No Smoke Without Fire By Garba Shehu

The timing of President   Olusegun Obasanjo’s recent attacks could not have been sharper. As with the   others before this one, his attacks reflect the ailments of successive   governments in the country. In the case of Jonathan administration, President   Obasanjo has directly and indirectly been pointing at a syndrome of drift,   corruption and denial.

Many who have paid attention to   these attacks believe that the former leader is just being his mischievous   self. Last in week in Jigawa, at a lecture to commemorate this year’s   Democracy Day, he said there is no security in the country because there is no   governance. Thereafter, he moved Lagos to unleash a diatribe against the   armed forces, accusing its leadership of siphoning money meant for the   procurement of equipment. This, according to him accounts for the lack of   security in the country.

On Tuesday last week, Obasanjo   unleashed his verbal arsenal against the parliament at the centre and the   states. All of them, he said, have not pursued any laws useful to the   country. Obasanjo, who has always accused them of only uniting when their   salary and perks are at a stake, charged that there are “rogues (and) armed   robbers” in the parliament at all levels.

Obasanjo looked at the nation’s   judiciary and described it as unworthy of the name. “Now” he thundered, “the   judiciary is riddled by corruption and this has affected other sectors of the   country”. He accused the judges of selling cases whereby “the highest bidder   takes all. That is what we have now.”

One must not forget as you sow,   so you reap. It is hard not to blame the former President for being the   architect of this unwanted situation. He is the master planner and a   beneficiary. It begets curiosity, in fact he can’t deny a vested interest in   the preservation of status-quo. Yet, he compounds you the more when he   consistently attacks and does not offer any solutions. In the circumstance,   those grating criticisms become open to suspicion that they are coming from   mischief or self-gratification. What could be the explanation for why all of   these are happening at this time?

There are suspicions that the   guru President may be trying to let the world know that he has problems with   our current rulers who may have veered off his laid down track. Uneasy with   his own shadows, bereft of brave ideas and bold moves within party and   government, the former President may have found the platform of public   speeches as his last resort to vent private anger and frustration.

Two, It is a known fact that   the pre-eminence of the former Governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola   Tinubu in the affairs of the politics of South – Western Nigeria must be a   source of political indigestion for the former military Head of State. To   upstage Tinubu, Obasanjo must now struggle to show himself not just as an   alternative but a leader who is credible and can be relied upon. This is a   deficit that Obasanjo brings to a contest for the South-West political space.   He cannot contend with the idea of a giant being supplanted by a perceived   midget, the very midget that turned out to be a giant killer.

A third scenario speaks of a   contest for the economic domination of Nigeria. The new alliance in our   unpredictable politics, one that has brought together the oil – producing   Niger Delta with their immense earnings and the Igbos of the   South-East, driven by their entrepreneurial spirit and a competent diaspora.   This is a matter that has set the stage for a major economic rivalry between   the East and the West. Forget the North, which had never been an important   factor in the economic equation. Northerners have always been left to eat the   crumbs of the Nigerian economy.

Moreover, held down by Boko   Haram and other internecine warfares, the Northerners do not even have   the potential of posing a threat to these major economic powers. For the   Yoruba, a kinsman of theirs, Obasanjo may have done all eight years in office   but all of that may not have given his people the kind of dividend that power   has yielded to the South-South and the East in just one year of the Jonathan   Presidency.


So deep down, there is really   more at a stake than what people will see as public criticism by a godfather   cum guru Head of State. A wise man says you cannot wake up someone who is   pretending to be asleep. Obasanjo is deeply is cunning and knows what he is   doing. Yes, this country may be paying a price for what is at best,   government incompetence and at the worst, political weakness in dealing with   issues in national security. The northern cities including Abuja, the   nation’s capital have been lurching from one bomb blast to the next while   southern towns are grappling with armed robbery and kidnapping. Chosen   ministers are free to loot while the opposition is asleep. Shell says up to a   third of crude oil produced in the country is stolen. Those who know him say   these issues worry OBJ as they do every patriot but there is more to it than   meets the eye.

All of the things said here do   not diminish the right of President Obasanjo as a leader and free citizen to   have sharp opinions. In private, a lot of our leaders will give you   unprintable perspectives on everyone and everything. The difference the   former President makes is that he can’t avoid being caught in   hyper-aggressive postures. He sees himself as the God of this democracy who   won’t bloody well say sorry for trampling on sensitive toes, although some   say that he built himself on the labour of others.

Those who know him say he   doesn’t care if it infuriates anyone whenever he speaks and that he genuinely   doesn’t care what they say.

While he is entitled to his views,   it is no less important to say that it diminishes our democracy when those   entrusted with protecting it, undermine it.



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