The sudden resignation of former President Olusegun Obasanjo as the chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Board of Trustees, has not only left tongues wagging but seems to have left more questions than answers. STANLEY NKWOCHA takes a look at the issues that trail Obasanjo’s exit.
Penultimate Tuesday, just as the polity appeared dull, especially after the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)’S barometer seemed to be going down to zero degrees centigrade after a heated national convention of the party, former President Olusegun Obasanjo suddenly decided to ginger everyone’s swagger through a resignation announcement as the chairman of the PDP’s Board of Trustees.
As expected, uncertainty beclouded the polity as soon as the news of Obasanjo’s resignation filtered in. To many Nigerians, it was just another gist that was making its way on a very boring day, while to others it was one that needed to be treated with caution.
Not until a copy of Obasanjo’s resignation letter sent to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) was made public, did it dawn on all that at last the ‘Good Old General’ had taken a bow. But was it in good faith?
The force with which Chief Olusegun Kikiola Matthew Aremu Obasanjo was drafted into the PDP’s presidential race in 1998 as the party’s flag bearer seemed to be the same force with which he exited the party.
For this military officer turned politician, his sojourn in the nation’s political murky waters has been an all-encompassing movie – ‘the good, the bad, the ugly and as some would want to add, the funny’.
Seated at the March 24th National Convention of the PDP, not a wink of a sign did the former President give that he was retiring from the Party’s leadership of its BoT. Like a stallion bound for a hot chase all through the day, Obasanjo had defiantly sat down at the Glass Box, watching with keen interest as the events unfolded, a lot of which he contributed in masterminding.
And so when news crept in quietly that he was resigning from the BoT of the PDP, it was not clear as to why he had suddenly chosen to step aside, bearing in mind that he had till June to still call the shots at the top structure of the ruling party.
Obasanjo who personally signed the resignation letter, said as demanded by the constitution of his party, he had forwarded his letter to the national chairman of the party, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, saying it was time he did other things nagging for more attention.
“I have formally sent in my letter of resignation as the Chairman of BOT of PDP to the National Chairman of the party as prescribed in the party’s constitution. I have formally requested the President to allow my bowing out and to issue a short statement to that effect.
By relieving myself of the responsibility for chairmanship of BOT of PDP, I will have a bit more time to devote to the international demand on me,” he stated.
Adducing further reasons for his resignation, the former President said he hoped to channel more energy to serving mankind both nationally and internationally, just as he hopes to develop his presidential library towards encouraging investments for the country.
‘‘I wish to give some attention to mentoring across the board nationally and internationally in those areas that I have acquired some experience, expertise and in which I have something to share and also use my Presidential Library and to mobilising and encouraging investment in Nigeria and Africa,’ Obasanjo stated.
Given the room for speculations as no one wanted to believe his reasons for quitting, it became an all comers affair as the media especially went wild with reasons as to why he resigned. It was indeed a flurry of suggestions.
For instance, one of the reasons cited for his resignation was said to be the emergence of Alhaji Bamanga Tukur as the National Chairman of the PDP, saying Bamanga’s disposition to having Obasanjo’s erstwhile “Mr. Fix It”, Chief Tony Anenih, assumed the chairmanship of the BoT, may have triggered the resignation.
It is an open secret that Obasanjo displaced Anenih as the chairman of BoT in a “palace coup” in 2008 with the amendment of the party’s constitution which stipulated that only a former president elected on the platform of the PDP could occupy the position. However, another amendment was effected in 2009 which threw the chairmanship open, thereby terminating Obasanjo’s monopoly. This was done under the Presidency of late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.
Available information suggests that Obasanjo was interested in running for another term after the five-year tenure ends in July this year, but would now have to contend with other candidates. He sensed that Bamanga would not give him the leverage; therefore, based on his fear of a possible disgrace, he opted to eat the humble pie.
As the permutations went on, secretary of PDP’s Board of Trustees (BoT), Senator Walid Jibrin disclosed last week that the BoT was shocked and surprised at the former President’s action, adding however, that it would adopt consensus in choosing the next BoT Chair.
Senator Jibril who hails from the North Central geo-political zone of the country said that with him as secretary and from the North, quite a number of factors shall be considered in determining who becomes the next chairman, adding that the exit of former President Olusegun Obasanjo as BoT chairman does not portend any danger to the party.
