The worrisome proclivity of Nigeria’s acknowledged statesman and former President, Olusegun Obasanjo for causing distractions, unpleasant distractions especially in matters that he ought to be very cautious about is as disturbing as it is troubling.
A short throwback into the past easily underscores the repeated tendency of the former President to cause palpable tension in the land either with his public utterances or some letters written to high political officer holders supposedly to draw attention to his takes on happenings in the land. We do not begrudge the former military Head of State this privilege which he is eminently qualified to enjoy. But from records, we note that the former President had his own reasons why he would sign another’s praises to high heavens in the first instance, only to turn round to pull same fellow down usually via public letter writing.
No doubt, we are aware that it is easy for the author of any such letter to blame the recipient for leaking the missive to the media. It is easy to blame some mischievous personal aides for the leakage, if any. But if only the writer is cautious enough to distinguish between matters meant for public commentaries as against missives authored by statesmen and channeled appropriately to avoid any embarrassment to the government, nation and whatever it intended to address.
When he did it with former national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Audu Ogbeh, the letter leaked out; next Obasanjo feasted with his then political leader only to find reasons to instigate his sack from office next day. On this note too, we remember what fate befell late Senate President, Dr. Chuba Okadigbo and how he fell from his high office after his encounters with Obasanjo.
The former President recently took his peculiar letter writing skill to the doorsteps of the National Assembly when he alleged myriad corrupt practices in the management of the two Chambers.
The reaction of Senate President, Olubukola Saraki that he and his colleagues were mindful of the need for good governance and accountability, rubbished the former President Obasanjo despite the obvious quantum and gravity of the issues raised, and by virtue of the writer and the position he occupies in the state of affairs in Nigeria today. But we are quick to add that Obasanjo got what he asked for.
After all, elsewhere, former elected leaders in his class from other climes see themselves as part of the government at the centre without consideration for such a government’s political viewpoint. They also see themselves not only as apolitical, but as fathers and leaders of their respective nations as well as being of sound mind enough to be very patriotic advisers to succeeding governments after them. To them, what matters most at that point is the security and progress of their different countries.
Over the years, especially since he served out his second constitutionally mandated term in office as president, Obasanjo’s actions on issues pertaining to governance and progress in the country have always been as vitriolic and acidic as it has been questionably undignifying of his stature. Besides, his petulance, foul temperament and indiscretions should have no place in the democracy this country craves for.
Though he may have a good, patriotic reason to write the letter to lawmakers, his choice of words and channel of delivering the missive exposed his intentions as basically not for the overall good of the legislature. And that being so, whatever facts Obasanjo tried to expose about the legislature were watered down at the end of the day for according to Senator Saraki, whatever the former president raised in his letter were already being addressed in-house.
Given similar embarrassments that follow this simple but out-moded strategy by the former president to hit back at his real or perceived political enemies, we are constrained to urge Obasanjo to deliberately be comported in the way other former presidents in and outside Nigeria are known to do. Even if he craves to be seen as the “father of modern Nigeria,” there is nothing wrong with that except that elderly comportment is an essential attribute which demands reserve, reticence and caution from a man of his standing.
He must note that his quest for stature as the father of the nation will be helped by a huge dose of circumspection but will be doomed by his notorious hubris.