Former President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo is a man that many are obsessed with. Love him or hate him, you cannot ignore him. Doing so could be at your own peril. Ask Shagari, Babangida, Abacha, Yar’adua and Jonathan. Some have ascribed prophetic powers to him as he possesses an uncanny ability to see into the future. Others see him as an extremely lucky man, a cat with nine lives. To his critics, he is a devil who postures as a saint and sees no good in others except himself. Dr Obasanjo (ph.d in Theology) is a man of letters, who is lettered and has a penchant for writing letters to incumbent Presidents. His latest letter addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari is titled “THE WAY OUT:A CLARION CALL FOR A COALITION FOR NIGERIA MOVEMENT. In 13 pages, he accused the Buhari administration of failure in the area of nepotism, poor understanding of internal politics and buck passing. He also praised Buhari for his fight against corruption and his efforts to stymie the raging insurgency in the North East. He delivered the final blow by asking the President not to seek reelection in 2019, berating both the PDP and the APC and calling for a Third Force which he said he is prepared to join in order to salvage Nigeria from tottering on the edge of the precipice and place it on the track of progress and development.
The Federal Government of Nigeria through the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed responded by thanking Obasanjo for praising Buhari on the anti-corruption war and on the efforts to crush insurgency but said that Obasanjo’s busy schedule had prevented him from being availed of the efforts of the Buhari administration in other sectors of the economy. He went ahead to list several achievements of the Buhari administration since assuming power in 2015.
There have been divergent reactions to Obasanjo’s political epistle to President Buhari. Supporters of the President have berated Obasanjo for the letter saying he lacks the moral fibre to lecture Buhari on issues of governance as he is one of those responsible for the rot in Nigeria which Buhari is trying so hard to clear. While supporters of the Former President have praised him for speaking the truth and standing up for the suffering masses labelling him as the conscience of the nation.
I have read and reread the letter many times over and arrived at the conclusion that there is really nothing new in what Obasanjo has said other than the fact that he asked Buhari not to seek reelection in 2019. Many prominent Nigerians overtly and covertly including members of the ruling APC have accused the President of either the same or similar misdemeanors in his approach to statecraft in times past. Even his better half broke ranks with him last year threatening not to campiagn for him in 2019. Can you tell me who else will know or understand a man better than his wife who lives, eats, and sleeps with him in the same house?
Elections in any nation are not won based on achievements alone. Usually, there are one or two issues which if not properly managed might lead to the defeat of an incumbent despite his/her stellar performance in office. Goodluck Jonathan lost the Presidential elections in 2015 due to his inability to curtail corruption and crush the Boko Haram insurgency even though he had wonderful achievements in the area of Agriculture, Entertainment, Youth Empowerment, Economy (until 2014), Transportation(Aviation and Railways), Communications e.t.c. Also, Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 Presidential elections to Donald Trump despite her achievements and long years of public service because that election was not about experience but about the common man in America who was losing jobs to either foreigners overseas or to illegal immigrants in the country and Donald Trump presented himself as the man with the magic wand to reverse that ugly trend. Truth be told, If Buhari fails to handle the issue of the killings by suspected fulani herdsmen properly and also address some of the critical issues raised by Obasanjo in the letter, he can as well kiss 2019 goodbye.
Take it or leave it, it is an undeniable fact that Obasanjo is a man of destiny. At various times, when Nigeria tottered on the edge of the precipice, he was the instrument used by God to salvage the country. He did it during the civil war as the commander of the famous 3rd Marine Commando who received the Biafran instrument of surrender thus bringing an end to 30 months of fratricidal bloodbath. He has also been the scourge of dictatorial, corrupt, inept, and weak leaders whether military or civilian through his verbal or written missiles advocating for good governance on behalf of the suffering masses of Nigeria. In office either as President or Military Head of State, he scored an A in foreign affairs and remains till date the most globally recognized Nigerian leader whether dead or alive. I will score him a C in terms of his developmental initiatives for the country though much of his failures can be attributed to the activities of corrupt party apparatchiks, corrupt bureaucrats and his own personal failings.
As regards the Third Force, it should be a grand coalition made up of individuals who mean well for Nigeria and who have not been smeared with the tar of corruption. Members should be drawn from groups such as ideologically driven political parties, student unions, civil society organizations, labour unions, professionals, youth groups e.t.c. They should also endeavour to present candidates with character and competence that would give both the APC and the PDP a run for their money in 2019.