May 31, 2007
8 mins read

“Yar’ Adua is under considerable pressure to assert his authority when he assumes office…and not allow himself to dictated to…despite the pressure…(Yar’Adua) is unlikely to bite the hand that fed him”.- NASIR EL-RUFAI quoted by The Nation on Sunday, May 27, 2007.

It started with a text message from Mahmud Jega; he had been astounded that four days before his exit from power, Obasanjo has appointed new  Defence and Army Chiefs. It was incredible that the same man did not allow the outgoing military regime of General Abdusalami Abubakar to name chiefs of the Armed Forces, for his own, incoming, government in 1999.


Something just doesn’t add up. Obasanjo had spent the best part of the last few weeks, selling all manners of public institutions to the same set of cronies, whose faces would become more notorious in the media for the consistent pattern of their acquisition in oil, in telecommunications, in cement, and name whatever else you could. And as the regime was caught in the death and bandit, seemed ever more desperate to ensure that the Nigerian people were completely left high and dry, while he and those fronting for his multifaceted interests in banking, aviation, oil exploitation and refining, telecommunication and hotels, end up owning all that is profitable in Nigeria.

I have not stopped searching for answers to the questions that have disturbed me over the last three weeks of the kleptocratic regime of Olusegun Obasanjo, described, I think appropriately, by the radical lawyer, Femi Falani, as quoted by DAILY INDEPENDENT of Tuesday. May 29, 2007, as “a psychiatric patient”, if Obasnjo is not one, how can one honestly describe the last-minute brazenness of the decisions to sell off Nigeria’s best to just a handful of bandit billionaires in a three weeks period? What is the source of the audacity of the first criminal to ever run the Federal Republic of Nigeria? And why on earth does he think he has planted enough bobby traps to ensure that Umar Yar’Adua cannot reverse his outlandish disservice to Nigeria?

Most Nigerians accept that Umar Yar’ Adua is a product of a very fraudulent and massively rigged election. Yet so desperate have most people become, that they nurse some amount of hope that Umar Yar’Adua would still be able to state decisions they can applaud, in respect of the state of the country but especially the lingering hope that he would become Obasanjo’s nemesis. Nigerians are of course a very metaphorical lot, and in conversation with a cross section of our people, there has been the constant refrain that Umar Yar’Adua would eventually go for Obasanjo, even eventually return him to prison. Maybe we hope too much.

But the members of the Obasanjo clique: the kleptocrat himself, his bandit billionaire cronies and their “thinkers”, know that the Nigerian people really do hope for just settlement with them, for eight years of crimes: brazen theft, criminal appropriation of public property to mention just a few; that is why Nasir el-Rufai, a “blue blooded” member of the Obasanjo clique, came up with the statement quoted at the head of this piece. El- Rufai was ventilating the feelings of the Obasanjo entourage and their deep seated fears that the decisions which the Nigerian people find so detestably criminal,taken by Obasanjo, might just be re-visted. Hence, the nonsense about not biting the hand that fed him.


Umar Yar’Adua, in the deepest recesses of his heart, knows that he is a product of a very flawed process and he was courageous enough to admit it at his inauguration; he has no legitimacy,at least up to this moment. From all accounts, he is also a basically decent person, who would certainly love to become the vehicle for the aspirations of the Nigerian people. Many people have listed steps they believe that he could take to endear himself to the Nigerian people, and in the process, find mitigations for the faulty manner that he emerged on the national scene.

In my own view, the best weapon to achieve legitimacy is for Umar Yar’ Adua to go for Olusegun Obasanjo. Obasanjo has serially raped the position of president over the past eight years to enrich him in a manner that Nigerians have never witnessed hitherto. This is why Yar’ Adua has his work cut out. He might honestly believe that he can draw a line between Obasanjo’s exit and his own investiture; thinking that he could then proceed anew with the process of  providing leadership for change. But whatever direction he faces, he will be confronted with Obaasanjo’s repulsively ugly nakedness, in a manner of speaking, and he would then he obliged to make the choice of either being loyal to the expired despot who rigged him to pwer, not biting the hand that fed him as el-Rufai hoped, or be forced by the need to find legitimacy and come in tune with the wishes of the Nigerian people, to expose Obasanjo, demystify him and make him face the justice that he deserves. These are the uncomfortable choices that he faces down the line.

