Obasanjo should go straight back to jail

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo obviously holds all of us in utter disdain. Last week, he was quoted as saying that Nigerians voted him into power in 1999 not to rebuild Nigeria’s obsolescent infrastructure, but to unite the country. Initially, I thought he was misquoted because no leader that is well, with the right screws in the right places in his head, will go that distance to insult the intellect and sensibilities of people.

But even many of us that have long dismissed the former president as a stark-raving lunatic, unfit to lead even a committee of two people, didn’t know he was far worse than we had imagined.

Ok, he was not elected to rebuild roads, schools, electricity supplies, hospitals, refineries, water supplies, and so on. So, what did he do with all the money that was supposedly handed to him to build the infrastructure? For roads alone, he received nearly N1trillion in the eight years he was in power. So, where are the roads he built with this huge amount? I hope Nigerians still remember that a billion is one thousand million and a trillion is one million million. And that is for roads alone. For the electricity infrastructure, the House of Representatives said Obasanjo expended $16billion (sixteen billion dollars) or more than N2trillion. And, of course, we all can see the results with the darkness everywhere. So, if, according to the bizarre former president, he was elected to foster unity and not to build infrastructure, was he also elected to steal all our money?

Nigeria has seen corrupt leaders but Obasanjo stands alone. He is probably the most corrupt and most demented leader ever to have ruled a country anywhere in the world. That was why, in spite of the humongous and unprecedented amount of petrodollars that Nigeria earned throughout the eight years he was in power, our road networks became even more dilapidated with potholes that killed several road users during his regime, our electricity infrastructure nearly collapsed, our refineries stopped working, and our hospitals became places people go to die. If an audit of the condition of our federal hospitals is made, it would be found that almost all of them did not get a single piece of equipment or medicine throughout the eight years Obasanjo was in power. And yet, billions and billions of naira were taken out and purportedly expended on several of these projects.

And that was not all. Obasanjo’s greatest crime against Nigeria was in the total destruction of our electoral system and our democracy. Votes don’t count anymore. He was handed a respectable electoral system by his predecessor, General Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd), in 1999 but by 2003 when Obasanjo took over the process, our former president ensured that he had stamped his rogue personality firmly on our electoral process. And under his watch, his boys like Chris Uba routinely kidnapped serving governors without any consequences. The police, of course, obeyed Uba’s instructions precisely because they knew his relationship with Obasanjo. And because Obasanjo got away with the criminality and brigandage of the 2003 elections, which he personally superintended, he thought he would get away with a very ignominious third term agenda also. When he failed, he then conceived the idea of punishing us further with “Alhaji Do Nothing” as president and “Dr Do Little” as vice president in the most fraudulent election ever to be conducted in the history of elections in the world. The imbroglio in Ekiti today is directly traceable to Obasanjo’s earlier irresponsible handling of elections in Nigeria.

As we all can see, democracy is already a thing of the past in Nigeria, murdered by Obasanjo personally. It was he who insisted that someone who was not a duly elected senator became Senate president in 2003. It was he who deliberately recruited Tafa Balogun, Abel Guobadia, Sunday Ehindero and the worst of them all, Maurice Iwu, for all the elections he had conducted. And it is he that has now made it absolutely impossible for Nigerians to vote for a candidate of their choice in any election.

But Obasanjo also did not tell us his scorecard regarding the fostering of unity which, by his funny understanding, he was voted to achieve. But I will tell him. Yes, before he became president, some of our past leaders had mismanaged the delicate ethnic relations in the country, but by the time Obasanjo was ready to leave on May 29, 2007, the whole of Nigeria had united, but against one common enemy – Obasanjo himself.

In 1999, he was voted in by the North, and supported by the South- East and South-South. His own people, the South-West, roundly rejected him. They knew the man better than the rest of us and we should have listened. But, by the time he was leaving, it was difficult to know which area hated him the most. The North, South-East, South- South and, of course, the South-West competed in their hatred of the man who has been the greatest destroyer of their commonweal. Today, Obasanjo cannot walk freely in the South-West – he would be lynched – and if he tries walking the streets of the South-East and South-South, he will be toast.

For a man who is attempting to appropriate unity of the country as his most important legacy not to remember that he was the peacetime leader who presided over a period of the most horrendous bloodshed in Nigeria is indeed grotesque. That, of course, was on account of the irresponsible leadership he offered the country. It has been said that more people died in Nigeria during the eight years of Obasanjo through unnecessary strife, militant actions, expired bomb accidents, ethnic and sectarian riots, and multiple plane crashes that included even children that people actually started murmuring that the former president needed the blood to achieve some demonic ends. And this is not talking of the genocide Obasanjo inspired in Zaki Biam in Benue State and Odi in the Niger Delta. Or, the number of innocent people killed on election days in 2003 and 2007. If this is Obasanjo’s idea of “unity”, then, he must see a psychiatrist at once.

But Obasanjo’s declaration last week is also a clear admission that all he did in the eight years he was in power was to preside over the massive looting of the country. Nigerians are therefore waiting for the day he will be tried publicly like a common thief that he is and sent back to jail where he truly belongs. That is if he is lucky. What nonsense unity!

by Sam Nda-Isaiah- LEADERSHIP