Jonathan Is Obasanjo’s Worthy Successor By Okey Ndibe

Okey Ndibe
Okey Ndibe

Nigeria’s crisis of leadership has grown so malignant that one is frequently tempted to cry, “Where is Fela Anikulapo-Kuti when we need him?” The latest distraction is news that former President Olusegun Obasanjo and his posse are at war with President Goodluck Jonathan and his circle. Were Fela alive today, he would have deployed his rhetorical genius to examine this astonishing drama. Fela had this inimitable facility for finding the right expressive idiom to lay bare the machinations of “authority people.”

Trust Fela: he would have come up with the most eloquent phrase for the absurdity playing itself out in Nigeria, the “government magic” behind the supposed feud between a man, Obasanjo, and his beloved son, Jonathan.  
At any rate, that musical maestro with a prescient philosophic acumen would have recognized the precise nature of Nigeria’s tragedy-in-progress. We are starved for true, tested, focused leadership. We desire – and, I dare hope, deserve – a leadership that understands that the space called Nigeria is woefully backward in every index that counts. Nigerians are hungry for a leadership willing and able to meet the arduous challenge of humanizing our environment. Instead, we are being treated, once again, to some silly, inelegant theater that presumes to be a war.

The latest incarnation of this manufactured war was provoked by Oby Ezekwesili – a former minister and due process czar in the Obasanjo Presidency. In a speech at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Ms. Ezekwesili (most recently a top official of the World Bank) implied that the Umaru Yar’Adua and Jonathan administrations had irresponsibly squandered much of the nearly $70 billion they inherited in foreign reserves. You’d think that she had questioned the law of gravity for the fury of the response that issued from Mr. Jonathan’s coterie. She was pilloried as a liar, categorized as a yeoman for Mr. Obasanjo, accused of elephantine wastage during her ministerial stint, and described as unworthy of engagement in a debate she called for. In Nigerian parlance, she was both “rubbished” and “finished.”

The Ezekwesili World War was still simmering when Mr. Obasanjo opened up a different sector of conflict. Last week, several Nigerian newspapers culled an interview in which Mr. Obasanjo, again, censured Mr. Jonathan for failing to arrest Boko Haram’s terror scourge. In a fierce response, one of Mr. Jonathan’s aides told Obasanjo what the present administration thinks of him – not much!

This whole messy affair should disturb Nigerians because, as an American friend of mine would say, there’s nothing there. It is a typical political exercise, a concatenation of attacks and counter-attacks in which nothing as substantial as a principle is at stake. It’s an ego-driven, feigned war between two men – Obasanjo and Jonathan – and their two camps. But the two sides share the same fundamental outlook on misgoverning Nigeria and impoverishing our lives.

At heart, both Mr. Obasanjo and his protégé, Mr. Jonathan, are one. For all of Obasanjo’s veiled and direct criticisms of the late Mr. Yar’Adua and Mr. Jonathan, the fact remains that he foisted both men on the Peoples Democratic Party as candidates. Obasanjo was the closest thing to an imperial president. He could easily have chosen any other pair and forced the PDP to acquiesce in his choice. Instead, he insisted on a Yar’Adua hobbled by grave illness and a Jonathan whose record in public office – as a deputy governor and governor – was far from impressive. And he was the ubiquitous, visible campaigner-in-chief for the two men. He dominated each campaign event. At each stop, he seized the podium to vouch for his self-chosen successors. He told Nigerians that the tag team of Yar’Adua and Jonathan was the only one to safeguard, sustain and build on his achievements as the (self-proclaimed) founder of modern Nigeria – never mind that his tenure was tall on propaganda and short on real, enduring accomplishments.  

Call me a sucker for conspiracy theories if you wish, but I suspect that Mr. Obasanjo knew exactly what he was doing when he decided on his successors – and underwrote their “landslide” triumph in an election he notoriously declared a do-or-die affair. Nigerians had denied Obasanjo his fantasy about a third term in office. If you ask me, then, I’d hazard that a miffed Obasanjo set out to give us grief. He designed a future in which he could assail the men he installed in office as weak, confused and ineffectual – and be assured of our collective assent and corroboration.

Those possessed of a long memory should not be fooled. Often, I receive telephone calls from friends or acquaintances who argue that Obasanjo’s presidency was better than those of Mr. Yar’Adua and Mr. Jonathan. On such occasions, I give two responses. One is to remind my interlocutor that it makes little sense to apply the word “better” in discussing three mediocre, middling presidencies. It strikes me as odd to describe a pupil who scores 30% in an exam as better than another who scored 26%. The important fact is that both students FAILED. Beyond that, I also stipulate that the Yar’Adua and Jonathan administrations ought to be properly seen as extensions of Obasanjo’s legacy.

