Letter: Why Fayose Can Never Forgive Obasanjo

By Tunde Odesola

(Published in The PUNCH of Monday, January 29, 2018)

Have you ever seen a governor jump on a table, roar and spit fire? I saw Governor Ayodele Fayose do these during the public hearing on constitution review in February 2006. The venue was the Osun State House of Assembly, Osogbo, where delegates from South-West states converged to discuss the modalities for a review of the country’s constitution.

Before the hearing chaired by the then Deputy Senate President, Alhaji Ibrahim Mantu, took place, an ominous cloud of suspicion hung over the country. The cloud was thick and sinister. Members of the Mantu-led senate committee on the proposed review had been accused of receiving N50m each from the President Olusegun Obasanjo-led executive. Clairvoyants who saw beyond the evil cloud disclosed that they saw an old; black, wily hand writing on a wall. What did the hand write? ‘Third term’, they said. The cacophony generated by the invisible handwriting greeted the government’s decision to hold the public hearing nationwide, thereby, setting the Osogbo venue for a war between pro and anti-third term interests.

Expectedly, Fayose led the Ekiti State delegation to the venue just as the host governor, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, and all other South-West governors, except Asiwaju Bola Tinubu of Lagos State, were present at the event. Delegate after delegate spoke. Some submitted memoranda. Everything was going as scheduled until the late Bamidele Aturu turned up.

Flashback: Aturu came to national limelight in 1988 when he, as a National Youth Service Corps member, refused to shake hands with the then Military Governor of Niger State, Col. Lawan Gwadabe, during a ceremony in which he was honoured as one of the best-serving corps member in the state. The young law graduate cited human right abuses by the military as the reason behind his action.

Back to Osogbo: There was a grand design to bar anti-third term activists who had travelled from far and near from gaining access into the hallowed chamber. Aturu fooled the sentries at the gate and door with his dove-like mien as he produced for scrutiny his lawyer ID card and memoranda for the hearing.

The parliamentary chamber was filled beyond capacity. Many of those who stood in the gallery and hallways were, literally speaking, in straitjackets; they couldn’t see their feet if they decided to look down. Those who thought the anti-third term forces in the chamber had brought a knife to a gunfight soon discovered they were wrong. They brought plenty AK-47. Aturu gave it raw to the Mantu-led committee, which had the late Senator Uche Chukwumerije, among other eminent senators, in attendance. In unmistakable terms, Aturu described the hearing as a kangaroo contraption designed to fetch Obasanjo a third term, warning that Nigerians would resist the plan with their blood. The hall erupted. Some people tried to shout Aturu down, but no, he wouldn’t budge. Other activists rose in support of Aturu. Bedlam overtook reason; confusion break bone: uproar, chaos, madhouse!

To Fayose, loyalty is 100%, not 99.9%. Legend has it that Fayose’s word is his bond. Was it his promise to support the constitutional review hearing that he remembered? Or was it a realization and fear that the third term agenda was under threat? Something in Fayose snapped! He must take a decision in the ultimate protection of an unseen political interest? Like an angry tiger, the Oshokomale, in the majesty of his height, agilely climbed a table and lambasted Aturu and his cohorts, ordering the Ogbagi-Akoko-born lawyer to be thrown out. Who is this irritant? What nonsense! Enemies of progress! Mmttcheeeew!

Call it comeuppance or ingratitude, Fayose was impeached eight months later over allegations of corruption and a state of emergency was declared in Ekiti. Obasanjo appointed his kinsman, a one-star army general, Olutunji Olurin, to take over as the sole administrator of the state. However, the Supreme Court, in April 2015, eventually set aside Fayose’s impeachment, saying it lacked due process. Since Obasanjo left power in 2007, Fayose has told the world that the Owu farmer truly schemed to get a third term in office. The governor had never missed an opportunity to attack Obasanjo just as he had asked for a refund of the N10m he donated to the presidential library built by Obasanjo in Abeokuta – with interest. In December 2010, Fayose, publicly and physically, insulted Obasanjo in Okuku, Osun State, when both of them were guests to Oyinlola during a thanksgiving service, calling Baba Iyabo the father of bastards. But not a few see Fayose in the same mold with Obasanjo; like father, like son, they say.

When the news of Obasanjo’s letter got out earlier in the week, I looked forward to Fayose’s reaction and, was I disappointed in the response from the Ifaki-Ekiti-born governor? Characteristically, Fayose attacked Obasanjo over the admonition letter written to President Muhammadu Buhari, saying it was belated and self-serving. Fayose said that Nigerians were already poised to boot Buhari out of office, maintaining that Obasanjo’s letter amounted to playing to the gallery after ‘deceiving’ Nigerians to vote for Buhari in 2015.

A careful look at a recent video clip of Obasanjo dancing with his wife seems to buttress a general belief and Fayose’s description of Obasanjo as perpetually labouring to attract attention to himself at all times. In the video, Obasanjo, in blue ‘buba’ and ‘soro’, is seen dancing with his wife while some acquaintances – in tow – watched in expected admiration. Visibly in a good mood, Obasanjo, holding in his left hand something that looks like a bean cake (akara), digs into the food with his right hand and eats while he gyrates to the instrumental music. Enjoying every bit of the moment, Obasanjo enthusiastically moves about, boogieing and leaving his wife behind to do some catch up. She eventually catches up with Baba Gbenga, only for him to shuffle away towards the buffet while the beautiful wife trails in the distance. Obasanjo ate all through one minute, thirty-eight second video.

In contrast, a video clip of a former US President, Barack Obama, in his very inaugural dance with his wife, Michelle, shows a man who doesn’t want his better half to live in his shadow. The video shows a couple in love and apparently happy in the presence of each other. As the couple swayed in warm embrace to the song by Beyonce, they both enjoyed and savoured the great occasion together. In another video showing Barack and Michelle dancing to Michael Jackson’s Thriller, the former president did not attempt to ‘outdance’ his wife or draw attention to himself. At every opportunity when both appeared in public, Barack treated Michelle with utmost respect and affection.

Despite being controversial, incumbent US President, Donald Trump, in his inaugural dance, described his wife, Melanie, as his number one supporter, adding that it was ‘a wonderful honour to have the dance with Melanie’. All through the dance, Donald did not abandon Melanie to engage in any other thing.

The timing of Obasanjo’s letter to Buhari and the previous ones he had written to other Nigerians depicts a man who knows when to strike. His timeliness brings to mind the tale of Okolo in the Old Oyo Kingdom. Okolo was a slave, who was derided and overlaboured with work. His entreaties to be treated fairly fell on deaf ears and he vowed to strike at the appropriate time. “Talo mo Okolo e l’Oyo? (Who knows you, Okolo, in Oyo?),” the young and old taunted him. He complained no further but bid his time. One night, Okolo torched all the houses and farms belonging to his master, and fled into the darkness. “Eeehh! Calamity! Who torched the houses and farms?” “It is Okolo o!” Thus Okolo became known throughout the old Oyo Kingdom and beyond.

The Balogun of Owu is no slave; he won’t flee from battles. And may he write more letters in good health. While I pray for more ink to the quill of the Ekerin Balogun of Egba, I wish the Humpty-Dumpty Buhari administration would see the sense in the weighty letter and wake up to truly serve Nigerians for the remainder of the tenure.

