Last week, former President Olusegun Obasanjo did what he knows how to do best- playing god and trying to determine the fate of 180 million Nigerians. His former deputy, Atiku Abubakar, who is the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, went to reconcile with his former boss. Atiku has been seeking reconciliation with his former boss as if his political future depends on it.
We have been erroneously made to believe that anybody Obasanjo endorses becomes president. Recall that he practically foisted the late Umaru Yar’adua in 2007 and turned against him when the chips were down. He jumped on Goodluck Jonathan’s wagon in 2011 and when he stopped doing Obasanjo’s bidding, he wrote him one of his infamous letters. In 2015, when he saw the public anger against Jonathan’s administration, he joined the change train. Unless you have been living in the moon, you will know President Buhari has frittered away part of the goodwill he had in 2015 and Obasanjo, being a smart man, is now jumping on the Atiku wagon.
But the question I ask is, is Obasanjo’s endorsement all a candidate needs to win the presidential elections in Nigeria? I don’t think so. Let’s look at all the cases.
In 2007, Nigeria witnessed one of the worst, if not the worst, election conducted in the history of the country. Even the eventual winner of the election; the late Yar’adua, was embarrassed by the outcome of the result. Election was still going on in some polling units when the then INEC chairman, Maurice Iwu, announced the results. Yar’adua was so embarrassed that he publicly admitted that the election that brought him was flawed and inaugurated the Justice Uwais committee on electoral reforms. In 2011 after Jonathan was made acting president and president after the death of his boss, Nigerians from all over the country were unanimous in their decision to give power to a minority, even without Obasanjo’s support, Jonathan would have won the 2011 elections because he was seen as an underdog and his no-shoes story resonated with a lot of Nigerians. After Jonathan bungled his opportunity in 2015, it was anybody but Jonathan’s campaign. Even when there were questions about Buhari’s certificate then, most Nigerians stated that even if Buhari presented a NEPA bill as certificate, they would still vote for him. Buhari would also have won in 2015 without the endorsement and support of Obasanjo.
It is also important to note that unlike now, in 2003, 2007 and 2011, the opposition was not united so the PDP was having a easy ride in all the elections. In 2015, when the opposition spoke with one voice, we all saw what happened.
When Atiku emerged the PDP candidate, I was wondering what Obasanjo’s next line of action would be. We all know the Owu chief likes to be the centre of attention and I was waiting to see whom he would endorse. His coalition and a call for a third force were dead on arrival and even his party, the ADC, is right now in the mortuary waiting for its final burial rites.
Early this year, he wrote a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari calling on him not to seek re-election in 2019. After the letter, the former military president, Gen Ibrahim Babangida followed it up with his own letter, echoing Obasanjo’s thoughts. The president dismissed their call and went on to seek re-election. Obasanjo’s spat with his former deputy was well documented and when asked if he would forgive Atiku and support his ambition, he said God would not forgive him if he supports his vice. So what has changed?
While receiving Atiku last week, Obasanjo publicly admitted that he had been having a running battle with the PDP candidate but said he had forgiven him.
Obasanjo was caught between a rock and a hard place and the safest option for him was to support Atiku. Either way, suporting Atiku or Buhari is going back to his vomit; so either way; he is doomed. The 2019 election would be a referendum on Obasanjo playing god in Nigeria. If Atiku wins it will reinforce the false notion that whoever he endorses wins, but if Buhari wins, Obasanjo and his fellow generals will proceed on permanent retirement from playing god and determining the future of Nigerians.
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