Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Obasanja and Leadership, lashes out on younger generation,Preaching leadership quality he does not have

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo was in his element last week, picking faults and condemning others. Speaking at the 4th annual Ibadan Sustainable Development Summit organised bythe Centre for Sustainable Development, University of Ibadan,in collaboration with African Sustainable Development Network,the former president said that majority of those who have had theprivilege of leading this country, particularly the young ones amongthem were bad and should rot in hell. He made specific references to former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, former Lagos State governor, Bola Tinubu, former speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Salisu Buhari, former Bayelsa State governor, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha and others as examples of younger generation ofleaders who had failed the country. The ex-president who spoke while responding to issues of poor leadership in Africa, was categorical in his condemnation and was quick to conclude that Nigeria was jinxed and cursed, adding “we should all go to hell”. Hear the former two-term leader, “We had some people who were under 50 years in leadership positions. One of them was James Ibori; where is he today? One of them was Alamieyeseigha; where is he today? Lucky Igbinedion, where is he today? “The youngest was the speaker, Buhari -- you can still recall what happened to him. You said Bola Tinubu is your master. What Buharidid was not anything worse than what Bola Tinubu did. We got him impeached. But in this part of the world, some people covered up theother man. The man claimed he went to Government College, Ibadan, but the governor (of Oyo State) went to Government Collegeand packed all the documents so that they would not know that he did not go there. “I wanted someone who would succeed me, so I took Atiku. Withina year, I started seeing the type of man Atiku is. And you want me to get him there? I once went to Tanzania because Julius Nyerere recognized Biafra. He told me not to mind his aides and others in government. They would say they have one house in town but their five-year old sons and daughters would have houses all over.” To say that many Nigerians were shocked by the sweeping generalisation by Obasanjo is to say the least. Here is one man many Nigerians love to hate. A man who had been extremely lucky to rule the country twice, first as military head of state and secondly as a two-term elected president but who messed up. His second coming as an elected leader was marked by series of crises due to the widespread criticism over his response to violent crises in the North—Kadunaand Kano chief among them—as well as in Benue and the Niger Delta region. The Nigeria Army under his watch was criticized for mass suppression—notably burning down towns such as Zaki-Biam in Benue and Odi in Bayelsa State—which Obasanjo initially defended, beforelater expressing regret for the liveslost. Although Obasanjo said fighting corruption was the focus of his firstterm and managed to pass some anti-corruption laws, critics accused him of doing too little to rein in the excesses, particularly among federal government ministers and state governors, many of whom were widely publicized in the media. Aside fromthat, Obasanjo scored another low point when he turned the anti-graftagencies to an organisation to fight known and perceived enemies of his government. It was so bad that the agencies lost their bite in the war against corruption. Interestingly, Obasanjo who was hand-picked by some powerful Northern leaders for the Presidencyfrom prison where he was serving ajail term and had less than N200,000 in his bank account soonbecame a billionaire over night dishing out contracts to his family members and concubines. He did not fare better in his secondterm as he was well known for his antics of supporting and facilitating many illegal executive actions and ignoring judgements against himself and his government including judgements delivered by the Supreme Court. Examples included the illegal withholding of funds due to Lagos State local governments for more than two years after the Supreme Court ordered the immediate release. He also supported the illegal impeachment of several corrupt state governors which the Supreme Court also reversed. The National Judicial Council demonstrated its independence bydismissing several judges who connived with the executive to undermine the constitution during his reign. But perhaps his greatest area of failure was his inability to pick a worthy successor for the nation after his attempt to enjoy a third term bid in power was thwarted by the National Assembly supported by many Nigerians. With stupendous amount of moneyaccruing to the coffers of the nation from crude oil sales during eight-year rule, Obasanjo worked day and night to get another four-year tenure but met a resolutepeople who were glad to rid themselves of his antics. Now, it is the same Obasanjo who became a military head of state in his 30s and has refused to leave the stage for the younger generations that is now castigatingyoung generations of leaders manyof whom have now learnt the act ofdouble-speak from him. No wonder Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka once described him as a man who exhibit the traits of “I know it all’ and ‘I am always right” while others are wrong. Olusegun Matthew Okikiola Aremu Obasanjo was born on March 5, 1937. A former Nigerian Army General and head of state, between February 13, 1976 to October 1, 1979, he was also a democratically elected president from May 29, 1999 to May 29, 2007. As a young man of 21, he enlisted in the Nigerian army in 1978 and was trained at Aldershot before he was commissioned as an officer in the Army. He was also trained in India at the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington and at the Indian Army School of Engineering.

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