Recently, the Former President, Olusegun Obasonjo Mathew Arewu (OBJ), took centre stage on social media platforms with his epic sixteen pages letter to President Muhammadu Buhari.
The conents therein in the letter have generated a lot of controversies among Nigerians.
It is on this basis that, Sani, MICHAEL OMAKOJI, A Public Affairs Analyst, X-rays the genesis of OBJ’s Letter writing viz, viz its subsequent implications.
The genesis of OBJ’s letter writing dated back to the third Republic shortly when he honourably and, voluntarily handed over to the democratically elected President, Late Alhaji Shehu Shagari in 1979.
In his Letter in Mid 1982, OBJ accused Alhaji Shehu Shagari’s led administration of; massive looting of Nation’s wealth by Shagari’s Ministers ,and Party loyalties as well as inconsistent policy.
Just last year, Obasanjo once again recalled his beef with that administration to be mainly due to “inconsistent policy”.
Addressing Business Delegation in Obasanjo Presidential Library in Abeokuta last year, he said, “our problems in this country is inconsistency in policy.
In 1979, when I was the Head of the State, we were getting to a place where we would be self-sufficient in rice production, but when new government led by Late Alhaji Shehu Shagari, came on board, they rather choose to set up a presidential committee on rice importation instead of a presidential committee on exportation of rice.
In no time, when the imported rice started arriving, those farmers who were cultivating rice gave up’’.
OBJ’s outright condemnation of Late Alhaji Shehu Shagari’s led administration then were seen as loopholes by Military which eventually led to military coup d’état that coincidentally brought on board Nigeria’s President today, General Muhammadu Buhari on 31th December 1983.
Obansajo, who went away from public glare briefly after military coup d’état but however came back to resume his quest for good governance in 1983 as he openly criticized and accused General Muhammadu Buhari’s led regime of “human rights and ethnic bias”.
Months after he publicly asked the Buhari’s military regime to stop addressing itself as an offshoot of the Murtala/Obasanjo regime at a lecture he delivered to the Agriculture Society in Ibadan, in August 1985 scourged the regime for installing what he described as a “titled federalism” on the country.
In his usual characteristic of pressing home his demand and make his voice heard, OBJ later sent General Muhammadu Buhari a hardcopy of his lecture which arose a lot of cautiousness among Nigerians as it was a trend issue at a time.
Days later, General Buhari, was overthrown from office by General Ibrahim Babangida Badamasi (IBB), on 26th August, 1985.
The Ibrahim Babangida military regime was also not spared and was the object of repeated rebuke by Obasanjo after an initial fascination.
He was particularly critical of the administration’s economic policies saying famously at the peak of the public revolt against the “Structural Adjustment programme (SAP).
That “SAP must have a human face.”
Through his series of lectures and write ups, Obasanjo also expressed opposition to the intrigues that characterized Babangida’s transition programme.
In May 1993, Obasanjo assembled a conference of retired military generals, leading civil society personalities and some of the leading lights on the academia to deliberate on Nigeria.
Obasanjo had ahead of the summit informed Babangida of the gathering scheduled for Gateway Hotel, Ota.
Those invited came and were turned away by soldiers sent by Babaginda.
However, unknown to Babaginda, Obasanjo had envisaged it and had adequately conveyed to participants to gather at his farm where the conference actually took place.
After the annulment of June 12th 1993’s election which was adjudged by both local and International Observers as the most freest election in the whole sub-Africa region … Obasanjo open confrontation of IBB’s regime coupled with pressure from International Communities compelled IBB to cede power to Interim Government headed by Ernest Shonekan on 26th August, 1993.
Ernest Shonekan’s Interim Government escaped OBJ’s letter as his government only lasted for eighty three days which was bloodlessly toppled by late military Dictator, General Sani Abacha, on 17th November,1993.
After Sani Abacha, came to power, Obasanjo was quick to hit at him with his usual write up within one year.
Obasanjo was even harder on Babangida for allowing the seed that gave birth to the Abacha’s regime.
In a lecture he delivered at Arewa House, Kaduna, in 1994, he said:
“General Babangida is the main architect of the state in which the nation finds itself today, and General Sani Abacha, was his eminent disciple, faithful supporter, and beneficiary.”
Abacha sought to put Obasanjo off the radar forever, but as fate will have it, the later survived the contraptions to birth the Fourth Republic in May 1999, a year after Abacha died in office.
President Umar Yar`adua who Obasanjo installed in office as successor in 2007 was not also freed by his political benefactor as the ship of state was tossed in a conspiracy that threw up the phrase, ‘the cabals’ into Nigeria’s political lexicon.
As the crisis thrown up by the absence of the president smoldered, Obasanjo at a dialogue organized by Media Trust Limited, publishers of Daily Trust in January, 2010 asked Yar`adua to toe the “path of honour and morality” and resign if his health could not carry him any more in
OBJ open criticism against late Musa Yar’adua later triggered the National Assembly to jointly raised the motion of “doctrine of necessity” on Late Musa Yar’adua which eventually brought about, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.
However, his most celebrated falling out was with his most successful political project, President Goodluck Jonathan in 2013.
Obasanjo wrote several letters to Jonathan, but only two came to public knowledge after the two men had a public falling apart in 2013.
Obasanjo in those letters sought to portray Jonathan of pushing the country to the precipice by promoting deceit, corruption, and distrust in government.
Obasanjo went to the extent of publicly tearing his membership card of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP as a way of showing his revolt for a second term for Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.
He also publicly welcomed leaders of the All Progressives Congress, APC and the opposition that was framed against Jonathan in his Abeokuta Hill Top Mansion.
In his recent letters to President Muhammadu Buhari, Obasanjo’s assertions of condoning corruption, gross nepotism, sectional appointments, clamping down of opposition, abuse of power, executive rascality, clannishness and crass incompetence on the part of President Muhammadu Buhari, may serve to underline the consistency with which the former leader has attached to his vow to a united and progressive Nigeria.
From the literature reviews, Successive Nigerian Leaders who have ever received OBJ’s letter either diminish in popularity or loss election in an attempt to seek reelection.
Thus, has made many to regard him as ‘Father’ of both ancient and modern Nigeria.
Though, some analysts and President Muhammadu Buhari’s supporters have described OBJ’s recent criticism against Buhari’s as a criticism that cannot see the light of the day but whether or not Muhammadu Buhari, responds either to the issues or to the letter that warned him to quit politics because of his old age is what many Political Observers would be waiting for in a political chess game that no one can predict with degree of certainty most especially that President Muhammadu Buhari is talking tough on his reelection.
Sani MICHAEL OMAKOJI
A Public Affair Commentator On Both Local & International Issues.
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