Fayose and his colleague from Rivers, Nyesom Wike, are not the biggest challenges militating against Buhari’s second term bid, kinsman Atiku Abubakar and a formidable number of northern elements would hold the Sword of Damocles on the threshold of 2019. Sai Baba, remember also that the South-West are going to vote their minds. Nigerians won’t forget the naked corruption within your government, your clannish appointments and the enthronement of herdsmen.

• Odesola wrote in from the U.S. via [email protected]

A Letter To Chief Olusegun Obasanjo Phd, The Man Of Many Letters By Dr. Ugoji Egbujo

You are a great statesman. You are a man of letters. Congratulations on your PhD at 80. At 80, you still write lucidly, acerbically and long. President Buhari’s got 20 pages. Jonathan’s was 18. Your observations have always been clear, concise and essentially valid.

Whether it is about an economy without a human face in 1989 or about lice and insensitive politics of clannishness and nepotism in 2018, you have always voiced the mind of many on the street. They will always find you are meddlesome old man. I wish they would learn to concentrate on your observations and not your motivations. An old egocentric man would always have petty secondary motivations. In your letter to Buhari you told him many truths. They will always find your candour abrasive and sensationalist.

President Jonathan said that it was mischievous for a respected elder statesman to speak to a president through open letters. But how else would you have told President Buhari what his wife had gone to the BBC tell him to no effect. When the bold woman made herself heard she was reminded she was a housewife. She was told her job description was kitchen and bedroom affairs, only. I am happy you are not a woman. You may be insulted but won’t be treated with stark condescension. You have earned your reputation Baba. You have been taking presidents to the cleaners since 1979.

Jonathan, in December 2013, didn’t take his own with his characteristic equanimity. Amiable Jonathan called you unsavoury names. You had told him he was exceptionally corrupt and weak. He looked at you and referred to you a small-minded vindictive man. He said your letter was filled with baseless rumours and deliberate mischief. He said you hid under an open letter to attempt to harass him out of a yet undeclared candidature in the 2015 elections. His boys even said you were the grand architect of corruption in third republic.

Reuben Abati has been dancing in television studios after reading your current letter. But they had said you were a broken moral compass. They had named names and ugly events. Mr Fix it and his exploits, Chris Uba and his works in Awka, Mantu and the third term project, Halliburton and all the speculations. They said you are a political glutton, perpetually seeking relevance, tearing and devouring political offsprings, to feast a voracious ego. I told them then to leave you and your sins and focus on your gospel.

I thank God you have forgiven Jonathan and his misguided boys. You have retained the courage to speak truth to power. It is my prayer that President Buhari would digest your observations and sift through your recommendations. His appointments have truly reflected perhaps a subconscious tendency towards clannishness. Old men have many foibles. He has allowed his naked indifference to corruption scandals swirling around some of his close aides undermine public faith in his integrity. It isn’t just you and his wife. Many of his fans have described him as a master of own goals.

I prayed Buhari should respond to your letter. Because if he had put that letter where he put the Maina report then your caution would have been wasted. I thought you should have titled it—‘Before it’s too late part two.’ That could have inflicted some urgency on a man who has declared that he is no longer ever in a hurry. I am happy you didn’t accuse him of training snipers to handle political opponents. Because that would have crossed Buhari’s redline. Such a tale while seemingly preposterous against a man like Jonathan would find easy credibility against a man of Buhari’s pedigree. Fortunately Buhari has responded through a minister.

They chose their words carefully. We will wait for their actions. They are right Baba, the economy is showing visible signs of improvement. They are growing rice and foreign reserves the way you would have done. But they skirted over the issues of nepotism, clannishness and political insensitivity. I guess they are chewing on those. Baba, you hit many nails on many heads. Buhari has disappointed many. He couldn’t sort out the embarrassing EFCC vs DSS feuds. He has dilly-dallied and let murderous Fulani herdsmen assume impunity. He couldn’t sniff the stench of corruption around his men who abused the CBN dollar subsidy.

He couldn’t clear out a bumbling Attorney General who has gone to court to truncate corruption investigations by the legislature. His security appointments have remained senselessly lopsided. He is yet to come clean on his health status. He didn’t have the political courage to deregulate the downstream petroleum industry. We don’t know what he promised his wife in London. But the Jackals and Hyenas have not been banished. In fact, they have remained cross-legged in the sitting room. He has disappointed many of us who have been mocked senseless for believing and expecting much more from him. But Baba, Buhari is not an utter failure. There was a punishing oil glut. I have prayed he would take your admonitions and repent. Baba, you were a little too presumptuous in your recommendations. I know you are entitled to your personal opinions but you are not an ordinary man.

Your opinions have to be wholly objective and measured. Don’t let them say you are egocentric. They can say you are an electoral lightweight with an oversized estimation of political self importance. Many envy you, Baba. But Baba your conclusions in this letter are little disrespectful. Buhari’s ill health and frailty must have impacted on his effectiveness. But he has not even declared his candidature. You know you never declared you wanted a third term. And you insulted those who assumed it from your body language.

So why didn’t you wait? And what kind of an elderly statesman publicly tells a sitting president not to exercise a constitutional and conventional right to run for a second term in office? You said President Buhari lacks the mental and physical and psychological capacity to move the nation forward. So I thought you would stop at asking Nigerians not to vote him if he ran. You have to lead by example in respecting people’s boundaries. That was what you did in 2013. That is what you should have done. Wait for him at the polls and ambush him. You said it’s your personal opinion. But your opinions are authoritative.

How could you have prescribed a dismantling of the present political set up? Yes, you did. Jonathan warned you in 2013, that the tone of your letter to him then could have precipitated subversion. The content of this letter to Buhari can instigate and legitimize subversion. You described the two main parties as moribund and dismissed any hopes that the current system was redeemable. You painted a picture of utter hopelessness. You exaggerated here and there. And you recommended overreaching radical surgery. Your observations may be correct but your conclusions and prescriptions are wrong Baba. Your recipe is a nebulous makeshift coalition to replace multi party politics in the interim.

This proposal is at the best fraught with grave risks. This proposal may be well intentioned but it is manifestly retrogressive. Any attempt to purchase political cohesion through short term measures outside of multiparty party politics would retard our stuttering political development. Such shortsighted attempts at quick fixes would never yield the organic growth of democratic institutions and processes that we desperately need. Your recipe Baba, reveals your frustration with the status quo. You are not alone. But you must not let emotion trample on reason. Many have accused you of possessing a messiah complex. You know they all believed you wanted to be a life president.

This your proposal has opened a window for a multitude of suspicions. Some have conjectured that you want to manipulate one of your proteges into the position of head of an interim government of national unity. They have insinuated that you cannot affect Buhari’s fortunes in a free-and-fair elections in 2019. So you have opted for the backdoor. Let’s leave them with their gossip. You have the requisite political stature and diplomatic weight. You have noticed a gap in our political framework. You must not opt for a makeshift fix. You have everything to build a third national party. The idea of an adhoc coalition of angels reeks of impatience. Baba, collect your resources and men together, infuse them with good will, and form a third national party. That way you would help the growth and maturation of Nigeria’s politics.

Any political contraption that is not founded on firm constitutional democratic principles and practices would ultimately prove as willowy as Shonekan’s flimsy government. Baba, many are frustrated with the political foundations of the country. I believe the country begs to be politically restructured. It begs for a rearrangement that would decentralize power. It doesn’t need a coalition of puritans coming to it with the righteousness of the sidelines. Devolution of powers to the regions may not change attitudes immediately. But it would engender greater public scrutiny, better accountability and a wider sense of belonging. It will spur healthy rivalries amongst the regions.

