As human beings, we cannot predict the future but in developed countries, they rely on past events or antecedents to prepare for the future and we will do well in Nigeria to emulate that strategy.
It is doubtful if there’s anyone in Nigeria who hasn’t heard about Former president Obasanjo’s letter to President Buhari asking the current president not to bother putting himself forward for re-election in 2019. Nobody knows what is coming next but judging from past events, it appears Buhari’s days in Nigerian politics are numbered.
One of the numerous problems afflicting us in Nigeria is that we are poor students of History, which is why we keep recycling the same politicians every four years.
Let me start with more recent political events: Obasanjo withdrawing his support from former president, Goodluck Jonathan while the latter was still in office. The former military ruler did not only withdraw support from the man from the Niger-Delta, he made a show of relinquishing his membership of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), a party he led for eight years before handing over to Jonathan’s former boss, the late Umaru Yar’adua. What happened next is well documented in history, Jonathan lost the presidential election, PDP lost their sixteen-year grip on power and became the opposition party.
Towards the tail end of Obasanjo’s second term in office as a civilian president, he fell out with his erstwhile deputy, Alhaji Atiku, who thought that, being Obasanjo’s faithful deputy for eight years, he should be Nigeria’s next president but his boss has other ideas. I will not go into details of their falling out in this write-up but simply remind you that ten years after their falling out, three individuals have, at separate times, taken the oath of office to become Nigeria’s president, Abubakar Atiku was not one of them and it’s not due to lack of trying on Atiku’s part.
Buhari and his supporters should also remember that he won the presidential election after his fourth consecutive attempt and that was the only time he had Obasanjo’s backing.
Let us go a bit further back in time: The late General Sani Abacha tried to shut Obasanjo up by incarcerating him. Less than a year after Abacha’s demise, Obasanjo became president, ruled for eight years and is still very influential till today.
It’s no secret that Obasanjo is no fan of former self-styled military president, Ibrahim Babangida. They have had a few verbal contests in the past and the feud between them goes as far back as when Babangida was still president. I stand corrected but I seem to recall Obasanjo once describing Babangida as a “drunken man in a china shop” while Babangida was still president. You may recall that Babangida reluctantly “stepped aside” in 1993 long before he wanted to and hasn’t been able to reclaim the position ever since and again not due to lack of interest in the top job.
Going further back in time, most people who witnessed events leading up to the 1979 elections, which ushered in the ill-fated 2nd republic, would tell you that the winner of the election, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, representing the defunct National Party of Nigeria (NPN) was Obasanjo’s preference and not his fellow Yoruba man, the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo.
In conclusion, I recall a conversation I had with a friend shortly after news of Obasanjo’s letter to Buhari broke on Tuesday. My friend’s reaction when she heard the news was this, “Obasanjo had better be careful to avoid being locked up.” To which I replied, “Abacha tried that but where is Abacha today?”
“True that,” my friend responded.