It was revealing when Dr. Olusegun Obasanjo confessed in an interview with the BBC that he was like all men, a sinner.
That perception, he admitted, formed the basis of his decision to recently forgive the perceived indiscretions of Atiku Abubakar, who served as his deputy in his second coming as Nigeria’s leader. As a Christian and PhD holder in Theology, he was not ignorant of the fact that forgiveness forms the basis for any man seeking forgiveness from God. Given this, it is surprising, the kind of venom that has been poured on the former president following his latest intervention in the polity.
Many political actors out of their deep hate for Obasanjo have refused to look at the message contained in his recent diatribe against the present system. Of course, there are many Obasanjo haters in the polity. Many of them were justifiably stopped in their personal and political indiscretions by Obasanjo when he served as president. There were also some others who were also wrongly harmed by Obasanjo the man, who like every one of us, is also prone to mistakes, indiscretions and his own failings.
However, many others who are present and where not, potential beneficiaries of the present dissonance in the polity have been prompt to pick up stones to abuse the former president for his effrontery in calling to question the drift in the polity. Without as much as proffering solutions to the pervading security, political and economic malaise, they have unabashedly thrown rocks at Dr. Obasanjo saying without evidence that as president that he, Obasanjo did worse. They forget that Obasanjo even drove compromised close personal and political associates away from his cabinet, unlike a situation where a confirmed certificate forger is pursuing lettered men with professorial qualifications! Please consider how Obasanjo dealt with Chief Afolabi Ojo and the way the Chief Okoi Obono-Obla matter has been handled. But if Obasanjo was terrible in the view of his critics, have those who promised change done any better? When these critics of Obasanjo throw mud at the man, they forget the legacies of his administration.
They forget the panache Dr. Obasanjo brought to bear as Nigeria’s president on the world stage. They forget the inclusiveness he brought to bear when as president his number one domestic operative was an Ibo man. His Chief of Staff was from the North, and he trusted Nigerians from everywhere with sensitive positions, not merely because they were Yoruba! They also put aside the fact that one of the achievements of the present regime in pushing Paris Club Debt refunds to state governments had its root in the historic debt write-off achieved by President Obasanjo. Yes, some of his actions as president such as the invasion of Odi were crude. But that was vintage Obasanjo whose action was prompted by the killing of 12 policemen. What an irony that today Nigerian soldiers have become fodder for terrorists.
It is in that light that those who criticize President Obasanjo’s objections to the developments in the country should be brought to ask whether baba should be forced to keep quiet when his dream for Nigeria is being so easily mortgaged on the platform of crude prebendal politics. Dr. Obasanjo as a person may be rough, coarse and even offensive in his attitudes towards friends and family. A reading of Mama Iyabo’s experience is especially touching, if not offensive. But those were mistakes which many of us make as men, and it is our prayer that God will grant Dr. Obasanjo forgiveness for whatever errors he made towards his family as a younger man. But when it comes to the matter of Nigeria, Obasanjo whether in office or out of office is certainly not a provincial statesman. He is not one to go to a region of the country and ask “why are you killing my people?” Obasanjo: CSOs write EU, Britain, US Instead, he has taken all parts of Nigeria as his constituency.
That is why at the height of the crisis in Maiduguri he stepped into the city to act as a mediator. Rather than the huff and puff about an irritable old man as some have done, Nigerians should look at the message contained in his recent homily. Nigerians should earnestly pray for more of the likes of Obasanjo who has proved consistent in his devotions towards a united and strong Nigeria. Such men and women provide a beacon at a time of anomie as this.
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