Life for everyday Nigerians continues to deteriorate, to descend into ever more brutish, nasty states. Mr. Jonathan’s apologists boast about improvements in the power sector. Yet, during my recent visit to Nigeria, I visited a friend whose area had not had one second of electric power in five straight days. Of what use is it to tell such a man that Nigeria now generates twice the quantity of megawatts from the levels when Mr. Obasanjo misran the country?

Though he’s no Fela, presidential spokesman Reuben Abati last week struck a plausible note when he called yesterday’s men and women hounding Mr. Jonathan by a fitting name: hypocrites. Ms. Ezekwesili was once hyped as a champion of due process. Yet, that gloss was extremely thin. She served in an administration that blew $10 billion or more on the power sector – with nothing to show for it. Did due process go to sleep as Mr. Obasanjo paid huge sums of cash to companies that simply disappeared, never to do the job that was paid for – or to be seen again? She was also there when US authorities caught one of Mr. Obasanjo’s closest aides for ferrying close to $200,000 in raw cash on a presidential jet into New York City. Part of the money was used to buy a Mercedes Benz, and close to $50,000 to purchase equipment for Mr. Obasanjo’s farm in Ota, Ogun State. That bizarre transaction violated both US and Nigerian laws about cash movements. US authorities extracted a fine of $26,000 from the president’s aide. Nigerian authorities pretended that – to use a popular Nigerian saying – “nothing spoil.” Did Ms. Ezekwesili ever raise any objection to that scandal, or insist that the presidential aide face the legal consequences?

It bears repeating: the spat between the Obasanjo and Jonathan crowds is not informed by any differences in principle. Why are we even arguing about the size of foreign reserves when our citizens have no decent hospitals to go to, our schools – from elementary to university – are dilapidated, our roads are a shambles, power supply remains woeful, and most Nigerians have to pee and defecate in the open, like animals?

Serious leaders around the world spend their waking hours thinking up strategies for improving the lot of their people, and positioning their nations as players in the global economy. Nigeria’s pretend-leaders spend half of their waking hours scheming over who, among a set of undesirable parasites, is to become the ruling party’s next chairman of the Board of Trustees; the other half on depraved conspiracies to corner scandalous sums of public funds for their private use!

In the end, the Obasanjo and Jonathan camps do not disagree on a fundamental point: that the mindless, unconscionable screwing of hapless Nigerians should continue. In fact, to speak about them as two camps is a misnomer. They have a shared consensus on the things that matter to them.

They hurl accusations of corruption across the faux lines, but they will never unmask themselves – never let Nigerians into the real gist, or initiate any serious prosecution. They’re staunch believers in the sharing of oil blocks among themselves – at the price of a breeze. They believe it’s better to transport themselves and members of their families to foreign hospitals rather than fund modern healthcare for all Nigerians. It makes more sense to them to buy up more private jets and acquire more swanky homes abroad than fix our roads. They will continue to cart away billions of dollars each year in security votes and constituency allowances. They don’t mind in the least that our police academies are unfit even for rodent habitation; they see to it that those of their number guilty of stealing billions of naira from the police pension fund should receive nothing harsher than the slightest slap on the wrist. No, they are in no hurry to mandate public declaration of assets. They’re even less willing to consider erasure of the odious constitutional provision that grants immunity to governors and the president when they commit serious crimes.

My hunch was always this: that once all the smoke disappears, Nigerians will awake to see Mr. Obasanjo hugging President Jonathan, his beloved political son, the two men beaming like sin. That scenario played out last Sunday as Mr. Obasanjo joined President Jonathan in a photo-op worship at Aso Rock chapel. That was proof that the so-called disaffection between the two “gladiators” is a smokescreen. There’s nothing in the ongoing fray that cannot be settled in the usual manner: the award of a juicy contract or two, or the trading of one or two oil blocks.  

Please follow me on twitter @ okeyndibe
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23 comment(s)
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Young man,you shouldn't be here. You type should rather be in motor parks. Everybody is not entitled to comment especially when issues of grave concern to nigerians is been addressed.

Please don't ascribe

Please don't ascribe statementsnever made by God to God.

Nigerians and the President

Today the slow but steady progress of Super Eagles and their coach that took them to the finals of Africa Cup of Nations in S/A is a very strong prophesy.Just as the Super Eagles seem not to meet our expectations in round one before defeating Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, then Mali which catapulted them to the Finals of AFCON.All curses have turned to praises. Every Nigerian is now elated about the Super Eagles and their coach. This is the lot of PRESIDENT GOODLUCK EBELE AZIKIWE JONATHAN (coach) and Nigeria (team). By the end of 2013/2014, the president that has been the most criticized for seeming not to meet the expectations of Nigerians will be the most loved for the achievements happenning in NIGERIA right now.GOD has said it and it will surely come to pass, in JESUS CHRIST name, AMEN.



