It was the caption for practically every lead story on Nigerian newspapers last Friday, November 26, 2010. The old despot, Olusegun Obasanjo, had been cornered by State House correspondents to react to the choice of his erstwhile vice, Atiku Abubakar, as the consensus candidate of the Northern Political Leaders Forum (NPLF), early last week. According to DAILY TRUST, Obasanjo initially refused to respond to questions on Atiku’s chances. “But when the newsmen persisted, he comically cleared his nose with his inhaler [SIC] for a prolonged moment before saying in Pidgin English, “Ah, I dey laugh o!” He then sauntered off”. Not to be outdone, in what appears a dig at their principal’s political chances, within the PDP, the following day, Atiku Abubakar’s campaign organization also replied that “We too we dey laugh”!
If Obasanjo was enjoying a comical relief, it was very premature or might infact be an expression of a despot’s delusion, because what Obasanjo should do is to cry, not laugh. Atiku Abubakar’s emergence was certainly the last thing Obasanjo would have loved, because it complicates matters for his spirited effort to ensure that Goodluck Jonathan smoothly emerges as PDP candidate and helps to bury the calculations for zoning within the PDP. Those within the NPLF who went for Atiku knew he has credentials of the consummate politician who knows how to fight and retain his turf. Obasanjo is the best person to attest to Atiku’s doggedness and staying power. To say that he was laughing was therefore off mark, because he will face a fight that is bloodier than the old one, with a distinct disadvantage today: he does not have the control of 2006-2007, which he brought into the fight against Atiku, and yet did not subdue him. In essence, Obasanjo is a general who does not command loyal troops and the base from which to launch a war, has considerably thinned out around him. The emperor is naked and what an ugly sight to behold in the market place!
Fortuitously, on the day that Obasanjo’s statement was reported, last Friday, the Court of Appeal threw out Olagunsoye Oyinlola as a fraud and impostor-governor of Osun state. It was next in a series of reversal of fortunes, which the PDP has suffered in the Southwest: Ondo, Ekiti and now Osun. The portents for the future are alarming for Obasanjo because in truth, every politically-conscious Nigerian knew he stole the elections in that region in 2003 and 2007, exploiting power of incumbency. But so crudely was the rigging perpetrated, that they could not defend their ‘conquest’ in court. The house of cards has collapsed and the PDP has lost the Southwest. In a movement of deep political irony, Obasanjo’s nemesis, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has now become the strongest political lord of the Southwest manor. This is certainly not a platform from which Obasanjo can say: “I dey laugh”! “I go cry; I go suffer!” is more like it for the discredited despot.
On the wave of the loss of the Southwest is an emerging scenario which should frighten Obasanjo even more. Last Monday, DAILY TRUST reported the possible emergence of a new alliance which poses danger for the PDP project of power in Nigeria. And that is the potential of an alliance between a Southwest controlled by Bola Tinubu’s Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and General Buhari who can mobilize the mass appeal of the people all over Northern Nigeria. It is distinctively looking like the death knell of the PDP’s stranglehold on the Nigerian state. At least in most of the Southwest, they will not have incumbency to ride for the elections; this is also at a time when INEC under Attahiru Jega, is determined to do the right thing and the Nigerian people are sworn to defend their votes! Besides, as I have always argued on this page, a basic analysis of the voting trends, flawed as they always have been, shows that where there is a preponderance of population, the Nigerian people do not vote for the PDP! Check it out, Nigerians do not vote for the PDP in Lagos, Ibadan, Onitsha, Kaduna, Kano, Maiduguri, just to mention a few centers of population and political enlightenment; similarly, they have to deal with a Southwest under Tinubu’s control and a Northern Nigeria rooting for Buhari. We all know elections do not hold in the South-South, with the governors unleashing violence using militants and returning between 80% and 100% of fake results, while the Southeast wants to see power in 2015; but it will not materialize if Jonathan wins in 2011 since he wants two terms till 2019!
So what Obasanjo should be doing is not to laugh but to begin to cry and practice how to survive in prison again. What most Nigerians fail to see is that Obasanjo has continued to disturb the political health of Nigeria just for a central purpose; he needs to impose puppets to ensure the record of his disastrous eight years in power is never scrutinized: the dubious privatization of national assets; fabulous personal enrichment that turned a bankrupt ex-convict into a stellar billionaire purchasing holiday resorts in Ethiopia; multifaceted scandals as the state became criminalized and privatized! Obasanjo’s main political goal is survival through ensuring that Nigeria cannot install a patriotic political regime that might be interested in examining his record in power. So when the man brags “I dey laugh”, in truth, he is scared stiff! The old bully is also a bloody coward! And in recent days, the way political life is shaping out has certainly wiped out his laughter. The old despot must be crying now!