Opinion: Obasanjo, the political fox at his make or mar moment, By Kings UBA

There is something extra-ordinary about Nigeria’s former president, Olusegun Obasanjo. It is the fact that something extra-ordinary is working in his favour. It may be luck or wizardry or both. Obasanjo has been a major beneficiary of the unknown factor as far as the history of Nigeria is concerned.

Starting from his early stages in the Nigerian army to his ascension as the Military Head of State in 1979, even against some realistic military calculations to his miraculous return as the President of the country at the return of democracy in 1999, there have been elements of either luck, wizardry or both.

Having played his part, leading the country from 1999 to 2007, Obasanjo seemed to the obsessed with the succession of the leadership of the country. And he has succeeded in playing that role. From his choice of Umaru-Musa Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan to his campaign for election of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015, Obasanjo has always strategised to remain politically relevant.

Obasanjo is at it again, and this seems to be his make or mar moment. He is all out against the second term bid of President Muhammadu Buhari. Obasanjo has done the likely things he could do to thwart Buhari’s re-election. There have accusations and counter-accusation and name-calling and sundry insult from Obasanjo and Buhari’s handlers. Obasanjo’s strategies against Buhari’s re-election and Buhari’s counter strategies have reached a point of war.

At this point, it is either Obasanjo wins or fails. But there are super implications to either of them than just winning or losing. If Obasanjo wins, the implication is that he will remain in Nigeria’s political reckoning to possibly he dies. He is 90 now. Age is no longer on his side. If he wins, that means that he would have more time to return to his victory dance. But he fails, that is if Buhari wins the next month election, the implication is that Obasanjo would be forced into political oblivion, and possibly, he would die in political oblivion.

The country is already divided along political divides of the Obasanjo’s supporters and his detractors. Yesterday, Obasanjo released another missive where he likened Buhari to late military dictator, Sani Abacha. And he called for global action against Buhari continued stay in power.

Obasanjo’s letter which was released on Sunday is third in the series of his recent letters, rejecting Buhari’s second term in office.

He said: “While Nigerians must not allow such a disaster to happen nor take such an affront lying low, the international community who played an admirable role in warning INEC, of course, to no avail on the Osun State gubernatorial election and who have been warning all political parties must on this occasion give more serious warning, send more people to the field to observe and work out punitive measures against INEC and security officials especially the Police and politicians who stand to gain from INEC’s misconduct, which is obviously encouraged by the Executive Arm of Government and who must be held responsible for the violence that will follow. Such measures can vary from denial and withdrawal of visas from the people concerned and from their families to other more stringent measures including their accounts being frozen and taking them to International Criminal Court, ICC, if violence emanates from their action or inaction”, he said

“Today, as in the day of Abacha, Nigerians must rise up and do what they did in the time of Abacha. Churches and Mosques prayed. International community stood by us Nigerians. I was a beneficiary and my life was saved. Well-meaning Nigerians took appropriate actions and made sacrifices, some supreme, some less than supreme but God had the final say and He took the ultimate action.
God of Nigeria is a living God and a prayer-answering God. Nigerians must cry out to God to deliver Nigeria. Here again, I have been threatened with arrest and extermination but I will not succumb to intimidation or threats”, he added.

In Buhari’s response through a statement released by the president’s media aide, Garba Shehu, Buhari accused the former president of being hostile to leaders he couldn’t manipulate..

He described him as someone who lacks the moral standing to criticise his administration. Shehu responded that the former president needed to visit his doctor for treatment.
“The sixteen-page letter the former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, wrote to President Muhammadu Buhari and released this afternoon is the last push by desperate politicians who can’t handle the President politically and have resorted to subterfuge,” the statement read.

“Our first message to the former President is that he needs a good doctor for good treatment and to say to him, ‘Get well soon’.”

“As repeatedly said of him, since Chief Obasanjo left office in 1979, he never let every succeeding leader of the country function freely, and this included the one he personally handpicked against all known rules drawn up by the party that put him in the office of the President. But Chief Obasanjo is jealous because President Buhari has more esteem than him and the sooner he learns to respect him the better.

“It is a notorious fact that in dealing with any leader that he failed to control, he resorted to these puerile attacks. As the grand patron, more correctly the grandfather of corruption as described by the National Assembly, Chief Obasanjo released today’s letter purely for the reason of rescuing his thriving corruption establishment.

He noted that the President Buhari will follow through with his promise to conduct  free and fair elections.

“What Chief Obasanjo and his co-travelers in the PDP should expect is that from the outcome, we will teach them a political lesson that they will never forget. This margin will be much bigger than we had in 2015.”

Shehu also debunked allegations of Obasanjo that the Buhari administration had started recruiting the officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) who would be used to rig the exercise.

“Claims that President Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC) have embarked on the president’s “self- succession project, by recruiting collation officers who are already awarding results based on their projects to actualise the perpetuation agenda, in which the people will not matter and the votes will not count” is not only utterly false, but a copious note from the book on the failed third term agenda of President Obasanjo,” the statement read.

“As for his attacks of the administration’s records in fighting corruption, what the former President said is no more than evidence that President Buhari’s war against corruption is succeeding. They thought it is all a joke.

“A leader who took USD 16 billion “upfront” to supply electric power yet failed to add a single megawatt to the national grid and to date, there is no trace of the money is jittery that he will be called to account. He is a coward.

“This language of his 16-page letter, likening President Buhari to General Sani Abacha, a man he dreaded and the one who jailed him under military laws is most unfitting from a former President of Nigeria.

“The claim that President Buhari has put in place rigging machinery is both outlandish and outrageous. We are unable to get the words to describe a 90-year old liar, except to say that by the publication of this tissue of lies against the President, he Obasanjo, not the President will fall from everyone’s esteem.”

It is not yet certain what will happen on February 16th, the day Nigeria’s presidential election will hold, but what will happen after that day is already certain: if Buhari wins, Obasanjo will be retired into political irrelevance and that may be a route to his passage. But if Buhari loses, Obasanjo will spring back into political stardom where he would enjoy stardom till he passes. This is why Obasanjo is fighting roughly, the battle that will determine his fate; the battle that will make or mar him.

Editorial Chief, Nigerian Bureau

Kings UBA is a Nigerian journalist and writer. I have reported for major local and international news organisations. I write satire. In 2017, I started contributing stories primarily to Discover Africa News Network. I can be reached on editorkingsuba@gmail.com. I currently manage Discover Africa News social media handles