Fela Kuti sang in “Army Arrangement” that:
Me Fela, I challenge Obasanjo
Na wayo him dey all the time
Make him carry me go any court
I go open book for am
Most Nigerians know how Olusegun Obasanjo went into full “wayo” mode in a doomed attempt to extend his time as president beyond the constitutional eight years in 2007. When this failed, he reportedly handpicked Umaru Yar’Adua as his replacement with Goodluck Jonathan as Yar’Adua’s Number Two. Those two were “qualified” in Obasanjo’s eyes because he felt he could control them and govern Nigeria by proxy.
Those plans were derailed when Yar’Adua died in office in 2010 and Jonathan took over and refused to toe the Obasanjo line. A few years later, Obasanjo abandoned the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), started flirting with the opposition and in 2015, backed Jonathan’s then challenger and current president Muhammadu Buhari.
Sources close to Obasanjo have revealed to Naijiant.com that the former president is “disappointed” in Buhari and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). He is back to his old tricks again, believing he has the right to decide who rules Nigeria. In this light, Obasanjo approached Peter Obi, the former Anambra State governor, who has been fronting like a statesman in recent times, and asked him to run for president in 2019.
Obasanjo promised Obi his backing and believes that Obi’s being president, as an Igbo man, would neuter the clamour by many in the Igbo-speaking southeast for secession from the rest of Nigeria. Obasanjo promised Obi, who is a member of the PDP, that he (Obasanjo) is going to return to the party. The former president is also desperate to halt in its tracks the presidential ambition of his former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, who was instrumental in scuppering Obasanjo’s third term ambition about 10 years ago.
By Obasanjo’s calculations, with the president sidetracked by health problems, Atiku is the most likely candidate to secure the APC presidential ticket. And the source said that “there is no way” Obasanjo would back Atiku. So the former president reached out to Obi as part of his “Operation Stop Atiku”.
To Obasanjo’s disappointment, Obi told him that he was not interested in running for president. Obi said that he had little chance of securing the Igbo vote and that Igbo people were no longer interested in having an Igbo president. Their priority, according to Obi, was an independent republic of Biafra. This may be related to the main Biafran separatist group, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), claiming in February that there will be no election in Igboland in 2019. Last month some other self-appointed Igbo “leaders” called for a boycott of the 2019 election in Igboland.
Obi’s calculation is that there would be no point running without the Igbo vote, especially as it is likely that Atiku, a Fulani from the north, can count on northern support and the backing of former Lagos State governor Bola Tinubu, a power-broker in southwest Nigeria.
We have no indication at the time of writing what other trick Obasanjo has up his sleeve to stop Atiku in the light of Obi’s rejection.