By Imikan Attah
It came as the surprise of the year for me to hear the statement credited to former President Olusegun Obasanjo that “politics is not for the ungodly”. As a student of logic, you are taught a system of reasoning called deductive reasoning. Logical conclusions are drawn based on certain premises. Premise 1: Politics is not for the ungodly; premise 2: OBJ is a politician; therefore, OBJ is godly. The substance of this conclusion, will also be subjected to some examination; not at all rigorous but dispassionate, to determine the mystery of godliness! Indeed, OBJs words and actions are measurable, and worthy of close examination.
Earlier this month, OBJ, on a trip to the UK, told the gathering there that Dr. Jonathan had previously, repeatedly told him that he (Jonathan) would only spend 1term in office, and that in view of current denials, that the “most important thing in life” was for one to be a man of one’s words. He then waited long enough for Jonathan’s reaction; and when the silence became deafening he shot back with “politics is not for ungodly”.
OBJ had one term as president after which securing his second term ticket as allowed by the Constitution became uncertain. OBJ, the apostle of do-or-die politics, then staged and arranged the marking of ballot papers, such that the OPEN SECRET aspect of the primaries became a mockery; a Rape on Democracy. He marked out those who voted against him! During campaigning then, the EFCC repeatedly sent him incriminating evidence of criminal activities of one of his Governors. These, OBJ waved aside because this Governor promised and delivered 100% delegate votes in the above-mentioned presidential primaries. He even gave the Governor the all-clear to contest for a 2nd term (mercifully, at the end of his tenure, the said Governor was later tried in a British court and is now serving 14 years for the same offence OBJ had previously covered up! Did this, in Caesar, seem honorable?!
Next, OBJ embarked on the path of tinkering with the constitution, for the critical national issue of getting himself a third term in office!! When asked if he was indeed making overtures for a third term, he replied that even his chickens were expecting him back at his farm after his second term.
But it was not until the legislature quashed all his surreptitious third term moves that he reluctantly left office. Was that godly? It is amazing that the same person is now holding a gun to Dr. Jonathan’s head to spend just one term in office.
I happened to have been privileged to have served as one of the masters of ceremony during the Presidential visit (by OBJ) to Bayelsa with Jonathan, then governor, as host. At several of the events, OBJ had described Jonathan as a godly, God fearing man. Suddenly, curiously just before Jonathan’s anticipated declaration to contest a second term, he has become a man whose words are not to be trusted – an ungodly man. Again, in OBJ’s curious open letter to Dr Jonathan, OBJ had harped extensively on the security situation in the North East, and had alluded to how the Federal Government was not acting. But the same condemnable, murderous actions of the Boko Haram in the North are what OBJ himself unleashed on the people of the Niger Delta when he was President!! OBJ sent a detachment of troops against whole communities of the Niger Delta, over problems of internal conflict. Whole communities were razed (Odi), and the few surviving women and children were repeatedly raped and abused in broad daylight by the soldiers OBJ had sent.
All of this is documented and was even presented before the Oputa panel. That time, OBJ raised no alarm about the horrors, mayhem and insecurity that he had created. No open letters were sent out.
But what is a fact is that there is no part of Nigeria that was spared OBJ’s onslaught when he was President. OBJ put Lagos people under siege and starved the people, just to play his so-called godly politics. While the naira plummeted and the cost of staple foods skyrocketed, and while the Boko Haram and militant groups were being formed and birthed under his watch, OBJ spent a great deal of the nation`s resources and of his time ordering presidential jets for junkets around the world, chasing invisible foreign investors at astronomical cost. Every human index fell, every sector of socio-economic life collapsed under OBJ, in his Joseph-like dreamland; and now he says politics is not for the ungodly. Indeed he is right.
Chief Imikan Attah is a broadcaster and former columnist with the Daily Sun.