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OPINION: Skullduggery as OBJ Claims Moral Authority, Writes Letter to Youths

Obasanjo
THEWILL APP ADS 2

Former president, General (chief) Olusegun Obasanjo, OBJ, inadvertently revealed his agenda or motive for endorsing Mr Peter Obi when he wrote in his 1st January sensational letter to Nigerian youths, goading them to vote for Mr Peter Obi as president on 25 February 2023.

Referring to Mr Peter Obi, he wrote:

“In other words, he has people who can pull his ears, if and when necessary.”

Unfortunately, he forgot that when he thought he could ‘pull the ears’ of Umaru Yar’dua of blessed memory, he failed to realise that Yar’adua was not ready to be his stooge or lackey.

Hence the president that succeeded him in office in 2007 promptly reversed most of the policies that Baba OBJ had introduced, chief amongst them is the reversal of the reform policies for the unbundling of electricity generation and distribution, as well as petroleum drilling, refining and distribution sectors that had been under the management of the government, resulting in sub-optimal output.

It is on record that the refineries that had been sold to Dangote Group, etc, under Baba OBJ/Wazirin Atiku Abubakar regime, were taken back and the billions of dollars spent in acquiring assets to boost the electricity supply in our country were wasted, as the equipment imported to enable the scaling up of its supply was left to rot away in the seaports when Yar’dua took over as president. The perfidy stated above was the subject of the Ndudi Elumelu-led committee of the House of Representatives, which delved into the issues surrounding the investments by the OBJ regime, totalling $16 billion during Umaru Yar,adua/Goodluck Jonathan regimes between 2007 and 2011.

In light of the above, the concept of supporting a candidate so that he/she can be a lackey to do an outgoing president’s bidding has never been an efficacious strategy.

This is why l expected that Baba OBJ would not be susceptible to such at this point in time and should have been immune with his level of experience in the leadership of our beloved country.

How can we also forget that Baba OBJ also lost out to president Goodluck Jonathan, whom he had also backed to step up from vice president into a substantive president after President Yar’dua passed away as a serving president in 2010, and there was a leadership lacuna in Aso Rock Villa.

To get his pound of flesh after what he perceived to be a letdown by Yar’adua soon after his ascension to power, Baba OBJ had pushed for his replacement with Jonathan after his passage. That was when in the spirit of presidential power rotation between the South and North, politicians from the North had started clamouring for Yar’adua’s replacement with someone of their own ethnic stock, simply because it was their turn, as Yar’adua was yet to complete his tenure before his sudden demise two (2) years into his first tenure.

Jonathan succeeded in getting re-elected, but it didn’t take long for Jonathan as president to seek to detach himself from what was deemed as an overbearing influence of Baba OBJ, who had stomped for him to become president as he is currently doing for Obi.

So, my suspicion is that Baba OBJ is still seeking ways to enjoy the 3rd term that he failed to get legitimately when his term was up in 2007 and he attempted to tweak the constitution that limits tenure to two terms of eight (8) years and four (4) years per term to accommodate his apparently vaulting ambition.

The truth is that if and when Wazirin Atiku Abubakar, AA, becomes president in 2023, he will be coming back to continue where he stopped when he served as vice president of OBJ and was in charge of the privatisation council. In the likely event that it so happens, petrol scarcity now tormenting Nigerians will be a thing of the past and epileptic electricity supply would also be history, just as he made it possible for Nigeria and Nigerians in October 2001 to witness a revolution in the telecoms sector, which we are all currently enjoying because he had the opportunity to start the process and complete it over twenty-one (21) years ago.

But, out of spite, OBJ stripped AA of the position of masterminding the telecommunications revolution, a decision that was a malicious fallout of the events leading to his (Baba OBJ’s) re-election in 2003.

In fact, l am of the conviction that if AA had enough time to complete the process of privatising the electricity power and petroleum refining and distribution sectors while he was chairman of the privatisation council, Nigeria would not be in darkness today and a whopping N6 trillion (some would argue in excess of N15 trillion since 2015), would not have been spent on subsidising petrol pump price instead of subsidising education in 2022 national budget.

In the highly caustic letter penned by Baba OBJ, he admonished politicians not to make elections a do-or-die affair. How hypocritical!

