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No smoke without fire

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musings by Garba Shehu

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The timing of President Olusegun Obasanjo’s recent attacks could not have been sharper. As with the others before this one, his attacks reflect the ailments of successive governments in the country. In the case of Jonathan administration, President Obasanjo has directly and indirectly been pointing at a syndrome of drift, corruption and denial.
Many who have paid attention to these attacks believe that the former leader is just being his mischievous self. Last week in Jigawa, at a lecture to commemorate this year’s Democracy Day, he said there was no security in the country because there is no governance. Thereafter, he moved Lagos to unleash a diatribe against the armed forces, accusing its leadership of siphoning money meant for the procurement of equipment. This, according to him accounts for the lack of security in the country.
On Tuesday last week, Obasanjo unleashed his verbal arsenal against the parliament at the centre and the states. All of them, he said, have not pursued any laws useful to the country. Obasanjo, who has always accused them of only uniting when their salary and perks are at a stake, charged that there are “rogues (and) armed robbers” in the parliament at all levels.
Obasanjo looked at the nation’s judiciary and described it as unworthy of the name. “Now” he thundered, “the judiciary is riddled by corruption and this has affected other sectors of the country”. He accused the judges of selling cases whereby “the highest bidder takes all. That is what we have now.”
One must not forget that as you sow, so you reap. It is hard not to blame the former President for being the architect of this unwanted situation. He is the master planner and a beneficiary. It begets curiosity; in fact he can't deny a vested interest in the preservation of status-quo. Yet, he compounds the more when he consistently attacks and does not offer any solutions. In the circumstance, those grating criticisms become open to suspicion that they are coming from mischief or self-gratification. What could be the explanation for why all of these are happening at this time?
There are suspicions that the guru President may be trying to let the world know that he has problems with our current rulers who may have veered off his laid down track. Uneasy with his own shadows, bereft of brave ideas and bold moves within party and government, the former President may have found the platform of public speeches as his last resort to vent private anger and frustration.
Two,  it is a known fact that the pre-eminence of the former Governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu in the affairs of the politics of South – Western Nigeria must be a source of political indigestion for the former military Head of State. To upstage Tinubu, Obasanjo must now struggle to show himself not just as an alternative but a leader who is credible and can be relied upon. This is a deficit that Obasanjo brings to a contest for the South-West political space. He cannot contend with the idea of a giant being supplanted by a perceived midget, the very midget that turned out to be a giant killer.
A third scenario speaks of a contest for the economic domination of Nigeria. The new alliance in our unpredictable politics, one that has brought together the oil – producing Niger Delta with their immense earnings and the Igbos of the South-East, driven by their entrepreneurial spirit and a competent diaspora. This is a matter that has set the stage for a major economic rivalry between the East and the West. Forget the North, which had never been an important factor in the economic equation. Northerners have always been left to eat the crumbs of the Nigerian economy.
Moreover, held down by Boko Haram and other internecine warfare, the Northerners do not even have the potential of posing a threat to these major economic powers. For the Yoruba, a kinsman of theirs, Obasanjo may have done all eight years in office but all of that may not have given his people the kind of dividend that power has yielded to the South-South and the East in just one year of the Jonathan Presidency.
So deep down, there is really more at a stake than what people will see as public criticism by a godfather cum guru Head of State. A wise man says you cannot wake up someone who is pretending to be asleep.
Obasanjo is deeply cunning and knows what he is doing. Yes, this country may be paying a price for what is at best, government incompetence and at the worst, political weakness in dealing with issues in national security. The northern cities, including Abuja, the nation's capital, have been lurching from one bomb blast to the next while southern towns are grappling with armed robbery and kidnapping.
Chosen ministers are free to loot while the opposition is asleep. Shell says up to a third of crude oil produced in the country is stolen. Those who know him say these issues worry OBJ as they do every patriot but there is more to it than meets the eye.
All of the things said here do not diminish the right of President Obasanjo as a leader and free citizen to have sharp opinions. In private, a lot of our leaders will give you unprintable perspectives on everyone and everything. The difference the former President makes is that he can’t avoid being caught in hyper-aggressive postures. He sees himself as the God of this democracy who won’t bloody well say sorry for trampling on sensitive toes, although some say that he built himself on the labour of others.
Those who know him say he doesn’t care if it infuriates anyone whenever he speaks and that he genuinely doesn’t care what they say.
While he is entitled to his views, it is no less important to say that it diminishes our democracy when those entrusted with protecting it, undermine it.

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