The Oasis Reporters
January 25, 2018
Dr. Olusegun Obasanjo could be seen as a commercial bus. He picks and drops, then picks again and drops. But in order to pick, he must first drop.
Those who know how to read very well would understand that the anchor point and the most important part of Dr. Obasanjo’s recent press release is the point where he stated why the choice of Buhari led to calamity. That point is very crucial and critical for a former president and kingmaker who has resolved to finally withdraw his support from his hitherto preferred candidate, presumably, for the purpose of enthroning another one.
To this end, in order to drop Buhari, Obasanjo must show that Buhari has failed Nigeria woefully, and not only that. He must also extricate himself from the failure of the regime he helped to enthrone. That is how to do it. All of us already have come to the knowledge, through the flesh of our existence that Buhari was sent to Aso Rock from hell. But few of us have ever taken care to understand why it happened.
This, Obasanjo did not forget to do, for it is critical for his king-maker’s job. And the way he went about this? The thing he knew about Buhari and the things he did not know!
In his speeches and writings, Obasanjo assumes the stature of an encyclopedia about Nigerian matters and actors in the nation’s affairs, the stature, which, of course, he deserves, given his experience. This, plus his ability to move mountains in the politics of enthronement explains why everyone runs like duck every time the oracle drops a bulletin from his Abeokuta home.
In his usual demonstration of this, Obasanjo first hinted at how he had pointed out, even before Buhari became president that the man from Daura had no kindergarten knowledge of ‘the economy’, but supported him because he believed that he would make use of experts.
According to Obasanjo, “I knew President Buhari before he became President and said that he is weak in the knowledge of ‘the economy’ but I thought he could make use of good Nigerians in that area that could help.”
He further demonstrates his great level of intellectual understanding combined with sincerity when he made the concession: “Although, I know that you cannot give what you don’t have and that economy does not obey military order.”
Now you can put those statements together and you will see for yourself that Obasanjo’s choice of a man daft in the economy is in the best interest of Nigeria, as he has claimed in his press release.
It is notable that Obasanjo spoke of ‘the economy’, not ‘economy’. There is no doubt the former president chose his words with intellectual discretion, being a PhD holder. ‘Economy’, without the article ‘the’, refers to the general human problem of meeting their unlimited wants in the ever present circumstance of scarce resources, while ‘the economy’ refers to the economic situation of a particular country, in this case Nigeria.
Obasanjo claimed he knew quite well that Buhari knew nothing about the Nigerian economy, yet he didn’t think he was not fit to be the leader of a country that is down in the mesh of economic woes. He did not feel that the semblance of Buhari should not be seen near the driver’s seat of the Nigerian economy, despite his claim that “for Africa to move forward, Nigeria must be one of the anchor countries, if not the leading anchor country.”
Another privileged knowledge Obasanjo had about Buhari, which every other person did not have is that Buhari knew nothing about international relation. “I know his weakness in understanding and playing in the foreign affairs sector and again, there are many Nigerians that could be used in that area as well.”
One can guess without missing it that Obasanjo was laughing in his sitting room when Buhari won the election and started touring the universe. The noise about meeting foreign leaders to change international perception about Nigeria did not only turn ridiculous. The visit to China and the victory song about the naira’s ‘yuanization’ as the lasting solution to the economic problem of Nigeria was not only laughable, it has proven to be a waste of national revenue. Obasanjo knew Buhari was poor in international affairs but he thought that there were Nigerians who are good in it. They could be of help to him.
But listen to Nicollo Machiavelli’s rule, a rule that never fails: “A prince who is not wise himself cannot be wisely counseled, unless by chance he should have a sole administrator by whom he is ruled in all matters.” (The Prince, P. 89).
Is Obasanjo now pretending he did not know that the only way for a clueless Buhari was to get his clan men to flank him and rule the nation for him, given that they are his only way out?
He didn’t know they would have to always have their way at the expense of the nation?
What is the point in his lambasting Buhari for clannishness?
What is the point in his complain that Buhari is condoning and turning blind eye to allegations of malpractices against some inner caucus of the Presidency?
The knowledge problem, which is Africa’s general challenge, is copiously demonstrated in Obasanjo’s recent choices. For likewise, importantly, it is not clear how one would expect a dummy to understand the meaning of an intelligent advice.
But there are other things that Obasanjo did not know about Buhari, which, as the writing suggests, are the reasons why the choice of Buhari has landed Nigeria in chaos. In this aspect, Obasanjo did not say ‘I did not know,’ rather, he puts the Judas on Buhari by saying that Buhari has ‘come out more glaringly.’
“But there are three other areas where President Buhari has ‘come out more glaringly’ than most of us thought we knew about him. One is nepotic deployment bordering on clannishness and inability to bring discipline to bear on errant members of his nepotic court…The second is his poor understanding of the dynamics of internal politics ….making the nation more divided and inequality has widened and become more pronounced….The third is passing the buck.”
Having done this, successfully in his eyes I suppose, Obasanjo thought he had cleared the ground for condemning Buhari to the sideline of politics. He referred to the president’s ailing body (and mind), and then complained bitterly about the anguish of Nigerians, the unredeemable hopelessness of a hope in the PDP, the uselessness of the APC, and the need for a strong national movement, which was, for him, and certainly in his (completed) plan, the Coalition for Nigeria.
This proposal for Coalition is fair, to be honest. But the foundation on which it rests is fearsome and troubling. It rests on the foundation of professional lack of knowledge, insight and foresight.
For how does an Oracle of Nigeria’s polity says Buhari’s nepotism and clannishness is strange to him?
What happened to the commonplace gist that Buhari imprisoned Southern officials of government and put his clan men in house arrest over corruption allegations during his 1983/85 military junta?
How do you say you were surprised the President is a poor politician, who divides the nation by his inept comments, obnoxious attitudes and response to critical issues?
What experience of Buhari in politics is anyone familiar with than of tribal politicking?
Now we come to the main point, fellow compatriots. Obasanjo’s decision in 2015 was conceived and bred in ignorance. Obasanjo has come again to make another choice, and there is no way you can be sure Obasanjo of 2018 does not yet languish in the knowledge problem. From all indications, the famous Ebora Owu has lost his ‘eborality’— his mystic-ness; with the press release, he has further demystified himself as a leader who has dealt with this country through contradictions and blatant ignorance.
There are many people who are already singing the Obasanjo song. But I’m sorry, the whole thing is not about ousting a tactless president, it is about replacing him with somebody who, in our collective knowledge understands the economy, foreign affairs, politics and responsibility; the president who will not trade in the blame market. I don’t know how to be sure that Obasanjo will not make another mistake.