May 21, 2006
If there is any military officer lucky in Nigeria, it is General Matthew Aremu Okikiola Olusegun Obasanjo. He is lucky because he never participated in any coup, but had been a beneficiary of coups. He enjoys taking other people’s glory when the job is completed. He claimed the glory of being a Civil war Hero because it was his Command that the leader of the Biafra Army surrendered to. After the ouster of General Yakubu Gowon, Obasanjo became the second-in-command to Murtala Mohammed and after the assassination of Murtala on February 13, 1976, Obasanjo, an unwilling candidate, was forced to take over as the Head of State. The position he held for 3 years.
While he was arrested and jailed for his alleged involvement in a coup plot against late General Sani Abacha, he was lucky again to leave the prison alive but his second-in-command during his tenure as a military Head of State was not lucky, Major-General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua died mysteriously in Abakaliki Prison. Obasanjo came out of prison to become the first Nigerian former military ruler to come back as a civilian president. So far, he holds the record of being the only civilian president spending second term in office. And he still on the road to making another news as the first person who rules “democratically” for 12 years.
No one could have considered himself luckier than Obasanjo, who won where his fellow Yoruba failed. Late M.K.O. Abiola won the freest and fairest election in the history of Nigeria, but he was denied of his victory by Obasanjo’s first constituency- the military. Chief Obafemi Awolowo attempted to become President but lost; but Obasanjo was never interested but persuaded to rule. These and many more have made this man to become the most powerful leader of the most populous black nation in the world and by extension, wanting to become the most powerful man in Africa. Obasanjo played major roles in preventing these two people accomplish their political ambition. He confirmed in his book, ‘Not My Will’ that he voted against Chief Awolowo in the 1979 elections. He also supported the annulment of the June 12, 1993 election and was instrumental to the appointment of Chief Ernest Shonekan as Interim government Head of State rather than fighting for the release of the June 12 elections.
To international community, he is a lover of democracy, because he voluntarily handed over power to a democratically elected government in 1979. But what is not known to them is that it was not Obasanjo’s calling to hand over or not to hand over in 1979, he was simply acting the script of those who put him there as a Head of State. The same people, who released him from jail, kill Chief M.K.O Abiola and imposed him on People’s Democratic Party as presidential candidate.
It was in his tenure that Akintunde Ojo, who incidentally was is god-son was killed at the University of Lagos in 1978 during the ‘Ali Must Go” riot. Professor Ade Ajayi, then Vice Chancellor of University of Lagos lost his job because he attended Akintunde Ojo's burial. Ebenezer Babatope, Ola Oni and many others lost their jobs as lecturers in various Institutions over the students’ unrest then. He launched Operation Feed the Nation (OFN); little did we know that it was a sample of what we were to see later as Obasanjo Farms Nigeria (OFN). While Operation Feed the Nation failed, Obasanjo Farms Nigeria did not.
Apart from the banning of the National Union of Nigeria Students (NUNS), Obasanjo created one of the most dreaded detention centers. He created the Ita-oko detention on the Ita-Oko Island. An Island surrounded by over 5,000 crocodiles. He never hid his displeasure for the media and he showed it with the notice at his farm’s gate that “Journalists, dogs and miscreants are not allowed.”
Since he became the civilian President in 1999, through the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), President Obasanjo, who joined the party for the purpose of contesting the Presidential election has taken over the party; though the Party has leaders, they take orders from the retired but not tired General. He runs the country and the Party like an extension of his family house.
The man also has a history of being ungrateful to those who helped him. He is regarded as a user and dumper. He uses people and dumps them. Who is Mr. Olusegun Obasanjo? In his own words, he is “ A fi’bi su olore Baba Iyabo” meaning “ the ungrateful wretch Father of Iyabo.”
On May 29, 1999 at the Eagle Square, Abuja shortly after his swearing-in, President Olusegun Obasanjo, in the presence of the whole world declared a major war against corruption. He promised to fight it seriously and to show his seriousness, the Anti-Corruption Bill was the first Bill he sent to the National Assembly. He promised to professionalise the Nigerian Military, he promised to re-establish the Universal Basic Education, (UBE) a replica of the Universal Primary Education (UPE) of Chief Obafemi Awolowo. But throughout the four years, no single soul was arrested and prosecuted for corrupt practices. In spite of open looting of the country’s treasury under the leadership of President Obasanjo. Most of the political appointees who, before their appointment were as poor as the church rat became rich and proud owners of houses in highbrow areas of Abuja and Lagos.
