Former president Olusegun Obasanjo must be a glutton for punishment. About five years ago, the combative retired general went head-to-head with the BBC’s Stephen Sackur on the Hardtalk programme. The journalist used that opportunity to embarrass the former president with his record of corruption and bad governance from his eight years in office from 1999-2007.
However, Obasanjo seems incapable of embarrassment and decided to take on Sackur once again this month, to promote his publication “A blueprint for African prosperity”. But Sackur had other ideas.
Listen to the programme:
UK readers can watch it here.
Obasanjo’s blueprint stated that demography was a ticking time-bomb in Africa, so Sackur decided to question him about his own contribution to the problem by fathering many children. The former president refused to say how many children he has (some claim he doesn’t know the number). All he would settle for was that he fathered many and they are “20 or more”.
Sackur accused him (rightly so) that “you are part of the problem”. The inquisitor then went on the attack, questioning Obasanjo’s credibility as a two-time president who “signally failed” to diversify the economy in a country that relied on oil for 90% of its revenue. He reminded Obasanjo how he failed to deliver improved energy infrastructure. Sackur cut right to the chase: “You didn’t do what you are insisting others should do”.
Obasanjo tried an aggressive counter-offensive, but Sackur was having none of it. He dismissed Obasanjo’s “rosy hue on your record” and reminded Obasanjo that the National Assembly called him the “grandfather of corruption” in Nigeria and “were fed up with you lecturing them”. The ex-president came back with “I will keep lecturing them, including you” and that the National Assembly were “talking rubbish”.
Obasanjo floundered and tried to match Sackur’s incisive and precision attacks with bluster, but the damage was done. He ended up being exposed as the shameless hypocrite he always was.
It remains to be seen whether after two bruising encounters in which Sackur got the better of him, Obasanjo will come back for a third helping and shellacking.