For those of us not privileged to have been born in the 60's, the heroic and bravery of Retired General Olusegun Obasanjo was taught to us in the four walls of elementary and secondary schools.
'...the civil war lasted for years' my primary school teacher, Mr. Bayo began in one of his numerous recounts of how the Nigerian civil war of 1967 ended. 'So many people were killed but the war was brought to an end when the commander of the 3rd Marine Commando Division led by, Olusegun Obasanjo took over Owerri, this single act ended the civil war'
Like every patriot who have served before and after him, he bled to protect fellow countrymen and women but above all he stood his ground in ensuring the sovereignty of our dear country is never jeopardized.
Unlike many of his colleagues in the military, who lust for power thereby forcefully getting one through coup, Obasanjo showed exemplary leadership, discipline and great respect for the democratic institution by not participating in any of the military coup and even supervised the return to civilian rule in 1979. These Obasanjo should be praised for.
But as story becomes history and history becomes legend and legend becomes myth, Obasanjo became the president of Nigeria in 1999 after years of military rule. Many have argued that this single act rubbished whatever goodwill Obasanjo has and he could have simply rejected the offer and preserve the illusion of his heroism. Others believe that Obasanjo became the president of Nigeria at a time his patriotism was most needed and he could have written his name in gold if only he didn't let greed take over his soul.
Far different from the Obasanjo of old who served with Late Murtala Mohammed, the Obasanjo of 1999 was a man changed by the iron bars of the prison. If there was any goodwill Obasanjo worked hard to achieve before 1999 he forfeited it there after.
Under his watch; corruption, graft and nepotism were knighted into the nucleus of democratic institutions and Nigeria, a nation with every needed elements to grow and develop was dragged back to the primordial days. He corrupted key institutions and processes – INEC, Police, Civil Service, Legislature among others. To say the Obasanjo's administration didn't have some pluses will be unfair. The privatization of the telecom industry and bank recapitalization were strong and needed policies his government implemented but his bad over weighs his good.
-In the report of the infamous Halliburton fraud, President (as he then was) Obasanjo supervised the sharing of the $74million bribe by Halliburton to influence the award of the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) contract in Nigeria. He was reported to have given his aide, Bodunde Adeyanju, a whooping $21million of the bribe. This is less the Siemens and Wilbros oil scams.
- The $16billion allocated for the National integrated power project developed magical legs while additional 16billion naira was paid to 34 ghost companies to execute project under the same scheme.
- Obasanjo directed the sales of the Kaduna and Port Harcourt refineries to friends at a give away price of $750milion
- In his promise to revive the railway sector, President Obasanjo removed 8.3billion naira from the nation's treasury but this money miraculously didn't get to the rails even after leaving the treasury.
- On February 5, 2009, the Daily Sun reported that President Obasanjo was alleged to have singlehandedly withdrawn N232billion from the federation account without any approval from the National Assembly.
- The Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) fund of $86million felt the touch of the former president as $68.8million of its fund suddenly disappeared via an order from Obasanjo
- Transcorp believed to be directly linked to Obasanjo Holdings limited suddenly got acquisition of four major oil blocs namely OPL218, 219, 209 and 220 allocated to it on 21 July 2005 by President Obasanjo, it also acquired NITEL and Nicon-Hilton.
- At the twilight of his administration, President Olusegun Obasanjo awarded some contracts totalling 850billion naira in the following tranches. 70billion naira to revive the textile industry, 58.6billion naira for the second Niger Bridge and maintenance of same for 42billion naira, 16.53billion naira for the reconstruction of the Lagos port harbours, 20billion naira for the expansion of the Lagos airport, 4.8billion naira for the building of permanent accommodation for the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), 1.39billion naira for the construction of the Ministry of Defence's permanent residence, 1.4billion naira for the conversion of steam and head for power plant, 47.4billion naira for the conversion of the Alaoji power plant to double circuit, 3.5billion naira for the procurement and repair of two boilers at the Egbin power station and 233million naira to fix the Agege-Lagos road. All these funds were stolen!
- In his infamous third term move, the former president was reported to have bribed members of the National Assembly with a total sum of 10billion naira, a report former Senate President, Ken Nnamani and Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila corroborated.
Today, the same Obasanjo now parades himself as a nationalist and statesman. In his recent book titled 'My Watch', Obasanjo amplified himself as a saint who was surrounded by criminals but above all a saint. The book illustrates the fiction of what Obasanjo would have loved to be and represent. Just like he demonstrated in 'My Command', his personal memoir on the civil war, he centers himself as a Marvel super hero against evey other. Today, he stands up tall to blast the administration of Goodluck Jonathan as he did against Late Umaru Yar'adu and Gbenga Daniel. The sin of the trio was that they didn't give him the privilege to run via proxy. Most of the attacks on the Jonathan administration were based on the flaws and frauds of the Obasanjo's administration.
A renowned political satirist, Elnathan John, said recently, "Nigeria is great. You can try to elongate your tenure, fail, leave office, then write sermons to the incumbent on good governance and s***."
The new Obasanjo has shown himself to be a man whose engine runs on consistent publicity. He places himself as a center of attraction and loves to be in control of everyone and everything around him. A friend recently described the new Obasanjo as ' a selfish, vindictive, narcissistic Fox'.
During an interview recently with Fox TV and reproduced by 'Washington Times' on why he has refused to critique the Obama's administration, George W. Bush replied “I don’t think it’s good for the country to have a former president undermine a current president; I think it’s bad for the presidency for that matter,” speaking further he said “Secondly, I really have had all the fame I want,” he continued. “I really don’t long for publicity. And the truth of the matter is in order for me to generate publicity I’d have to either attack the Republican Party, which I don’t want to do, or attack the president, which I don’t want to do. And so I’m perfectly content to be out of the limelight.”
The new Obasanjo needs to understand that to truly seek equity, one must come with clean hands. The backwardness, dilapidation and putrefaction of Nigeria is majorly the result of eight years of grand corruption, greed and graft supervised, presided and executed by him.
Adekoya Boladale wrote via [email protected]
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