Fast developing regions will attract migration and taxation wealth. The masses in poor mismanaged regions would find anger from envy and hunger. And they will channel it to their local leaders rather than to ‘marginalization’ and Abuja. Contrary to your position sir, political restructuring will ultimately change attitudes. Baba, Buhari’s opponents are jubilating and losing concentration. They must think that your letter constitutes a sack letter.

Buhari has a right to contest the elections. Please tell his opponents keep their feet on the ground, find a good candidate and go on a house- to-house campaign. Tell them to keep their focus on the electoral map. Please remind them that you are a great father and not a god. Buhari has a moral obligation to tender his medical certificate to the Nigerian public. And to get his London doctors to face media scrutiny over his health. He has an added moral obligation to come clean on all scandals engulfing his appointees. But ultimately, it must be left to the people and not even the gods to decide his fate if he chooses to run for re election. Respectfully yours.

Musa Warns Buhari Against Second Term

Leader of the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP), Alhaji Balarabe Musa, has stated that any attempt by President Muhammadu Buhari’s government to seek a second term next year may not be a good idea.

Musa, a former governor of Kaduna State, while reacting to former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s memo to Buhari over the state of the nation however berated Obasanjo, saying “In the first place, is Obasanjo deceiving us? This is because Obasanjo is one of those who supported Buhari for the presidency as a civilian candidate. Didn’t he know Buhari more than we know him, as they were in the Army together and were doing everything together? In 2015, Obasanjo knew Buhari more than we civilians ever knew him, and he recommended him for the presidency.”

“Now, he can regret ever recommended Buhari for certain reasons. Did he express such regret in his letter? Why does he want us to believe him if he is not suitable for 2019?.. .The state of the nation is negative and it has been so since the Army took over since 1966. For some years after Army take over, we have seen traces of improvement, particularly in the case of national unity. But after four years of military rule, we saw the negative state of Nigeria growing even more.

“Now, the state of the nation in many respects has gone so bad. What we expect would happen would inevitably happen. There will be a constitutional or proletarian revolution in Nigeria with the present situation. Whether we like it or not, if constitutional revolution will not work, there would be a proletarian revolution, because the state of the nation is so negative and people are suffering so much.

“We must change the philosophy of basing things on self-interest first and public interest second or even secondary. Otherwise, we have to change the social economic and political system controlling all areas of development in the country. “We can do this effectively by bring in the leading role of the state in the economic development to ensure peace, equality, dignity of the human person and progressive development of the country. You cannot do this by market economy, which has never progressed any country since after the world wars and colonialism.”

But Plateau State Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bashir Musa Sati, disagrees, saying “In the history of Obasanjo, he is known to be constantly inconsistent. Is there any President that he has not written a letter expressing his disappointment? He forced the late YarAdua on the people. He was the only exception.

“Obasanjo was a military head of state and later civilian President. Let me remind him that there is no country in the world where a former head of state or President will ask a sitting President to go and rest. This is a democracy where every person has the right to aspire to any position. He is not the one to decide when that person should go or to re-contest”.

Obasanjo And The Nation: This Time, Selective Amnesia Is Not An Option By Kennedy Emetulu

In the next few days, I will be discussing former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s public letter to President Muhammadu Buhari. I don’t think any Nigerian who knows me doubts that I do not want President Buhari reelected if he presents himself for reelection. In fact, I have already written an open letter to him asking him to resign and go rest shortly after he returned from his last medical treatment abroad. But, apart from the normal human feeling, one has for someone that advanced in age and struggling with his or her health, Buhari is ideologically not my cup of tea. He should not have been elected in the first place and having governed for almost three years now, we all can see what a monumental mistake we made by electing him.

I know there are people like Obasanjo who would proclaim that they had no choice but to elect Buhari as far as former President Goodluck Jonathan was the other option, but I think that thinking is patently false and dishonest, especially now that we have seen clearly what Buhari represents in his latest incarnation as a democratic president. Those who are saying it, including Obasanjo, know it’s false, but this is their way of justifying their ill-advised decision to support Buhari, knowing his antecedents. I mean, I would accept their reason if they had no idea who Buhari was or what he is capable of, but how can any matured adult who lived through the 20 months of the Buhari military dictatorship think he is suitable to lead a fledgling democracy? Of course, we had many who felt he was okay, but it was not a genuine or informed feeling for Nigeria’s well-being; in most cases, especially amongst the elite, it was a feeling based on selfishness and raw quest and, in some cases, greed for power.

Anyway, here we are again with the notorious letter writer striking against Buhari this time. Since he’s left office, Obasanjo has made himself by hook or by crook the installer of all our presidents against all tenets of democracy and he is very proud to let us know this. He installed Umaru Yar’Adua via his ‘Do or Die’ 2007 election, but soon fell out with him when Yar’Adua wouldn’t allow him to run his government and PDP from Ota and Abeokuta. Fate brought Jonathan forward and the Nigerian people installed him against the wishes of the Yar’Adua cabal and Obasanjo, the clear-eyed opportunist, adopted him again as his choice.

But precisely for reasons, he fell out with Yar’Adua, he fell out with Jonathan too. And then Bola Tinubu and his APC crowd trooped to Abeokuta to go ask him to be their ‘navigator’ in their bid to remove Jonathan. Of course, he jumped at the opportunity and sold their totally unsuitable candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, a man Obasanjo first brought into the Federal Government as a Federal Commissioner under his military regime in March 1976 and who left in a hail of controversy over a missing N2.8 billion (more than $3 billion dollars at the time) in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources which he headed, as the answer to our national problem.

This man who has showed he is totally unfit to be the leader of our country when he presided over the nation for 20 horrid months as a military dictator and who for the next thirty years after that had exhibited so much parochialism and hatred for Nigerians and our national institutions at all levels was Obasanjo’s happy choice for our nation. He went about campaigning for him and celebrated his win like some new dawn for the nation. For almost three years now, the man has acted true to type and Obasanjo and his coterie of kingmakers have been shuttling to and from Aso Rock grinning from ear to ear as our nation is being buried by bad governance and sheer human wickedness in high places. Then, suddenly, now that we have waited patiently to express ourselves democratically in the next presidential election coming up next year, Obasanjo jumps to the public podium with his accursed letter, preaching good governance to us and lambasting Buhari, his own very creation, all because he’s cooked up some new nation-destroying agenda to entice us as usual!

