a third eye and believe they could make a difference by analyzing the political milieu to deduce a scientific outcome, are now at work. Those men who feel they could play God by their measures of ‘patriotism’ have also joined the fray warning individuals either to contest the oncoming general election or not. These men feel that they are gifted to know what will happen in the nation’s political firmament ahead of 2019 with certain level of precision.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who recently bagged a Doctorate degree in Theology at the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) did what he is adept at doing this week. The former President had in the past written letters signifying the termination of several administrations. Before the Monday Press statement wherein he dismissed President Muhammadu Buhari as a non-performer and as such should not bother to vie for re-election in 2019, the former leader has demonstrated that he was a friend of the government.
Obasanjo has perfected the art of letter writing to terminate the tenure of any President he adjudges as underperforming.
He wrote former President Shehu Shagari alleging the poor economic performance of his administration and his government was toppled in 1985; he wrote similar letter to late military Head of State, Gen. Sanni Abacha, branding him a Stone Age dictator and this eventually brought his administration down notwithstanding the fact that Obasanjo saw the flashlight of death.
Although it was not clear whether he wrote to late President Umaru Yar’adua but he criticized the leader for his slowness in taking action on burning national issues before he finally succumb to the cold hand of death.
Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan was de-robed immediately he got the satanic verses condemning the prevailing corruption in his administration from the Ebora Owu.
In the dawn of Buhari’s administration, Obasanjo was a constant guest in Aso Rock. The conviviality between the President and himself before they eventually parted ways was infectious. One had thought that the Buhari administration would leverage on his experience in his arduous task of repositioning the state with a view to charting a new course for the nation smarting from the malfeasances of his predecessor. But that was not to be.
Similar scenario played out during the days of late President Yar’adua, his immediate successor. The camaraderie between the duo was later to collapse with subtle attacks from the Ota farmer before nature eventually eased Yar’adua out of power.
Obasanjo found another bride in ex-President Goodluck Jonathan but the romance, like those before him, did not last.
Many may wonder why successive President often end up falling out with Obasanjo. There are possibilities that the former Nigerian leader must be overbearing and may have attempted to dictate to his successors on how to control the level of power. One could hazard the guess that any attempt for any President to assert himself in order to be his own man would incur the wrath of Obasanjo who sees himself as the conscience of the nation with overdose of patriotism.
Obasanjo in his statement listed out Buhari’s many sins and concluded that he had offered his best, which he regarded as not good enough for the country. Granted that the former President may have his reservation on Buhari’s performance, but to urge him not to present himself for re-election is tantamount to playing God.
This is because the ultimate sovereignty in a democracy remains the electorates who have the power to enthrone and dethrone their leaders based on the assessment of their performances. Though Obasanjo may have a strong voice and perhaps enormous influence and followership in the polity, declaring that the President, who garnered over 18 million votes to defeat an incumbent in a keenly contested election about three years ago, should not seek re-election is like someone is trying to play God.
Like the man who knows tomorrow, Obasanjo wrote off both ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition People’s Democratic Party(PDP). According to him, they do not have the capacity to lead the country to the promised land. He alleged that the ruling APC has failed to build the youths for future leadership but has yet to tell Nigerians the contributions of those he mentored in his eight years in the saddle as the President.
This is however not to fault the ex-President’s suggestion that Nigerians youths must prepare themselves to take over power from their aged leaders. But the challenge in the nation’s politics is that of over-monetization and ravaging poverty among the citizenry. It is obvious that no meaningful change can be achieved in the nation’s political landscape until the youths and no so old are empowered.
His ‘third force’ suggestion, Coalition for Nigerians (CN), expected to terminate the reigns of the two dominant parties in the country, is also healthy in politics. But this suggestion at this time is suspicious. It looks like Baba had shed his garb of statesmanship to take on the gauntlet of opposition determined to ‘dismount’ the current horse-rider in Aso Rock. This is in spite of the fact that he stressed that he would no longer be drawn into partisan politics.
It will however be dangerous to ignore salient points raised by the former Nigerian leader whose sense of patriotism has been acknowledged, tested and trusted over time. Doing so would be tantamount to throwing out the baby with his bathwater.
Obasanjo, in his metaphor of lice and blood on fingernails, signifying poor performance of Buhari’s administration, stated “The lice of poor performance in government – poverty, insecurity, poor economic management, nepotism, gross dereliction of duty, condonation of misdeed – if not outright encouragement of it, lack of progress and hope for the future, lack of national cohesion and poor management of internal political dynamics and widening inequality – are very much with us today. With such lice of general and specific poor performance and crying poverty with us, our fingers will not be dry of ‘blood’.”
While die-hard government backers may dismiss these observations, a cursory look through would suggest that the President and his men should take a studious look and make amends where necessary.
The non-adversarial response on the government through Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, indicated that the message in the statement was taken in good faith. Already, there have been upsurge in government activities which could be directly considered as responses to Obasanjo’s injunction in his lengthy statement.
The indicted former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal, accused of malfeasance in the handling of contracts in the Presidential Initiative on North-East (PINE) where funds meant for the Internally Displaced Persons(IDPs) was allegedly misused, has finally been summoned by the anti-graft agency, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to clear his name.
To address the incessant herders/farmers clashes resulting into loss of several lives across the country, the government has directed the establishment of National Commission on the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons in the country. This is expected to be transformed into a national commission and aimed at disarming those who are not licensed to carry arms. Criminalizing illegal carriage and use of arms would certainly enhance the sanctity of human lives and return the elusive sanity into some miscreants.
The government has also reiterated its determination to frontally address those economic challenges that have pauperized the common man. This, of course, would mean that the President would take more than a passing interest in the running of the economy for the benefit of the masses. Already, the challenge of fuel scarcity seems to be receiving the deserved attention.
Apart from his counsel that the Buhari should consider retirement and not re-contest in 2019, other issues raised in Obasanjo’s statement are worthy of indepth attention. One could only hope that the message is not lost on those in power.

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