THE NATION newspaper’s HARDBALL of Tuesday, October 14, 2014, mischievously described it as the “BEGGARS’ ORCHESTRA”.
The occasion was the triumphant return to their old PDP base of some political grandees, from Ogun State led by former governor, Gbenga Daniel (but wait a minute, didn’t incumbent governorAmosun say Gbenga isn’t from Ogun state?).
As HARDBALL noted, PDP National Chairman AdamuMu’azu, “led the beggars”: “I want to join Governor Daniel to appeal to our Baba, President Olusegun Obasanjo, to forgive us. We are your children and we have been making mistakes; we have made mistakes and so we apologise.
Please, Baba, we apologise; come and lead us. Even the President (Goodluck Jonathan) is waiting for you to come and lead us; you are our leader, we appreciate you, we thank you for your leadership and courage”. Mu’azu became more emotional: “Baba should please forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. We are your children; we have made mistakes.
Senate President, David Mark, also weighed in:”In any disagreement of this nature, the older person is always right. All of us in the PDP are appealing to you to come back to the party”.
A few days later, Obasanjo responded with typical bluster: “There are, for me, issues of principle, morality, honour, integrity, commitment and character which are paramount…I cannot accept that the zonal leader of my political party and, worse still, in my zone, will be an indicted drug baron wanted in America.
How do I explain that to friends outside Nigeria?…I have national and international standard to maintain and reputation to keep and sustain. For these reasons, I opted to remain active only at the ward level of the party till the leadership of the party does the needful”.
Let’s take Obasanjo’s appeal to “principle, honour, integrity”, with a healthy dose of salt, given how he also pressed people with questionable characters into service while in power. But there is no gainsaying the depth of chasm that has developed between Obasanjo and his protégés in power and in party leadership.
And as battle is about to be joined for 2015, those who sidelined and ignored Obasanjo in the past couple of years have suddenly rediscovered his usefulness for their ambition.
Never mind that Obasanjo serially lost even in the polling booth in front of his house, the truth is that in the contemporary configurations of power in Nigeria, they will ignore Obasanjo only at their peril. Obasanjo knows the workings of the levers of power and his shadow frighteningly hangs over the political system. My father used to tell me the old Fulbe proverb of the cripple that cannot milk a cow but can use the stump going for a hand to pour away the milk.
This is Goodluck Jonathan’s dilemma and that of the party chairman he appointed, Adamu Mu’azu. They would rather Obasanjo was within the loop than without.
And this realization has also drawn the opposition in his direction.Obasanjo’s sworn political enemy Bola Tinubu has abandoned quixotic “progressive” pretenses.
He now regularly consults with Obasanjo. It is indicative of Obasanjo’s place in the schemes of ruling class politics, that Bola Tinubu recently returned to Obasanjo to seek opinion on some of Obasanjo’s “former boys” seeking APC’s presidential ticket.
When quizzed about the development, long-standing Tinubu sidekick, Lai Muhammed, effusively said Obasanjo could assist the opposition’s quest for power in 2015. These are moments of seismic shifts on the political order in Nigeria.
Many sections of the political elite have become fed up with Jonathan’s presidency: his predilections for a damaging provincialism; serial bungling and faux pas; and the alienation of many who assisted his rise to the top.
Obasanjo is at the top of the pile of those hurting deeply: knocked off his perch within the party; couldn’t muster the influence he felt entitled to; deliberately sidelined. Obasanjo consciously flirted with an opposition desperate to seize the moment to achieve access to power that seems more than ever before, closer to achievable. So in every direction, everybody became willing to forgive Obasanjo’s trespasses and crimes.
He has become the ultimate survivor, the eternal political bride of Nigeria. This is the moment of Obasanjo’s amazing apotheosis!