Here’s the thing, for whatever reason Obasanjo has chosen to fall out with Buhari, it should be no concern to any right-thinking Nigerian. Nobody should be preaching ‘listen to the message, forget the messenger’ or ‘Obasanjo has earned the right to speak forthrightly about national affairs’ or ‘he has a right to his own view just as you have a right to yours’ blah blah blah! When I say nobody should be preaching these I’m not saying nobody should actually not preach it because they already are preaching it! So, yeah, all that is perfectly fine. But, what I’m saying is that for any clearheaded Nigerian who hasn’t been snoozing off during important national history lessons, this is not the time to forget that our real starting point must be that Obasanjo is no national conscience. He’s an incubus who’s been the main architect of the failure of the Fourth Republic. He’s the man who fully invested in the failure he and his ilk have visited upon us these past 42 years and more tellingly, for the past 19 years. His plot is definitely one against democracy. I mean, when he calls on Nigerians to abandon the PDP and the APC and join him on the nebulous path of Coalition for Nigeria, which he says need not be a political party, that should ring alarm bells in the head of all thinking Nigerians. What does he want? That we should leave the democratic structures we have painfully built on the blood of patriots to follow him into some dark alley where he, the failed navigator, would once again lead us to our sure doom as mass sacrifice to his greed for power? What is wrong with PDP and APC? Are they not composed of Nigerians? If Obasanjo respects democracy and party politics, why did he make a show of tearing up his PDP card? If he had issues with certain PDP leaders, how about the millions of Nigerians who were and still are ordinary members? What respect did he show to them when he was throwing his toys out of the pram, playing the spoiler, so another party can win the election? Obasanjo declared himself above partisan politics, but meanwhile, it was his negative partisanship that was the signature Buhari needed to get into Aso Rock! No one begged him to return to party politics, so why is he now coming to disrupt our democratic life through the back door with his hues and cries? Who is investing in his hypocrisy this time?

Nigerians who truly love Nigeria and Nigerians must know that whatever Obasanjo is proposing to us and what Buhari has to offer from here on are BOTH not good for our country and us. Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty, so it’s time Nigerians of every political persuasion, of every political party, resist Obasanjo and those beating the drum he’s dancing to in public now. He is not and cannot be the moral standard-bearer for our nation because he is an awful and wicked leader like the Buhari he is excoriating. There is nothing in his message that is wholesome, there’s nothing he’s said that we do not already know; he’s just an opportunist looking for a last hurray to install his choice again as our leader in 2019. No, we must reject him!

The PDP and the APC and all other political parties must not be distracted. They are the guardians of our democracy and they must resist Obasanjo and his angels from hell. No one should give him any respect because the man does not respect Nigeria! Enough of his destabilization schemes! Whoever Obasanjo is working for, foreign and Nigerian must know that Nigerians have wised up to his antics. Let him at 80 years of age go and rest too! Enough of him around our political life like a bad smell! Let him go hide away and quietly be giving advice to upcoming leaders if they consult him and if he really has anything to say.

In 2019, Nigerians will get on with the vote. Those of us who want Buhari out will pit our democratic wits against those who want him reelected and as far as the election is free and fair, we will accept the result and move on. The nation is bigger than all of us! We are not going to be diverted by an Obasanjo destabilization agenda in the name of some fake Coalition for Nigeria! Not in our name! If Obasanjo is interested in politics, let him join a political party and support that party’s candidate or register his so-called Coalition for Nigeria and produce a candidate. Buhari has a right to seek reelection and even if he doesn’t exercise that right, it should not be because some old devious soldier shouted against him on a national pulpit. In Nigeria and this world we live in, Obasanjo does not possess a bigger moral leverage than Buhari, they are made of the same cloth and decent Nigerians want none of them! Between them, they’ve caused us enough grief already! Enough is enough!

To start off our discussion in earnest, I am taking us back to the letter Obasanjo wrote to President Goodluck Jonathan. It’s important we go back and analyze that notorious letter to understand the present one to Buhari because between both, we can get a clearer insight into Obasanjo’s dark mind. In my view at the time, Jonathan mismanaged the opportunity because that was an opportunity he had to silence Obasanjo forever. But he thought playing the respectful son was the best thing, so Obasanjo’s lies in that letter stuck to him like a leech and he went on to lose the election, which was the reason Obasanjo deployed that letter in the first place. Today, Obasanjo is stomping on a fake moral high ground, claiming his letter chastised Jonathan who has now seen the light, but who he will not allow or he will not support to be president again, even as he would work with him in other capacities. Of course, at the time, Jonathan had many idiots advising him. Even when patriotic citizens who felt he should robustly respond to Obasanjo were asking him to do so and offering ideas, Jonathan demurred. I was one of such persons. In fact, after consultations, I actually wrote a draft response I wanted President Jonathan to largely adopt as a response to Obasanjo at the time, but, as I said, he had other ideas coming from the clowns who were advising him at the time. In the end, he published what was termed a response, but which really turned out to be a half-hearted attack and an unconfident response that further deified Obasanjo. Refresh your mind by calmly rereading Obasanjo’s letter and Jonathan’s response in the links below:

EXCLUSIVE: Obasanjo writes Jonathan, accuses president of lying, destroying Nigeria, promoting corruption

http://saharareporters.com/2013/12/22/letter-president-goodluck-jonathan-replies-former-president-obasanjo

As I said, before Jonathan made the above response, I proposed a draft response that never made it to public space because he chose to go another way (with his eventual response above). But today, I’m going to post that draft I made for him publicly. I am doing so for Nigerians to understand fully what Obasanjo is doing with his latest letter to Buhari because they are all connected to our future that he is once again planning to destroy. The Ebora Owu is an evilly complicated human being who thinks himself the smartest cookie ever to walk the earth, so he has no scruples taking us on another wild goose chase, but that is if we make our nation and ourselves available. Sure, I’m not a Buhari supporter, but there’s a lot he and his supporters must learn from that Jonathan episode. I see that Lai Mohammed has responded to Obasanjo in a seemingly courteous way (while leaving some other persons and organizations with links to the government to go dirty on Obasanjo), but really saying nothing apart from the usual lies about Buhari’s achievements. To be honest, it’s not very different from Jonathan’s approach, except that Lai Mohammed responded on behalf of the government, rather than Buhari doing so directly and he (Lai Mohammed) addressed his response to Nigerians, rather than to Obasanjo directly. Otherwise, both are just the same rehash of what they termed their achievements as if they are schoolboys reporting what they have done to a headmaster! Remarkably, the Lai Mohammed response mostly avoided addressing the issues raised by Obasanjo, including conveniently misrepresenting some of Obasanjo’s positions. But, there’s no surprise there, we’re talking the one and only Lai Mohammed, the Chemical Ali of our time!

At any rate, I do not think that Lai Mohammed’s piece is winning anybody over to Buhari’s side that is not already on that side now. Pretending to be respectful to someone whose objective is to destabilize our democracy and bring down your government is another brand of hypocrisy, but there is no surprise there. Lai Mohammed and his boss are creations of Obasanjo. He helped bring them to the government, so they know themselves.  They are all fellow destroyers of Nigeria, so they can be smiling to each other publicly while they viciously suck each other’s blood in the dark. They know that their core isn’t something that can appeal to true Nigerian patriots, so they need to pretentiously tiptoe around their Baba, their disrobed god. So, let them get on with their handbagging, Nigerians should ignore both.

The lesson for true Nigerians is obvious. We cannot allow a criminal like Obasanjo be our political or moral guide in 2019. If you are someone fifty-seven or below and of voting age, think deeply about what I’m saying here and remove the curse of Obasanjo from your generation by distancing yourself and your family from his new scheme!  He might have his issues with Buhari, but we are not joining him! We have our plans for Buhari at the ballot box and it does not involve Obasanjo and the national and foreign vampires and anti-democratic forces behind him. Reject Obasanjo! Reject Buhari! Keep faith with the democratic process to finally give us the leader we want! Trust your PVC, it’s your weapon in 2019!

#CoalitionforNigeriaNotInOurName!

Obasanjo’s Letter Makes Some Sense But The Writer Is Not Deserving Of The Letter- Ayo Fayose

Ekiti State Governor, Chief Ayodele Fayose has expressed his point of view on the open letter released by Former President Olusegun Obasanjo to President Muhammadu Buhari.