Nigerians can’t forget that it was baba OBJ that stated in the run-up to the election that ushered in his successor, Umaru Yar’adua, in 2007 that election is a do-or die-affair.

It is heartening that after leaving office he has realised that it’s better that democracy is practised without the autocratic elements that marked his eight (8) years reign as a democratically elected president (1999-2007)

That is keeping in mind the atrocities committed by the military against civilians under his watch in Odi, Bayelsa state, where 900 people were killed in November 1999, for allegedly murdering policemen sent to keep the peace and about 200 lives were also snuffed out in Zaki-Biam, in Benue state, in the month of October 2001, as reprisal action against the alleged abduction of 19 soldiers, who are members of the Nigerian army.

Given the abhorrent records above, it is difficult for democracy watchers in Nigeria not to suspect that Baba OBJ’s motive for endorsing Obi and Labour Party, LP, are not altruistic.

That is why sceptics are scoffing at his latest letter.

In any case, I had concluded long ago that the last sixty (60) days to the general elections would be packed with dramatic events, as political actors ramp up activities for the last leg of the race to the Aso Rock Villa-presidential seat of power.

But l was stunned by Baba OBJ’s 1st of January letter, specifically to Nigerian youths and the electorate in general, endorsing Mr Peter Obi, who is LP’s presidential candidate in the 2023 presidential election.

Prior to his current open letter promoting the candidacy of Mr Obi for the presidency of Nigeria in 2023, as a keen observer of politics in Nigeria, l had noted long ago that there was an unseen puppeteer behind ex-Anambra state governor, Obi’s bold move to become president of Nigeria, by contesting for the post this year without a solid or established political base.

Hitherto, Baba OBJ’s signature and if you like his imprimatur was at best a mere suspicion or speculation and never clear and unambiguous until his infamous letter published on the 1st day of January.

That is basically because not many people would have connected the dots to figure out that both Dr Doyin Okupe, the erstwhile campaign Director General for Mr Peter Obi’s presidential campaign that recently stepped down and his successor, my friend, Mr Akin Osuntokun, were former aides to Baba OBJ.

While Okupe was the spokesperson of Baba OBJ as president (1999-2007), Osuntokun was the Director General of News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, during the same period and both of them have remained his trusted allies to date.

Baba OBJ’s disguise was intentional because he wanted to retain the power behind the masquerade, perhaps for the reason that he might become a burden instead of an asset to Mr Obi, as he is turning out to be if Obi’s candidacy was traced to him very early in the race.

Invariably, the situation that he appeared to have been trying to avoid seems to be currently manifesting, if the bashing or pushback that his letter has elicited especially from the camp of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, BAT and a critical mass of Nigerians should be used as a barometer.

In the rebuttals, which have been brutal, OBJ’s sordid past has been dredged up and they are nothing flattering at all.

“The endorsement is actually worthless because the former President does not possess any political goodwill or leverage anywhere in Nigeria to make anyone win a Councillorship election let alone win a Presidential election. He is a political paperweight.

“He is also not a democrat anyone should be proud to be associated with”, the statement concluded.

To buttress how hard Baba OBJ has been scheming to return to the control of Nigeria as the grandmaster and godfather combined after he failed to succeed in extending his tenure also known as the third (3rd) term gambit, allow me to dwell on how the former president was also the initiator of the so-called third force-a political movement that was established to run against APC and PDP candidates, President Mohammadu Buhari, PMB and AA, was also populated and driven by his former aids and acolytes such as a former Cross Rivers state governor, ebullient Mr Donald Duke, ex-minister of Education, fiery Oby Ezekwesili, and scholarly Professor Pat Utomi et al.

But the movement failed to gain traction. And it is presently the back office, while the LP and Peter Obi are the front offices for the fresh push for Nigerian state capture, which the contestation for the governance of Nigeria is often all about.

At the inception of the Third Force (3rd Force) movement before the 2019 elections, Baba OBJ had made statements to the effect that the two main political parties – APC and PDP – were wobbling.

And reiterated that nothing has happened to convince me otherwise and claimed that he is reinforced in his conviction that the only choice left to take Nigeria out of Egypt to the Promised Land is the coalition of the concerned and the willing – ready for positive and drastic change, progress and involvement.

