In his self righteous estimation, former President Olusegun Obasanjo sees himself as the best that has happened to Nigeria and perhaps, Africa. This is in contrast to the view held by most Nigerians and perhaps the rest of the world. Once respected around the globe for seeing through a transition program in 1979 that transferred power in a densely flawed democratic process; Obasanjo twenty years later began an eight year journey that stripped him of all the praise and accolades that took him two decades to gather. His incursion into politics after providence rescued him from the bared fangs of despotic Sanni Abacha is his greatest undoing. Winning an election that most people believed was rigged for him by the unpopular military midwives marks the beginning of an era of infamy for Obasanjo.
With his legendary hatred for the media, the former president is always the toast of the press with sound bites. Known for using and dumping friends and allies, Obasanjo is crafty in deceit and he knows how to seek attentions. He recently chose the 100th Session of the International Labour Organisation in Geneva, Switzerland's event to inform the Goodluck Jonathan government that it is weak in fighting corruption. This is a stooge government that Obasanjo himself helped arranged, what Nigerians saw a week after is the dramatic waking up from the slumbering EFFC arranging three former PDP governors to justify the grants and funding that the agency collects from the international community.
The latest from the former President is his shameless praise of the emerging Chinese economy. At a gathering in Lagos, Obasanjo while lamenting depletion of the $35billion foreign reserve his government left behind in 2007, he acted like the China foreign minister predicting that China will rule the world by the middle of the century. He further states that the Chinese do not think the way Nigerian leaders and followers think by saving for the rainy days. What the former president fails to mention is how his eight years in government contributed to the growth of China's economy and the ruin of Nigerian economy and pride.
Whenever he settles down with his jar of palm-wine and bush meat, Obasanjo should ask himself some questions on how the $35billion disappeared. When he chose the terminally sick Umaru Yar’Adua as his successor in 2007, deep inside him, he knew he was foisting on the nation a man who would spend fortunes on his health besides abandoning state duties for those that were ready to steal the country to her bones. Before death came calling on Yar’Adua, his kitchen cabinet members had used their mentor’s incapacity to pillage the wealth of the nation and this accounts for a chunk of $35billion that Obasanjo is looking for today. The former president also forgets to mention the kleptomaniacs he left behind in his ruling People’s Democratic Party and government. He did not mention how his thwarted third term bid redefined incentives for legislators whose love for government money now transcends any globally known decency; part of the missing national reserve has been used to fund their jaw breaking emoluments.
Ibrahim Babangida is the only living past ruler who can compete with Olusegun Obasanjo in sharing the blames for the present state of Nigerian economy. This accounts for the reason the two former leaders threw caution into the wind recently by calling themselves fool and greater fool. Before forcing Abacha on Nigeria, Babangida ensured that Nigeria’s economy was driven to the point of no recovery; the only quotation of IBB that this writer can remember is "Nigeria’s economy defies all logics." The collapse of the industrial sector commenced when IBB was in the saddle, his Structural Adjustment Program that starts with the devaluation of naira was the camel that broke the back of Nigerian economy. The country never recovered from this because the factories at this point begin to close shops in preference for imported Chinese products. This was about the time the Chinese economy begins to show signs of prosperity coupled with the transfer of manufacturing privilege of many brands from United States to China because of cheap labor and safety of investment. Nigeria’s infrastructures era of total collapse also started at this time.
When Obasanjo took over in 1999, Nigerians gullibly assumed that their messiah had landed. Deceptively showing some signs of seriousness at the beginning, many had thought that at close to 70, Obasanjo had nothing in life to pursue again other than fixing the country’s economy, infrastructures and the restructuring of the political landscape. All the attempts made by his government to fix the economy and the infrastructures yielded no results because they were built on false foundations of greed and insatiable quest for wealth and power. Obasanjo eventually left the country more disunited than he met it and with so much personal wealth that he can arguably be counted among the ten richest Nigerians today.
It did not take Obasanjo much time to lose focus and began sailing the Nigerian ship like a drunken sailor. President Obasanjo dashed the hope of the optimists who believed in him and his government. With the GSM revolution, Obasanjo connived with foreign telecom companies to further impoverish his own people. The never accounted for license fees charged by government were passed down to Nigerians in the form of outrageous sim cards costs and heavy call tariffs that are still high 10 years after.
The few factories that Obasanjo met in 1999 were all turned to warehouses for Asian products and religious worship centers before he handed to an undertaker in 2007. The former president while in office dipped his hand in too many unethical deals. He used the time to sell to himself and his PDP cronies many government assets at ridiculously low values. Many organizations and businessmen were arm twisted to contribute money and materials to his investments that were already moribund before 1999 and the infamous presidential library in Abeokuta. Obasanjo will need to come out clean by revealing how many free generators he received from Milkano and T&E, the two leading generator importing companies when he was the president.
Michelin and Dunlop, the two tyre manufacturing companies closed down when Obasanjo was the president because of the collapse of infrastructures and insecurity. Imported Chinese tyres were much cheaper than Nigerian made tyres. Ajaokuta Steel Company was sold to Chinese investors that later dismantled the facilities and sold them at a higher price than the government sold it, these investors took their gains to China after refunding Nigerian banks that financed the shady deals. Few months to the end of his misrule, Obasanjo assembled some Chinese ‘experts’ in Abeokuta to resurrect the country’s dead rail transport system, with $2billion soft loan from China and another $2billion that Obasanjo’s government spent on the rail transport system between 1999 and 2007, nothing was achieved in that direction.
It therefore places a moral burden on Olusegun Obasanjo to start praising Chinese economy when in fact he occupies a pivotal role in helping China at the expense of his own people and country. Since one cannot build something on nothing, the current government that Obasanjo has a hand in its emergence with its failure signs, is not strange because it is building on the false foundations of the government that left in 2007. Expecting Jonathan to change the tide is to expect the impossible. Described clueless by his former deputy and successor as Bayelsa state governor, President Goodluck Jonathan looks lost in the barrage of problems that confront the country. His mantra of always blaming every policy criticism on those that want to derail his government is enough sign that Nigerians should expect nothing from this man.