Fayose according to a press statement by his Chief Press Secretary issued in Ado Ekiti on Wednesday described ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo’s letter to President Muhammadu Buhari as belated and self-serving.

Fayose said, ” It is a face-saving letter after Obasanjo, who led the cabals that imposed Buhari, had seen that Nigerians have turned back from following the president.

“Damning as the Obasanjo letter was and although it makes some sense, the writer is not deserving of the letter. “Obasanjo is not the right person to write that letter” Fayose insisted “He was the leader of those who deceived Nigerians and lied to the international community to support Buhari. “Nigerians have already made up their minds to show Buhari the exit next year with or without Obasanjo’s self-serving letter “So Obasanjo should not take the credit. He should not reap where he has not sown.

“Nevertheless, President Buhari should heed ex-President Obasanjo’s advice and go home and rest. “President Buhari has overstayed his welcome”, he added “Obasanjo himself should heed his own advice to Buhari by also going home to rest. Both Obasanjo and Buhari are analogue in this digital age and have expired.

“We have been hearing of Obasanjo since we were in the primary school. “It is time for him to vacate the public political space. When Nigerians hear him speak nowadays, they hiss.”

Femi Falana Reacts To Obasanjo’s Letter

Successful Human rights Lawyer, Femi Falana has reacted to ex-president, Olusegun Obasanjo’s lengthy letter to President Buhari on Tuesday.

Falana believes that Obasanjo, in his 13-page statement was truly a call to the President to bury any plans of recontesting.

He said:

“President Olusegun Obasanjo’s intervention is a vivid expression of the frustration of the Nigerian people with the Buhari administration.

The statement is a clarion call on President Buhari to remove the incompetent and corrupt cabal of power mongers that has hijacked political power from him.

Through sheer nepotism and cronyism, the regime has lost the massive goodwill that heralded it to power.

The success recorded in the fight against insurgency in the northeast zone has been eroded in the wave of kidnapping and reckless killing of unarmed Nigerians by AK47-bearing herdsmen.The success of the fight against corruption and impunity has been rubbished by the inability of the regime to remove corrupt public officers.

President Obasanjo’s challenge has been taken up by many Nigerians who have already formed a coalition of genuine progressive forces to liberate Nigeria from internal colonialism and imperialist control.”

 

Obasanjo Writes Open Letter To President Buhari

Former President of the country Olusegun Obasanjo has written a letter to his successor President Muhammadu Buhari about the situation of the country and Buhari’s intentions to run for second term.

Read the statement below:

The Way Out: A Clarion Call For Coalition For Nigeria Movement

Special Press Statement By President Olusegun Obasanjo

Since we are still in the month of January, it is appropriate to wish all Nigerians Happy 2018. I am constrained to issue this special statement at this time considering the situation of the country. Some of you may be asking, “What has brought about this special occasion of Obasanjo issuing a Special Statement?” You will be right to ask such a question. But there is a Yoruba saying that ‘when lice abound in your clothes, your fingernails will never be dried of blood’. When I was in the village, to make sure that lice die, you put them between two fingernails and press hard to ensure they die and they always leave blood stains on the fingernails. To ensure you do not have blood on your fingernails, you have to ensure that lice are not harboured anywhere within your vicinity.

The lice of poor performance in government – poverty, insecurity, poor economic management, nepotism, gross dereliction of duty, condonation of misdeed – if not outright encouragement of it, lack of progress and hope for the future, lack of national cohesion and poor management of internal political dynamics and widening inequality – are very much with us today. With such lice of general and specific poor performance and crying poverty with us, our fingers will not be dry of ‘blood’.

Four years ago when my PDP card was torn, I made it abundantly clear that I quit partisan politics for aye but my concern and interest in Nigeria, Africa and indeed in humanity would not wane. Ever since, I have adhered strictly to that position. Since that time, I have devoted quality time to the issue of zero hunger as contained in Goal No. 2 of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN. We have set the target that Nigeria with the participating States in the Zero Hunger Forum should reach Zero Hunger goal by 2025 – five years earlier than the UN target date. I am involved in the issue of education in some States and generally in the issue of youth empowerment and employment. I am involved in all these domestically and altruistically to give hope and future to the seemingly hopeless and those in despair. I believe strongly that God has endowed Nigeria so adequately that no Nigerian should be either in want or in despair.

I believe in team work and collaborative efforts. At the international level, we have worked with other world leaders to domicile the apparatus for monitoring and encouraging socio-economic progress in Africa in our Presidential Library. The purpose of Africa Progress Group, which is the new name assumed by Africa Progress Panel (APP), is to point out where, when and what works need to be done for the progress of Africa separately and collectively by African leaders and their development partners. I have also gladly accepted the invitation of the UN Secretary-General to be a member of his eighteen-member High-Level Board of Advisers on Mediation. There are other assignments I take up in other fora for Africa and for the international community. For Africa to move forward, Nigeria must be one of the anchor countries, if not the leading anchor country. It means that Nigeria must be good at home to be good outside. No doubt, our situation in the last decade or so had shown that we are not good enough at home; hence we are invariably absent at the table that we should be abroad.

All these led me to take the unusual step of going against my own political Party, PDP, in the last general election to support the opposite side. I saw that action as the best option for Nigeria. As it has been revealed in the last three years or so, that decision and the subsequent collective decision of Nigerians to vote for a change was the right decision for the nation. For me, there was nothing personal, it was all in the best interest of Nigeria and, indeed, in the best interest of Africa and humanity at large. Even the horse rider then, with whom I maintain very cordial, happy and social relationship today has come to realise his mistakes and regretted it publicly and I admire his courage and forthrightness in this regard. He has a role to play on the side line for the good of Nigeria, Africa and humanity and I will see him as a partner in playing such a role nationally and internationally, but not as a horse rider in Nigeria again.

The situation that made Nigerians to vote massively to get my brother Jonathan off the horse is playing itself out again. First, I thought I knew the point where President Buhari is weak and I spoke and wrote about it even before Nigerians voted for him and I also did vote for him because at that time it was a matter of “any option but Jonathan” (aobj). But my letter to President Jonathan titled: “Before It Is Too Late” was meant for him to act before it was too late. He ignored it and it was too late for him and those who goaded him into ignoring the voice of caution. I know that praise-singers and hired attackers may be raised up against me for verbal or even physical attack but if I can withstand undeserved imprisonment and was ready to shed my blood by standing for Nigeria, I will consider no sacrifice too great to make for the good of Nigeria at any time. No human leader is expected to be personally strong or self-sufficient in all aspects of governance.

I knew President Buhari before he became President and said that he is weak in the knowledge and understanding of the economy but I thought that he could make use of good Nigerians in that area that could help. Although, I know that you cannot give what you don’t have and that economy does not obey military order. You have to give it what it takes in the short-, medium- and long-term. Then, it would move. I know his weakness in understanding and playing in the foreign affairs sector and again, there are many Nigerians that could be used in that area as well. They have knowledge and experience that could be deployed for the good of Nigeria. There were serious allegations of round-tripping against some inner caucus of the Presidency which would seem to have been condoned. I wonder if such actions do not amount to corruption and financial crime, then what is it? Culture of condonation and turning blind eye will cover up rather than clean up. And going to justice must be with clean hands.

