Obasanjo and His Co-Travellers

By Dr Ajayi Balogun,

It is obvious that some retired and tired politicians have joined alliance with hostile forces to truncate the nation’s collective progress and peaceful coexistence. The likes of Gen Olusegun Obasanjo, Ibrahim Babangida, Abdulsalami Abubakar, all Former Heads of State have taken up the task of government as if they never administered one. Surprisingly, they are responsible for the debilitating state of the country’s socioeconomic and political woes. It is rather senseless to continue to call out the government when under the leadership of the former leaders, now turned critics, Nigeria did not fare any better.

More appalling is the fact that these failed leaders especially Olusegun Obasanjo, who believes he is some sort of messiah. He thinks speaks as if Nigeria has forgotten the era of his maladministration. Destiny bestowed him the opportunity to make Nigeria better but all he did was abuse the chance by enmeshing himself in gut wrenching scandals that have longed trailed him even after the end of his reign. Obasanjo and the past leaders, he is bent on mobilising to join his bandwagon are all accused of various atrocities while in power. From corruption to embezzling of funds to abuse of political power, all these former heads of states have had wanton history of evil committed during their regimes.

Obasanjo continues to parade himself as a saint whereas the damage he has caused this country compared to other leaders remain unmatched. In fact, Nigeria is yet to recover from the negative impact of his administration. For someone who got the Presidency on a gold platter, straight from prison, one would have thought that Obasanjo would have easily related with the plight of the average Nigerian and ruled with fatherly love and compassion. Instead, he left Nigeria worse than he met it. Most striking and shocking under Obasanjo’s administration remains the Odi massacre which wreaked monumental havoc on the community and left behind about 2,500 fatalities. We cannot forget how these incidents ignited both local and international condemnation against him.

Nigerians would probably enjoy stable electricity today if the $16 billion meant for the power sector was not embezzled under his watch. How callous and cruel can a human being be? He was also alleged to have diverted official funds to buy about 200 million units of Transcorp shares. His cronies are suspected to misappropriated billions of Naira from government treasury to fund his failed Third Term bid and not only use his position as the President to raise fund for the construction of his library, but diverted over N6.5bn for his private use. Singlehandedly, he approved the concession of the Ajaokuta Steel Complex against due process, a company that is worth over $100b and could have provided 500,000 direct and indirect jobs as well as contribute to visible growth and human capacity building in Nigeria’s economy. Likewise, the award of the East-West Road and second Niger Bridge which were all “audio” projects approved by the Obasanjo administration as a strategy to score cheap political points; approved by mouth but was never included in the budget for appropriation.

Unbeknownst to many, the insecurity which Obasanjo capitalises on to attract sympathy and attention to himself started under his administration. Not many are aware that the emergence of Boko Haram terrorism was a fallout of the inaction of Obasanjo after he underestimated the introduction of sharia law that sparked ethnoreligious crisis in the northern part of the country. If he had not neglected the caution of many well-meaning Nigerians and members of the international community against sharia, boko haram would never have emerged. The bloodletting and wonton destruction of property which has become the bane of our unity are all as a result of dereliction of Obasanjo’s constitutional duty.

Another fantastically corrupt leader that the country has had the misfortune of being governed by is former Head of State, Gen Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida. Known to be one of most intelligent military officers in Nigeria who could have elevated the nation as one of the most developed countries in Africa, Babangida rather chose the path of corruption and dictatorship. He massively misappropriated and siphoned billions of dollars out of the country that Jeffrey Robinson author of The Sink, noted that of the $120 billion siphoned out of the Nigerian treasury $20 billion is allegedly traceable to IBB. Babangida’s loot according to the World Bank and other international sources of information is estimated at over $35 billion stolen from the Nigerian treasury. Imagine what such amount could have been achieved with in Nigeria if it was made to good use.

Similarly, the annulment of June 12 election, death of Dele Giwa, closure of media houses and contempt for the Justice Chukwudifu Oputa led Human Rights Violation Investigation Commission (HRVIC) panel are few examples of IBB act of monstrosity while in power. It is disheartening that someone like IBB who is known to have high level disregard for democracy and worth of human life will directly or indirectly malign any administration.

In all of this, the greatest face of deceit and hypocrisy in Nigeria’s history is Abdusalami Abubakar who continues to parade himself as a peace maker. The same man is known to have emptied the central bank in his short period as Head of State. Records have shown that the late General Abacha left a foreign reserve of 9.7 billion dollars but Abubakar claimed to have met only 7.17 billion dollars. What Abacha accumulated in five years, Abdulsalami depleted in just nine months!

It is obvious that the deep-seated frustrations of Obasanjo and co-conspirators are embedded in the fact that the Buhari Administration has not given them the opportunity to continue to bleed Nigeria dry to satisfy their unquenchable thirst for wealth, despite their devastating rulership. Obasanjo especially has a penchant to play God which has unfortunately and to his disdain, been thwarted by this administration so he continues to vent his anger publicly while plotting with enemy forces to disparage government. It is therefore not farfetched that security challenges continue to get worse. No doubt, Obasanjo and his cohorts may be exacerbating these security threats behind the scenes to enable them have reasons to continue to portray this government as insensitive. Their aim is to incite the public and pit citizens against government leading to civil disobedience and anarchy.

These past leaders without conscience never loved Nigeria. Nigeria served their greedy quests and in turn, war, disunity, insecurity, unpatriotism and disloyalty is their pay back. The good thing is that not all past leaders are on same page with these disreputable and heartless personalities. Gowon as a sign post of good leadership has realised their hypocrisy and has since distanced himself from the cruel ploy to destabilise Nigeria. It is also high time that Obasanjo understands his time and relevance in the scheme of things has long expired therefore poking holes in Nigeria’s fabric of unity could only behove him doom. It is doubtful he has come to terms with the fact that his seditious actions could erode his status as an Elder Statesman else, he would have since peacefully retire to his farm to save what is left of his integrity. Obasanjo and his co travellers must know that Nigeria is bigger and would outlive them. The seeds of discord they continue to sow will someday soon consume them.

Dr Ajayi Balogun is a public affairs analyst.

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