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Our Stand: Nigerians, Ignore Obasanjo: He Is Nothing

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Olusegun Obasanjo is a nuisance with zero value. Last week, the former president gave a press conference as has been his wont. He pontificated, blew hot and cold, insulted everyone in his sights and accused the government of planning to rig the elections and more.

Obasanjo did not provide any proof for the very serious allegations because he thinks he is so important that his words must be sacrosanct. If such allegations had been made by a more credible person, perhaps it would have been consequential. But Obasanjo’s problems are beyond credibility. Wole Soyinka, Nigeria’s only noble laureate was right when he said “Obasanjo is entitled to his opinion like everybody. But the question is: who respects the opinion of a liar?”.

The man suffers from a superiority complex which requires psychiatric treatment. He thinks he is the most important person in Nigeria but in reality, he is nothing. He is simply a man who completely lacks shame, a compulsive liar devoid of self-respect, and that uncle that no father wants to leave alone with his daughter.

The grundnorm of well-run countries is that all criminals must be punished no matter how long it takes to get them – no felon escapes the long and inexorable arm of the law. And the reason for this is simple and straightforward: the overriding idea is to create a deterrent that would make societies better for all.
Were criminals punished in Nigeria, there would be no way former president Obasanjo would still be walking free, pontificating and accusing people of a crime like planning to rig elections or stealing public funds.

The former president has committed enough of these high crimes against this country to last several life times. The worst elections that were held in this country were done under his watch and direct supervision. The 2007 presidential election which he conducted was so disgraceful and disgusting that the winner of the election, his hand-picked successor sought to subtlely distance himself from the outcome, as funny as that may sound.

Up to this moment, there is no official record of that election in the archives of this country. The results of the presidential election were hurriedly announced while counting was still going on in several parts of the country. Obasanjo rigged every single election he conducted between 1999 and 2007 and left trails of tears, blood and gore. Yet, this is the man that has been accusing others of trying to rig elections.
The disgraceful 2007 polls appeared to be Obasanjo’s revenge against Nigerians who spoke with one loud clear voice to shoot down his third term enterprise. In a bid to secure the third term, Obasanjo openly shared bribes to members of the National Assembly so they could amend the constitution. Many of them collected the bribes and still voted to stop him from getting his third term, in what is still regarded as one of the Nigeria’s finest hours.

At a point during his presidency, Obasanjo turned so dangerous that he actually became the greatest national security threat to the Nigerian state. He forced his party’s (PDP) chairman to resign at gun point. He, it was, that watched and supervised his boys kidnap a sitting governor in Anambra State. That level of anarchy was, and still is unprecedented in the thuggery annals of Nigeria. Obasanjo as president made sure none of the culprits even got invited by the police.

It was during the Obasanjo presidency that the greatest number of political assassinations happened. His own Attorney General, Bola Ige was shot dead in his home in Ibadan in broad daylight and nothing happened. Without any hint of shame or self esteem, he protected all the suspects and made sure even those that were arrested were released quietly.

That was also the time that Marshall Harry, Funsho Williams, Barnabas Igwe and his pregnant wife, Abigail, and so many others were assassinated. And when Aminosari Dikibo, the then National Vice Chairman (South South) of the PDP was killed in 2004, apparently by someone travelling in the same vehicle with him, Obasanjo quickly came out to say he was killed by armed robbers, as if armed robbers reported to him. Even though nobody has directly accused the former president of these murders, is it not simply wonderful that the political assassinations stopped immediately he left office? Yet it is this same Obasanjo that wrote to President Goodluck Jonathan in one of his idle letters accusing the then president of trying to engage snipers. Well, Obasanjo should know a thing or two about snipers since they had a field day when he was president.

There is no crime in the books that Obasanjo did not commit as president. He was probably the only Nigerian president to have forged the nation’s law openly. He and some of his criminal gang members incorporated a company called Transnational Corporation of Nigeria (Transcorp), awarded oil blocks to the company, and then proceeded to personally reap billions of naira from the shady deals.
Obasanjo as president openly solicited bribes. He gave preferential licences to his Ota Farm to be the sole importer of certain poultry lines; foreigners who tried to compete with him were summarily arrested and deported.

His successor Umaru Yar’Adua had to revoke the deportation orders. As president he openly acquired huge properties, owned tons of shares in banks, oil companies and multibillion-dollar conglomerates. Obasanjo abused his office like no other. He elevated corruption to a new art form. On a scale, Obasanjo is the most corrupt president this country has had. That is why in spite of the international price of oil hitting an unprecedented $140 per barrel, he has nothing to show for it. No electricity power, no refineries, no infrastructure, nothing, nothing and he is still talking. Shameless!

