A Response To Femi Adesina On President Obansanjo By Umar Ardo, PhD
Pastor Femi Adesina, the spokesperson for President Muhammadu Buhari, is at it again, disparaging and impugning President Olusegun Obasanjo and other high valued Nigerian leaders in a so-called defence of his principal.
Adesina, in an article he published last Friday, asserted that President Obasanjo and other senior leaders of the country, including all former living Heads of State, except General Yakubu Gowon, are hiding under the umbrella of insecurity to display their hatred for President Buhari. Adesina might as well have added former Chief Justices of the Federation, former Chiefs of Defence Staff, former Service Chiefs, former Inspectors General of Police, former SGFs, leaders of all the country’s major socio-cultural organisations such as Afenifere, Ohanaeze, PANDEF, Northern Elders Forum, Arewa Consultation Forum, Middle Belt Forum, Inter-faith Group, and a host of other critical groups across the country. These are the leaders President Obasanjo actively mobilised to come together and take a common position on the debilitating political, economic, social and security situation that the Buhari-led government plunged the country into and advise the president accordingly. That was what President Obasanjo and all these leaders did – to meet, X-ray the issues, proffer solutions and advise the president; and that is just what all self-respecting patriotic statesmen would do!
Instead of being commended for a job well done, Adesina came out disparaging the former leaders of the country. As a pastor, Adesina should at least have a moral benchmark to operate upon; he cannot mount the pulpit and preach falsehood! And that is just what he seems to have done – preaching falsehood on the pulpit in defence of his principal!
Now, the Hausa people, the father-tongue of Adesina’s principal, have a saying that: duk wanda ya so ka da safe, amma da rana ya qi ka to haqiqa laifin daga gun ka ne (whosoever likes you in the morning but dislikes you in the afternoon, then definitely the fault is from you). This saying, to me, perfectly fits this very situation between President Obasanjo and President Buhari. First and foremost, Obasanjo is Buhari’s senior both in age and in the military profession both of them served. While Obasanjo came to the national and international limelight during the Nigeria-Biafra civil war when as the commander of the 3rd Marine Commando he received the instrument of surrender from the Biafran side that ended the war in January 1970, Buhari first came into the national limelight when he was appointed Military Governor of Northeastern State by the Murtala/Obasanjo regime in July 1975.
Even in this capacity as a military governor, Buhari was responsible to Obasanjo as Chief of Staff Supreme Headquarters, through whom he had access to the Head of State on all official matters. At the assassination of the Head of State, General Murtala Muhammed, General Olusegun Obasanjo became Head of State and Commander-in-Chief, in which capacity he magnanimously appointed Buhari as Minister of Petroleum and Chairman of the newly established NNPC. This is the appointment that catapulted Buhari to the international scene, representing Nigeria at OPEC. To this end, Obasanjo was Buhari’s benefactor. If the former had hated the latter, he would not have given him this uncommon privilege and prestige. Obasanjo, therefore, liked Buhari from the early hours of the morning. Point number one.
Point number two, in his book, Not my Will, Obasanjo wrote glowingly about Buhari’s forthright character and discipline as a soldier. And, for most impressionable minds like mine in Junior Secondary School who adored the Murtala/Obasanjo regime as the highest example of idyllic leadership, such a claim and attestation made Buhari instinctively become the ideal leader to many of us. And to that extent, Obasanjo had created a positive image of Buhari that framed the minds and captured the imagination, sympathy, loyalty and support of most patriotic Nigerians like me who later became responsible for turning his perennial political misfortune into electoral victory after publicly crying and throwing in the towel in his pursuit of the presidency. Again, Obasanjo demonstrated his likeness for Buhari in the wee hours of the morning.
Point number three, after getting flustered, like most Nigerians, with the Jonathan regime, and despite Buhari indecorously challenging him personally at the polls in 2003 in which he roundly defeated him, Obasanjo in a statesmanlike manner threw his support behind Buhari’s candidacy and publicly got his PDP membership card theatrically torn as a symbol of rejection of President Jonathan’s candidacy. This dramatic symbolic gesture was the final signal to the Nigerian electorate and especially the international community that Nigeria’s Concentric Power Circle was firmly behind Buhari’s candidature, thereby moulding both local and world opinions to actualise his victory at the polls in 2015. Again, for the 3rd time, Obasanjo revealed his likeness for Buhari at the most critical hour.
So the question I would have to ask is: where did Obasanjo hide the hatred Adesina said he and his compatriots have against President Buhari? Adesina must have to supply the answer, because for all I see, as illustrated by the three points above, Buhari is a beneficiary of Obasanjo’s leadership benevolence. And to all intents and purposes, it was this altruism that became the vehicle Buhari later flung on to acquire popular support and drive his political campaign under the current democratic dispensation, and ultimately getting himself elected president in 2015. When all these little pieces were cobbling together to complete the jigsaw, where was Adesina? Of course, he was nowhere even within the crowd!
The truth is that, and even his worse enemies cannot deny this fact, Obasanjo is a foremost Nigerian nationalist and patriot. As he often says, to his dying day, he will never give up on Nigeria and will fight any person, group or regime that threatens to imperil the unity and well-being of the country and her people. And it is to this end that he started opposing the Buhari regime, as he did to other regimes before it when it became glaring that President Buhari’s leadership was imperilling the unity and well-being of the Nigerian state. Judging by the spate of insecurity currently pervading the country, Nigeria can be rightly be said to have drifted inexorably into a complete failed state under the Buhari administration. All over the country, from my home state of Adamawa to Borno and Yobe in the North-east, to Benue, Niger, Nasarawa and Plateau in the North-central and Buhari’s own home state of Katsina, Kaduna, Zamfara, Kebbi and Sokoto in the North-west, to Abia, Anambra and Imo in the South East, kidnappings, killings and bloodlettings of horrifyingly unimaginable proportions have become standard daily occurrences of communities. In the Niger Delta region, oil bunkering, stealing and piracy have become so pervasive that even Buhari’s Minister of Petroleum for State had to cry out in utter resignation. While internecine genocide, communal killings and banditry are going on in villages and towns unabated, highways, airports and railways have been taken over by armed bandits, terrorists, robbers and kidnappers. As of today, hundreds of innocent citizens are held captive by murderous bandits and terrorists all over our forests with no respite.
This is aside from the destruction of our economy, educational system, environment and ecology; the ensuing pervasive banal corruption, nepotism, unemployment, poverty and social conflicts. All these have combined to threaten the unity and very existence of the country as a sovereign state. It is thus natural that Obasanjo, whose entire life is dedicated to the service of Nigeria, would react. And he did. He had over the years met with the president several times one-on-one to advise on these key issues. Also, as a member of the National Council of State, he advised whenever the opportunity arose. And when these did not work, he resorted to writing the president open letters, as he did to other presidents. And when this failed too, he mobilised like-minds to press forth their positions. And in doing these, Obasanjo is not playing politics; he is only being his true self!
Now, on all these scores, what offence did President Obasanjo and his fellow elder statesmen commit to warrant Adesina’s disparaging insults? As a pastor, Adesina must be guided by high-level moral values and ethics. Yes, he needs to defend his principal, but he should do so only on the bases of truth and honesty, and employing circumspection and empathy; none of which plainly, in his last Friday’s piece, he failed to employ.