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NIGERIA – 50 YEARS AFTER INDEPENDENCE: WHAT MANNER OF CELEBRATIONS? – LECTURE DELIVERED BY CHIEF OLUSEGUN OBASANJO, NIGERIA’S FORMER PRESIDENT AT THE FIRST GRADUATION CEREMONY OF THE REDEEMER’S UNIVERSITY OF NIGERIA AND LATER PUBLISHED BY WESTERNER MAGAZINE OF OCTOBER 25, 2010: A REJOINDER BY HON. (MS.) JOSEPHINE OLATOMI SOBOYEJO


Published October 25th, 2010

There is no doubt that today the most celebrated Nigeria leader and accepted all over the world though with a lot of misgivings is our own Ebora Owu, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo GCFR, the Nigeria’s former President. One cannot be neutral to this man that has benefitted immensely from God’s Grace when you remember his antecedents and pedigree, from humble beginning to leadership; from leadership to prison and back to leadership. One then would expect wisdom, understanding and great knowledge from experiences garnered in all these phases over the years. One will also expect him to radiate love and freely extend same to others in exchange for the great love that he has benefitted from God. I am not particularly analyzing his character here but his lecture recently published in the Westerner Magazine of October 25, 2010.

The former president started his lecture on the discipline of Philosophy on ‘MATTER’ and ‘FORM’. Matter and Form came to be known as Hylomorphism. I wonder why a self acclaimed born-again can go philosophical to start his lecture on Hylomorphism; though his adduced reasons can be clearly discerned. He tried to differentiate and build up on ‘Matter and Form’. Let me congratulate posthumously Nigeria  protagonists’ and  incorruptible three Regional leaders that held firmly the North, the East and the West Regions of yesteryears. The principle of making regions strong, focused, well-led, and insular could have sustained and strengthened the Centre if allowed. Chief Obasanjo is so wrong to deduce that Nigeria at Independence was leadership deficit.  Let us look at the principle of cell divisions. Thinking small to become big is a concept that has worked for many institutions. The basic concept is very simple that has resulted in the exponential growth of the users. Stronger Local governments and States would have formed the genius of the physical formation in terms of discipline, growth and enduring development of the Centre that will make Nigeria a Great Nation. Going back to ‘Matter’ as described by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo; the formation of Nigeria was wrong from the Amalgamation in 1914. I submit that it is not the people who looked towards their regions that breed no national interest, nepotism, mediocrity, corruption and incompetence rather it is the unpatriotic, selfish “Me” corrupt people masquerading as messiah leaders. Charity truly begins at home. If you do not love your family, your community, your Local government, and State of Origin; you cannot truly love Nigeria. You are only deceiving yourself and others for your love is only for your pocket through the bestowed God’s giving resources of the Country or self-acclaimed Fame.

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If Nigeria has been left alone to develop democratically without the intrusion of the Military, Nigeria would have been better developed at 50 years of Independence. No Nigeria president is comparable to President Julius Nyerere of Tanzania who served his Country for 21 years without a personal house and car to his credit unlike Nigeria Presidents whose thirst for wealth cannot be assuaged until they grab and grab all for themselves and their unborn generation.  It is laughable that Chief Olusegun Obasanjo should defend the Coup that brought him into National leadership as No. 2. He claimed the bloodless coup forced on Nigeria was correctional, purposeful with democracy and good governance as main objectives. Can an Autocratic government ever be democratic? No! No self praise and reasons can justify upturning a democratic rule. It is totally wrong to conclude that only the democratic leadership was corrupt. It is also wrong to give reasons for the take-over of democratic institutions by autocratic military officers. No self pontification can justify a wrong concept. I was part of President Shagari’s Government that was toppled in 1983 as a democratically elected member of Federal House of Representatives. The so-called reason based on corruption for the take-over has become a child’s play with the expanse and monumental display of corruption in the Government thereafter. Chief Obasanjo cannot justify himself when he did nothing to stop the annulment of the most fair and freest election ever held in Nigeria that could have produced Chief M. K. O. Abiola’s Presidency. Rather he said the winner of that election was not the Messiah Nigeria needs; has Obasanjo now become the needed Messiah? Why is it, that only his government or his participatory governance is good? This to me smirks of the ‘Me’ category person; self adulation, self pride, self arrogance which is the same as lack of humility and self centredness. I postulate that the years of continuous military rule in Nigeria were the worst period of retrogression and blanket corruption at all levels of governance. I think all the past Military rulers should be given Rawlings treatment; though I do not ascribe to shedding of Blood through killings of any human.