In another country, this former president would have been serving several life sentences with hard labour and even that would not be enough.

Nobody expects their leaders to be saints or even clerics, but there are minimum acceptable standards of morality for anybody who would lead a nation. Countries strive to choose a leader from among their best. But Nigeria chose from among its worst in the election of 1999 — it is still paying for that misjudgment.

The former president is profoundly evil and black-hearted. He virtually turned the presidential villa into a whorehouse. And in doing so, there were no limits as married women, daughters-in-law and even daughters were fair game!

The man is also totally devoid of the elementary requirements of good manners. Obasanjo simply refused remitting Lagos State funds to the state for the only reason that he didn’t like the then governor. He tried to rig out the then Governor Ahmed Tinubu but couldn’t. As a result, he just simply blocked the state remittances. It was his successor that had to pay all the arrears to the state. Hallmark of poor breeding.

But Obasanjo didn’t just become such a bad specimen of a human being when he became president in 1999. He had always been a bad person. In the aftermath of the ill-fated Dimka coup of 1976, Obasanjo saw to the execution of several innocent souls. The most famous was the deliberately cruel execution of Colonel A.D.S. Wya.

Col. Wya was clearly not involved in the coup that led to Head of State Gen. Murtala Mohammed’s assassination, but there were arguments during the Supreme Military Council meetings as to whether he should just simply be retired as he could not be linked to the coup. Because it was clear to everyone that he did not take part in the coup, several members of the Supreme Military Council didn’t think he should be executed. There was a stalemate in the meeting and the issue had to be put to vote.

There was a tie and the head of state had to cast the deciding vote. That was when Obasanjo’s essential elements emerged. As head of state, he had the opportunity to use his one vote to save a life; instead Obasanjo gleefully voted for the execution of the very hardworking officer. Several members of the Council said they wept when they returned home that day. Such is the profound wickedness of this man.
Obasanjo has been given the opportunity to lead this country three times. Who cursed Nigeria?

Yet he lives a lie. Lying is simply a sport for him. He left government in 1979 and branded himself as one voluntarily handing over to a democratic government. That was a lie. He was forced by his army chief of staff General T.Y. Danjuma to hand over; he had wanted to continue in power just as he attempted again to do in 2006. And long before then, General Murtala Muhammed had wanted to sack him as his No. 2, because of so many scandals he had been involved in, until Sunday Awoniyi intervened.

This former president cannot just help himself when it comes to anything Abacha – General Sani Abacha, that is. That Abacha is Obasanjo’s bête noire should be understandable, and that’s only being fair. But Abacha actually did Obasanjo a favour by not executing him by firing squad. Abacha only used the law that Obasanjo promulgated himself when he was military head of state and which he (Obasanjo) had deployed to execute former governor Joseph Gomwalk in 1976.

That decree prescribed a death sentence for anyone who knew about a coup but did not report it, whether he was part of it or not. Gomwalk was accused of knowing about the impending coup against the Murtala government but did not report it, even though he was not part of the coup. And so Obasanjo got him executed. Similarly, Obasanjo knew about the coup plot against Abacha but did not report it. He should have been tied to a stake and executed by firing squad, pure and simple. Abacha probably should have.

Obasanjo always characterized Abacha as the worst leader Nigeria ever had. But Abacha’s era was by far better for Nigerians than Obasanjo’s era. Abacha had more finished projects to prove this. The economy was far better under Abacha. The dollar exchanged for N80 throughout Abacha’s time as against N160 during Obasanjo’s time, even though oil sold for $15/barrel under Abacha as against more than $140 during Obasanjo’s days. Obasanjo shouldn’t be badmouthing Abacha at all; he is no match to him. Abacha was a better leader by a long stretch.

When Obasanjo was released from prison, he was flat broke. Poverty was written all over his wrinkled and beaten-up face and he depended on handouts for survival. Barely a year later he became president. It must be proof positive of Obasanjo’s corrupt personality that, after eight years at the presidential villa, he became a billionaire in all currencies and in all material particular.

It is still a wonder that the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) has not invited him to explain the difference between the assets he declared before he took over in 1999 and the humongous wealth he had accumulated by the day he left office, May 29, 2007. And this is the same man that has been moralizing and insulting all other leaders before and after him — a man even his own anti-corruption czar described as one of Nigeria’s most corrupt leaders!

This newspaper has always seen through Obasanjo and we have long made our position clear on the former president. We played our own little part in pushing the crook out of power in 2007. Our position on the man has not changed: Nigerians should simply ignore him. He is nothing!

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