June 19, 2021


It has suddenly become fashionable to taunt Obasanjo as a failure and to admonish him. Increasingly, bashing Obasanjo is no more an ethnic issue. Everyone now seems to be stepping on each other, trying to outdo one another. The fact that it took this long for it to become glaring that Obasanjo is a spectacular failure is what should worry any keen observer of the Nigerian space. That fact is a troubling indication that Nigerians do not know why Obasanjo failed.
Granted, Obasanjo inherited a fractured country that had been ravaged by years of military misrule. It was a country with so many structural flaws that cracks were visible along its walls, beams, and pillars. There was no sense of direction and no purpose for the nation and its citizens. The country lacked the institutions to support any democratic initiative. The Nigeria Obasanjo was handed over was a country on its stomach.
The recipe for failure was put in place when such a country was handed over to someone who had no knowledge and not enough courage to do things that were needed to be done to jump-start the failed nation. Obasanjo was like a partially blind, partially deaf, unskilled driver without any knowledge of the mechanics of machines, who was charged with the responsibility to drive a troubled car in rough weather from point A to point B. It did not take two years before it became clear to serious observers that the man was the wrong choice for that mission.
It would be important to recall the barrage of excuses once made for Obasanjo’s failure. It used to be that some elements of past administrations were frustrating Obasanjo’s moves to revive the country. It used to be that Obasanjo was waiting for his second term to unleash his stockpile of reforms that would transform Nigeria. It used to be that four years wasn’t enough for Obasanjo to make a dent in the destruction wrecked by decades of military rule. But do these excuses hold water anymore when Obasanjo has now surrounded himself with his kind and is now well into his fifth year with no change in sight? He has strengthened his grip on the apparatus of the presidency. The way Obasanjo has been dishing out favor to his friends, there is no doubt that he is the king of the jungle. Those elements of past administration who used to be torn in Obasanjo’s flesh have been successfully pushed to the curb and are seen by the roadside grumbling. But as it is today, only a dummy will think that given one hundred years, Obasanjo would make any inroad.
Obasanjo’s job is not to give billions of naira to certified crooks for the maintenance of the refineries only to spend more billions importing fuel to avoid the shortage we saw during Abacha’s time. His duty is not to spend billions of naira in Tony Anenih’s road contracts without having roads that lead to a brighter future. Obasanjo’s responsibility is not to scold us for expecting a lot and abuse us for being impatient; rather his task is to provide hope. Unfortunately, Obasanjo could not get over himself. He allowed his over-exaggerated sense of importance to prevent him from achieving a victory for the Nigerian-kind.
The litany of crises we are witnessing is the product of the intentional decision by Obasanjo and his cohorts in the ruling PDP to ignore the fundamentals. Basically, they made a deliberate decision to continue from where NPN of the early 80s stopped as if all that transpired in the late 80s and all of the 90s were of no consequence. In a more sophisticated way, Obasanjo and his friends embarked on a mission to plunder what remained of Nigeria’s w
Any other PDP candidate of 1999 who fought to lead Nigeria might have spared the nation Obasanjo’s truckload of embarrassments, arrogance, pettiness, vindictiveness, and blatant ignorance, but working within the principles of PDP and with the certified criminals who fill its ranks and file would have also ended up a failure. As long as the fundamental problems of Nigeria, like the very nature of the union, resource control, judicial reform, relationship between the state and the federation, etc, are either ignored or shied away from, all efforts at reform, especially the half-hearted ones, would amount to nothing.
Interestingly, we have counted out Obasanjo and have plunged into a vigorous search for another personality on whom we shall hang our hope. We are once again refusing to insist on reforms that would guarantee progress irrespective of who occupies Aso Rocks. For some reason, we continue to have the hope that those unprincipled men and women in the National Assembly have in them the right mantle needed to chart a decent course for us. In our stupidity, we are once again betting our survival on some proven crooks, expired characters, and loudmouthed egoists. We are propping ourselves to be satisfied in the realization that any of them would be better than Obasanjo. Just like we once convinced ourselves that, come what may, Obasanjo would be better than Sani Abacha.
The primary reason why Obasanjo has failed is his stubborn refusal to implement a deep-rooted structural reform of Nigeria. Obasanjo, full of himself and trusting in his military drill-sergeant mentality, thought he could order around a wounded country. Obasanjo’s resort to patching the wall, managing one crisis after another instead of tearing down the walls and rebuilding a nation has become his waterloo. His choice of actions, or inactions, is the style of cowards and men without vision. What is left to be seen is whether Obasanjo will succeed in saving his thin skin – the same thin skin that prevented him from doing what is right.
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