I thought President Buhari would fight corruption and insurgency and he must be given some credit for his achievement so far in these two areas although it is not yet uhuru!

The herdsmen/crop farmers issue is being wittingly or unwittingly allowed to turn sour and messy. It is no credit to the Federal Government that the herdsmen rampage continues with careless abandon and without finding an effective solution to it. And it is a sad symptom of insensitivity and callousness that some Governors, a day after 73 victims were being buried in a mass grave in Benue State without condolence, were jubilantly endorsing President Buhari for a second term! The timing was most unfortunate. The issue of herdsmen/crop farmers dichotomy should not be left on the political platform of blame game; the Federal Government must take the lead in bringing about solution that protects life and properties of herdsmen and crop farmers alike and for them to live amicably in the same community.

But there are three other areas where President Buhari has come out more glaringly than most of us thought we knew about him. One is nepotic deployment bordering on clannishness and inability to bring discipline to bear on errant members of his nepotic court. This has grave consequences on performance of his government to the detriment of the nation. It would appear that national interest was being sacrificed on the altar of nepotic interest. What does one make of a case like that of Maina: collusion, condonation, ineptitude, incompetence, dereliction of responsibility or kinship and friendship on the part of those who should have taken visible and deterrent disciplinary action? How many similar cases are buried, ignored or covered up and not yet in the glare of the media and the public? The second is his poor understanding of the dynamics of internal politics. This has led to wittingly or unwittingly making the nation more divided and inequality has widened and become more pronounced. It also has effect on general national security. The third is passing the buck. For instance, blaming the Governor of the Central Bank for devaluation of the naira by 70% or so and blaming past governments for it, is to say the least, not accepting one’s own responsibility. Let nobody deceive us, economy feeds on politics and because our politics is depressing, our economy is even more depressing today. If things were good, President Buhari would not need to come in. He was voted to fix things that were bad and not engage in the blame game. Our Constitution is very clear, one of the cardinal responsibilities of the President is the management of the economy of which the value of the naira forms an integral part. Kinship and friendship that place responsibility for governance in the hands of the unelected can only be deleterious to good government and to the nation.

President Buhari’s illness called for the sympathy, understanding, prayer and patience from every sane Nigerian. It is part of our culture. Most Nigerians prayed for him while he was away sick in London for over hundred days and he gave his Deputy sufficient leeway to carry on in his absence. We all thanked God for President Buhari for coming back reasonably hale and hearty and progressing well in his recovery. But whatever may be the state of President Buhari’s health today, he should neither over-push his luck nor over-tax the patience and tolerance of Nigerians for him, no matter what his self-serving, so-called advisers, who would claim that they love him more than God loves him and that without him, there would be no Nigeria say. President Buhari needs a dignified and honourable dismount from the horse. He needs to have time to reflect, refurbish physically and recoup and after appropriate rest, once again, join the stock of Nigerian leaders whose experience, influence, wisdom and outreach can be deployed on the side line for the good of the country. His place in history is already assured. Without impaired health and strain of age, running the affairs of Nigeria is a 25/7 affair, not 24/7.

I only appeal to brother Buhari to consider a deserved rest at this point in time and at this age. I continue to wish him robust health to enjoy his retirement from active public service. President Buhari does not necessarily need to heed my advice. But whether or not he heeds it, Nigeria needs to move on and move forward.

I have had occasion in the past to say that the two main political parties – APC and PDP – were wobbling. I must reiterate that nothing has happened to convince me otherwise. If anything, I am reinforced in my conviction. The recent show of PDP must give grave and great concern to lovers of Nigeria. To claim, as has been credited to the chief kingmaker of PDP, that for procuring the Supreme Court judgement for his faction of the Party, he must dictate the tune all the way and this is indeed fraught with danger. If neither APC nor PDP is a worthy horse to ride to lead Nigeria at this crucial and critical time, what then do we do? Remember Farooq Kperogi, an Associate Professor at the Kennesaw State University, Georgia, United States, calls it “a cruel Hobson’s choice; it’s like a choice between six and half a dozen, between evil and evil. Any selection or deflection would be a distinction without a difference.” We cannot just sit down lamenting and wringing our hands desperately and hopelessly.

I believe the situation we are in today is akin to what and where we were in at the beginning of this democratic dispensation in 1999. The nation was tottering. People became hopeless and saw no bright future in the horizon. It was all a dark cloud politically, economically and socially. The price of oil at that time was nine dollars per barrel and we had a debt overhang of about $35 billion. Most people were confused with lack of direction in the country. One of the factors that saved the situation was a near government of national unity that was put in place to navigate us through the dark cloud. We had almost all hands on deck. We used people at home and from the diaspora and we navigated through the dark cloud of those days. At that time, most people were hopelessly groping in the dark. They saw no choice, neither in the left nor in the right, and yet we were not bereft of people at home and from the diaspora that could come together to make Nigeria truly a land flowing with milk and honey. Where we are is a matter of choice but we can choose differently to make a necessary and desirable change, once again.

Wherever I go, I hear Nigerians complaining, murmuring in anguish and anger. But our anger should not be like the anger of the cripple. We can collectively save ourselves from the position we find ourselves. It will not come through self-pity, fruitless complaint or protest but through constructive and positive engagement and collective action for the good of our nation and ourselves and our children and their children. We need moral re-armament and engaging togetherness of people of like-mind and goodwill to come solidly together to lift Nigeria up. This is no time for trading blames or embarking on futile argument and neither should we accept untenable excuses for non-performance. Let us accept that the present administration has done what it can do to the limit of its ability, aptitude and understanding. Let the administration and its political party platform agree with the rest of us that what they have done and what they are capable of doing is not good enough for us. They have given as best as they have and as best as they can give. Nigeria deserves and urgently needs better than what they have given or what we know they are capable of giving. To ask them to give more will be unrealistic and will only sentence Nigeria to a prison term of four years if not destroy it beyond the possibility of an early recovery and substantial growth. Einstein made it clear to us that doing the same thing and expecting a different result is the height of folly. Already, Nigerians are committing suicide for the unbearable socio-economic situation they find themselves in. And yet Nigerians love life. We must not continue to reinforce failure and hope that all will be well. It is self-deceit and self-defeat and another aspect of folly.

What has emerged from the opposition has shown no better promise from their antecedents. As the leader of that Party for eight years as President of Nigeria, I can categorically say there is nothing to write home about in their new team. We have only one choice left to take us out of Egypt to the promised land. And that is the coalition of the concerned and the willing – ready for positive and drastic change, progress and involvement. Change that will give hope and future to all our youth and dignity and full participation to all our women. Our youth should be empowered to deploy their ability to learn, innovate and work energetically at ideas and concepts in which they can make their own original inputs. Youth must be part of the action today and not relegated to leadership of tomorrow which may never come. Change that will mean enhancement of living standard and progress for all. A situation where the elected will accountably govern and every Nigerian will have equal opportunity not based on kinship and friendship but based on free citizenship.

Democracy is sustained and measured not by leaders doing extra-ordinary things, (invariably, leaders fail to do ordinary things very well), but by citizens rising up to do ordinary things extra-ordinarily well. Our democracy, development and progress at this juncture require ordinary citizens of Nigeria to do the extra-ordinary things of changing the course and direction of our lackluster performance and development. If leadership fails, citizens must not fail and there lies the beauty and importance of democracy. We are challenged by the current situation; we must neither adopt spirit of cowardice nor timidity let alone impotence but must be sustained by courage, determination and commitment to say and do and to persist until we achieve upliftment for Nigeria. Nothing ventured, nothing gained and we believe that our venturing will not be in vain. God of Nigeria has endowed this country adequately and our non-performance cannot be blamed on God but on leadership. God, who has given us what we need and which is potentially there, will give us leadership enablement to actualize our potentiality.

