Bombshell. One word. In two words, letter bomb. And even these phrases may be inadequate to describe the freshly minted Obasanjo’s letter to Buhari. With PDP fumbling at their duty as opposition, with the media slow to go all out on Buhari; worst, with some members of his ruling party, APC, already singing Buhari’s name for 2019, it seemed the economic hardship and general suffering Nigerians suffer under Buhari’s government might be glossed over as the cries of impatient (and ungrateful) Nigerians. Then it came, the Bombshell; Obasanjo’s letter bomb. You might have read the letter. Read it here (in another tab please) if you haven’t.
In the letter, Obasanjo referred to Buhari as weak, nepotic, careless, divisive, undisciplined, ineptitude, incompetent, irresponsible, lacklustre etc. While journalists, analysts and commentators have become invested with what Obasanjo said in the letter, we have decided to take a deeper look at the letter and bring to fore the things he didn’t say. Some of these things are conspicuous; others, not so much.
1, Obasanjo didn’t mention Fulani Herdsmen by name nor hold them firmly to their crimes
He mentioned the issue of herdsmen but like most analysts, he took the politically correct position. He said, “The herdsmen/crop farmers issue is being wittingly or unwittingly allowed to turn sour and messy.” Crop farmers, he called them but Obasanjo cannot substantiate that the people who have lost their lives in the rampage are farmers, nor could he prove that there have been disputes between herdsmen and crop farmers in Benue, Plateau, Southern Kaduna, Taraba, Enugu etc, where herdsmen have killed thousands of people. If Obasanjo could provide proofs for his claims, he didn’t.
Obasanjo called the killings Nigerians suffer in the hands of Fulani herdsmen as “dichotomy”. A dichotomy, easily, is a contrast between a group of people. This contrast is not the problem, the problem is that one side of the dichotomy has taken the laws into their hands and make Nigerians bleed for it. Obasanjo couldn’t have said everything in the letter, it is not a novel, but the Fulani menace is a major problem that required a deeper analysis and clearer description.
2, He didn’t mention the need to get PVCs
While Obasanjo advocated for the need for citizens not to “adopt spirit of cowardice nor timidity let alone impotence but must be sustained by courage, determination and commitment to say and do and to persist until we achieve upliftment for Nigeria”, and while he gave a solution with a Coalition for Nigeria, CN, movement, he didn’t go all the way. Whatever the manner and matter of the coalition, the end is a better Nigeria and Obasanjo by calling to “honourable dismount from the horse”, he has shown he has no confidence in the capability of Buhari making Nigeria better. Whatever the coalition entails, it boils down to one thing: votes.
Obasanjo admitted that Buhari may choose to look above the sycophants surrounding him and do the right thing or not. If Buhari doesn’t choose to heed Obasanjo’s counsel. The voter’s card will then come into play. Even if the Coalition Obasanjo advocates were to become successful, Nigerians still need their permanent voter’s card as plan B. With the manner Buhari has ruled Nigeria and treated counsels, PVC looks so much like Plan A.
3, Obasanjo didn’t tell Buhari the whole truth about Nigerians praying for him.
Obasanjo wrote that “President Buhari’s illness called for the sympathy, understanding, prayer and patience from every sane Nigerian.” Well, Nigerians did pray for Buhari when he was sick in a London Hospital. Obasanjo, however, made a bigger deal out of this. He said it is Nigerians culture to pray for their leaders and that “most Nigerians” prayed for Buhari. As a former ruler himself, Obasanjo might have become used to measuring the will of the people by an overrated prism served by yesmen. It is hard to measure the percentage of people who prayed for Buhari, but if the social media is an indication of the prayer house, pro-Buhari’s prayer warriors were seriously outnumbered.
Again, Obasanjo made it look like the people who didn’t pray for Buhari were insane Nigerians. Obasanjo probably didn’t read Abimbola Adelakun’s brilliant article “Why we wish our presidents dead” written in January 2017. She wrote: “Beyond the obvious reasons of poor communication between the leader and the led, is the reality of spite and sadism on the part of the citizens. People wish their leaders dead because they want to transpose some of the pains those leaders inflict on them back to the leaders; they want everything that brings them joy obliterated.”
These people are not insane, at least not the way Obasanjo might have defined it. The insanity caused by hunger, poverty and frustration, more like it. Most Nigerians didn’t pray for Buhari. Perhaps Obasanjo knows, anything to placate Buhari.
4, He didn’t apologise.
For what? For his roles in making Buhari present. He knew Buhari wasn’t good enough. He said, “First, I thought I knew the point where President Buhari is weak and I spoke and wrote about it even before Nigerians voted for him and I also did vote for him because at that time it was a matter of ‘any option but Jonathan’ (aobj).” He know, he still voted for him. Now he knows better, he didn’t think it fit to apologise.
During the 2015 campaign, many people voted against Jonathan and not because Buhari had something specular to offer. Obasanjo is also in that wagon. For all his experience in the military, politics and governance, Obasanjo ought to have placed Buhari on a higher scale and judge his ambition critically. In 2003, 2007 and 2011 elections Obasanjo campaigned against Buhari. If he changed his mind in 2015, it ought to be for something he saw in Buhari, something Buhari possesses, and not because of what Buhari’s opponent lacks. It is a lazy way of making decisions and it backfired.
Obasanjo has supported all the winning presidential campaigns since 1999. He turned against them all (except himself) in their first term. There must be something wrong with Obasanjo’s judgement. For he to continuously invest on the wrong horse. Something must be wrong. He might not know. If he doesn’t know, he should. When he does, he must look Nigerians in the eye and say sorry.
5, Obasanjo didn’t mention fuel.
In defence of Obasanjo, he had more pressing things to talk about. Except that fuel is one of them. Since December, Nigerians have endured fuel scarcity and the high cost of it when they manage to find it. At the very least, this is a pointer to the failure of Buhari’s government to carter for the well-being of Nigeria. There are whispers that the government plan to hike the price of PMS. It was a golden opportunity to pressure FG into a more humane solution to this crisis. Missed opportunity.
In this letter, Obasanjo found time to talk about his CV. Take this paragraph for instance: “I quit partisan politics for aye but my concern and interest in Nigeria, Africa and indeed in humanity would not wane. Ever since I have adhered strictly to that position. Since that time, I have devoted quality time to the issue of zero hunger as contained in Goal No. 2 of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN… I am involved in the issue of education in some States and generally in the issue of youth empowerment and employment. I am involved in all these domestically and altruistically to give hope and future to the seemingly hopeless and those in despair….”
If Obasanjo can find space to recount his resume, he can talk fuel. So many use of “I” but not one drop of fuel.