In His Own Image

OBJ is the new kingmaker of Nigeria just like IBB before him.

He created GEJ in his own image exactly the way IBB created Abacha, after craftly taking care of Shonekan / Yar'dua.

OBJ being GEJ's creator can do whatever he pleases with him without breaking a sweat or having some after thought.

GEJ is no match to his almighty father OBJ, who created him in his own image, and can also destroy him with the snap of his fingers.

OBJ the master of craftiness after interviewing all likely candidates to succeed him, settled for the most sick and terminally ill, who later died and the most daft, which was Nincompoop Jonathan.

Mr Jonathan's job is to hold down Nigeria for milking by those who owns Nigeria and to always cover their backs.

You are a fool to call Prof.

You are a fool to call Prof. Okey Ndibe a goat. If you have nothing to
contribute to the pressing issues raised, just shut-up your mouth because
you are not funny but just stupid.


Pls change that picture it look like goat i dont feel like reading sahara news because of this head i see every day. Pls change the picture, this one is bad too bad


@Deri....I thought Jona ran and became the President to make life better for us all...better than those before him. So, why would u excuse him to by bringing those yesteryears names up ? Going by your reasons,He is failling because Presideents/head of states before him fail. Na wa oooo

Nobody is rubbishing oby,so

Nobody is rubbishing oby,so to speak.
What okey is saying I believe,is,Oby was part of a corrupt and uncaring govt.She's a good woman no doubt,but pray my brother,did she know about the sleaze that went on during obj's govt?Let's say she could not speak up then,cos it will amount to insurbordination;how about now?She has not said jack about that paryicular messed up government!

Please count me out of those

Please count me out of those fooled by OBJ and GEJ. But let them continue to think they are smart and rest of the people fools. History has a way of resolving these matters in favour of the people. 2015 is the date. Lets we the people strive to be part of history.


That oby was world bank top officer until recently and now adviser to presidents of nations. Not all those presidents are fools. Oby held her own and saved Nigeria billions that would have been wasted. To single her out because she dare to ask question is absurd. To vilify her and rubbish her integrity that even the most eloquent of critiques does not possess is ridiculous. Even the brilliant ones among us can get confused and play to the gallery. OBJ is not my concern here, it is an attempt to hold a woman as upright as OBY responsible for misdeeds of past admn. that bothers me. It is either that some people can't admit it or are too jealous to give kudos. TALK IS CHEAP.

Jonathan has to worry, Obasanjo has spoken

Obasanjo is criticizing Jonathan because we are talking of 2015 in which PDP must win at all cost. Obasanjo needs to keep Jonathan on his toes to let him realize the importance of returning to power. But as Prof. Ndibe said, this has nothing to do with service, Nigerians are hardly served by these opportunists. Jonathan has to go and see his godfather for a new election-winning strategy a la do or die. That is the reason for all this attention-seeking exercise.



No one live forever

Though a man may appear invincible, yet he has a life span. No man will live forever, the political gladiators of today who appears to dominate the landscape will expire one day, only God is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. All men are like flowers that appear to blossom in the morning, but in the evening is dried up and parched. God will bring all men to judgement. It is a fearful thing to fall into the wrath and anger of God.

Spot on

Prof, you are spot on here. They are the same caboodle that have held the country by the jugular.

Mr Okey, thanks for your

Mr Okey, thanks for your piece. But I have to remind you that EFCC chairman then, came on a national television and said EFCC could not do anything about this Presidential Aide (you talked about in this piece)because he was not holding a public office. I did not see any of your writings where you condemned him. Were you not aware of his discriminatory tendencies in fighting corruption? Why did you not write about it, yet you write about Mrs Ezekwesili.


The problem for most African rulers(not leaders)is survival after office,they live in constant fear of the future.These rulers have two ways of tackling this problem,the first way is to hold on to power for as long as possible irrespective of what the law says or simply change the constitution to elongate their terms and rig elections.The second and more complicated way is to install puppets and control the government from the background.
OBJ tried the first option,he tried to corner a third term through an ill-conceived constitutional amendment,he met a brick-wall and made a tactical retreat after which he was compelled to try option B,he chose to turn a puppet-master,which means he will keep installing puppets to protect his interest till he passes.This is a torturous and indeed undignified way to live out ones last years.Nelson Mandela and his likes lead honestly so they saved themselves from this misery.OBJ and IBB are a different species.