The development and modernization of our country and society must be anchored and sustained on dynamic Nigerian culture, enduring values and an enchanting Nigerian dream. We must have abiding faith in our country and its role and place within the comity of nations. Today, Nigeria needs all hands on deck. All hands of men and women of goodwill must be on deck. We need all hands to move our country forward.

We need a Coalition for Nigeria, CN. Such a Movement at this juncture needs not be a political party but one to which all well-meaning Nigerians can belong. That Movement must be a coalition for democracy, good governance, social and economic well-being and progress. Coalition to salvage and redeem our country. You can count me with such a Movement. Last time, we asked, prayed and worked for change and God granted our request. This time, we must ask, pray and work for change with unity, security and progress. And God will again grant us. Of course, nothing should stop such a Movement from satisfying conditions for fielding candidates for elections. But if at any stage the Movement wishes to metamorphose into candidate-sponsoring Movement for elections, I will bow out of the Movement because I will continue to maintain my non-partisan position. Coalition for Nigeria must have its headquarters in Abuja.

This Coalition for Nigeria will be a Movement that will drive Nigeria up and forward. It must have a pride of place for all Nigerians, particularly for our youth and our women. It is a coalition of hope for all Nigerians for speedy, quality and equal development, security, unity, prosperity and progress. It is a coalition to banish poverty, insecurity and despair. Our country must not be oblivious to concomitant danger around, outside and ahead. Coalition for Nigeria must be a Movement to break new ground in building a united country, a socially-cohesive and moderately prosperous society with equity, equality of opportunity, justice and a dynamic and progressive economy that is self-reliant and takes active part in global division of labour and international decision-making.

The Movement must work out the path of development and the trajectory of development in speed, quality and equality in the short- medium- and long-term for Nigeria on the basis of sustainability, stability, predictability, credibility, security, cooperation and prosperity with diminishing inequality. What is called for is love, commitment and interest in our country, not in self, friends and kinship alone but particularly love, compassion and interest in the poor, underprivileged and downtrodden. It is our human duty and responsibility so to do. Failure to do this will amount to a sin against God and a crime against humanity.

Some may ask, what does Obasanjo want again? Obasanjo has wanted nothing other than the best for Nigeria and Nigerians and he will continue to want nothing less. And if we have the best, we will be contented whether where we live is described as palaces or huts by others and we will always give thanks to God.

I, therefore, will gladly join such a Movement when one is established as Coalition for Nigeria, CN, taking Nigeria to the height God has created it to be. From now on, the Nigeria eagle must continue to soar and fly high. CN, as a Movement, will be new, green, transparent and must remain clean and always active, selflessly so. Members must be ready to make sacrifice for the nation and pay the price of being pioneers and good Nigerians for our country to play the God-assigned role for itself, for its neighbours, for its sub-region of West Africa, for its continent and for humanity in general. For me, the strength and sustainable success of CN will derive largely from the strong commitment of a population that is constantly mobilized to the rallying platform of the fact that going forward together is our best option for building a nation that will occupy its deserved place in the global community. May God continue to lead, guide and protect us. Amen.

 

Obasanjo Gets Employed By The United Nations

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has been taken back to the work force after being appointed into the United Nations (UN) High-Level Advisory Board on Mediation along with 17 other current and former global leaders. The Secretary-General, Antonio Gutierrez had in September announced the establishment of the board to provide him with advice on mediation initiatives and back specific mediation efforts around the world.

 

The Board is composed of 18 current and former global leaders, senior officials and renowned experts who bring together an unparalleled range of experience, skills, knowledge and contacts. The Secretary-General explained that the establishment of the Board is part of the “surge in diplomacy for peace” he has consistently advocated, and gives due priority to the prevention and mediation work of the United Nations.

 

The Board is expected to allow the UN to work more effectively with regional organizations, non-governmental groups and others involved in mediation around the world. In the announcement of the appointments, the world body described Obasanjo as one of the most distinguished elder statesmen of Africa.

 

It added: “He served as President of the Republic of Nigeria from 1999 to 2007, and before that as the Head of the Federal Military Government of Nigeria and Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces from 1976 to 1979. Over his long career, Mr. Obasanjo has been involved in numerous international mediation efforts, including in Angola, Burundi, Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa.

 

“In 2008 he was appointed the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on the Great Lakes region.”

 

Also appointed into the board are President Michelle Bachelet (Chile) who is serving her second non-consecutive term as president; Radhika Coomaraswamy (Sri Lanka); a 2011 Nobel Peace Laureate, Leymah Gbowee (Liberia); Jean-Marie Guéhenno (France), former President of Finland, Tarja Halonen (Finland); David Harland (New Zealand), Noeleen Heyzer (Singapore), and Nasser Judeh (Jordan).

 

Others are Ramtane Lamamra (Algeria), Graça Machel (Mozambique), Asha-Rose Migiro (Tanzania), Raden Mohammad and Marty Muliana Natalegawa (Indonesia). Also appointed into the board are Roza Otunbayeva (Kyrgyzstan), Michèle Pierre-Louis (Haiti), José Manuel Ramos-Horta (Timor-Leste), Gert Rosenthal (Guatemala) and Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby (United Kingdom).

 

Obasanjo And Makarfi In Close Door Meeting

The National Leader and caretaker chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Ahmed Markafi, is in a closed-door meeting with the former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, in Abeokuta.

 The ongoing meeting is taking place at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library.
Recalled that members of the caretaker committee in Ogun and a frontline aspirant for the national chairmanship seat, Chief Gbenga Daniel, paid Obasanjo a visit some days ago.
Details later.

Obasanjo Advocates Engineering Competence

Africa needs engineering competencies in problem-solving, design and analytical thinking to overcome its socio-economic development challenges, former President Olusegun Obasanjo has said.

“In many parts of Africa, young engineers have not been trained for specific roles in the industry.

“We have to teach them to convert the technical knowledge acquired into useful artefacts needed in the industry,’’ Obasanjo said at the opening of the 3rd African Engineering Deans Council (AEDC) summit on Tuesday.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the summit held at the Covenant University, Ota in Ogun.

The former president delivered a keynote address at the summit which had the theme: “Engineering for Socio-Economic Development in Africa’’.

Obasanjo said that young engineers should also learn how to transform manufactured products into viable business ventures.

“Let us have more engineer entrepreneurs rather than engineer job seekers,’’ he urged.

According to him, the engineering curriculum of the 20th century is no longer sufficient to address the engineering challenges of the 21st century.

“UNESCO recognises the need to reform engineering education and support research to establish a baseline overview of existing best practices in engineering education in sub-Saharan Africa with special focus on student-centred learning,’’ he said.

He said that the emphasis on personal and professional attitudes by industries indicated that engineers were not only expected to be technically proficient but also to know how to behave and operate within an organisation.

“In the time past, Africa carved an enviable niche for itself in the field of textile, maritime technology, architecture, medicine, telecommunications, commerce, warfare and others, where are we today?