And I really would like to give him a benefit of the doubt that he has an antecedent of radical scholarship and politics, which prepares him for a different understanding of the developmental capacities of the state, which Obasanjo gang did everything to develop in the past eight years. He now has the opportunity to bring his background to bear, in the manner that Adagbo Onoja so convincingly argued in his last column last Thursday. It‘s a very long battle ahead indeed for the Nigerian people because one of the most pernicious parties gestures which Obasanjo left was the eleventh fuel price hike in the eight years of his accursed regime. If people expected that Yar’ Adua was going to begin to warm himself into the hearts of the Nigerian people through a reversal of an obviously unpopular decision such as that fuel price hike, they were wrong. The man chose to avoid the issue, struck with his uninspiring text and left far too many unanswered questions and inadvertently left a question mark ranging on the popular perception index of what his administration might end up doing in the immediate future, during his inaugural speech.


Yar’ Adua must be made known that there is deep seated anger in the land; the people are thoroughly disillusioned by the gangster content of Nigeria’s politics and are particularly resentful of the PDP and its chieftains and its banditry.Obasanjo who was the arrow head of all that was detestable might have beaten a hasty retreat but in the minds of the people , it remains a case of Ali Baba is dead, long live the forty thieves,except of course, Umar Yar’Adua can make some change. But can he? Or will it be a matter of the more things change, the more the remain the same? What the answer to these posers are would begin to reveal themselves in the days ahead.


On the afternoon of May 29th, Chief Awoniyi calledme, to share a story from his childhood. He told me that his father was a big time plantation and banana farmer, when he was growing up. They would go to farm early in the morning and discover that monkeys and other primates have invaded the farm.

Chief Awoniyi said that he was reminded of the monkey invasions of the farms, when Obasanjo sid that he did not regret any decision he took while in power and would do the same if he got another opportunity. The similarity. The similarity is that there was no way that a monkey’s plea of forgiveness could assuage the farmer, whose farm it has destroyed. In the same way that Obasanjo’s crocodile’s tears a few days later,when he asked to be forgiven, could not assuage the Nigerian people. The man is so irredeemably bad, that there is no forgiving him. What interests me now is how the expired kleptocratic despot is going to face the Nigerian people, and the hundreds of individuals he used his years of power to offend.Obasanjo does not have a sense of gratitude, a common felon who never forgives, a sadist who enjoyed inflicting pain on other people; out of power now, he will be haunted by all kinds of demonds that he created in power. He will know soon enough that out of power he is lonely, unhappy oldman,who will not be saved by all the money and assets that he and his cronies have stolen from the Nigerian people. Obasanjo will soon begin to look his true age-WELL OVER SEVENTY-because he vacated the aphrodisiac of power and he will discover that even the PDP which he wants to use as a redoubt of overbearing influence, will be taken from him, in the same manner that he organized a coup against the real founders of the party. Obasanjo did not have a political base when he has brought from prison to become president to become president. He could not even win the polling both in his neighbourhood in 1999; he rigged it in 2003, and lost it woefully in 2007. He will soon discover that even within PDP he is absolutely reviled and it was fear of his vindictiveness which kept people in line. Now out of power, he will be cut down to size and shown for wht he truly is, a village brute, who used power to steal the resources of the country for himself and his cronies, but who does not inspire any amount of love, admiration or  adoration. He will have to deal with the fury and vengefulness of party apparatchiks that he has used, dumped and disgraced.Obasanjo is in for a rude awakening now that the toga of power and authority has been removed from his neck. He is the monkey in this tale and he will have stew in his own juice! It is just a matter of time.


Can any leader be as unpopular as Obasanjo? The text message I received the other day says it all, and I have slightly re-edited it. But it is a useful lesson for those in power.

“A driver is stuck in atraffic jam on the motorway. Nothing is moving.Suddenly a man knocks on the window. The driver rolls down his window. The driver rolls down his window and asked: ‘what ‘s going on? ‘Militants have kidnapped Andy Uba  and OBJ…they’re asking for a $5OOmillion ranson. Otherwise they’re going to douse them with petrol and set them on fire. We’re going from car to car, taking a collection.” The driver asks, “how much is everyone giving, on average?” the man answer, “About a litre.” Now make a sense of the deep seated resentment here if you can.

The second post script is a dream sequence. I dreamt that Umar Yar’ Adua came under popular pressure to open the books of the Obasanjo regime. He resisted for a long time, but was eventually forced to re-examine the privatization of NITEL, refineries and the emergence of the controversial TRANSCORP. The more he checked, the greater the mess. Obasnjo got to know that he was about to arrested and he ran across the border, hoping he would find protection with Boni Yayi, the president of Benin. His escape became the main issue of discussion in Nigeria, with mass rallies being by mass organizations asking for his extradition to face justice. Even a police bulletin was issued about the fugitive. What next? My phone rang and the dream sequence was terminated. Iam now trying to get another sleep with the hope that I can get to see the end of that story. As the saying goes “please watch this space”!!!

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