Wale Sokunbi ( 08056180228 email@example.com) Wednesday, August 24, 2011
For about eight days now, retired Generals Olusegun Obasanjo and Ibrahim Babangida who both ruled this nation for about 19 of its 50-year existence have been throwing scud missiles at one another, from across the country. Babangida, who appears to have resolved to replace his bid to rule the country again with a new agenda to perfume and smooth out the rough edges of his time in power, sent out the first missile at a most unlikely occasion: an interview granted on the eve of his 70th birthday on August 17 to commemorate his entry into the club of septuagenarians.
The General, at a time he should be basking in the love and warmth of his friends and wellwishers, took on Obasanjo, a well known bolekaja (come down and let’s fight) leader. He told journalists that the regime of Obasanjo, who has never been known to let go of an opportunity for a roforofo (mud) fight, lacked focus, and was a failure.
As Babangida put it, he (IBB) ruled the country when the state purse was lean and he achieved success, while some people (read Obasanjo), who ruled the country at a time of much prosperity when the nation had more money than it had between the period of its independence in 1960 and 1999, achieved failure.
IBB, in Minna, said Obasanjo’s regime between 1999 and 2007 lacked foresight and imagination. He stopped just short of calling Obasanjo a thief, as he noted that although the annual budgets moved into the trillion naira digits during his tenure, he has nothing to show for it.
Babangida, later through his spokesman, spoke of the “Obasanjo years of wastage”, the “can of worms” opened at the probe of $16 billion purportedly invested in the power sector by Obasanjo, and the “rot” emerging from the probe of the privatisation programme.
Obasanjo, ordinarily, does not need much encouragement to get into a public fight. He, instead, appears to thrive on such public altercations. IBB’s verdict on the Obasanjo regime had, therefore, hardly dried up on the printing presses of newspapers that feasted on it when Obasanjo dipped his hands into his arsenal of battle weapons and sent IBB a devastating “Patriot missile”.
He called IBB a fool at 70, alluding to the Bible aphorism that one should not answer a fool according to his folly, otherwise one could become like him.
IBB thereafter also went rather personal, calling Obasanjo a man who does not even know his age, and one allegedly accused by his own son of incest.
This unrestrained exchange of verbal missiles between the two Generals is, to say the least, embarrassing and unbecoming. It is sad that just as the nation was trying to live down the Pandora’s box opened by Al-Mustapha who is being tried for the murder of Kudirat, wife of the undeclared winner of the June 12, 1993 election, Bashorun MKO Abiola, the two past leaders have chosen to arrogate to themselves the position of Chief Comedians of the Nation, apologies to Governor Okorocha of Imo State, who invented the post of “Chief Comedian of Imo State”.
The two elder statesmen who Nigerians should be looking up to for advice, and who should, in quiet retirement, represent all that is good and noble among us, have chosen to wash their dirty linen in public.
In a manner akin to revered giant masquerades pulling off their robes in the market square to reveal their humanity, the two threw caution to the winds, and decided to expose their own underbellies and the lacklustre roles they played in Nigerian history. The IBB kettle trying very hard to call the Obasanjo pot, black! Both of them, trying seriously to pool wool over Nigerians’ eyes over deep personal resentments emanating from mutual betrayals in their attempts to toss Nigeria between themselves like a football!
I do not think it is of any use now trying to apportion blame in this malodorous battle of the two Generals. The two former leaders have both “sinned”, and fallen flagrantly short of the expectations of Nigerians.
This, indeed, is Nemesis catching up with them. For one, the occasion of a birthday is one of the most inauspicious moments a leader credited with the intelligence of Nigeria’s own Evil Genius could have chosen to throw insults across the nation to a former military colleague who has also led the country. Whatever happened to espirit de corps, and the African tradition of respect for not only older persons, but all those who have held positions of great responsibility? Is there nothing at all to be said for the need to uphold the dignity of the office of the president of a country, and the honour of all those who have held respected offices therein? I certainly would have expected greater restraint from IBB, although his spokesman said he is now ready to “speak out because he has kept quiet for too long.”
As for Obasanjo, the man’s caustic tongue is no stranger to Nigerians. It is an unruly organ Nigerians are all too familiar with, even long before those days when he called a leader of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), a fool, and the time he put the infamous signboard at his farm indicating that “dogs and journalists” are not welcome. With Obasanjo’s antecedents, I think most Nigerians will be better off leaving him alone with his vituperations. There are certain things that old age does to some people that I feel Nigerians may be a better off leaving OBJ and getting on with the task of building a great nation.
If the resounding defeat the man suffered in the last election is not enough to show him the seedling of the last yam in the house (The Yoruba call it apari isu) to let him know he is an unwanted guest in the public forum, what can IBB or anyone else say to let him know that Nigerians just want him out of their hair at this time?
Expectedly, the Generals’ dirty fight has been receiving knocks from Nigerians who are not at all amused about this show of shame. Many have described the outburst of the Generals as another manifestation of the indiscipline in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which prides itself as the largest party in Africa. It is also a disgrace to the military, which is ordinarily respected for discipline across the ranks. Many people, however, feel the matter would soon be classed in the category of “family affairs” of PDP.
But, the issue goes well beyond that. Certainly, if IBB has issues with Obasanjo with whom he sits on the Council of State, there are many fora through which he could communicate such views, without having them splashed on the pages of newspapers. Obasanjo was also careless in his choice of the word “fool” to address IBB. It was most unbecoming of a former president. He could have expressed his views on IBB’s comments in a more civil manner.
It is no wonder then, that many are insisting on apologies from the two men, pending when they should be barred from the Council of State meeting. I think an apology from these two old men will be very appropriate at this time. The two have seriously offended the sensibilities of Nigerians. They have set a very bad example for both young Nigerians and the present crop of political office holders. They do not come across as fine specimen from the Nigerian military. Every Nigerian should feel personally embarrassed by the conduct of these two leaders. I can imagine the dilemma of President Goodluck Jonathan, representatives at our missions across the world and Nigerians in Diaspora who may have to answer one or two questions on the despicable conduct of these former leaders.
Let Obasanjo and IBB apologise to Nigerians and refrain from their irresponsible attacks on one another. Nigerians expect them to be in the vanguard to build a culture of respect and restraint across the country.
I pray for IBB and Obasanjo not to stop fighting. Two of them are evil and that will expose their fraudulent activities to the whole world, how they deprived Nigerians of good things because of their selfish interests. By the way, why are the Senate leaders not inviting Obasanjo for BPE probe? Is Obasanjo bigger than Nigeria?
Tayo Tola Agbaje
Please help ask directors in the ministries who attend international conferences but will not organise one for Nigerian youths. Other countries celebrated Youth Week. Why not Nigeria?
Melody, Abuja, 08033141653
There are youthful leaders and there are wasteful ones in government. We pray that the new minister of youth development will deliver dividends of good governance and address restlessness of youths. Government should pay more attention to creation of jobs.
Two big toads fighting over their loot in Aso Rock are not ashamed. They should be going on the streets with palm fronds and ashes on their heads and faces, begging for national pardon.
Nwobi, Daniel Don,
Agbo, Delta State
You wrote on initiatives of the Youth ministry. It was good as usual. But we need statistics of youths involved in Boko Haram. Our educational system needs practical government intervention for a better tomorrow.
Good talk from Youth Development Minister. The problem with most of our leaders is saying good things at the beginning of their tenure to attract the masses, but doing the opposite when action is needed. I pray Bolaji Abdullahi matches his words with action.
via Daily Sun