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By Morak Babajide-Alabi
In recent times, like many Nigerians, I have been forced to ask loudly what the man Olusegun Aremu Obasanjo is “looking” for. The man has of late been acting like a snake whose tail has been cut off and in the process looking for vengeance on whoever cut the tail off. Or whoever happens to be around him.
It was not long ago that this three-time Nigeria’s Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces launched a book he authored and in which he took various Nigerians to the cleaners. Despite a court order banning him from going ahead with the sale of the book, he behaved to type and flagrantly violated the order.
And ever since the launch of the book referred to in most quarters as a figment of the fertile imagination of the former dictator, he has been parading himself as a child in need of new toy. And characteristic of him all his life, Obasanjo has been throwing away the few toys of “goodwill” he has left in his pram. He has become implacable ever since.
We get really confused so many times what the role and mission of the former head of state is. Sometimes you hear him sounding off on the side of the masses, and in a little while, he is acting as if he care less who is at the bottom of the ladder.
It is however on record that no man in the history of Nigeria has enjoyed the type of goodwill the man Obasanjo enjoyed immediately he was released from prison after the death of the maximum leader Sani Abacha. I still recall his first public appearance in June 1998 after emerging from the prison. While his physical appearance appeared as if he had spent the full 15 years behind the bar, he actually spent just a few months. He was “properly spent” and looked like someone in need of descent grooming.
Acting the game plan of the military, OBJ was put forward as the compromise presidential candidate in 1999. Nigerians voted for him and he was given another opportunity to redeem himself. However, it is on record that by the end of his first term, many Nigerians have given up on him. They concluded he was no different in approach, attitude and mode to other Nigerian politicians.
Despite the condemnation from Nigerians that he spent his first term globe-trotting, Obasanjo was voted back to power in 2003. Another opportunity on a platter of gold to redeem himself and finish up on whatever he started in the first term. It is on record (again) that rather than get down to work and write his name on the good side of history, he was busy canvassing for a record third term in office.
Under OBJ, corruption, mismanagement became the new haunting words for opponents or whoever had the guts to question him. The southwest Nigerians became disillusioned under his regime. They “looked” on in disbelief how he left the Lagos – Ibadan expressway unattended to. They were shocked at his attitude to the Lagos – Sango-Otta road. This is despite the fact that his farm was on this stretch.
It was quite difficult to understand his agenda in the office besides that of the third term aspiration. He publicly disagreed with his Vice President and brought the control of the oil ministry under his regime.
Probably OBJ could be credited with a few successes while in government. But the level of expectations on him was too high that when weighed against each other, he would be termed a failure. No other Nigerian head of state or president “enjoyed” as much family controversies as he did while in office. A particular son of his enjoyed washing his dad’s “dirty linen in public”. And he sure did it as many times as he had the opportunity.
Of recent though, OBJ has been making so much noise on governance and condemning the government of Goodluck Jonathan. He has taken delight in embarrassing the “young” man whom he once described as the best thing for Nigeria.
Analysts have condemned OBJ’s public condemnation of GEJ’ cluelessness. While it may be concluded (subject to verification) that GEJ is clueless, they think OBJ as an elder statesman should play the advisory role and point the “young” GEJ in the right direction. But the opposite has been the case for him.
While hobnobbing with the opposition, he plays the role of lover of democracy. Until recently, when he publicly tore his PDP membership card, he was noted for anti-party activities.
The question is, “What actually does OBJ want”? It seems it’s only him that can answer this question. Is it patriotism that has turned him into a kid with no regard for constitutional authorities? Is it his love for the country that has overtaken his senses?
Only Obasanjo can answer this question.