Chief Obasanjo failed to mention the role of Religion especially since the lecture was delivered in a University established by a religious body. Religion has often  affected Nigeria’s national interest and foreign Policy. As an illustration,  if there is any issue the country is divided, then if the administration opts for option A, half of the country would be in uproar, and if option B, the other half would be in uproar. To settle such matter, wisdom and prudence simply dictate that matters are allowed to flow. This has made Nigeria, master of constructive indecision. Examples of indecisions are past census, OIC and Sharia. I want to mention here the volcano that erupted over the country’s membership or non-membership of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC). The case of  the government was that Nigeria would benefit from membership of  OIC bank with its low interests loans. If Nigeria were a monolithic country religiously, there would have been no problem especially as Nigeria was going through cash crunch at the time. But Christians thought there was a hidden agenda behind the membership. The debate as to which religious group formed the majority in the country was regarded as the real hidden agenda. No amount of rational argument could sway either side. The diversity of the country as is reflected not only in the multi-ethnic compositions, but also in the various cultures, languages and customs including the socio-economic and political dynamics of colonial and post-colonial uneven social economic and educational development. Nigeria Major Problems include but not limited to:

i.                    Political Issues;

ii.                  Economic Issues;

iii.                Judicial Issues

iv.               Gender Discrimination;

v.                 Medical Issues;

ii.       Militarism;

iii.      Democracy;

iv.      Public Accountability and Corruption;

v.       Religion and Ethnic politics and tribalism;

vii.     External debt burdens and Servicing; and

viii.    Poverty, Creation and distribution of wealth.

On one hand Chief Obasanjo appreciated and long for the nurturing of the ‘Matter’ in terms of Infrastructure, Economic Development, and Technological Sophistication  but this is the same man that has shown disdain for a performing Governor of his own State who was adjudged by all to be the best Governor in Nigeria. Chief Obasanjo’s developmental patriotism is antagonistic to a vibrant development brought about by others. It only means when he is not in charge or dictate affairs from behind, he cannot appreciate goodness. Why should one person turn himself to a tin-god or crucify those who refuse to bow down to the tantrums of the god father. When I consider the State of Affairs in Ogun State at present, I realize that those that have benefitted much more from the dividends of democracy are the ones given the State so much trouble.

These are the people that His Excellency, Otunba Gbenga Daniel favored above others and granted opportunities. I know the man OGD and can vouch for his large heart and fairness. Why is hatred pushing these people to the pit of hell rather than heed the word of God that love is the greatest of all virtues? Why are these people so determined to turn Ogun State into a Jihad? Have they forgotten that we are all mortals and shall face the judgment seat of God one day? The tendencies to be vindictive, malicious and intolerance are the hallmark I have seen demonstrated by their actions towards OGD for his independent mindedness and loyalty to his Constituency (the masses of Ogun State) rather than lean towards the ‘Me’ Categories. Those who fail to listen to the word of wisdom make their hearts like flint, refusing to hear, refusing to see and refusing to unite with the State Governor to move the State forward in the development of our dear State.

It is the height of corruption to use autocratic fostering of an old tired and retired military officer accompanied by a rude, indiscipline daughter to want to rule by the back door and take over governance from a vibrant, proactive, visionary, disciplined, social engineer and astute administrator. I know the enlightened Ogun State Citizens will not bow down to that contraption. I am indeed happy that in OBJ’s lecture he condemned interaction and endorsing the objectionable and conferring chieftaincy titles to known rogues. Chief Obasanjo wants us to be selective to bring about encouragement of good character and morality. But what I cannot understand is his own personal interaction and involvement with the people he warned us of like the Omoilu, a wanted fugitive from US and the G-15 Suspended members of Ogun State Assembly. This action of our respected leader amounts to double-speak or in line with a disreputable adage that says: “Do what I say and not what I do”. This contradicts the law of God that admonishes us to be role models in behavior and character.

In conclusion, Chief Obasanjo’s language in the delivered lecture has been rich in what grammarians call euphemisms-those nice and delicate words that cover some offensive truth. When Prince George of Greece went over to Crete to become governor, there had been fierce rioting and bloodshed between the Muslims and Christians. And when he arrived and was received with great enthusiasm, the correspondent of the Times gave a very curious description of the scene. "The long rows of ruined houses, beneath which in some cases, the fire is still smoldering," he wrote, "are almost concealed by festoons and banners." It was an attempt to decorate and hide the tragedies. And language is always doing that. It is this tendency of human speech that is caught up and wrested by the devil into an engine and instrument of ill. A born administrator is a man who not only works hard himself, but has the skill of choosing the right men to be his assistants. That is always a mark of practical capacity. And a true general shows his genius to command by the way in which he uses each branch of the service—cavalry, artillery, and infantry- for its proper work. Every administrator must make use of agents; and he displays the greatest genius for administration who picks his agents with the greatest skill. Nigeria needs such a man to lead us in 2011; Ogun State already has such a man and by God’s grace will hand over to his type already chosen by God.

I cannot but mention the peace OBJ as we fondly call Chief Olusegun Obasanjo has brokered in other Countries especially in Liberia. My appeal is that he takes to heart the dictum that charity begins at home and bring permanent peace to Ogun State and stop the gladiators who are all in PDP where he is presently the BOT chairman. History of tomorrow is written today and the Americans always say “History is written by the winners”.




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