Former President Obasanjo’s propensity for publicity or attention is
no longer news to those Nigerians who closely follow his utterances.
In a recent news report by a weekly newspaper entitled: “Why I Allowed
Abacha to Arrest Me,” former President Obasanjo as usual, painted himself in the brightest light and presented the late military Head of State, General Sani Abacha in a most uncharitable language imaginable.
In the report culled from his book, “My Watch,” he presented Abacha as the worst thing to happen to Nigeria. According to Obasanjo, “Abacha was so much below average as an officer that no serious attention was paid to him until he was made to announce the coup.”
The former President was not done yet. He added another nasty assessment of Abacha: “I was not in doubt that Abacha would attempt to silence me. This was clear from his apparent ambition for life presidency of Nigeria in insatiable appetite for orruption…”
At every given opportunity, Obasanjo dismisses the record of every past leader, except himself. He spares neither the living nor the dead in his obsession with self-glorification. He called the late President Umaru Musa Yar’adua a liar for refusing to tell him the whole truth about his health status. He said General Babangida had a deficit “for truth, honour, and integrity.” He didn’t spare former President Jonathan either. He painted every past leader as bad except himself.
It seems former President has short memories. Ordinarily, I would have ignored his uncharitable outbursts against Abacha, but doing so would have been a great disservice to many innocent Nigerians who may have been misled by his distortion of history for malicious reasons. Let me tackle Obasanjo issue by issue.
He said Abacha was below average, but the late military ruler was one of the strongest leaders Nigerians have ever known. He asserted Nigeria’s sovereignty against the arrogance of Western powers. Besides, despite Abacha’s so-called “below average” rating by Obasanjo, the late military ruler had assembled a cabinet and economic team to run Nigeria. Under Abacha, Nigeria’s foreign reserve rose from three billion dollars to 10 billion dollars. The Naira also enjoyed a favourable exchange rate vis-à-vis other hard foreign currencies.
Under Abacha, Nigerians were paying about 20 Naira for a litre of petroleum. Ironically, under Obasanjo, Nigerians were forced to cough out N75 per litre of petrol. Also Nigerians witnessed an efficient management of the proceeds of subsidy withdrawal. Despite the fact that Abacha’s Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) had less resource, it achieved better results than Obasanjo’s petroleum subsidy policy. In fact, PTF projects are still visible 17 years after Abacha’s death.
Was it not Abacha that started the railway rehabilitation projects, which Obasanjo frustrated when he came into office in 1999? He stopped the projects out of malice against Abacha, thereby sacrificing public interest to gratify private grudges against a dead man. It was the late President Umaru Musa Yar’adua and Jonathan who restarted the railway projects. Former President Obasanjo had also accused Abacha of pursuing life presidency ambition.
This allegation is ridiculous, especially because it comes from a man that is least qualified to talk about the subject. Nigerians cannot forget in a hurry how Obasanjo attempted to tamper with constitutional term limits in 2006 in order to continue in office for life. However, his tenure elongation project was so widely unpopular that the National Assembly had to follow the mood of the country to reject his life presidency ambition in May 2006.
Obasanjo was ready to sacrifice the constitution of Nigeria to achieve his life presidency ambition. Does a man with this record have any right to accuse Abacha of pursuing life presidency ambition? Life presidency was evil in Obasanjo’s eyes because it involved someone else. This kind of hypocrisy is insulting to the intelligence of Nigerians.
Obasanjo also accused Abacha of “insatiable appetite for corruption.” If, indeed, corruption was inherently an Abacha disease, why didn’t corruption stop in Nigeria after Abacha’s death? Why did corruption grow luxuriantly like weed under Obasanjo’s government? Why did Nigeria reach the top 10 chart of corruption in the world under Obasanjo’s administration? Nigerians are not stupid, and therefore, former President Obasanjo should stop insulting our intelligence.
Is Obasanjo not one of the richest billionaires in Nigeria today, with a private university and other huge investments to call his own? If he hadn’t used public office for private advantage, how could he have become a billionaire overnight? Former Defence Minister, General T. Y. Danjuma said Obasanjo “was stone broke” when he came out of jail in 1998. How come he became a multi-billionaire within eight years of being a President?

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Enough of Obasanjo’s hypocrisy, please.
Samira lives at No. 67, Lagos Street, Garki II, Abuja

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