16 July 2019
Hypocritical former president Olusegun Obasanjo wrote yesterday to President Muhammadu Buhari complaining about all manner of ills plaguing Nigeria from insecurity to unemployment to incompetence. He wrote a similar letter in January last year.
Obasanjo would like Nigerians to ignore the role he played in Buhari winning the (s)election in 2015. That role included presenting Buhari as capable of dealing with Nigeria’s problems and writing an 18-page letter to then incumbent Goodluck Jonathan in 2013, complaining about the very same issues that Buhari has failed to remedy. Obasanjo also contributed in foisting Jonathan on Nigerians.
Obasanjo was president from 1999 to 2007, a period in which he did very little to curb the challenges he is now in the business of writing letters about. In fact, Nigeria’s literary giant Chinua Achebe was moved to write Obasanjo about his misrule when he tried to honour Achebe with a national award in 2004.
The author of the best-selling novel “Things fall apart” wrote: “I write this letter with a very heavy heart. For some time now I have watched events in Nigeria with alarm and dismay. I have watched particularly the chaos in my own state of Anambra where a small clique of renegades, openly boasting its connections in high places, seems determined to turn my homeland into a bankrupt and lawless fiefdom. I am appalled by the brazenness of this clique and the silence, if not connivance, of the Presidency.
“Forty three years ago, at the first anniversary of Nigeria’s independence I was given the first Nigerian National Trophy for Literature. In 1979, I received two further honors – the Nigerian National Order of Merit and the Order of the Federal Republic – and in 1999 the first National Creativity Award.
“I accepted all these honors fully aware that Nigeria was not perfect; but I had a strong belief that we would outgrow our shortcomings under leaders committed to uniting our diverse peoples.
“Nigeria’s condition today under your watch is, however, too dangerous for silence. I must register my disappointment and protest by declining to accept the high honour awarded me in the 2004 Honors List.”
Another attempt in 2011 by President Jonathan to present Achebe with an award was turned again because “the reasons for rejecting the offer when it was first made have not been addressed let alone solved. It is inappropriate to offer it again to me”.
Achebe died in 2013 and his reasons for rejecting national awards and writing to two presidents about it are still current and very much prevalent. The other thing that hasn’t changed is that the recipient of Achebe’s letter in 2004, who helped install three presidents since then, is still busy writing letters about problems he did very little to resolve.