He then made the following declaration:

“I am happy to be a member of the Coalition for Nigeria Movement. The movement is a pressure point towards good governance. This is the commencement of our popular and grassroots association. Of course, the membership will be free to collectively decide on whether CNM becomes a political party. If the Movement decides to transform itself and go into partisan politics, I will cease to be a member.”

It is needless to state that the much-hyped political movement that was supposed to have been given wings to fly by OBJ, failed to take off. Some say dead on arrival.

Would he be able to use this same old wine in a new bottle to do what he could not accomplish in previous attempts?

I have my doubts.

Probably as a tireless Army General and in tandem with the dictum: ‘old soldier never dies’, Baba OBJ has been reinventing the platforms with which he intends to continue to indirectly rule Nigeria and has branded them with different names.

But the more he plays a pivotal role in them, the less successful he has been.

Perhaps, that is the reasoning behind his decision to remain incognito about his critical role in Mr Peter Obi’s presidential quest, which is hinged on his past experience of being disappointed each time he front-loads his interest in the candidate and the political platforms or movements.

As stated earlier, l do not see the latest attempt leading to a eureka moment for him. That is because both AA and BAT are too formidable political forces for him to walk over.

As readers may recall, APC and PDP presidential standard bearers that were targeted by the latest letter are veterans of multiple political wars against Baba OBJ, of which incidentally, he (OBJ) has always ended up being the worst in the fight.

Let us commence by recalling the former president’s battle with BAT who triumphed over him at the polls when the state remained the only Yoruba enclave that did not fall under the control of OBJ-led PDP as his candidate failed to win the Lagos state governorship election, which at that time was being governed by BAT.

The trick that OBJ applied in capturing South-West Nigeria during his presidency is well documented in elder statesman and ex-Ogun state governor and media royalty, Aremo Segun Osoba’s book: Battle Lines: My Adventures In Journalism and Politics.”

Incidentally, Osoba himself was also a victim of Baba OBJ’s political treachery because he was at that time, Ogun state governor:

“Some people should stop distorting history. When Obasanjo was deceiving us, Tinubu was deceiving him also by registering many parties.”

The second time BAT defeated OBJ was in court after he as president of the federal republic of Nigeria withheld the payment of the federal government’s monthly allocated funds to Lagos state. That was done on the excuse that the state under the watch of BAT created Local Government Development Areas, LCDA, which in OBJ’s reckoning was in contravention of the Nigerian constitution.

So, he unilaterally decided to seize the Lagos state government’s funds in an autocratic manner.

That was in spite of Nigeria operating a democratic system of government, not a dictatorship.

With the current vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo as then Lagos state Attorney General and commissioner for justice, the state went to court to slug it out with the central government led by Baba OBJ and got judgement in its favour at the Supreme Court level.

And it was the PDP government under late Umaru Yar’adua, who is Baba OBJ’s successor in 2007 that graciously released the trapped Lagos state government’s funds to it following the exit of Baba OBJ from Aso Rock Villa presidential seat of power on 29 May 2007.

I intentionally highlighted the issue of the seizure by Baba OBJ of Lagos state funds allocated to it from the federation account because it compelled BAT to seek other means of funding the state. And that desperation to find alternative sources of funding ushered in the use of tax consultants like the controversial Alfa Beta that creatively and massively taxed Lagosians in the manner that water would be expected to be squeezed out of a rock.

As they say in local lingo: Lagosians in particular and Nigerians generally can see from the foregoing when, where and how the rain started ‘beating’ them.

Frankly, it did not surprise me or folks like me that are close observers of Baba OBJ’s politics going back to his days as a war theatre commander of the 3rd Marine Commando during the unfortunate Nigerian civil war (1967-70 ), otherwise known as Biafran war, that he has been keen and still remains fixated on having his hands perpetually on the levers of power over Nigeria like an emperor.

Baba OBJ’s attempt in 2006/7 to amend the constitution of Nigeria to allow him to enjoy a third (3rd term) by subterfuge which is a deal that he had struck with governors (who are powerful leaders at the subnational levels), but which he failed to keep his own end of the bargain; tends to validate his tendencies and inclinations towards being an emperor of sorts ruling over Nigeria as a puppeteer since he could not amend the constitution of the country to self perpetuate.

