Obasanjo And The Nigeria Question | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Comment, Opinion

Obasanjo And The Nigeria Question

Posted: Oct 23, 2015 at 12:04 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Nwabueze Akabogu (JP)

The former Nigerian President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo is obviously one of the highly respected and revered leaders in the Contemporary Nigerian Political history in view of his immense contributions towards the Socio-economic and political development of the country. Chief Obasanjo’s long and selfless services to the country first as a former Military Head of State and later as the democratically elected President during the current civilian dispensation could not be easily quantified. Chief Obasanjo had equally played a unique and historic role during one of the darkest periods in the nation’s history when fate thrust upon him the onerous task of receiving the instrument of surrender from the “vanquished” Biafran Army as the then General Officer commanding the crack 3rd Marine Commandos of the Nigerian Army on that eventful day, 15th January 1970. Again, in 1999 at the advent of the political transition that later culminated in the current

democratic dispensation, Chief Obasanjo through sheer act of divine providence and contrary to all expectations emerged as the P.D.P Presidential flag bearer soon after his release from long incarceration in far away Bama maximum prison in Bornu State where he had most dehumanizing experience. The Late dreaded dictator, General Sani Abacha had ordered for the arrest and detention of Chief Obasanjo on trumped up charges of a plot to overthrow his regime. Chief Obasanjo later won the presidential election decisively and became the second democratically elected President of Nigeria.

It is therefore a great paradox that Chief Obasanjo himself ruled the nation for eight years and was behaving also like a dictator in a democratic setting in view of his seeming anti democratic stance in the course of his presidential pronouncements and actions.

The real essence of this piece however, is to critically examine and analyze former President Obasanjo’s personal conduct and public utterances since after leaving office in 2007 with a view to determining if his personal conduct generally speaking conformed to the acceptable conventional norms expected of a former President and elder statesman.

It is regrettable however to observe, that even though Chief Obasanjo has continued to serve the nation in different capacities including his recent role as a special envoy of the Federal Government to foreign countries and other international organizations, his general conduct coupled with his often unguarded and undiplomatic statements bordering on sensitive national issues did not portray him after-all as truly an elder statesman, an honour, under normal circumstances he so richly deserved. It is equally a matter of deep regret that Chief Obasanjo had the penchant for always playing to the gallery and often stirring up dangerous controversies which could further exacerbate the current political tension and uncertainty in the country.

Only recently, Chief Obasanjo while briefing President Buhari at the State House Abuja, on his recent diplomatic mission to the Republic of Guinea was quoted to have made certain unwarranted and highly provocative statement during his interactions with the State House Correspondents. Chief Obasanjo apparently behaving true to type was reported to have made what could be described as highly inflammable and undiplomatic statement while fielding questions from journalists in an attempt to re-open old deep wounds. Chief Obasanjo, while commending the military for their gallantry in combating the rampaging Boko Haram insurgency assured the press that the Nigerian military would definitely win the war against the insurgents just as they defeated the “Biafran Army” during the civil war.

By these unguarded, insensitive, and highly provocative utterances, Chief Obasanjo deliberately and mischievously created the unfortunate impression that the current Boko Haram insurgency could be equated or compared with and treated like the civil war which the former Head of State and highly revered elder statesman, General Yakubu Gowon (Rtd) had described as a conflict between brothers at the end of the war. Consequently, Gen Gowon in his uncommon wisdom and in the true spirit of reconciliation made what had become a famous declaration during his historic broadcast that heralded the end of the war on 15th January 1970 in which he announced to the entire world that there was no “victor” and no “vanquished” after the war, and he promptly initiated the popular policy commonly known as the “three RS” namely: Reconciliation, Rehabilitation, and Reconstruction.

It is highly regrettable therefore, that Chief Obasanjo’s recent remarks and posturing, were indeed a huge embarrassment and great disservice to the nation which is currently at a cross roads with myriad of challenges confronting the country and her people. The country Nigeria, today is obviously in a desperate situation which calls for fervent prayers as well as unity of purpose, and a common front among her citizens in order to surmount the prevailing ugly and extremely dangerous situation. It is needless to emphasize the point in this write up therefore, that the nation is currently passing through one of the most critical and trying periods in her history and as such will not welcome a situation whereby the so-called leaders would continue to make tactless and highly provocative statements that tend to divide the people thereby compounding the already dangerous and tense situation in the country. By trying to re-open the old wounds, Chief Obasanjo

in his quoted statement was obviously trying to compartmentalize the country along the lines of those Nigerians he unwittingly referred to as the “victors” and those that were the “vanquished”.

Chief Obasanjo’s reported statement was indeed a veiled attempt aimed at offending the sensibilities of Ndi Igbo (Igbos) of the South East geo-political zone who were the actual “vanquished Nigerians” and thereby rubbing more salt into the deep wounds inflicted on Ndi Igbo during and long after the terrible and devastating war in 1970. Ndigbo for too long had been turned into “a minority ethnic group” and reduced to the position of the “hewers of wood and modern slavery” which unfortunately had become their lot in their own country as a consequence of the senseless war that was thrust upon them.

It is an incontrovertible fact that Ndi Igbo had suffered monumental and unquantifiable losses both in human and material resources as well as physical and psychological trauma in the aftermath of the civil war and thus, Chief Obasanjo’s reported reckless and misguided comments and innuendos as well as those of his co-travelers on that unfortunate civil war were clearly constant and painful reminders to Ndigbo that they would continue to suffer unimaginable indignities and gross marginalization which had since become their common lot in the affairs of the nation as a consequence of their disastrous defeat during the war.


AKABOGU (JP), a regular Public Affairs Commentator and Analyst wrote in from Enugwu-Ukwu, Anambra State