-By Austen Akhagbeme:
Everybody seems to know General Olusegun Obasanjo, the former Nigerian military Head of state and civilian president, but not everyone loves him. And this is a fact of life and the scripture.
OBJ, as he’s fondly called it, means different things to different people. To some, he represents the vestiges of an unnecessary fratricidal war (with his 3rd Division command and operation tail-wind fame) hoisted on us by two belligerent “juveniles” and petulantly perverted egoistic military leaders that were on both sides of the divide during the Nigerian civil war.
To another “generation”, he reminds them of a loyal and gallant subordinate who help to cushion the effect of the painful loss of a unique patriot like General Murtala Mohammed by ensuring a smooth completion of his vision by handing over to a democratically elected government which was a novelty and the first of its kind in Africa at the time.
Another “generation” thinks about him as the prepared messiah who escaped General Abacha’s gulag and was railroaded by providence back to the corridors of power amidst the confusion that enveloped those who murdered sleep in Abiola’s travails when Nigeria needed equilibrium in the centre of political power the most amidst competing influences.
Yet, some in the most recent “generation” sees him as an unkind meddlesome interloper who claimed to be all-knowing and possesses the uncanny ability to sway public opinion to his advantage. Some dismissed him as a bitter Godfather and perfectionist who is always unsatisfied with the efforts of others.
These are the reasons for the tirades and the multiplicity of vituperation that accompanied the public support the retired General expressed towards the candidacy of Mr Peter Obi in next month’s presidential election in Nigeria.
For someone that has gone through the motions of military and civilian leadership in Nigeria, it will be foolhardy for anyone to dismiss his opinion based on partisan consideration or sheer personal hatred for the ageing war horse alone.
Whether you love him or loathe him, Gen Obasanjo remains part of the conscience of the nation and an unembellished truth to power in Nigeria. Obasanjo may be loathable, he’s equally lovable. Let us give thought to the candidate he preferred and the advice that he gives. It is called wisdom.
- Austen Akhagbeme is a Columnist with Blank NEWS Online