“Let me reiterate that my aim here is neither to romanticise the past nor bemoan it, but to use the past to help our present and inspire our future in socio-economic growth,” he said.

He called for more interaction between industries and universities to promote innovation and facilitate absorption of graduates by industries.

The former president said that such a relationship had become a subject of great interest to even policy makers.

“It will engender improvement and innovation in industry and help to ensure relevance in academic training and research,’’ he said.

Obasanjo, however, hailed African countries for embracing technology as a driver of development.

He noted that telecommunications, in particular, had improved quality of life across sub-Saharan Africa.

Obasanjo charged the council to see how technology could be further harnessed to improve the standard of living in Africa.

“According to Wikipedia, about 40 per cent of Africa-born scientists and engineers live and work in European countries.

“Some call it brain-drain and often dwell solely on the negative implications, but have we seriously thought of how this can be of benefit to the continent?’’

He lauded the Chancellor of Covenant University, Dr David Oyedepo, for vision and support for the development of humanity.

Obasanjo said that Oyedepo remained a true believer in the Africa project.

In his remarks, Oyedepo praised the council for organising the summit and for efforts so far in seeking solutions to challenges to the socio-economic growth of Africa.

He said that he looked forward to seeing innovations by the council that would tackle a greater part of challenges facing humanity.

The President of Guinea, who is also the President of the African Union (AU), Prof. Alpha Conde, called for a paradigm shift from the 20th-century engineering to the 21st-century engineering to facilitate Africa’s development.
Conde, represented by a Cabinet Minister in Guinea, Mr Alpha Amadou Barry, said that the continent would move forward through science and technology.

“Do not ask what Africa can do for you; rather, think of what you can do for Africa,” Conde urged.

The President, African Engineering Deans Council, Prof. Moses Obiazi, had in his opening speech, said that Africans’ access to shelter, water, sanitation and energy was vital for increased productivity.

“To realise this, African engineers must be fully involved as it is only Africa that will solve Africa’s problems.

“Currently, we do not have a specific policy framework to encourage and mobilise African engineers to collaborate in tackling Africa’s infrastructure and developmental challenges.

“AEDC is, therefore, poised to work through AU to help to foster collaboration in developing technologies, manpower, skill and competencies required to tackle Africa’s multiple challenges.

Obasanjo, Youth Neglect and the Fear of Revolution By Matthew Ozah

There is much to worry about the recent trepidation expressed by former President Olusegun Obasanjo regarding the alarming level of neglect of the nation’s youths. The fact that youths are the largest segment of the county’s population is enough to entertain some fear if they should not be given due attention. Sadly, they are glibly referred to as the future leaders without ensuring that a deliberate measure to aid their quest for public service or entrepreneurship be put in place.

Unarguably, youths are the engine that drives the economy of any nation and if given the opportunity to lead, they will make the nation regain its pride of place economically and in the international community. Therefore, to paraphrase Obasanjo, we will not transform if we continue to ignore the youths.

However, over the years, the challenges faced by the youths due to neglect are unimaginable. It is sad to note that many who tried to break the jinx and become self-employed or gain employment in government ministries often hit a brick wall. Perhaps, such is the case why most young people are adamant to the plea not to leave the country. And no amount of Jacob wrestling with the angel will stop them as they chose to risk their lives on a perilous journey across the Mediterranean Sea in search of greener pastures in Europe.

The danger that may arise from the minds of the neglected youths is better imagined than experienced. Perhaps, that is what necessitated Obasanjo to raise the alarm that the country might be consumed by youth anger as a result of neglect. In this regard, it is important for government to provide jobs for the young bulging population, so that, the ticking time bomb may not explode like it did during the Arab spring.

At the moment, the rate of unemployed youths is still astronomically high and government’s lackadaisical attitude towards creating jobs shows that the trend may not abate in the near future.

Obviously, it seems that government at all levels lacks foresight of what the youths really need and how to harness their potential. It is not enough for an elder statesman of Obasanjo’s status to implore the youths not to wish him and his likes dead and for young people to believe in themselves and never to lose hope or be frustrated because we have a wonderful country and resources. It would be fairer for Obasanjo to question himself as well as past and present leaders thus: What foundation did we lay for the youths to believe in? Or is he speaking in order to be exonerated from those who blatantly refused to give the youths a chance? Besides, what makes the country and its resources wonderful when its youths are neglected?

Of recent, one of the roads most travelled by people is the path that leads to politics. On this journey, politicians pride themselves among others as servants of the people, bridge builders and the ones that bring social services and so on to the common man. Yet, the youths are neglected and without jobs while the majority of the citizens are languishing in abject poverty. This is very sad for an oil-rich nation like Nigeria.

In the face of all these inadequacies, political elders and politicians continue to enjoy life, wealth, power and privileges. While the youths and the masses are ravaged by poverty. The question therefore is: when would the elders hear the clarion call and allow the youths to weather the storm and lead? Or are they comfortable with the continued neglect and joblessness of youth?

Notwithstanding the neglect of the youths some of the so-called elders make young people to participate actively in protest to pressure government to reverse a policy not favourable to them among others. Indeed, there is no harm in protesting. But, they should rather protest against injustice, corruption, anti-people policies and so on. Young people should actively get involved in politics and other forms of leadership in order to help reclaim public confidence and faith in politics and government. Yes, Obasanjo is right when he said: “Japan does not have any resources yet it is one of the largest economies in the world”. But, he failed to tell us the age of the people managing such a large economy and why it is very difficult for Nigerian leaders to emulate them.

Regrettably, in these climes, sit-tight leaders abound. Political leaders find it difficult to relinquish power as they hide under the illusion that young people need to cut their teeth in politics and be properly nurtured and groomed before enough trust and confidence can be reposed in them to lead and hold sensitive political offices. In confirming the above point, Obasanjo said: “Don’t wish us dead, don’t wish us to disappear because you will need us …to mentor you and prepare you for the future…you need our experience…to guide you…” Certainly, young people need guidance but, not the likes in the Constitution which guides them out from contesting as president in the country with the age clause.

However, the youthful revolution burning like wild harmattan fire in the political arena around the world could serve as a lesson for Nigerian leaders, elders and political elite to allow young people to shoulder more of government’s responsibilities. This is because, allowing young people as leaders will serve as a mirror for the youths to see their own face and give judgment of other faces reflected there before. The recent appointment of very aged people as ambassadors and ministers is not only appalling but a slap on the youths. This is because the majority of these elderly people cannot function effectively in the new age of information technology as it is absolutely very strange to them. Indeed, one of the recently appointed elderly ambassadors confessed during the Senate screening that information technology is not for his generation. Yet, he will be an ambassador to mostly young Nigerians in the Diaspora whose source of information and interaction is the internet.

No doubt, the youthful 39-year-old Emmanuel Macron, President of France will be an eye opener for Nigerian leaders and its youths. No doubt, Nigeria’s youths are brilliant, smart and courageous. But their interest in politics and leadership should be inspired by an enabling environment before they can hit the ground running to help build the nation. Indeed, it is unacceptable for successive governments to continue to keep the youths inactive, indolent and unproductive. Such uncharitable action exhibited by government towards the youths sooner or later may trigger Obasanjo’s fear of the youths’ anger which may consume all.

To avert a revolution by the youths, government should without hesitation invest heavily in projects that create real job opportunities for them and not waste resources on elephant projects. More so, an enabling environment should be made available for human capacity development as much as agriculture is made very attractive to young people.