Sir: In a vintage display of his vanquishing vindictiveness, Olusegun Obasanjo, former Nigerian president, laid his boot into the late Senator Buruji Kashamu who recently died of COVID-19 related complications. Both men from Ogun State were once allies until things turned sour. In a chilling condolence after Kashamu`s demise was confirmed, Obasanjo, defying a tradition of speaking no ill of the dead, gleefully reminded the deceased of the accounting that death subjects everyone to. As if Kashamu needed a reminder. As if anyone ever needs a reminder.
Obasanjo`s comment drew widespread criticism from Nigerians. Not that the man in the eye of the storm cares. Since his time in office came to constitutional end in 2007 after a misguided third term bid failed to truncate Nigeria`s democracy, Obasanjo has somewhat gone into retirement, preferring to launch potshots when pained, from a safe distance. Whether it is launching epistolary missiles at his successors or dramatically his political party membership card to shreds, the former military president has never been shy of controversy or melodrama. Of course, Nigerians are divided over his place in the estimation of Nigeria`s posterity. While some think that he laid a solid enough foundation for Nigeria at its return to democracy in 1999, many feel that Obasanjo represents the worst of Nigeria`s ruling class and is actually the architect of most of the problems the country currently battles.
Many point to the fact that it was under Obasanjo that Nigeria`s power sector gulped a mammoth $16 billion in funds with only stygian darkness to show for it. Many also posit that it was under Obasanjo that the corruption that currently savages the country with a rampaging fury grew roots and sank immovably into Nigeria`s soil. Yet, Obasanjo is never one to admit any wrongdoing. It would seem he keeps a long roster of those who offend him and does not forgo any chance to get even with them dead or alive.
Kene Obiezu wrote from Abuja.
However, in the face of the current fissures threatening to break Nigeria apart, elder statesmen like Obasanjo must choose sobriety over the inebriations of political vendetta. For Obasanjo, discretion must become the better part of velour. As things currently stand in Nigeria, there is hardly anyone who is or who has previously been in any position of authority no matter how inconsequential that is without blemish and thus can cast the proverbial first stone.
Nigeria has suffered greatly from colossal failure of leadership engineered and engendered by those whose seasoning of experience, intellect and exposure should have precluded such failures. Sometimes, as Nigeria has been milked dry of both human and material resources, it has seemed that there is an intentional attempt to perpetually keep Nigeria in a state of underdevelopment for the benefit of a very few and at great disservice to majority of Nigerians.
Conspiracy theories abound, complicated by the fragile and ultrasensitive delicacies of Nigeria`s diversity. The country has always faced one form of crisis or the other. Those who should properly respond have always shown themselves lethargic or unwilling or both. Consumed by these crises, Nigerians always look to Obasanjo and his fellow elder statesmen for guidance and direction. These have hardly come however. What is always in supple supply however is one bizarre controversy after the other. Obasanjo and all others whose words have heft must show restraint and wisdom. Some remorse too. For if ever Nigeria’s failure of political leadership gets a hall of shame, few of them would escape notable mentions and prominent places.
Kene Obiezu wrote from Abuja.