Obasanjo: It is imperative to restore hope and rebuild the nation | The Guardian Nigeria News

by MMC
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As a young man growing up in the West in the 1970s, it took me a while to recover from the brutal assassination of General Murtala Muhammed in a military coup in 1975. The mood of the nation was bad. Soon after, however, the general intervened and immediately restored order, stability and hope to the nation following his proclamation as the new head of state, commander in chief of the armed forces of the Republic Federal Government of Nigeria. The skillful manner in which he united the army and the nation behind him, after the trauma that accompanied the passing of General Murtala Muhammed, attested to his skill in bringing together a grieving nation and people, in their profound moment of loss and sadness. It was his first leadership test, which he passed with flying colors.

Most people in the West, as the region was then called, were later disgruntled with General Obasanjo for his alleged role in denying Chief Obafemi Awolowo the presidency in the 1979 elections. Like today’s obedient ‘Today, with their swan song “Peter Obi or nothing”, I joined Awo’s supporters, across the country, in denouncing the military administration, led by General Obasanjo, as an enemy of democracy which has rigged the 1979 presidential election in favor of Alhaji Shehu Shagari, the flag bearer of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN). For us, it was Chief Obafemi Awolowo or nothing. When Chief Awolowo finally lost at the Supreme Court, with his ruling on twelve two-thirds of Nigeria’s states, which effectively blocked the revered sage’s last chance to run again with the victor, we all, as the obedient today, claimed that the mandate of Chief Obafemi Awolowo was stolen.

General Obasanjo won back the hearts of the people when he became their voice to facilitate the exit from power of the Babaginda administration, in favor of the restoration of democratic governance. He quickly lost his appeal when he refused to side with Chief Moshood Kashimawo Abiola, the acclaimed winner of the June 12 elections, after his election was annulled, although it was widely seen as the election the freest and most credible ever organized in Nigeria. Divine grace, however, found Chief Obasanjo when he found himself torn in the flesh of General Sanni Abacha and mobilized international support to resist his despotic rule. He got into trouble soon after, but divine grace preserved him. Like Nelson Mandela, grace took him out of prison and out of the valley of death, to his peak of glory as the first democratically elected president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 1999.

I have taken the time to introspectively examine the life and times of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. He is widely recognized in the southwest as “akanda eniyan”, meaning a rare breed, a man of uncommon grace and favor; a rare and complex person who surpasses the bravest and smartest, in life’s journey, for greatness and impact. Looking at his life journey, Chief Obasanjo fits this description in all its ramifications. During his military career, he rose to the zenith, reaching glory and heights that most of his equally distinguished, or better, colleagues not only cultivated but dreamed of but never achieved. During the Nigerian Civil War, he received the instrument of surrender from General Philip Effiong, Chief of General Staff of Biafra, after Brigadier General Benjamin Adekunle, General Akinrinade, Brigadier Godwin Alabi-Isama and d Others have almost finished the work. . He was designated for assassination on the same day that General Murtala Muhammed was assassinated, but divine grace came to his rescue and preserved his life in a strange way. He should have been sentenced to death for a coup that he never organized or participated in, under the Abacha government, but, strangely enough, grace delivered him from the clutches of death. He relied on popular acclaim for the presidency to be conceded to the southwest in 1999 and was elected and inaugurated as the first democratically elected president of the 4th Republic. Today, he remains a prominent figure in Africa, as one of the continent’s most famous statesmen. His voice is respected across the world, hence the need to harness his brand for the task of rebuilding the nation under the renewed hope of this administration.

Since the inauguration of the Fourth Republic, he is undoubtedly the best elected president over the years. His presidential bureaucracy has also been judged the best yet. It included Obong Ufot Ekatte, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Abu Obe/Yayale Ahmed, Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Major General Abdullahi Muhammed, Chief of Staff, Ambassador Ahmed Al-Ghazali, president of the federal civil service. Service Commission, and General Aliyu Mohammed Gusau, National Security Advisor. As the nation’s chief executive, he was a tireless worker with deep insight, knowledge, wisdom and understanding. His energy level and attention to detail was second to none. He has regularly submitted himself to the advice of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, as principal policy advisor, for informed decision-making. He bowed to superior arguments and reasoning. He readily admitted his mistakes or doubts whenever he discovered he was wrong. For example, at a retreat for permanent secretaries organized at the Administrative College of Nigeria, Badagry, to which he was invited as a special guest of honour, he apologized profusely and openly to the late Alhaji Garba Buwai , one of the participants he had wrongly accused of wrongdoing. He was strong and innovative in articulating his policies, which is why most of the policy statements of successive administrations in Nigeria, today, are either drawn from his policy directions in government or adaptations of them. His foreign policy was dynamic, which is why Nigeria quickly transformed from a pariah to a loved and respected nation under his leadership.

Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, like all great leaders of the world, has his faults. For example, his failure to identify a worthy successor to carry on his legacy is a serious omission on his part. Perhaps the nation would have benefited from his long stay in power as a military head of state or civilian president. He nevertheless deserves our respect and congratulations for his contribution to national development. This is why he cannot afford to leave the Tinubu administration. He will be a great advisor and ambassador to President Tinubu, especially in gaining the trust and support of Nigerians and the international community, for adherence to his political declarations, big dreams and big visions. This is why it is imperative for this great statesman of our times to now place himself above politics and accept President Bola Tinubu without preconditions. The nation expects him to join hands with President Tinubu today to enable the new administration to calm the storms raging in the country, strengthen the bonds of our unity and redirect our nation well- loved on the path to greatness.

I hope the great leader understands that nothing is too great or too sacred that cannot be sacrificed for the sake of our beloved nation, a country he loves intensely and passionately. Accordingly, President Olusegun Obasanjo is requested to adopt Asiwaju Bola Tinubu today, for the good of the nation to stem the current drift, and acrimonious policy with a view to restoring hope to our beloved nation. He must comply with the divine command that God is the one who anoints kings, just as he has found mercy and favor with Him. Napoleon Bonaparte is instructive in his words that “a leader is a merchant of hope.” President Tinubu has demonstrated that he is a harbinger of hope with his Renewed Hope programme. The nation is waiting for President Obasanjo to join him so that this hope can be realized quickly and without delay, for the good of all. President Tinubu is also urged to iron out the rough edges in his relationship with the ex-president, given that his experience is now indispensable to the task of rebuilding the nation. The policy should be over now. Indeed, good governance should now be the new imperative and the new norm, for everyone.
Victor Mayomi is a retired director of the federal civil service

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