It’s obvious now that, in Nigeria, only imperceptive politicians and public servants, particularly those lacking the will or wisdom to play on the sentiments or emotions of the people, get judged and written about harshly. Or, is it just that memory is a trick that deserts Nigerians whenever sentiments are stoked and emotions stirred up?
I’m amused and angry now over the ease with which past leaders of the country, whose atrocities are open knowledge to all, whose indecisions form the very reasons we’re in our current national mess, become overnight patriots and statesmen for merely standing in solidarity with the very people they betrayed when they had the opportunity to make a difference.
It’s in this hell of displeasing amusement that a politician found guilty of misappropriating public funds would refer to his religion, ethnicity or region as the reason for his nemesis, presenting it to his constituents as witch-hunt over a certain disagreement with his prosecutors, thus exploiting their gullibility.
The case of former President Olusegun Obasanjo whose hypocrisy I took up in my recent open letter to him, easily comes to mind. That the very Obasanjo who started the fire we’ve been struggling so hard to extinguish is now being hailed as a hero – for merely understanding one of his zillion mistakes, having been disowned as a godfather by the man he once considered his puppet – highlights the comedy that is Nigeria’s quest for change.
What Nigerians need from Obasanjo is an apology for this maddening political chaos he initiated, not this dramatized illusion of patriotism that only assaults our sensibilities. No, dear countrymen, Obasanjo has already misused his opportunity to present himself as a truly visionary leader. This party membership card-tearing clown in Ota can only go down in history as the first villain of 21st century Nigeria.
Unless Obasanjo, who embarked on his presidential bid with his bank account in red, calls for another press conference to tear up all the millions he acquired during his eight years as head of state and government, including those that came under his “Presidential Library” at a period in which he couldn’t fix even our Power problem, this present showmanship of his is everything but an atonement.
Some Nigerians, however, have placed Obasanjo above other past Presidents and Heads of State who haven’t been contributing to the discourse of the country, believing that his outspokenness qualifies him for patriot. In this, they seem to genuinely mistake that word for”parrot”, the verb and even noun. I hold the other, quiet past and equally failed leaders, in some esteem for not stepping forward to insult the intelligence of Nigerians as Obasanjo does now.
That a people really think that Nigeria needs an Obasanjo to justify their conviction that Jonathan is a tragedy or that the country is a mess, is befuddling. What precedents are we setting with the way we “pardon” past “misrulers” of this country for dissenting with an incumbent only following their footsteps?
Another question I’m always quick to ask is, can anyone tell us Obasanjo’s legacy that Jonathan didn’t improve on? But asking that seems even silly because President Jonathan himself is one of the many disastrous legacies of Obasanjo! Well, did Obasanjo restructure the Ministry of Petroleum Resources in which millions continue to “disappear” till date? Did Nigeria’s power problems became better under Obasanjo? Wasn’t Obasanjo indicted in the Halliburton scandal? Who remembers Siemens bribery scandal? Was there transparency in the recovering and re-disbursement of Abacha’s loot? Isn’t this the same Obasanjo who also used Nigeria’s funds as bribes for lawmakers for approval of his infamous Third Term agenda? What has changed, Nigerians? What?
We live in a big hell in which, instead of being scorched, we find amusement; only that these dramas that amuse us are actually manifest pain. We live in a country that can truly clap hands for even Boko Haram’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, if the evil man comes out today and condemns President Jonathan as what we know he is – a failure; or if he described General Buhari as what we also know he is – a face of change. I don’t know what you think about this, but this culture of self-imposed amnesia to delete the bits of memory that document those who have failed this country is a precedent nobody in his or her right senses should celebrate or justify. May God save us from us!
By Gimba Kakanda
@gimbakakanda on Twitter