By Ibrahim Mustapha
Former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo has once again stirred the hornet’s nest with his provocative and divisive narrative on failed state. Obasanjo had in response to the multi-faceted challenges bedeviling the country described the country as tending to a failed state. Since the time he left office to date, he has chided every government including those he helped to install. One remembers with nostalgia his open letters to previous head of states drawing their attention to matters of national importance.
Did his criticisms start with the civilian governments? The answer is – no. Even the military, the constituency Obasanjo came was never spared. From Ibrahim Babangida down to the Abdulsalami Abubakar regime, they had a barrage or torrent of criticism from him during their days in office.
Is Obasanjo’s criticisms borne out of passion for better Nigeria or are politically motivated?
Obasanjo is one of the beneficiaries of the Nigerian project. He served as military head of state and occupied the same position during the return of democratic government in 1999. It is not in contention to say that Obasanjo’s years as president were eventful and fruitful. He was able to carry out far-reaching economic reforms which stimulated growth and development. Examples are the telecommunication, public services and agriculture reforms. Under him, these areas received great attention and provided millions of jobs to Nigerians.
But so are his shortcomings legendary. It is on record that during his eight years as democratically elected president, the country witnessed human right abuses and cases of political assassinations. The mysterious killing of Chief Bola Ige, the then Chief Law Officer of the federation remains fresh in the minds of Nigerians. There were incidences of violence during elections. He was also the architect of do or die politics. These established imperfections spoke volumes about the man Obasanjo. This is to say, that Obasanjo is not saint as he wants us to believe.
The problem Obasanjo touched upon about divisiveness in politics or Nigeria drift predated the present government, although it must be conceded that it got worse under its watch.
The occasion and venue in which Obasanjo raised these vexed national issues gave his narratives political undertones. How can the former president convert the consultative dialogue attended by Ohanaeze, Afenifere, Northern Elders Forum and Middle Belt Forum to blame the present government for the current woes if not for political reasons?
While it is truth that the country has been facing security and economic challenges, the former president has unfettered access to President Muhammadu Buhari. He should have reached out to him if he had any advice to offer him instead of unwarranted attacks on the government. There is time for politics and there is time to avoid overheating the politics. This time, the former president has chosen the latter.
Mustapha wrote from Pambegua, Kaduna State.