2015: Jonathan, Obasanjo And Lamido
By: Musa Samaila Rufai on June 10, 2013
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo was in the news recently, as he was quoted to have endorsed Governor Sule Lamido of Jigawa state for the 2015 presidential election. Considering the profile of the former president, who fought for the realisation of third term agenda in 2007, his endorsement of Lamido seems suspect and reveals the desperation of the former Nigerian leader to remain relevant in the affairs of the nation’s politics.
It is a fact that the rumour mills have been agog with reports that Obasanjo, who plotted the Yar’Adua/Goodluck presidential ticket in 2007, has fallen out of favour with the former Bayelsa state governor who was later sworn in as president following the demise of Yar’Adua in 2010.
While the Ota farmer was reported to have been engaged in a game of meddlesomeness to control the then ailing President Yar’Adua, the resistance of the then First Lady, Hajiya Turai, was to curb the excesses of the former president who was determined to control the presidency from his farm.
With Yar’Adua’s death in 2010, Obasanjo then thought the coast was now clear, and that there was no stopping him from running the nation through an assumed proxy. It was even said that with Dr Goodluck Jonathan as president, Obasanjo was thought to have come back to the corridors of power through the back door.
As Jonathan was attempting to consolidate his position and ensure he takes full charge, he was mindful of issues that introduce festering relationship with Obasanjo. As someone who has come to appreciate the values of the African tradition that places premium on respect for elders, Jonathan was willing to do everything to ensure trouble-free relationship with OBJ.
After his victory at the 2011 presidential election that was described as fair and transparent, Jonathan began to extricate himself from the undue influence of persons that could distract his commitment to the Nigeria project. This action by the president, of course, was seen as a deliberate attempt to be independent. People like Obasanjo saw this as not only a political affront, but a ploy to undermine and diminish his influence within the corridors of power.
The emergence of Jonathan had finally laid to rest several issues that have been thrown up in the polity. Before now, it was unthinkable that a minority could assume the presidency of the country. Jonathan did it. Jonathan exposed the hypocrisy of the Northern region as a cohesive area believed to be hegemony for Nigeria’s political dominance.
With that singular feat, the old Northern hawks, who are being rattled by his emergence, have woken up from their slumber and are working hard to turn the tables against the present administration.
To get the old political horses of yesterday back to relevance, a desperate attempt is being launched by the progenitors of the old order to re-launch their relevance and that of their wards. This they are doing through re-awakening the dead but powerless group that are seen as determinant of where the pendulum will swing to in 2015. The old North, oblivious of the rapid transformation that has been experienced in the country, is launching its last arsenal to recapture what it lost in 2010.
Taking advantage of the Northern outcry to recapture power, Obasanjo is attempting to test his popularity. By asking Jonathan not to contest in 2015, he is invariable calling on him to embrace the Mandela option of a single tenure. One recalls that despite several pressure mounted on Obasanjo by prominent Nigerians to step down in 2003, he refused and went ahead to contest for the 2003 presidential poll. Even after he exhausted his two terms of four years, his kitchen members were engaged in campaigning for yet another third term for him.
The recent sordid revelation on how Obasanjo plotted to realise his third term agenda is fully documented in Malam Nasir El-Rufai’s ‘Accidental Public Servant.’ What moral right does Obasanjo have to advise Jonathan to embrace the Mandela’s option which he turned down in 2003? I think something fundamental is wrong and we need to see to it that the populace, who will ultimately determines the fate of President Jonathan if he chooses to run, are told the truth.
There is no doubt that despite Obasanjo’s criticisms of the Jonathan administration, it is clear that the present government has done much to move the nation forward. More than anything, the insecurity that had trailed the affairs of the country is being tackled. What with the discovery of a large cache of arms by the Joint Military task Force in Kano. The JTF has now commenced in earnest a deliberate move to flush out insurgents in the country. The peace that once pervaded the North is slowly returning, while sponsors of the insurgence are on the run.
Obasanjo, who had accused the Jonathan presidency of not acting decisively, is not even commending the president who have demonstrated patience and endurance and given the insurgents a long rope before acting. Those who though Jonathan will continue to be patient despite the destruction of lives by the terrorists have now realised that there is always an end to everything. If they thought they would deploy the issue of insecurity as a campaign issue, they have discovered that current moves by the federal government to tackle the violence in the North is slowly shooting up the profile of the president as someone who can be trusted to deliver on his promises.
Obasanjo may be right to pursue his dream and campaign for his candidate if he so chooses. To state that one can find a job for someone, but may not be able to assist the person to do the job is a slap on the sensibilities of Nigerians. Was this not this man who was virtually exhumed from the gallows of death after the demise of General Sani Abacha in 1998 and made to assume the presidency? If God can make a way for a prisoner to be president, is it a greater feat for God to make a governor a president? Obasanjo should stop playing God and face realities.
He is free to drum up support for Lamido and others, all in a bid to get relevance in the present dispensation. But he should allow Nigerians to choose when the time comes. To start flying on the wings of the night and engaging in endorsement galore is nothing short of desperation. When Obasanjo plotted the Yar’Adua/Goodluck ticket in 2007, was he not aware that someone like Lamido could perform better? It is unfortunate that it took Obasanjo over six years to realise this. That only shows the quality of political leadership in the country.
Jonathan has never declared for 2015, but the current gale of opposition mounted by expired political jobbers and their paid masters is something that is alarming. One expects Obasanjo, who has been the beneficiary of God’s mercies, to be on the side of truth and equity. His recent endorsement of Lamido and open castigation of the Jonathan administration does not befit his status as a former Nigerian leader who is supposed to know better.
Power belongs to God and He gives to whosoever He will. No man can give to another. If power is given by man, then the third term agenda of 2007 would have scaled through. But because it was not permitted by God, it could not pass through.
Those in a hurry to show Jonathan the way out of power should be patient to allow the man declares for the polls.
—Rufai wrote in from Abuja and can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org