Deconstructing Obasanjo’s PDP BOT resignation

5 mins read

BASANJO is quite personable- much of the time-and…like most rulers, he desperately wanted to be accepted as a political and economic strategist, and thinker…our hero represented a model of power of an unusual-and dangerous- kind, most especially as he remains basically insecure, and thus pathologically in need of proving himself-preferably at the expense of others.

That is one unambiguous assessment that is pronounced by nearly all Obasanjo’s acquaintances-superiors, close friends, military colleagues, mistresses and adversaries…Detecting a productive, even sometime imaginative glint in the compost of the soldier-turned-politician is not difficult-Obasanjo is a man of restless…a bullish personality, calculating and devious, yet capable of disarming spontaneity, affecting an exaggerated country yokel act to cover up the interior actuality of the same, occasionally self-deprecatory yet intolerant of criticism, this general remains a study in the outer limits of compulsive rivalry, even where the fields of competence or striving are miles apart” – Wole  Soyinka in “You Must Set Forth At Dawn” (2006 & 2009)

GENERAL Olusegun Obasanjo’s recent surprise resignation as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the ruling PDP was received with a lot of surprise around the country, both within and outside the party.

The old soldier had been very busy in the lead to the party’s recent convention, winning positions of leadership for cronies and in recent days, attempting to charm the Ibadan politician, Rashid Ladoja back into the party. Yes, the same Ladoja, who as governor, he conspired to ridicule out of power and party a few years back.

Obasanjo seemed to have strengthened his position, with the manner he cornered party secretary, Southwest national vice chairmanship and woman leader for loyal sidekicks, and at a point when it seemed his protégé, President Jonathan, had also nicked the baton for 2015. To then suddenly resign, giving the  explanations of needing time for his controversial presidential library as well as the international call of duty, were certainly unconvincing.

The two reasons fell flat on the face, because the library was better left out of the public domain, given the controversial manner, that incumbency was used to corral individuals and organisations to donate money; and the recent ridicule that our general suffered in his effort to broker an extension of tenure for former President Abdoulaye Wade in Senegal. He suggested a two-year extension of tenure, which was promptly rejected by Senegalese political and civil society activists. ‘Mr. Obasanjo get out of our country’, or words to that effect, accompanied the preposterous suggestion!

The missing link

So something just did not add up, in the sudden resignation of a position, which he had dragged the party, kicking and screaming, to make his own, exclusively! The Nigerian media has speculated that the old despot tactically beat a retreat, because he could not stand the likely possibility of being publicly disgraced in a contest for the chairmanship of the BOT, in the next election for the position.

It was likely, that a new coalition of forces had risen within the party, which has had enough of the bullying ways of the former president; in real terms, he is no longer an asset but a burden, and given the way his castle of sand was blown away from the Southwest by the formidable machinery of Bola Tinubu’s ACN, “Baba” has become irreversibly politically impotent in real terms, and the ‘victory’ scored at the PDP convention was actually pyrrhic; no amount of ingestion of the Viagra of politics can raise his political manhood any longer! In the context of the posturing for 2015, Tony Anenih is a far more dependable asset than Olusegun Obasanjo, from President Goodluck Jonathan’s standpoint.

Besides, as his years of domination of the state and party have receded into the past, the social composition of the elite has also become different from the one he rode into power in 1999, and those that he used to consolidate his grip thereafter. The South-south elements that control the levers of state power today, are beholden to Jonathan and feel an arrogant sense of entitlement to lucre on the basis of oil revenue being ‘their own”; they turn to Jonathan, not an old soldier in Otta!

Surprise on a stunned party

But trust Obasanjo to do things by stealth; he sprung the resignation announcement on a stunned party, and in the process hoped to maintain the myth of a man in control of situations about him and always a step ahead of allies and adversaries alike. It is very poignant that Obasanjo’s resignation came almost at the same time as his interview with CHANNELS TV, and his repeated denunciation of the defeated Third Term Agenda.

If he had wanted it, the despot arrogantly insisted, he would have gotten it, because nothing he asked God that was never granted! In truth, it was a desperate effort to cling to a lie as part of a desire to influence historical account. The whole country could not have been telling a lie or mobilising against a phantom, in the years of the Third Term debate.

Obasanjo launched an elaborate flanking manoeuvre that failed miserably, because the nation wizened up to his Agenda and ensured he was not going to manipulate the unwieldy constitutional reform. The infighting amongst his lieutenants also ensured that Third Term was dead on arrival in the mortuary of Nigerian politics.

Obasanjo over-rated the abilities of Ibrahim Mantu; he under-rated the political sagacity of Tony Anenih who was not recruited early enough for the Agenda, and whose lukewarm attitude contributed to his disgraceful expulsion as BOT chairman by Obasanjo.

In response to the utter failure of Third Term, Obasanjo imposed on Nigeria, a terminally sick Umaru Yar’Adua as successor, in a fit of rage and revenge-seeking, the consequence of which has polarised Nigeria to heights we have not witnessed before! But a few years down the line, the political tables have turned; it is the hunter that is being hunted out of the forest. Obasanjo has politically expired despite the gloss he has attempted to put on his retreat from the BOT chairmanship.

Man given so much

General Olusegun Obasanjo is one of the most controversial figures of contemporary Nigerian history. More than any other individual, the man was given so much by Nigeria.

In my view, his years in power between 1999 and 2007, took Nigeria to the institution of a rapacious and uncaring form of crony capitalism that has enriched a few individuals around the old soldier, to the detriment of the country, including the unconscionable sale of national assets to the same set of crony capitalists who continue to hold the nation in thrall.

The sad irony of the Obasanjo years, was that Nigeria made far more money than at any point in history before his time, yet the nation became poorer; his policy choices deepened the de-industrialisation of our country and the loss of jobs deepened the desperate competition for opportunity which in turn fed into old divisions along ethnic and religious divides. It was no surprise that his years in power witnessed so many crises and killings, as well as laying foundation for the massive killings being harvested around the country today.

The state devalued considerably under Obasanjo and his delusion that the private sector was to lead development, entrenched a process of personalisation of state power to satisfy private ends. Nigeria’s woes then deepened from Babangida’s SAP to Obasanjo’s neoliberal surrender to the Washington Consensus!

The man’s resignation from the PDP’s BOT was no act of courage; it was in fact an act of political surrender, because he has become increasingly irrelevant, having long passed his political shelf life; like all expired drugs, he faced the possibility of being dumped into the dustbin, in his case a political dustbin!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.