By Bala Ibrahim.
Ordinarily, I wouldn’t respond to the letter of former president, chief Olusegun, Matthew, Okikiola, Aremu, Obasanjo, GCFR, to president Muhammadu Buhari, because I have long lost faith in his devotion and untainted dedication to the development of my country, Nigeria. Unlike many of us, who can not have easy access to the president, as the military boss of the present president, and a former President himself, not only does Obasanjo has unlimited access to the villa, but nearly the power to enforce obedience of President Muhammadu Buhari. PMB holds him with the esteem he doesn’t hold any one in Nigeria.
But yet, despite this privilege of unconstrained channel of communication, Obasanjo chooses to continue following contemptible medium of sending open messages to the president. Why? I don’t want to question the former President’s sense of self-esteem, because I know he carries himself with a lot of self-importance, but it may please him to remember the proverb that says, “respect begets respect”. In order for you to earn the respect of others, you must first and foremost, respect yourself.
The third paragraph of former president Obasanjo’s latest letter to president Buhari reads, “For over ten years, for four of which you have been the captain of the ship, Boko Haram has menacingly ravaged the land and in spite of government’s claim of victory over Boko Haram, the potency and the activities of Boko Haram, where they are active, remain undiminished, putting lie to government’s claim”.
I would like to start correcting the former president by rewinding his memory backward, as to when the Boko haram insurgency began.
According to the Wikipedia, “Boko Haram insurgency began in 2009, when the jihadists group started an armed rebellion against the government of Nigeria. The conflict takes place within the context of long-standing issues of religious violence between Nigeria’s Muslim and Christian communities, and the insurgents’ ultimate aim is to establish an islamic state in the region. Boko Haram’s initial uprising failed, and its leader Mohammed Yusuf was killed by the Nigerian government. The movement consequently fractured into autonomous groups and started an insurgency, though rebel commander Abubakar Shekau managed to achieve a kind of primacy among the insurgents. Though challenged by internal rivals, such as Abu Usmatul al-Ansari’s salafists conservative faction and the Ansaru faction, Shekau became the insurgency’s de facto leader and mostly kept the different Boko Haram factions from fighting each other, instead focusing on overthrowing the Nigerian government.”
Obasanjo handed over power to late Umaru Musa Yaradua in 2007, and shortly after, precisely two years later, the insurgency began. History has it that late Yaradua was literally handpicked and installed as president by the singular instruction of Obasanjo. What has Obasanjo done then to arrest the situation? Was Buhari in command of the ship then? For six years, Obasanjo’s stooges were in charge.
In-between the last part of the third paragraph and the first part of the fourth paragraph, Obasanjo said, “And Boko Haram will not go away on the basis of sticks alone, carrots must overweigh sticks. How else do you deal with issues such as only about 50% literacy in North-East with over 70% unemployment? Herdsmen/farmers crises and menace started with government treating the issue with cuddling glove instead of hammer.”
Here again came the former president’s principle of blame game and unfair application different technique or approach to different problems faced by different people. The typical double standards of OBJ.
In November 1999, on the orders of former president Obasanjo, the Nigerian military carried out a massacre on the predominantly Ijaw town of Odi in Bayelsa state. The attack came as a result of a conflict, due to the claims of indigenous rights to oil resources and environmental protection by the Niger Deltans. Countless number of people were killed and Obasanjo did not think of using the carrot.
Similarly, in October 2001, with Obasanjo as the president, soldiers were ordered to carry out the massacre of countless unarmed people in Zaki-Biam of Benue state. According to reports, the murders were prompted by the long running conflict over land, indigene ship, economic and political power, which occasionally transform into the ugly farmers/herders clashes. At that time, Obasanjo did not think about the literacy level of the area, or the availability of carrot as panacea for peace. He only used the stick and hammer to nail and solve his problems.
As a Human being, PMB has his weaknesses, which we pray to God, to allow him overcome them in good time to make the needed adjustments. But for Obasanjo, who in his time, made it almost like a patriotic duty, to insult priests and impeach sitting governors because of selfish interests, he lacks the correct credentials and the moral power to advance any advise for correction.
The only letters of the latest letter I love and agreed with are in the suggestion to invite for discussion: “traditional rulers, past heads of service (no matter how competent or incompetent they have been and how much they have contributed to the mess we are in), past heads of para-military organisations, private sector, civil society, community leaders particularly in the most affected areas, present and past governors, present and past local government leaders, religious leaders, past Heads of State, past intelligence chiefs, past Heads of Civil Service and relevant current and retired diplomats, members of opposition and any groups that may be deemed relevant”.