The curious story that was disseminated last week is that Olusegun Obasanjo, Nigeria’s former leader, has left the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
My message: if you actually believe that, I would like to sell you the Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos.
He wrote: “…Politics played by any national political party must have morality, decency, discipline, principles and leadership examples as cardinal practices of the party…Since I stick in my practice of party politics to the hallowed and cherished principles enunciated above…I will consider withdrawing my activity with PDP at local, state, zonal and national levels until the anomalous and shameful situation is corrected.”
The “situation” to which he was alluding is the presence and advancement in the part of Buruji Kashamu, who is wanted in the United States.
Obasanjo’s “I Quit” tantrum came less than one month after he preached a different sermon in his open letter to President Goodluck Jonathan. “The so-called crisis in the PDP can be turned to an opportunity of unity, mutual understanding and respect with the Party emerging with enhanced strength and victory,” he wrote. “It will be a win-win for all members of the Party and for the country. By that, PDP would have proved that it could have internal disagreement and emerge stronger. The calamity of failure can still be avoided.”
Three weeks later, citing “morality, decency, discipline,” the same man is sneaking away in the dark? Let us rewind the tape to happier times in our lives when we heard a similar sermon.
At his inauguration in May 1999, Obasanjo pledged to provide the “forthright, purposeful, committed, honest and transparent leadership” Nigeria needed. “All the impacts of bad governance on our people that are immediately removable will be removed, while working for medium and long term solutions.”
None of that was true; as we all now know, in the four years that followed, all those evils were consolidated.
Worse still, following the rigged elections of 2003, Obasanjo returned to Eagle Square for his coronation and declared that all Nigerians had to do to improve Nigeria was to stop asking “What’s in it for me”, and instead ask “what’s in it for Nigeria.”
“This is the ultimate solution for combating such negative social tendencies as corruptibility, ethnicity, lack of patriotism, lawlessness, inefficiency, diminished sense of justice, and lack of dignity and mutual respect for fellow citizens,” he preached.
It probably is, but in the four years that followed, Obasanjo did not follow his own prescription, and we lost all four years to him.
Had Obasanjo listened to himself, it is most unlikely, among other things, that Mr. Jonathan would be President today. Obasanjo’s task force on corruption had indicted him as Governor of Bayelsa for false declaration of assets, and he was to have been prosecuted by the Code of Conduct Bureau along with such Governors as Bola Tinubu, Atahiru Bafarawa and Achike Udenwa.
There was none of the “forthright, purposeful, committed, honest and transparent leadership” Obasanjo promised.
And then, his exit staring him in the face, he imposed his own irresponsibility on a committee upon which he had squandered national resources. With the collective cowardice in the PDP in full display, Obasanjo inflicted Umaru Yar’Adua and Jonathan on us.
If Obasanjo cannot tell what is good for Nigeria from what is good for his ego, we can. Today, it is not difficult to see why Jonathan is petrified to declare his assets publicly; or why he comfortably grants state pardon to some of the nation’s most egregious offenders; or why he sees nothing wrong with his filthiest Ministers.
It is called: Don’t Rock The Boat (DRB), and it was all put in place by Obasanjo. DRB explains why Obasanjo’s story about quitting the PDP is the biggest ruse since he set up anti-corruption bodies to hunt down his opponents.
But before I fully explain DRB, let me clarify I do not pen this article to criticize the former President. I have said everything I need to say about him in that regard. I write this only because the past is the only compass we have for navigating the future.
Obasanjo has made it clear once more that what he speaks of as being “good” refers only to what is good for Obasanjo who never sees anything wrong with his own betrayal of Nigeria, and of morality, decency and discipline.
Obasanjo could not move Nigeria forward because he could not summon the manhood to implement those great principles. A true leader leads, he does not preach. Obasanjo knew he needed to change the way Nigerians think about Nigeria, but he failed to rise above his own small-mindedness so that people would rise with him.
In that regard, the one person who should not blame Jonathan is Obasanjo. Jonathan did not want to be President, and now we know he lacks the preparation, the character or the ability.
That blame goes to Obasanjo, which is why when he says he is quitting the PDP because of Jonathan’s shortcomings, we must all refuse to go to bed.
It is a trick. Even Jonathan knows Obasanjo did not select him for vice-president in 2006 because he numbered among the brightest or the strongest.
On the contrary, he selected Jonathan, like Yar’Adua, because he wanted people who could guarantee the criminals continued to manage the jails.
This is why anyone who believes Obasanjo and Jonathan are really at war does not understand strategy. Were they truly to go to war, the PDP would certainly surrender the presidency, and many of the thieves who run the PDP would go to jail. Mr. Jonathan may not appreciate this nightmare but Obasanjo fully does. He knows where he does not want to spend his final days.
The overriding objective, DRB—to keep the PDP in the presidency— unites both men. It is powerful enough to cause Obasanjo to pretend to be out of the party as some kind of free agent.
What does a free agent do? He smiles at prospective suitors. He keeps them guessing, he negotiates, he infiltrates. He might join, but that does not mean he will not destroy from within. He might not join, but that does not mean he will not destroy from the outside.
Still, we must give Obasanjo a chance, as all politicians have sinned. If we are to do this, however, the first move must come from Obasanjo himself. His main problem is not with Jonathan; it is with the Nigerian people, and it is to them he ought to issue a categorical apology, and negotiate the future.
In the absence of such a pass, Nigerians must lookout: there is gargantuan mischief afoot. Obasanjo is PDP, and PDP is Obasanjo.
- Twitter: @SonalaOlumhense