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« Nigeria Must be Made a Leader of changes in Africa and the World | Main | Ozodi Osuji Weekly Lectures on African Countries #1 of 54: Algeria »

January 03, 2006

The Sad and Pathetic End of Obasanjo

by Aonduna Tondu (New york, USA) --- Today, only the most cynical or brazenly sycophantic in our society will deny the fact that Nigeria is witnessing a nadir in the welfare of its people. The gloom that one sees everywhere is to a large extent directly attributable to the criminal conduct of perhaps the most callous despot in the history of our nation. It is worth reiterating that Obasanjo’s corrupt and dangerous ways have brought the country to the brink. There is death and destruction everywhere. The catalogue of the Obasanjo regime’s atrocities just keeps expanding : Odi, Zaki-Biam, the 2003 electoral heist, Anambra, Bayelsa, etc.

Other assaults on Nigeria and its putative democracy as illustrated by the dictator’s illegal take-over of the structures of the PDP and the imposition of some of the more despicable characters in the Nigerian political firmament as its officers have also immensely contributed toward the sordid legacy of one of Africa’s most enduring political disasters in living memory. All this implies a sad and pathetic end for Obasanjo, for history has never been kind to any soi-disant leader who has so ignominously treated his fellow humans the way Obasanjo has trampled on Nigerians in the last six years of a most primitive kleptocracy masquerading as a national government.

It is amazing that confronted with his disastrous track record, this punchinello of African statesmanship and his sinister henchmen take refuge in the tired and nauseating argument that the tyrant needs more time in order to «consolidate» his anti-people policies so abusively referred to as reforms. So, even as the average Nigerian sinks deeper in the pit of despair that has been his lot since 1999, the dictator from Otta has refused to change course. As a matter of fact, there has been an escalation of the political rascality Nigerians have come to associate with an individual who seems incapable of self-redemption. As I write, Nigerian democracy is once again being brutally assaulted, this time in Oyo with the despot apparently offering tacit support to the perpetrators of that transgression. The single-minded obsession to illegally hang on to power beyond 2007 would seem to be the only thing that matters to the Nigerian Caligula and the like-minded bunch around him. As I have argued elsewhere, Obasanjo has committed so many atrocities and human rights abuses against Nigerians that he is afraid of the inevitable consequences to him should a truly democratic government emerge after his scandalous imposition. The desperation to sit tight has taken the form of a multi-pronged attack on civil society : the hounding of political enemies, real or imagined, the divide-and-conquer strategy as evidenced by the crude use of region-based outfits, the corrupt use of state resources like the EFCC under the spineless puppet called Nuhu Ribadu. Nuhu Ribadu and his EFCC constitute an eloquent example of all that is wrong with the Obasanjo regime, namely, the corrupt and immoral use of state structures in the promotion of a perverse personal ambition .

As a willing tool of the Obasanjo authoritarianism, Ribadu cannot exempt himself from involvement in the regime’s excesses. His shameful role in the recent military occupation of Bayelsa state prior to the forceful removal of the governor speaks volumes as to Ribadu’s identity as an agent of dictatorship and repression. Ribadu and his EFCC have become an integral part of the despot’s reckless, immoral and undemocratic deployment of the nation’s resources in the pursuit of a sinister personal agenda with sectarian overtones. In the so-called anti-corruption scheme of the regime, Ribadu has consistently demonstrated his readiness to sumbit to the very forces of evil that continue to trample on Nigerians and their collective aspirations.The people of Nigeria must reject the likes of Ribadu for the latter aid and abet the enemies of the nation in their nefarious activities. In a decent society, a post-Obasanjo period should necessarily see Ribadu and his type answering for their many sins against the nation.

The pertinent question Nigerians should be asking themselves at this critical moment is how to robustly and effectively respond to the moral perversions of a despot who has shown that he has no qualms whatsoever resorting to the most shameful of tactics in the pursuit of selfish or unpatriotic aims. History has taught us that there are options available to Nigerians in their desire to rid themselves of profligate, sit-tight tyrants in the mould of Obasanjo.

But first, Nigerians should remind themselves that one critical factor of the full-blown dictatorship Nigerians are living under today is the role of the Nigerian media and especially that of the so-called Kabiyesi press in Lagos. As early as 1999 when it was obvious to much of Nigeria that Obasanjo had no interest in seeing genuine democracy take root in our country, not to mention his numerous crimes against fellow Nigerians, prominent actors of the Lagos axis of the national press chose to behave as if they were imbued with a moral duty to defend the regime of Obasanjo against imaginary undemocratic forces. They were joined in this unbecoming role by leaders of so-called pro-democracy outfits like the NLC leader. Nigerians still remember vividly how Oshiomhole of the NLC and several newspaper columnists resorted to intimidation and blackmail tactics in order to silence those calling for public protest against the 2003 electoral brigandage called 419. Prior to 2003, leading voices in the media even went as far as mentioning what a prominent columnist with the Guardian (Lagos) called the « religious rationalization at the heart of the Obasanjo presidency »! By that, it was meant that Christian values formed the basis of Obasanjo’s political conduct! Of course, the uncritical, knee-jerk support offered the Obasanjo regime by the media and some sections of the human rights and pro-democracy establishment up to 2003 in particular did contribute in no small measure in providing a dubious legitimacy to a rogue regime that had already shown that it deserved only derision and disdain from citizens. Even nowadays, some media people continue to incredibly talk of giving «the benefit of doubt » to the Abuja dictator as far as his policies and political conduct are concerned. These days, some self-proclaimed pro-democracy cum human rights activists like Beko Kuti would seem to have discarded their duplicitous masks in favour of open support for the dictator as can be attested by Kuti’s suspected pro-regime infiltration of PRONACO. So, human rights and pro-democracy activists as well as national media practitioners cannot in good conscience exonerate themselves regarding the current mess in the land. It is simply not enough for our media men and women to express anguish or dismay regarding the apparent emasculation of Nigeria’s political class in the face of the danger called Obasanjo. Individually and collectively, the national media and other strategic sections of the Nigerian society should seek to atone for their respective roles in the sustenance of the current murderous dictatorship with pretensions to leadership.What this means is that Nigerians must shed their indecision and clannish mindset in favour of a more robust and concerted approach in dealing with a blood-thirsty despot. They must be prepared to return fire for through the use of democratic and popular means. They should borrow a leaf from the actions of those genuine pro-democracy activists who not long ago, did fight another despot, Abacha, to a standstill. Obasanjo and his horde of hangers-on must be made to understand that they do not own Nigeria and that the choice of the next president, like that of other elected representatives, is for Nigerians to make in a transparent and democratic fashion and as such cannot be the prerogative of a backward cabal represented by Kabiyesi and his predatory gang.

Faced with a Bokassa-like tin-god, the nation’s democratic forces must discard their penchant for sectarian involvement and suggestion. Obasanjo has sought so far to use ethno-religious differences within the Nigerian society in order to maintain his ghastly grip on the nation. The abiding lesson of history that should guide Nigerians as they come out in a concerted effort to once and for all confront Obasanjo and his backers – alien or local - and take back their country is that ultimately, what matters most is that no dictator be allowed to hold the nation to ransom without a purposeful challenge. Abacha’s sad and pathetic end is living proof of that.

Aonduna Tondu.

New York
E-mail : tondua@yahoo.com

Posted by Administrator at January 3, 2006 09:48 AM

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