Even in the world over, there are very few personalities who parade such awesome credentials that Chief Obasanjo flaunts. The ex-president of Nigeria is excessively favored by nature.
At 84+, he seems to have conquered his world. He appears to have achieved everything nature has programmed for him so much that, even if the curtain is drawn on his existence today, there is no outstanding chapter in his book of life remained to be opened.
Indeed, his journey to stardom commenced when on behalf of Nigeria, he received the surrendered baton from Biafran soldiers in 1967 at Asaba, an historic event that ended the civil war.
His real moment of glory came, when the then top brass in the military were resolute in his candidacy to lead the nation after the assassination of General Murtala Mohammed during 1976 coup in Lagos.
Despite his reported reluctance to accept the challenge, orderliness prevailed, as Obasanjo mounted the saddle to assume power & authority, an assignment he courageously carried out until 1979 when he recorded another landmark as the first military leader to hand over to civilian government, with Alhaji Sheu Shagari taking over rein of government from him as the nation’s first democratically elected president.
Curiously, Obasanjo mysteriously returned to power in 1999 as the second recognized democratically elected president after he was released from prison.
In 2007, after his eight years tenure in office, he achieved another milestone as the first elected president to hand over to another elected president, when baton of nation’s leadership changed from him to late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.
Some years later after his exit, he missed been named as U.N. Secretary General just by the whiskers. By global standards, these are no mean feats. Chief Obasanjo is also fantastically connected in the world politics. There is no doubt that the Owu high chief is a true African legend and a statesman of repute.
Meanwhile, despite his impressive achievements in all fronts, both at home and in the global stage, there is a deep-rooted disconnect between the ex-president and his kinsmen-the Yorubas and this is not unconnected with some very critical political developments in the past, when the people of South West expected the ex-general to deploy his massive influence in favor of the zone, the pleas that Obasanjo bluntly rejected.
Specifically, the Yorubas were disgusted with his disposition towards Chief Awolowo presidency bid, both in Awo electoral battle and eventual titanic legal contest with Alhaji Sheu Shagari, NPN presidential candidate during the 1979 general elections. The people of the zone were of the strong view that, if Obasanjo had allowed Awolowo and Shagari to battle it out at the Electoral College after no clear winner emerged during the proper elections, and had not influenced the manipulation of 12/3 conundrum to 13 states to favor NPN candidate at the Supreme Court, Awolowo would have emerged as Nigerian president.
In addition to this, Yorubas were thoroughly disappointed with Obasanjo’s famous but tragic pronouncement that, ‘MKO was not the Messiah Nigeria needed’ after the military government led by IBB had annulled MKO mandate. The people of the zone were of the general view that, positive comments emanating from the ex-president’s camp would have sent warning signals to the military and rattle them, a development that could have been enough for MKO to reclaim his mandate.
Yorubas were also disillusioned at utter disregard and contempt Obasanjo shown to the race throughout his eight years tenure as civilian president, an hatred and disdain they’re of the view culminated in the sweeping from office of all AD governors except Bola Tinubu, by strange electoral malpractices unprecedented in the annals of the country which was clearly orchestrated by the ex-general.
Coupled with the above was the illegal seizure of Lagos state government federal revenue allocation for upward of three (3) years, on account of 37 LCDAs created by the then governor, Bola Tinubu, thus subjecting the state to unnecessary hardship. These unsavory political developments necessitated the battle line that was drawn between the Yorubas and the ex-president, but the past has gone with history and it’s instructive that, we need to move courageously forward in unity and togetherness as a race, if we must sustain our status as major stakeholders in the Nigerian project.
Therefore, as the ex-president enters the last phase of his existence in life, another opportunity beckons, to make up for the past acrimony, discord and unnecessary feud with his kinsmen and the opportunity is even on the platter of gold. It would be historic if Obasanjo seizes it in order to make long lasting atonement.
With high expectation that APC will zone her 2023 presidency to the South West, the mantle is expected to fall on Asiwaju Bola Tinubu to hoist the flag, on account of his past and present stewardships to the party, as well as his indisputable leadership qualities and all Yorubas both at home and in Diaspora are expected to rally round him to ensure the realization of this project.
In the same breath, the people of the zone expect Chief Obasanjo to arise and provide necessary direction and tactical guidance for the people for the purpose of realizing the dream. Indeed, there is no other worthy personality within the zone with such awesome capacity to ensuring the project comes to fruition than Obasanjo, whose familiar terrain is the leadership turf of the country. He successfully enthroned himself for second term in office. He singlehandedly crowned Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.
He did same for ex-president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. In fact, he contributed immensely to the emergence of President Buhari as the country leader in 2015.
Therefore, setting up and deploying his armory and arsenal for Asiwaju Tinubu to emerge as the next president would be the easiest of ventures for him.
The Owu high chief knows exactly what to do. He is the father of the nation. He’s the grandmaster of all political leaders and even military men, who have had their turns in presiding over the affairs of the nation.
He surely knows how to mobilize the people of the Southeast. He’s accustomed to language to speak to South south to bring them on board and of course, he indeed knows how to co-opt the whole north-his adopted home, into the project to ensure their buy-in.
It would be symbolic and historic if Chief Obasanjo achieves this for us. On our part, we would invoke the spirits of Chief Awolowo and Aare MKO Abiola and passionately appeal to them on the need for forgiveness.
We would also assume that, those locust years of acrimony and discord between the race and the ex-president never existed in the annals of the race. And to cap it all, the race would henceforth have no other rallying point other than Chief Obasanjo and this we would do, by mobilizing the people of the zone to grant him the privilege to assume deity status which Chief Awolowo assumed in life and death.
In any case, Obasanjo deserves no less an honor with his huge achievements. We, therefore, call him that, the ball is now rightly placed in his court for action.
Kola AMZAT(FCA, FCIB)
Lagos based Financial Consultant,