The BoT secretary who described members of the board as highly classical, said that after due consultations and in line with the constitution of the party which stipulates that the members will elect their own Chairman and Secretary, a decision will be arrived at soon as to who leads the BoT.
Shocked at the former President’s resignation, Jibrin said he had put a call through to him (Obasanjo) on hearing of his action, but said Obasanjo assured him that he had just resigned and that he took the decision in his best interest.
Meanwhile, shocked by Tuesday’s sudden resignation of former President Olusegun Obasanjo as chair of the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the PDP, leaders of the party in the Southwest stormed his Abeokuta home.
Led by the party’s national vice chairman (Southwest) Mr. Segun Oni, they said they had come to find out for themselves what transpired. Others on the visit included a former Oyo State Deputy Governor, Taofeek Arapaja, former Works Minister Adeseye Ogunlewe and some party chieftains from Ekiti and Oyo States.
Oni said: “I can tell you that nobody wanted Baba to leave. It is a surprise to us. There was no pressure mounted on Baba. He resigned when the ovation was loudest.
“What Baba has done is a lesson for Nigeria, Africa and the world. Don’t wait until death do you part when you find yourself in any circumstance; give others chance to perform; that is what Baba has done. It is a big lesson to Nigeria, Africa and the rest of the world. The only consolation we have is that Baba is around to contribute and mentor his successor and that is what will make our party stronger,’’ Oni had said.
But the Action Congress of Nigeria quickly dismissed Oni’s statement, saying it was good riddance to bad rubbish, adding that the former President would not be missed.
ACN described the resignation as “a cynically dramatic move that will shock only those whose interest has been served by his tragic years in government.”
Osun State ACN’s Director of Publicity, Research and Strategy, Mr. Kunle Oyatomi, said: “Obasanjo’s resignation as chairman of the PDP BoT may be shocking to those he served successfully. But to that entire heritage he ruined in his uninspiring and, to a large extent, catastrophic lordship over Nigeria, Obasanjo’s exit is one dramatically cynic act in the theatre of the absurd.
“General Olusegun Obasanjo (rtd) is no longer practically relevant to anybody any more than what calamity his military and civilian presidency had been to Nigeria. This man did more harm than good to Nigeria in a very awfully cynical way.
“His first coming in 1976 led Nigeria into the tragedy of the Shagari era. Then, when he was again manipulated into government in 1999, Nigeria suffered atrophy in practically every department of governance, and today Nigeria is reaping the thorns Obasanjo sowed in this country.
“A man’s worth is judged by the effects of his activities. Only those who have immorally, unethically and corruptly profited from Obasanjo’s rulership of Nigeria will hold him in high esteem.
“As for the Yoruba nation, Obasanjo was an unmitigated calamity. He left us half a century backward than he met Yoruba land. Apart from Yoruba people, other Nigerians are worst off today than they were before Obasanjo came to power both after 1979 and 2007.
“The man told us he was going to fight corruption, but he left Nigeria more corrupt than he met it. He pretended he was nurturing democracy for Nigeria’s future but today what he gave us as democracy is worse than kleptocracy; which is a mentally diseased form of government in which those in government have an uncontrolled desire to steal with impunity.
“If anybody wants to seriously evaluate Obasanjo’s relevance in the country today, especially among his own Yoruba people, they should compare the celebration of his birthday with that of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. The difference speaks volume about how important and regarded the two personalities are to their own people.
“Obasanjo prides himself not to be a Yoruba leader. He couldn’t be because he is unworthy to be one. And it shows from how he destroyed Yoruba land and left Nigeria groping and devastated as one of the most corrupt countries in the world, and the poorest of the oil producing countries in the world.
“There is no reason to feel sad about Obasanjo’s exit from the politics of our country. Baba has a lot to account for. Obasanjo was one of the poorest Nigerians before he joined politics in 1998. But when he left government in 2007, he was already one of the richest ex-presidents in Africa”
“Nigerians demand that Obasanjo must account for his wealth. It is the legacy of corruption which he left that Nigeria is still grappling with today. It is against this backdrop that whatever “good” Obasanjo and his friends may think he has done for Nigeria will be evaluated,” the ACN chieftain said in a statement made available in Osogbo.
Clearly, there is more to the sudden resignation of Obasanjo. As was his tenure in office, the good, the bad and the ugly words will keep rolling in for some time as just as is his person, his resignation is shrouded in controversy.