Before proceeding further,l must confess that l have been fascinated by Baba OBJ who is the first to rule over Nigeria both as a military dictator (1976-79) and return in (1999 -2007)as a democratically elected president. The other personality is the incumbent president, Mohammadu Buhari, PMB.

 

That is why l have written about him multiple times and amongst the plethora of essays that l have had him in focus, l am referencing the particular one which deals with his penchant for letter writing and claiming moral authority or mounting moral high ground.

In the essay written and published in my Daily Independent column of February 6, 2016, (some 7 years ago) and featured on other mass media platforms titled: Letter To Buhari: “Is OBJ An Opportunist, Patriot Or Mystic?”, l sought answers to a slew of questions about him that had been agitating my mind.

Below is a snippet:

“That is why, to me, this is a kind of déjà vu encore. In 2015, candidate Buhari similarly capitalised on the suffering of the masses ostensibly due to the “clueless government” of Goodluck Jonathan and rode into Aso Rock on that premise. In 2018, owing to the absence of a credible presidential candidate with a mass appeal to challenge Buhari, it became inevitable that OBJ, who still has political firepower in his belly to galvanise public angst against his targets, would seize the moment to muddy the 2019 political water for PMB via his letter. As we all know, nature abhors vacuums, and to that extent, it can be argued that OBJ is only filling a political void. This belief is underscored by the fact that he is not only tagging PMB as a bad product, but he is also marshalling his support base through a political platform aptly tagged Coalition for Nigeria Movement (CNM) also known as the Third Force, which is a mystic nomenclature aimed at spoiling the chances of the ruling and main opposition parties, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and PDP in the 2019 general elections.

“By so doing, OBJ may be finally stretching his narcissistic traits to new levels by taking the moral high ground of being all-knowing and perhaps the one appointed by God to save Nigeria. An attitude that his antagonists have alluded to in their scathing responses to his letter.

“In 2007, OBJ pushed for Nigerians to vote for late president Umar Yar’Adua and they did. A little over two years into his tenure, he became gravely ill and OBJ tried to convince Nigerians to vote against him if he failed to resign and even nudged the National Assembly (NASS) to impeach him. But the man passed away before OBJ’s fury could become a storm.

“Again, he cajoled Nigerians to replace late Yar’Adua with then Vice President Goodluck Jonathan. Nigerians obliged him and a few years after, he bayed for the blood of his “blue-eyed” political prince Jonathan when the latter sought a second term.

“Anybody else but Jonathan, he sermonised. OBJ had his way with the incumbent President Buhari by taking advantage of the void created by the schism within then ruling party, PDP, which he masterminded by dramatically tearing up his membership card of the party on whose platform he ruled Nigeria for eight years.

 

“OBJ’s larger-than-life image can be situated within the foregoing strings of successes in determining the direction in which Nigeria’s leadership pendulum swings. But given that under his watch, nothing spectacular happened in Nigeria in terms of the deepening of democracy or growing the economy, and he coaxed Nigerians to vote in or vote out of office at least two presidents that he handpicked after his exit from power, where does OBJ derive the authority or audacity to keep twisting Nigerians between his fingers?”

Dear readers, the piece reproduced above was written by me in February of 2016 which is one month shy of seven (7) years ago.

The full article is reproduced in my book that would soon be on sale in leading bookshops titled: Leading From The Streets. Media Interventions By A Public Intellectual (1999-2019).

It is a six hundred (600) page book with a Foreword by HE General Yakubu Gowon, Head of State of Nigeria (1966-75) and Afterwards by eight (8) renowned authorities in the subject matters of the seven(7) chapters of the book containing seventy-seven (77) of the essays that l have written and published in the mass media between 1999 to 2029, which is twenty (20) years since the return of multi-party democracy in Nigeria.

I find it amazing that seven (7) years after the article, Baba OBJ is still mesmerizing or still trying to hoodwink Nigerian voters through his incendiary and often acerbic letters.

As students of modern Nigerian political history would recall, it was when OBJ between 2003-2007 tried to sideline the governors by getting the constitution amended with their exclusion in the amendment that could have created the opportunity for then ruling class to enjoy third (3rd) term in office, that the governors literally pulled the plug on him by ensuring that the amendment bill was ‘killed’ in the Senate.