'I DE LAUGH O'? The people will laugh last.

Is GEJ clueless or a Marionette in the hands of the PROs?
Consider the following points:
i) He is from the SS with scant political base: he NEEDS other people's BASES.

ii) His wife and his governments have been badly compromised by their not so enviable past financial 'akwete'.

iii) He is a novice in the high strung poltical game of juggling differing Nigerian Religious, political, economic and turf interests.

iv) Those that hold the marionette strings also hold the Damocles sword over GEJ's head!

v) Having tasted power, (power corrupts, absolute...) he has to play the game right for another term.

vi) GEJ's outward display of being 'dim' is a clever cover-up for his own game plan.

vii) GEJ and OBJ are banking that Nigerians will continue incessant prayers. Will "action" stage be finally triggered given our differences in point (iii) above?

OBJ said 'I DE LAUGH O' My hunch is that the people will laugh last.

Ruqayyah Rufa'i: Qualified university applicants now stay home

While the OBJ and Jonathan camps exchange accusations on billion dollars of foreign reserves left or consumed, most of Nigeria's qualified applicants for university education cannot get chances in existing Nigerian universities. Under the present Minister for Education, more universities were opened in northern areas where few from the south would dare go to.
Jonathan and Obasanjo do not observe that the academic future of Nigerian youths can be compromised this way. Worst of it all, since the last month that the Universities Admisssion Board released the frightening figures that only a tiny percentage of qualified candidates that applied were given admission places, Nigeria's Ministaer of education Professor Hajiya Ruqayyah Ahmed Rufai has maintained silent, continued to pretend that all is well in the education sector vis a vis Nigeria's youths.

the solution lies in our separation period-6 zones unto yr tents

(OBJ could easily have chosen any other pair and forced the PDP to acquiesce in his choice. Instead, he insisted on a Yar’Adua hobbled by grave illness and a Jonathan whose record in public office – as a deputy governor and governor – was far from impressive.)Okey where were u when late chief Gani offered to serve us? In Siberia or Ghana?
Did u not cast your vote for OBJ in 2003 instead of Gani? Now u yearn to have Jonathan given the Gaddafi treatment abi? Or offered the relics of the 1966 regional war via boko haram may be! Jonathan and OBJ are not our problem-we the citizens of 9ja are-A curse we got from Zik and Awo [perhaps-so let brother jonah be biko! Our cancer is over 52 years old! So all this talk na tory! B4 Jonah were d pair of Nzeogwu, Ironsi, Gowon, Murtala, Obj, Shagari, agaracha must come back-Buhari, IBB, shonekon, abacha, abdulsalam, obj, yara adua, then Jonathan-so why blame him for all our woes-he is only 2

buhari also went for medical check up in london

When Abraham Lincoln was on his way to Washington to be inaugurated, he spent some time in New York with Horace Greeley and told him an anecdote that was meant to be an answer to the question everybody was asking him: Are we really going to have civil war? In his circuit-riding days, Lincoln and his companions, had crossed many rivers. But the Fox River was still ahead of them; and they said one to another, "If these streams give us so much trouble, how shall we get over the Fox River?" When darkness fell in, with a presiding elder of the district, who rode through the country in all kinds of weather and knew all about the Fox River. They gathered around him and asked him about the present state of the river. "Oh, yes," replied the circuit rider, "I know all the Fox River. I have crossed it often and understand it well. But I have one fixed rule with regard to the Fox River — I never cross it till I reach it."

A Nation Beaming Like Sin

Thanks for this percipient piece and your words in the last paragraph remain my quote of the season: "My hunch was always this: that once all the smoke disappears, Nigerians will awake to see Mr. Obasanjo hugging President Jonathan, his beloved political son, the two men beaming like sin". This can as well describe the state and the spirit of our nation at present.Certainly, what we require is an urgent democratic deliverance,but not of the ritualistic and fetishistic prescription by Nigeria's spreading mushrooms of pentecostal churches...


Beautiful article
but it might lighten your heart that
obasanjo might fool all the people sometime(he fooled abiola)
or some people all the time(he never fooled abacha)

but a few of us know Obasanjo is sure running not only a third term with yaradua's death and jonathan installation....but obasanjo plans to run a "fourth" term by deciding in 2016....

Obasanjo has done this at the expense of average poor nigerians who continue to wallow in abject poverty...and he has successfully blackmailed the likes of buhari et al and is and has being using EFCC to hound or uncompromisable candidates......

I use to remember a man similar to that named Julius caesar......history will repeat itself for nigeria to ever move forward the likes of Obasanjo et al have to be done away with....

My loyalty is to Nigeria.

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