Politics Of Attention-Seeking By Dominik Umosen

If not for his pre-eminent standing as a former president and retired general, it might have been tempting to dismiss Chief Olusegun Obasanjo as another attention-grabber seeking to justify this status, that is after reading the 18-page epistle ‘Before it is too late’ which he wrote to President Goodluck Jonathan on the state of the nation. For someone who is famous for posturing as an uncommon patriot, even two or more perusals of the controversial letter is not enough to erase the queasy feeling that something was not very right about the stated concern for the country for two very obvious reasons.

The first reason to question the altruism in Obasanjo’s motive is the fact that it smacks of self-indictment for a retired general to fail or refuse to acknowledge a previous security alarm by a former Inspector-General of Police, Alhaji Mohammed Gambo Jimeta, concerning the alleged role of the Northern Elders Forum, NEF, in the insecurity situation in the country. Part of the reasons Obasanjo claimed he wrote his so-called appeal to the president is because of the latter’s failure to arrest the insurgency which Jimeta blames on the NEF but which the epistle-writer made neither mention of nor reference to..

The second reason to suspect the purported altruism in Obasanjo’s letter to the president Jonathan is the  attempt to ambush GEJ, intimidate and stampede him into confessing failure of this administration via the dishonest and false alarm about the existence of hit-squads maintained by the Federal Government for the elimination of critics and political opponents of the administration. Even Obasanjo knows that this is not true because unless he is now a terrorist or one of their sympathisers spear-heading the bogey of extra-judicial killings of terror suspects, the fact that there has been neither complain of disappearances nor unexplained absentees renders this claim essentially fraudulent but not impossible from a master of intrigues like Obasanjo who later appeared in GEJ’s hotel room in Nairobi, Kenya.

It is interesting that Chief Obasanjo should be the one complaining about government not doing enough to eradicate levels of menace to citizens, including corruption. While it is perfectly legitimate to grow grey hairs about the worsening incidence of corruption in the society, it is dishonest to claim that this alleged un-seriousness is reflected by President Jonathan not being as vindictive in the anti-corruption drive or by the fight itself not being manipulated to terrorise political opponents and critics as under his administration. The memories of thousands of defenceless women and children Obasanjo killed in Odi, creating equal number of orphans, including hip-hop star, Timaya and those slaughtered in Zaki Biam, just to appease a fellow general, beckon on Nigerians to contextualise the former president’s deceitfulness.

If Obasanjo was sincere in his so-called reservations about the country, someone with his security background should have been concerned about fundamental issues raised by Jimeta who deserves attention if for no other reason than that he is a former I-G who should know what he is talking about. But because he would rather do anything to curry favour from the North which he exploited to build his resume, including feigning ignorance of Jimeta’s allegations, it was obviously easy to blame President Jonathan for the prevailing insecurity in which another general and former head-of-state, Muhammadu Buhari has a legitimate stake, having threatened, as he did, to burn down the country if he did not have his way.

The fact that the former president never even made any reference to the so-called Buhari factor in the insecurity challenge speaks volumes about his genuine intentions. Because insecurity is a serious issue which deserves all the attention it can get, one would have expected a retired general to be concerned that it is only in Nigeria that persons indicted for treason and terrorism, including senators, generals, policemen, etc, still go about their normal business as if the crime of treason, for which several Nigerians have paid the supreme price, no longer matters.  All these issues did not qualify as legitimate concerns to attract equal umbrage from Obasanjo.

The fact that a serving attorney-general and minister of justice in his administration was also killed during that administration was, obviously, conveniently ignored by Obasanjo in his desperation to rubbish his successor for clearly selfish political reasons. If the former president expected to be hailed by Nigerians, the basic duplicity in him undermined that objective by pushing him to propel himself and his daughter to appear by the breakfast table with President Jonathan in a Nairobi hotel, ostensibly to plead for understanding for this desperate attempt to ensnare which beguiles its sinister intentions with the deceptive name ‘letter of appeal’’. Even Obasanjo, who saw nothing wrong in handing over Bakassi to Cameroun without any input from the aborigines of the peninsula regarding whether they wanted to go or remain in Nigeria, is accusing President Jonathan of betrayal.

Even before the former president exposed himself as signatory to the illegality and arrogance of a cabal seeking to determine who rules the country and for how long, reasonable Nigerians had acknowledged that it smacks of magisterial arrogance for any one to suggest that an illegal undertaking, if there was any, has the capacity to undermine the president’s constitutional entitlement for a second term which is what the contrived crisis in the PDP is all about; a crisis that is bound to persist as long as the former president keeps deluding himself that the leader of the party should keep deferring to him, as if the former president, who is no longer party leader, still exercises the prerogative of initiative in the party. Obviously, petty jealousy from loss of favoured status as party leader substantially inspired this unmistakable executive rascality.

Unmistakably, so-called absence of ‘one effective corrective action against high corruption which seems to stink all around in your government’ translates as euphemism for disaffection from loss of status as the sun around which the PDP revolved as well as proxy belly-aching for certain oligarchs whose unjustifiable monopolies under Obasanjo have been effectively broken in this dispensation. And until the former president himself supplies details of individuals on the so-called watch list of this administration, observers are tempted to discountenance this as fresh evidence of resurging paranoia by a victim whose positive inclination for this and other instances of attention-seeking are only too well-known.

Castigating a legitimate aspiration as a second-term, which the president is yet to declare any way, amounts to a conscious effort by Chief Obasanjo to downgrade his estimation in the eyes of well-meaning Nigerian who regard him as beyond the deceit and desperation of attempting to equate a second-term for President Jonathan with his disastrously-illegitimate aspiration for a third-term in office. Instead of providing further inspiration for the ranks of those seeking to bend President Jonathan’s hands for no legitimate reason, the former president should experiment with schemes with prospects of greater nobility than this. A second-term for the incumbent is not only a legitimate constitutionality, it is also an imperative and wise gesture to reassure minority nationalities in the Niger Delta who have staked so much for the unity of this country, that this is a necessary investment that legitimises their stake-holding in the Nigerian project.

For someone who claims to love Nigeria as much as he says he does, a constitutional second-term is not too great a favour to ask by minority nationalities who were unjustly denied benefits other nationalities enjoyed by Obasanjo and his military colleagues. The former president and other apostles of this provocative arrogance should not undermine national stability unwittingly by further stoking this disaffection which provokes agitation for a sovereign national conference to rid our quasi-federation of injustice.

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