The task of hobbling the amendment of the constitution was executed by then senate president, senate president, Ken Nnamani, who led his colleagues in the 5th senate under the influence of, or tale guided by then very powerful governors, who charged him with making sure that the constitution amendment bill was not passed.

Nnamani was later to pay the price by being stopped from returning to the senate when he was denied the ticket by his then mentor and governor of Enugu state, currently a senator of the federal republic, Dr Chimaroke Nnamani.

Again an account of the high wire political shenanigan is well documented in the book written by the former senate president, Ken Nnamani and victim of what l would like to term OBJ’s brand of politics that brooks no opposition, for lack of a better nomenclature. Remarkably, Nnamdi has no regrets.

On page 261 of the book “Standing Strong: Legislative Reforms, Third Term, And Other Issues Of The 5th Senate” while recapping his conversation with Obasanjo’s chief of staff, Major General Abdullahi Mohammed shortly after the matter was laid to rest, Nnamani wrote: “Tell him (Obasanjo) that we followed the procedure and it (the Constitution amendment) failed. Tell him it is over”.

As it may be recalled, Baba OBJ was in Paris, France, signing the infamous Green Tree agreement that handed over Bakassi to Cameroon when the terrible news of the killing of the constitution amendment to accommodate his tenure elongation plans was announced to him.

Fittingly, BAT’s team has responded to OBJ’s new year letter thus:

“The endorsement is actually worthless because the former President does not possess any political goodwill or leverage anywhere in Nigeria to make anyone win a Councillorship election let alone win a Presidential election. He is a political paperweight.

“He is also not a democrat anyone should be proud to be associated with,”

So much for the political battles that OBJ had lost to BAT.

At this juncture, let us bring to the fore, similar battles that OBJ also fought and lost to Wazirin Atiku Abubakar, AA.

As a former army general and head-of-state of Nigeria as well as the first to serve Nigeria both as a military-of-head and as well as president in a democratic political setting, Baba OBJ never shied away from wars so he has been synonymous with conflicts which he has lost and won.

And it is apropos that l apprise readers of the battles staged against AA by calling to remembrance the fact that owing to the raft of dictatorial actions taken by Baba OBJ during his first tenure (1999-2003), about seventeen (17)governors under the platform of PDP, including chief James Onanefe lbori, governor of Delta state and Orji Uzor Kalu of Abia state (1999-2007) as arrowheads, it was resolved that Baba OBJ would not be given the PDP ticket for a second term.

The governors were angling for the vice president to OBJ, in the person of AA, should rather be given the opportunity to fly the party’s flag. And Baba OBJ was in a fix and a cul-de-sac when then PDP chairman, Chief Audu Ogbe, conveyed the message from the rebelling governors to him.

Multiple accounts of what transpired thereafter abound. But for the purpose of this discussion, l would like to go with the account by Orji Uzor Kalu, presently a senator of the federal republic and senate minority leader, who in a media interview granted many years ago,(which is currently trending in the social media).

In the interview, he divulged how AA went down on his knees to beg the governors opposed to Baba OBJ’s second term while besieging them to sheath their swords.

According to Kalu, the aggrieved governors were initially implacable, but eventually got persuaded by AA, who incidentally was the potential beneficiary of the coup de grass.

But after OBJ’s re-election, salacious and sadistic stories have been told of how he visited Ogbe, pounded him and proceeded to sack him as PDP chairman the next day.

Thereafter he was believed to have directed his vengeance against lbori, late Diepreye Alamiesegha, then Bayelsa state governor and Orji Kalu, the perceived arrowheads of the OBJ must not be re-elected. It is a PDP internal squabble that AA persuaded the seventeen (17) aggrieved governors that had mobilised fellow governors against OBJ’s re-election in 2003.

The vendetta was taken a tad too far when in the bid to stop lbori from being eligible for re-election, he was framed for stealing zinc or roofing sheets enough to cover the whole of Apo in Abuja, Federal Capital Territory, FCT. It was an allegation without proof and lbori had to slug it out in court with OBJ where he also prevailed over OBJ.

