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Those of us born after the 60’s
were taught about the heroics and
bravery of the retired General
Olusegun Obasanjo in the four
walls of elementary and secondary
schools. ‘The Civil War lasted for
years,” my primary school teacher, Mr. Bayo, began 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 3rd Marine
Commando Division led by
Olusegun Obasanjo took over
Owerri. This single act ended the war.” Like all the patriots who have
served before and after him, he
bled to protect fellow countrymen
and women. But, above all, he
stood his ground in ensuring that
sovereignty of our dear country is never jeopardized. Unlike many of his colleagues in
the military who, in their lust for
power, have forcefully got one
through coup, Obasanjo showed
exemplary leadership, discipline
and great respect for the democratic institution by not
participating in any coups. He even
supervised the return to civilian
rule in 1979. All the above
Obasanjo should be praised for. But 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 argue that this single act rubbished whatever goodwill
Obasanjo had. He could have
simply rejected the offer and
preserved 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
the “olden times” who served with
the late Murtala Mohammed, the
Obasanjo of 1999 was a man
changed by the iron bars of prison.
If there was any goodwill Obasanjo worked hard to achieve
before 1999, he forfeited it
thereafter. Under his watch, corruption, graft
and nepotism were knighted into
the nucleus of democratic
institutions. Nigeria, a nation with
every needed elements to grow
and develop, was dragged back to the primordial days. He corrupted
key institutions and processes –
the INEC, the police, civil service,
legislature, among others. To say
the Obasanjo’s administration
didn’t have some pluses would be unfair. The privatization of the
telecom industry and bank
recapitalization were strong and
needed policies his government
implemented. But his bads
overweighs his goods. In the report of the infamous
Halliburton fraud, President (as
he then was) Obasanjo
supervised the sharing of the $
74 million 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
$21 million of the bribe. This is
less the Siemens and Wilbros oil scams.
The $16 billion allocated for the
National Integrated Power
Project developed magical legs
while additional N16 billion was
paid to 34 ghost companies to execute project under the same
Obasanjo directed the sale of
the Kaduna and Port Harcourt
refineries to friends at a
giveaway price of $750 milion. In his promise to revive the
railway sector, President
Obasanjo removed N8.3 billion
from the nation’s treasury, but
this money miraculously didn’t
get to the rails. On February 5, 2009, the Daily
Sun reported that President
Obasanjo has allegedly single-
handedly withdrawn N232 billion
from the Federation Account
without any approval from the National Assembly.
The bilateral air transport
agreement (BASA) fund of $86
million felt the touch of the
former President, as $68.8
million “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 N850
bn in the following tranches: N70
billion to revive textile industry;
N58.6bn for the second Niger
Bridge and maintenance of same for N42bn; N16.53bn for
reconstruction of the Lagos port
harbours; N20bn for expansion
of the Lagos airport; N4.8bn to
build permanent accommodation
for the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC); N1.39bn for
construction of the Ministry of
Defence’s permanent residence;
N1.4bn for conversion of steam
and head for power plant;
N47.4bn for conversion of the Alaoji power plant to double
circuit; N3.5bn for procurement
and repair of two boilers at the
Egbin power station; N233
million 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 N10 billion, a report former
Senate President, Ken Nnamani
and Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila
corroborated. Today, the same Obasanjo
parades himself as a nationalist
and a statesman. In his 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 superhero against
everyone. Today, he stands up tall
to blast the administration of
Goodluck Jonathan, as he did against the late Umaru Yar’adua
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 sh…t.” 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 a recent interview with Fox
TV, reproduced by Washington Times, on why he has refused to
critique the Obama 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.” Further, he said: “I really have had all the fame I want. 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.

A man like Gen Olusegun Obasanjo today should be politically neutral. He is a father for Nigerians and we all need to look through his illuminating darkness.

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