Former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, is an elder statesman whose professed love for Nigeria is legendary. An intriguing controversial figure the retired Owu-born General is one man of power and its politics whose opinion counts in the political scheme of things Nigeriana. Love him or loathe him Baba is not afraid to say his mind no matter whose ox is gored. He has many friends and many enemies in equal measure. Though he is reputed to be vindictive, bossy and omniscient he fires often on target and drops bombshells that have national reverberations. Obasanjo has proven to be a patriot overtime and he has consistently placed the interest of the nation above every other interest or consideration.
When Gen. Ibrahim Babangida was dribbling everyone as the interminable national swindle of a transition programme wobbled and fumbled on in the early 90's Obasanjo rose stoutly against the Babangida dictatorship. He dubbed the 'Maradona' a "fraud" accusing him of many state crimes including 'settlement syndrome' and corruption. And when IBB finally fell from his self-imposed 'prison' Baba was not given enough chance to attack the late Gen. Sani Abacha as the Kano-born crude despot ensured that OBJ spent years in his gulag on a trumped-up coup- plotting charge. The late Shehu Yar'Adua lost his life in solitary confinement in what was known to have been a state-sponsored assassination!
As Abacha was eliminated with the aid of an apple Obasanjo was liberated from prison and 'coronated' as President in a sham election the then ruling military elite had manipulated to favour one of their high-profile members. For eight giddy years OBJ brought about the mobile phone revolution that radically changed the way and manner we communicated with one another easily. He tried his best but the general feeling in the land was that his best was not good enough! There are some outstanding cases of graft still standing against him and the hypocrisy of calling others out as corrupt (especially the NASS mambers) had exposed OBJ as an executive kettle calling the legislative pot black! No one is fooled here.
Obasanjo as an established author has written some controversial books about himself, his commands and wills, and missives to the men of power -- be they civilians or soldiers. He had written to Babangida, Abacha, Jonathan and lately Buhari. In a hard-hitting memo addressed to President Buhari and made public penultimate week OBJ was in his very best element. He took Buhari down on many counts accusing him of nepotism, clannishness, incompetence and what have you. He lambasted the Head of State for his inability to rein in the armed and dangerous Fulani herdsmen whose murderous exploits across the federation are legion.
In the explosive letter Obasanjo advised Buhari against harbouring any ambition of going for a second term next year, asking him to step aside and go home and rest. Before OBJ's weighty intervention the Enugu-based Adoration Ministry spiritual Director, Rev. Fr. Ejike Mbaka, had come down hard on Buhari rating the President's general performance poor and urging him to wave any contemplation of re-election. Mbaka's withdrawal of support for Buhari was a hardline position and the man of God gave cogent reasons for his rigid position.
After Father Mbaka came the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ghali Umar Na’Abba, who berated the President and made it clear that no one should count on him for any re-election bid of the President. An APC Chieftain, Na'Abba declared categorically that Buhari had not added any value to our democracy since his second coming in 2015. According to him the President had told them about his intention to seek for another 4-year term come 2019. No none doubts the intention of Buhari to try to get himself elected for another four years presidential span next year but this time there is no walk-over.
Before Na'Abba we had heard from the Minister of Women Affairs, Aisha Alhassan, who caused a national uproar by visiting the former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar in Yola last year and declaring her support for him against her boss, the incumbent President. Mama Taraba had said that in the event of an electoral clash between Atiku and Buhari in 2019 she would definitely vote for the former in a demonstration of loyalty. We had lauded her for her sense of loyalty and non-hypocritical stance.
And before Aisha Alhassan spoke out for Atiku another Aisha, the First Lady, had lamented the existence of a cabal in Aso Rock few years ago insisting that her husband's administration had been hijacked by freeloaders and those who never played any visible role in the campaign for the Buhari triumph at the polls. Mrs Buhari had indicated that if something was not done to tame the cabal dictating the pace of the Buhari presidency she may be re-considering her position over any re-election bid. President Buhari had then played down her wife's BBC Hausa intervention but the damage had been done. Whether her place in his presidency was in the living room, the bedroom or the other room the beautiful woman had made her point and Nigerians had appreciated her courage.
Today, given the challenges faced by his presidency, Buhari seems to be a marked man! From all indications opposition is mounting for his gracious withdrawal from the scene a la Nelson Mandela. But that is not to say that he has achieved nothing significant enough in the last few years. For the past three years Buhari has done some good things but he has failed in some areas as well. His hitherto fragile health profile has not helped matters. And the notorious Aso Rock cabal have complicated things for the septuagenerean. From the look of things he appears to have helplessly lost the levers of power!
Following the OBJ radical political position against the second term ambition of the incumbent President the Coalition for Nigeria Movement (CNM) was officially launched as recently as last week in Abuja. According to the organizers of the well-attended event led by the former Osun State Governor, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, the movement was not a poliitical party but a national platform towards effecting change in the national leadership of the country. The chief proponent himself, Baba Olusegun Obasanjo, had since signed in as the 'godfather' in his Abeokuta base. After appending his signature to the membership document the retired General, basking in the euphoria of the moment, was said to have welcomed everyone to the movement making it clear that his continued membership or mentorship of the movement would be dependent upon the avoidance of the politics of lucre and imposition of candidates for elections.
The idea behind the CNM could be said to have been 'imported' from France. Prior to the French presidential poll of last year the then unknown Emmanuel Macron had created the "En Marche" movement through which he rose to power. Less than a year after he launched the movement the French electorate had bought into the revolutionary idea thereby catapulting the youthful former Minister to office as the youngest President ever to rule France in centuries. His spectacular victory at the polls marked a radical shift in the political evolution in France. The 'gauche' and 'droit' (left and right) politics played for generations was discarded for a new order.
Ever since he left power in 2007 against his wish Olusegun Obasanjo has sought to be relevant in the power game in Nigeria. Before he reluctantly left for Abeokuta following the failure of the third-term gambit OBJ has had a hand in installing Presidents and other oppressors in Abuja and elsewhere. He single-handedly imposed the late Umaru Yar'Adua and Goodluck Jonathan on us. He played a major role in the emergence of the current President Buhari openly campaigning against his then estranged 'godson' Goodluck Jonathan.
Though the general elections of next year are still months away the polity is already over-heated following the OBJ muscled intervention. And if things could work according to his wish the movement they have launched could bring about a political, nay leadership, revolution in Nigeria. With a new conscious generation of young Nigerians looking desperately for a strong godfather or mentor to back their presidential ambitions Obasanjo has seized the momentum once again proving again to have understood the political dynamics of the time.
If by 2019 a black Donald Trump, sorry, Donald Duke, emerged, for example, as a new President then Obasanjo must have been an oracle who knew when to speak, to strike, and push forward a change initiative. He has endeared himself to many Nigerians as a statesman who reads correctly the mood of the nation and stands up to be counted in the critical moments in the politico-social life of the nation.
The Obasanjo call for the formation of national movement capable of taking power democratically from the failed ruling elite is nothing short of a call for a political revolution in Nigeria. We believe the time is right to heed the call in the superior interest of our dear nation still groping in the dark of leadership mediocrity. What that means then, for all intents and purposes, is that the ruling APC party and the opposition PDP are not the viabe alternatives for 2019.