Since he took over power as civilian president, nobody has been successfully prosecuted for corruption. He wanted to present the same story of “I am the first” to the members of the National Assembly at a joint session where he presented the report of the National Political Reform Committee (NPRC) recently. In what appeared like a manifesto of a campaign for the much rumored 3rd term bid, President Obasanjo told the National Assembly members that he left only $0.05Billion as external debt when he “voluntarily” handed over power to the Alhaji Shehu Shagari government in 1979. He painted his successors as the cause of Nigeria’s risen debt. No one amongst the National Assembly, members could contest that, because according to Senator Mohammed Aruwa, many of them were in High School then. But what President Obasanjo omitted was that he was the first Nigerian leader to get the International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan in 1979. According to Mr. Godffery Kalinga of the IMF, as at the time General Olusegun Obasanjo got the loan, Nigeria did not need it. Mr. Kalinga was the Division Chief in the African Department of IMF. He said this in August 28, 2003 at the Afrikafe forum held in Washington DC.
From 1999 to date more than six murder cases have been reported and the police and the entire security community in Nigeria have resolved no one. What could be responsible? There is enough evidence that the police and other security agencies have compromised. Their attitude and the way they carry out their investigation make them culpable of assisting the killers to cover their tracks. Anthony Ikhazobo was said to have been killed by armed robbers yet they did not take anything from the him.
What is disturbing is that under the democratic government of President Obasanjo the Police have not been able resolve any murder case. The Kudirat Abiola's murder case was at the instance of Sergeant Jabilla a.k.a. Rogers who came out to confess. We have more murder cases in this government within a period of four years than in any government either military or civilian. In fact study show that between May 1999 and July 2001, 252 cases of extra-judicial killing of the police and other security agencies were recorded. Far higher than in the last two military regimes.
One of the most troubling cases of murder was the case of Napoleon Igboku-Otu, journalist and environmental activist. Igboku-Otu stumbled on a piece of information in 1999 that borders on national security. Perhaps if something had been done may be we may not have had the serious case of terrorism facing the world now. According to the information, extremist Palestinian Islamic group, Hamas, were to train some Islamic fundamentalists in Nigeria for an all-out Islamic Jihad against the non-Muslims, they had recruited Iraqi dissident military officers. The Islamic Jihadists, the report says had already established training camps in Northern Nigeria and were recruiting Sudanese Muslims and smuggling them through Niger Republic into Maiduguri, Kano and Kaduna in readiness for the planned bloody campaign. The report named a certain Sheikh Omar Baleri, head of Hez Bothriah, an Islamic group with a bridgehead in Northern Nigeria as the brain behind the set up in Nigeria. Another Omar Bakri Mohammed was mentioned with email address: firstname.lastname@example.org, checks on this email in 2002 show that it has been deactivated.
Igboku-Otu contacted the Director-General of the State Security Service (SSS) Colonel Kayode Are (rtd) who did not see anything serious and alarming in the information. Are's only response was to lodge the activist in a hotel in Abuja while he pussyfooted. His attempt to see President Obasanjo directly was rebuffed. A day after he came back from his fruitless trip to Abuja, Igboku-Otu was visited by unknown assassins, the rest his history. He got killed, according to report he was slaughtered and what the SSS could do was to ask for the document of the information Igboku-Otu was working on. His gone so is the case. The file has been thrown into the dustbin of the police just like the ones before him. From 2000 to date the country has had many religious-motivated demonstrations where many lives were lost. In February 2000, riots erupted in Kaduna, over 2000 people were killed and nobody was brought to book, in spite of the fact that someone was caught in the security report to have supplied machetes to Muslims to attack Christians. More than 3000 died in Kano in 2001 while 200 were killed in 2002. For all these deaths no one has been arrested or charged.
What is disturbing and disappointing is the case of chief Bola Ige and the kids killed in the President daughter's car. Not many people belief that the Ige case will not go the way of Dele Giwa, Alfred Rewane and Suliat Adedeji.
Investigation revealed that Omisore was shocked that he could be picked and detained. It was when he threatened to mention names of Yoruba leaders involved that Bode George went to Osogbo to announce Omisore's candidature.
That Omisore is connected at the top is no news and not under any contest. While his crisis with his boss, Governor Bisi Akande was on, he was seen more in Abuja, State House than Osogbo. Investigation showed that his host was Vice President Atiku. This then explained why the Vice president was in Osogbo to declare Omisore PDP candidate. What could be the relationship between the Vice- President and Omisore? Adebayo Damola (Fryo) gave the answer when he told the Lagos lawyer, Festus Keyamo that the Aso Rock backer of Omisore during the crisis was in the Presidency. Things took a new twist immediately after Ige's murder, Omisore who was a regular face at the State House; Abuja became unwanted by his host.
To be continued……