Ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo went full throttle in his criticism of President Muhammadu Buhari today, calling his one-time military colleague, whom he helped win the presidential race in 2015, a “failure”, “ineffective” and “incompetent”. As if that weren’t enough, Obasanjo added that “the first thing I learnt during my military training is never reinforce failure.”
Watch his comments here:
This is all well and good. Very few rational Nigerians would argue that Buhari has not been incompetent, ineffective and a failure in the last three years. But it sticks in the craw watching a certified failure like Obasanjo pointing the finger at another failure like he didn’t misrule Nigeria for eight years in what was an unmitigated disaster from 1999 to 2007.
Obasanjo even had the gall to use looted funds to attempt to rewrite the constitution to allow himself to stay beyond the two terms allowed by law. In essence, he wanted to change the law to reinforce his failure.
Obasanjo failed by all yardsticks of measuring progress – from decaying public education (he ran them down to create a market to private schools, building a private secondary school and university with looted funds) to crumbling infrastructure, including sinking $16bn in power projects which vanished in thin air. He never even bothered with fixing the federal highway from Lagos to his base in Abeokuta.
The National Assembly described Obasanjo as “the grandfather of corruption” in Nigeria. He epitomised the failure of governance that has characterised Nigeria’s return to civilian rule with him at the helm. Incidentally, as Obasanjo spent much of his eight years in office gallivanting across the world, Buhari, then in opposition in 2003, attacked the president’s globetrotting, only to end up doing exactly the same thing when he came to power in 2015.
This is standard hypocrisy in Nigerian political quarters. You pontificate while in opposition, while waiting your turn to do exactly the same. In the case of Obasanjo, he just assumes, while consumed in his hubris, that Nigerians would ignore his own deplorable record. Bola Tinubu, the former governor of Lagos State and longtime Obasanjo rival for influence in the western region homeland, said last week that the ex-president was suffering from “bad belle” – sour grapes in Nigerian pidgin.
The potbellied ex-president’s bad belle stems from an over-inflated ego that always seeks to remain relevant in Nigerian politics. It has little to do with what would move the country forward. More about wanting Obasanjo to be calling the shots with every president. Fela Kuti said “Obasanjo na wayo him dey all the time”.
When Obasanjo failed in his third term bid in 2007, he refused to go away quietly and insisted on handpicking his successor – Umaru Yar’Adua, who died in office. Obasanjo then backed Yar’Adua’s vice president Goodluck Jonathan. Jonathan’s rule proved to be a disaster, as well as proved that Obasanjo’s judgment was as terrible as his governance. But, once again, Obasanjo refused to go away quietly, instead he abandoned Jonathan’s sinking ship and hitched up with the Buhari camp.
Now, Buhari has, as most perceptive Nigerians that are aware of his history of failure – including Naijiant.com – expected him to, proved to be “ineffective, incompetent and a failure”. Obasanjo is trying to play kingmaker again, completely oblivious to the fact that backing two failed presidents means he has lost whatever is left of his credibility as someone who can be relied to make the right calls,.
When Manchester United’s legendary manager Alex Ferguson was about to retire, he was allowed by the club’s board the courtesy of choosing his successor. He handpicked David Moyes, who proved to be a very wrong choice and was sacked 10 months later following poor results on the pitch. The United board didn’t give Ferguson a chance to “fool them twice”. The next manager was appointed without consulting him.
The last thing Nigerians need is Obasanjo’s advice on governance and who should rule them, considering he failed as a ruler and has failed in his choices of rulers. Allowing Obasanjo a voice in choosing the next president, beyond his one vote, would be “reinforcing failure”. And we should all know that his military training forbids that.