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« Obasanjo's Historic Visit to Amichi | Main | Pax-Americana and the African Worldview »

January 23, 2006

Mr. Obasanjo: You had a Chance at Greatness.... Even Immortality

by Chibuzo Onubogu (USA) --- I was greatly overjoyed even to the point of euphoria when it was announced that our former Head of State, one of our revered elder statesmen, had won the 1999 election. Obasanjo we heard made it back, this time as our civilian leader. Nigeria, I thought couldn’t have elected a better person than the man who led the forces that ended the war that almost divided the nation. Nigeria was ready for a true nationalist and patriot to forge a new unity for a better country. Our own George Washington!

After the war of Independence, Americans chose George, the General who had led their forces to liberate them from British rule to be their president. He not only became America’s first president, but became the father/midwife of the nation regarded as the most democratic of all times. The steps of nation building taken by George Washington earned him immortality. Today, the greatness and immortality of Jefferson, Adams, Lincoln, FDR and Kennedy cannot be overstated. America has had 42 presidents before the present G.W Bush, but we only hear about a handful of them. Included in the list of greatness are Jackson, Eisenhower, Truman, Nixon, Reagan and Clinton. These men took extraordinary steps and achieved a lot in their tenures in office. Obasanjo, Nigeria was begging for an extraordinary leader to take extraordinary steps to correct a major mess but you blew your chance. Now you think you can do right if you asked for a third term? Come on if you had it in you, you could have hit the ground running in 1999. What with the support you had. You could have tackled corruption at the onset of your administration; you could have taken steps to reform our education system, the police, NEPA and all the other problem organizations in Nigeria. No one expects you to cure Nigeria of all its ills for you are not a magician, but we could have gone a long way if you started when you should have. If you did this, you could have a consensus of Nigerians asking or even begging you to come back like Americans did Washington (though the latter refused). It was because of extraordinary leadership that Franklin Delano Roosevelt (although wheelchair bound and had myriad of health problems) was elected to a record four terms on office. What Mr.Obasanjo have you done to deserve a third term in office? Only sycophants and hangers on will give you a pass mark at your lackluster effort at leadership.

I definitely cringed at the foolish comparison people tried to make between you and Nelson Mandela, a truly great leader, one who has achieved immortality. I think one of your image makers may have had one too many and decided to make a childish attempt at comparing you with perhaps the only true great leader that Africa has ever produced. Mentioning your 2 year sojourn in the country club as if it has any resemblance to almost 27 years in prison under apartheid rule that Mandela had to undergo. The majesty with which Nelson Mandela accepted his presidency and the extraordinary things he did that made the black South Africans proud about their selves again. Like a master, he knew when to quit the stage to allow a new generation to take over the leadership of a nation he had practically brought into existence with his resistance and freedom fighting.

How can we forget Gorbachev? He could have tried to hang on to the Soviet Union like his predecessors did? Reagan apologists can continue to claim how they ended the Soviet empire; the truth is that if Gorbachev wanted he could have hung on longer. His decision to tear the wall down and open up for dialogue led to the end of the soviet empire and the independence of a lot nations. With this Mikhail Gorbachev earned greatness and I believe eventual immortality.

F.W. De Klerk will forever be remembered as the man who ended apartheid. Sure apartheid was crumbling, dying a natural death, but I believe it took an extraordinary man to make that decision. He was president, and knew he could never attain that high position again if he agreed to end apartheid. Like all the other leaders mentioned above he chose greatness over mediocrity, and thus ensured himself of immortality.

Mr. President Obasanjo, Nigeria needed a leader who would bring its various people together, one who would fight a real fight against corruption and hence reduce poverty. Nigeria needed to be healed and cleansed from the madness and incompetence of Babangida and Abacha. You pride yourself with a warped fight against corruption, a privatization process that has turned your buddies into millionaires and billionaires. What exactly have we gained with the proliferation of GSMs? We have an improved communication network? Hardly!! NITEL is still a problem organization that cannot provide the real backbone needed for effective communication. GSMs or not the land lines are still the true backbone of effective communication. Check out the developed countries.

I am not an expert on Economics or Economic theories, but I do believe that real economic reforms should have some sort of impact on the average or common people of the particular society doing the reform. Someone tried to convince me that all the globe trotting done by our president yielded some result. Debt relief or whatever they called it! What type of relief is it that makes us cough up 12 billion dollars? I really don’t know what economic sense it made when we could have used the money towards real reforms. Like helping add some life to NEPA or could our schools have been better equipped? How about roads? Did we do this because if we didn’t some of our pilfering experts would find away to steal it? Here is typical African scenario; those who use leaky buckets to fetch water never fill their holding tanks on time. Yes, a leaky bucket eventually fills it, but how about those attempting to do it with baskets? A reform where we still have a ton of stolen money lodged in foreign banks? A reform where we have no checks ad balances in government? A reform where our money is still being stolen and embezzled as I am writing this? What successful reforms? Despite the near heroic acts of Okonjo-Iweala and Soludo and their team members we don’t have any real tangible economic reforms because of the unchecked waste, abuse and outright stealing of funds going on at all levels of government. Come on enough of the lip service to reforms and let’s start a real reform that curtails and slows down corruption.

Much has been said about how the American president is the most powerful man on earth; sure I would say yes on purely military matters. If we would start talking about raw unchecked powers of a president in a so called democracy, then no president can come close to the Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo. He has been totally unchecked by a very corrupt senate, house, and a laughing stock judiciary. The president would not allow his advisers/ ministers any original ideas, for they all have to be an extension of his myopia. He has continuously meddled in affairs of States and even local chieftaincies. He virtually controls a ton of the wealth of the nation. Yeah, a whopping 53%! He could have chosen Nigerians of honesty and integrity as his advisers, ministers and heads of parastatals. It is obvious that despite the good performances of some his ministers and heads of parastatals some have been boneheads and yet he keeps them around. He could have done a lot of real good things to promote Nigeria’s image and reputation but lacked the will to tackle such issues. In his time as President, the country has become as polarized and divided as it has ever been

The chance was there, and definitely the opportunity for true, unadulterated, and hard reforms but you chose the low road to infamy instead of one that would have elevated you to greatness and yes, even immortality.

Chibuzo Onubogu writes from the USA.

Posted by Administrator at January 23, 2006 02:23 PM


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