Considering how the current Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, is appearing to have been framed as being a Boko Haram sponsor in the bid to arrest him and lock him away, which is a ploy that Emefiele’s camp aver is an attack triggered by his naira redesign policy that would negatively impact the ability of politicians to engage in vote buying during polls coming up in less than 60 days; the aphorism: give a dog a bad name so that you can hang it, rings true.

In light of the above, readers can imagine how far some powerful foes can go in trying to get their pound of flesh against their opponents in the political arena.

To cut the story short, besides lbori, Alamiesegha and Kalu’s ordeals, OBJ allegedly also did everything possible to ensure that AA did not succeed him as president in 2007. In fact, he openly vowed to work against allowing AA to become the president of Nigeria. There was the issue of PTDF where both of them fought dirty by washing dirty linen in public.

But AA, being a never-say-die fighter, went on to clear his name in a long-drawn battle in court with his principal, OBJ, after having been accused of corrupt practices which are in fact orchestrated charges by his traducers for the purpose of making the vice president ineligible to contest for the post of president of Nigeria.

The courts cleared him of all the charges of fraud levelled against him and was therefore declared eligible to contest for the presidency, which he did in the primaries against Umaru Yar’adua of blessed memory, who won the contest and became the flag bearer of PDP and subsequently won the presidency in 2007.

Now, it is worth pointing out that it is in the bid to revenge the perceived treachery by AA against him resulting in his debacle with the 17 governors that were against his second term bid, that Baba OBJ engaged in the personal vendetta fight during his second term resulting the stripping of AA of the responsibility of leading the privatization council that he had successfully driven to delivering GSM telephone services in Nigeria by licensing Econet of Zimbabwe (now Airtel) and MTN of South Africa that was the first to roll out their services in the year 2001.

It would interest readers to know that if AA had remained in charge of the privatization council during OBJ’s second tenure, perhaps the unbundling of the electric power production and distribution services as well as petroleum drilling, refining and distribution services from the control of government would have been completed by handing such public utilities to private sector operators in the manner that GLO, MTN and Airtel, as well as 9Mobile, are operating the telecommunications sector successfully.

Had the process not been truncated by the internal schism from 2003 to 2007, it is very likely that Nigerians would not be suffering epileptic electricity power supply and petroleum products shortage which is currently having a debilitating effect on society. The two aforementioned malaise are the bane of the Nigerian economy that would have been consigned to the dustbin of history basically because, without a stable and optimum supply of electricity, it has been impossible for the Nigerian economy to transit from consumption to production one without electricity to power factories that could lead to the much sought Industrial Revolution or facilitate an economy that would be open twenty-four (24/7) hours a day which could boost the GDP of Nigerian economy currently put at $430 million where it is currently to at least $1.1 billion where Indonesia, her peer in the 1960s is currently.

By directing his 1st January letter to Nigerian youths, Baba OBJ was trying to stand on moral high ground by pontificating corruption, integrity, age, etc. And he also tried to pitch youth against the older generation of politicians by invoking ‘It Is Your Turn’ in a parody of BAT’s ‘emi lo kan’ rhetorics.

Well, is Baba OBJ entitled to such moral high ground?

The facts below do not support such assumptions:

On the issue of corruption, a video where Ayodele Fayose, ex-governor of Ekiti state, is calling out Baba OBJ to refund the ten (10) million naira that he compelled all the 36 governors in the country to contribute towards the building of his presidential library in his Ota, Ogun state farm and country home.

The source of funds for the construction of that library has been a sore point and subject of public discussion, as it has since been described as perverse, even as private entrepreneurs were also believed to have been coerced to fund it.

Dr Oby Ezekwesili just raked up issues of corruption within PTDF and she fingered AA as a culprit. Well, if my memory is not failing me, l can recall that PTDF was the subject of an epic battle for Baba OBJ and AA wherein both fought dirty by washing their dirty linen in public as they traded accusations about how the institution served as a source of slush funds for purchasing cars etc for the consorts of both the president and vice president.

To the best of my recollection, the PTDF scandal was a plot to stop AA from contesting for the presidency by Baba OBJ, but AA turned it around by exposing Baba OBJ when he drew public attention to his perversion of the system and absolved himself of any wrongdoing in the law courts by getting a not guilty verdict. Thereafter, he was green-lighted to contest for the presidency which he did but lost to Umaru Yar’adua of blessed memory, perhaps because he had been handicapped by starting late and not being in Baba OBJ’s good book.

