After much hesitations, I decided to read ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo’s recent epistle For The Records: Points of Concern and Action. I must confess, I was not disappointed in its contents knowing fully well OBJ’s recent political activities. For those of us who know OBJ too well, everything he wrote in his epistle was exactly the things which happened under his watch as President. If not that I knew him as the author, I would have argued he was doing “confession” of the atrocities he and his lieutenants committed while he held sway in Aso Rock.
Even though the former president may want to do his best to rewrite history through deliberate falsifications and outright distortions, my self-appointed job in this article is to set the records straight by putting people like OBJ in their proper place. Of all the issues he raised, two are of critical importance: Election Rigging and Buhari’s dictatorship.
On election rigging, OBJ writes: “Democracy becomes a sham if elections are carried out by people who should be impartial and neutral umpires, but who show no integrity, acting with blatant partiality, duplicity and imbecility.” On this, I am on the same page with the retired General. Elections must not only be free and fair but must be seen to be free and fair. The electoral umpires must not demonstrate any act of partisanship. This is the universal standard. Let me also believe OBJ meant every word he wrote especially with the recent gubernatorial election in Osun state. For Chief Obasanjo’s information, in case he forgot or does not know, reruns are important parts of every election as the Electoral Law stipulates. The General got the technicalities involved in Osun rerun all wrong. Either deliberately or by sincere ignorance, the former president chose to forget that there were reruns to in the gubernatorial elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states too. In fact, the case of Kogi was instructive. The All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Prince Abubakar Audu, was leading by about 40,000 votes when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared the election “inconclusive” because the void votes were still more than the margin between the leading candidate and the runner up. There was also rerun in Bayelsa state even though OBJ’s favourite party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidate won. But details do not seem to matter to Chief Obasanjo who will rather play to the gallery of ignorant people.
When someone like OBJ is even raising false alarms about the rigging of elections, I continue to think he is probably hallucinating. If not, for those of us who witnessed the 2003 and 2007 (and others) elections conducted under his watch can bear testimonies of how bloody elections were under OBJ. Today, opposition parties win elections in places, not in their “strongholds”. This is a mathematical impossibility when OBJ held sway. The only hope opposition parties have after losing elections before counting of votes starts, were to go to the Election Petition Tribunals which will drag for years.
While Buhari has promised to accept defeat if he is defeated in the February 16 presidential election, OBJ will rather conduct a “do or die” election with integrity-deficient INEC boss like Professor Maurice Iwu, who was even more partisan than OBJ in 2007. OBJ currently raising false alarms will not erase the fact that the worst elections in Nigeria’s history were conducted under him. Does he think we have short memories?
On his allegation of dictatorship, when he wrote: “EFCC, Police, and Code of Conduct Tribunal are also being equally misused to deal with those Buhari sees as enemies for criticising him or as those who may not do his bidding in manipulating to election results”, again, I say Chief Obasanjo is being hunted by his own ghost. Hence, he is resorting to illusions.
Only the guilty are afraid. If not, those who have nothing to hide do not have anything to fear. The EFCC, the Police, Code of Conduct Tribunal, and other agencies are created by law, and, no one has the right to stop them from doing so. Is OBJ honestly saying being a government’s critic is a license to commit crimes or violate laws or break rules? Will OBJ himself tolerate lawlessness in his fraudulently acquired Presidential Library or Otta Farms?
Let us even go down the memory lane how OBJ would have reacted, for instance, to any of his ministers criticizing him. Will any OBJ’s ministers have criticized him the way Aisha Alhassan, Buhari’s Minister of Women Affairs, openly declared their support his Buhari’s opponent and still keep their jobs in his government? It’s either OBJ does not know the meaning of dictatorship or he is just being deliberately mischievous.
There are many people today who, for reasons best known to them criticize Buhari. I am an avid reader of former Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. He is one of those people like OBJ can call a dictator. From what I know about him, and people like him, one cannot oppose Stalin even privately and stay alive, let alone being in his government. Even Leon Trotsky who was one of the leaders of the 1917 Russian Revolution knew he was living on a borrowed time when he started criticizing Stalin. Though he escaped to Mexico, Stalin’s agents paid him a visit he never survived in 1940. I do not know of anyone who was assassinated or sacked from their jobs because of their criticism or opposition to Buhari. Can OBJ boldly make this claim? How many Senate Presidents or Speakers of House of Representatives will dare act against OBJ the way Bukola Saraki and Yakubu Dogara are doing currently to Buhari? Will Saraki and Dogara have emerged as Senate President and Speaker of the House if it were OBJ that was in power? Did Buhari remove them illegally as OBJ did to the likes of Senator Chuba Okadigbo? If Buhari wanted to be a “dictator” that OBJ is working so hard to make us believe he is, Saraki will never have emerged as Senate President and the heavens would not have fallen.
After reading his so-called epistle, all that came to my mind was for this “Teacher” not to teach me nonsense. I will rather listen to Adolph Hitler teaching us Human Rights in Africa than to read any epistle from OBJ telling me how to conduct free and fair elections and good governance. I was not born during the Holocaust so it is possible a lot of things might have been falsified or distorted about Hitler, but I was politically active during OBJ’s inglorious reign between 1999 to 2007. So, I know when a teacher is teaching me nonsense.For some of us, even if hypocrisy or distortion is hidden behind the best of apparels, we will always spot its ugly face!
Written by Olalekan Waheed ADIGUN
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