How can the youth that his 1st January letter is targeting relate to his sermonising when his real persona and public office records are nothing to emulate, but everything vile and unenviable?

In my reckoning, Baba OBJ’s record in the public arena is a case of Jekyll and Hyde or a Saint during the day and the devil at night.

From the same public records, Baba OBJ has been a terrible dad.

His daughter Iyabo has ascribed all sorts of unprintable names to him which for the sake of decency,l loathe reproducing here and his son, Gbenga, also amongst sundry allegations, accused him of sleeping with his (Gbenga’s) wife – incest.

How many youths did Baba OBJ engage in government during his reign?

When did he suddenly become a youth champion? Only in 2015, he supported Buhari, who was 72 against Goodluck Jonathan in his 50s. Less than eight (8) years after he is goading Nigerians to reject octogenarians in the 2023 general elections.

During his first tenure in office as president in 1999, he had oldies such as Mallam Adamu Ciroma as finance minister, Chief Anthony Anenih as minister of works, Chief Philip Asiodu as Economic Adviser and Chief Audu Ogbe as chairman of the party amongst other elders.

All these men of calibre and timber were not found wanting in the delivery of their duties. Or did they, and if they failed to discharge their responsibilities creditably, Baba OBJ did not indict them. Instead, he extolled the leadership virtues of which they are deserving.

And he boasted in his lightning-rod-like new year ‘homily’ that all the current presidential candidates are his mentees aiming to take our country back to the high level he had taken during his tenure. Does that not sound like someone being megalomaniacal?

Baba OBJ must have achieved the superlative success that he ascribed to himself with the help of the aforementioned granddaddies.

Is it not therefore curious that they are suddenly being de-marketed by Baba OBJ?

May l remind Baba OBJ that the president of the United States of America, USA, Joe Biden, is 80, the outgoing speaker, Nancy Pelosi, is 82 and former president, Donald Trump, has thrown his hat into the ring for the 2024 presidential contest is an octogenarian too?

Baba OBJ’s point about disparaging elders of which he is one remains unfathomable to me.

If at 85 years of age, he feels qualified and he has the mental capacity to counsel our youth and Nigerians in general as to who to vote for as our president in 2023, it means he is confident of his capacity to lead at his octogenarian age.

Why does he think that those less than his age and who are not suffering from any health debilities would not be able to perform the task of governance?

I implore readers to allow me to conclude by recalling the scathing comment below by Baba OBJ’s contemporary in the army Brigadier General, Godwin Alabi-lsama (rtd), who is the author of a seminal book on Nigerian civil war titled: The Tragedy Of Victory. On-The-Spot Account Of The Nigeria-Biafra War In The Atlantic Theatre “which is a 670-page tome published in 2013 where he debunked Baba OBJ’s claims of heroism during the war.

Alabi-Isama had engaged in a public spat with Baba OBJ during which he made the following caustic statement:

“I am not qualified to comment on Obasanjo’s political achievements, if any, for this country. The people and posterity will do that.

“There is no president in this country that he has not condemned. Haba! He always thinks that he has the preservation of knowledge on how to rule this country. Did the country move forward when he was Head of State or President? He destroyed the heart of national security. We can see the result today. He destroyed education in many ways. We see the result today. He destroyed a lot of other things. “As for how he has treated his family shabbily, his wife and children have openly made their comments. Those comments are in the public domain today and forever, even though Obasanjo cleverly brushes them aside in his current book.I implore Obasanjo to stop lying before he dies.”

With the above ‘scud missiles’, hurled at Baba OBJ, by someone he admits he knows very well (having played games with him) and they have fought together in real war fronts, it is now left to the youth and indeed Nigerians, in general, to decide if Baba OBJ has the moral standing to advise them on who to cast their vote for during the forthcoming general elections to be held on 25 February and 11 March this year.

 

* Magnus Onyibe, an entrepreneur, public policy analyst, author, development strategist, alumnus of Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, Massachusetts, USA and a former commissioner in Delta state government, sent this piece from Lagos.