Thoughts on Nigeria’s “Democracy Day”: retired General Obasanjo’s legacy of undemocratic choosing successors – Tola Adenle

Those who know me must pardon me for turning a pessimist at this stage of my life: It’s only on Nigeria’s politics.

IF the elections do happen as being planned, the next set of politicians are going to be worse than the present because words have gone out abroad – in every part of Nigeria, that is – that you can loot all you want in government and nothing is going to happen. That’s the reason for the ongoing violence even before the elections because the rewards are so great and the punishment so rare that people are ready to actually DO and DIE.

The Executive, the Legislature & the Judiciary AND, perhaps, a fourth leg comprising top civil servants, top bankers, industry and, of course the Church – MINUS THE CATHOLIC CHURCH – are all arrayed against the masses of this star-crossed country.

My very rare friends in the trade must be wondering, “why Obasanjo, again, T.?

As Nigerians are forced to a celebration most of them do not understand or believe, I must state briefly why an election to office of the president down to the state governorships and the House & the Senate without a free and fair referendum on the ongoing Confab will be putting the carriage before the horse as I’ve written time and again. In fact, my opinion on a National Conference has been rendered at intervals since retired General Obasanjo’s (rGO) imperial presidency, and again, during President Jonathan’s acting capacity.

Perhaps no country really has a perfect democracy as picker of table droppings would quickly retort but we had a good chance to make an attempt at a fair one. We all know that without equity that free and fair elections fairly guarantees, economic development and growth are next to impossible.

Enter rGO and the promise of a country that would be reborn and whatever ailed us would be MOSTLY aches of the past. To borrow a Nigerian-ese, he “tried” during the first half of his first term as a civilian government but by 2002, something seemed to have happened to him. He went ga-ga in his search for tenure elongation/life presidency or Third Term as it became known.

Looking back in 2007 at the missed opportunities, I wrote in “Retired General Obasanjo’s Verdict of History is already in”; In spite of my aversion like most struggling writers to let others read verse-writing efforts, the oncoming danger even back then was so troubling I was willing to share an attempt at quatrain as opening to

“Wanted: A moral compass” in August 2002:

Oh, for leaders that would really lead,
Through paths of moral rectitude,
And show by actions we can see,
They ache as much as those they lead.
T. Adenle, 8/2002

Above verses, sadly, are more apt now even more than during the Obasanjo era. With Nigerians wallowing in abject poverty perhaps more at any time in the country’s checkered past but with conspicuous consumption borne of mostly ill-gotten wealth at all-time high, Nigeria does need leadership that is not driven by personal gain but that is guided by moral rectitude.

rGO fired the first salvo in “grooming successors” not only for the presidency but for the various PDP states whose governors I described as Viceroys, especially in Ekiti where rGO’s do-or-die non-democratic stripes shone ominously.

Obasanjo and “democratic” ideals? I did not believe it for long even though I was one of his staunchest supporters in the very early going.
Fayose, former Ekiti governor was his creation. He praised and encouraged him AFTER forcing him over and above those that might have been better for Ekiti. According to the man of questionable educational qualifications, General Obasanjo knows about his fake poultry project that cost Ekiti billions … From the Verdict of History essay.

A man who suddenly sounded like a lamb before a CNN reporter after the massively-rigged ’07 election on his last official visit to the UN:

“I am not a manipulator, I am a democrat” Gen. Obasanjo told the world on CNN, yet he believed/believes in “grooming successors” even when imposed on citizens. Just last week at Ibadan during the commissioning of a renovated Mapo Hall, he was at his old game, encouraging the “grooming of successors” and chiding the new Olubadan who asked for Ibadan State as “playing politics”. Not cut from the same stained cloth of contract-chasing Yoruba Obas, the Olubadan had wisely stayed away from the divisiveness that the former president continues to represent in Yorubaland. “Verdict of History …

What happened next is now history; rather, it is the mess Nigeria is in now. Most governors are now adept at the to-hell-with-the-masses, to-hell-with-participatory-democracy, the game of grooming successors is for me, too! It’s been like that since Obasanjo added it to Nigeria’s bottomless political corruption pit. In fact, I believe the country has reached a stage that even if almost 100% of the electorate decides to sit out the next election, we can still learn of the type of “victory” that rGO had in his native Abeokuta where more people “voted” for the democratic non-manipulator of elections than existed on the voters’ register.

Why should it matter that a single person or a group of persons – elected or not elected – is able to choose for millions of people? What does “grooming successors” or choosing for voters do to the development of democratic ethos?

I remember the criticisms that the so-called “Superdelegates” of [America’s] Democratic Party faced during the Primaries to the 2008 U.S. general election. Briefly, a superdelegate is NOT an elected official but a bigwig who got his position – howchamacallit – through something like the old so-called smoke-filled back room. Think men with big cigars!

The superdelegates numbered in the hundreds and with the primaries going ding-dong, there were fears that neither Obama nor Clinton would have the necessary total to clinch the candidacy, and in would step the superdelegates some of whom became quite famous. Apart from opinion writers, most people interviewed in the streets during the period expressed an aversion to what the Founding Fathers of the Nation did not intend: that some unelected party superstars would decide a party’s candidate.

Barrack’s hit-the-ground-running from declaration of intention to run, huge internet fund-raising cache and tenacity and – must I add at this time when the draft-Hillary for 2016 is in high gear – Hillary’s arrogance, made anything that calls for any backroom deal unnecessary. Obama won hands down, including among Hillary’s core demographics.

Nigeria’s successor-groomers are nowhere in number or fraction near those of the so-called superdelegates to whom voters and most lead writers in 2007 said, “not anymore.”

I read a news report that the next Lagos governor is “already known”; not exactly those words but that Governor Fasola and the party bigwigs have decided on a man whose name I cannot recall now as I’d never heard it before, anyway.

I was so surprised that I’ve been wondering ever since the kind of country Oduduwa/Odua Nation would be if, right now, the prayers of most in the region come to be but suddenly in not too long a future from that moment, people suddenly realize that their futures are sealed in granite, that they could never dream of becoming their states senator, governor … because those who would head the new nation and its smallest units are already known into the furthest future.

One final note this day on – note I have not said ‘of’ but ‘on – democracy: I also read that this guy who would rule Lagos is also a Moslem. I am, perhaps, one of the most liberal Nigerians as far as religion is concerned. As most people by now know, Buhari was my choice for president during the last election and while I was not in Nigeria during MKO’s (ABIOLA who was murdered in captivity because he won an election to be president) election campaign and victory, I do not agree that the ONLY person suitable for election in Lagos – the third time – is still another Moslem. Funny, that did not occur to me either during Asiwaju Tinubu’s or for Alhaji Fasola.

Now, it does so VERY MUCH. In fact if I live in Lagos, I would have voted for Fasola the two times but would reject the candidate of the APC this time.

In fact, the whole of the Southwest with the exception of never-wavering Ekiti and Ondo is now ruled by Moslems, a fact I would not have come up with as I thought about the Lagos Governor-Elect, pardon me, Governor-to-be. When I wondered aloud if Ekiti, Ogun & Ondo States were not the states ruled by Christians, my Significant Other pointed out that Amosun of Ogun State is a Moslem.

Even in the so-called “civilized” U.S.A., sensitivity is ALWAYS considered as it must be in all relationships. If not, minorities like African-Americans, Latinos, women, gays and others would not be present in governance today. If it’s to-hell-with-others … Republicans would not be aching to have Jeb Bush’s son whose mother is Latino while he speaks fluent Spanish move up the political ladder to when he can run for something big – say, the presidency.

If not for sensitivity, JFK would not have Jackie address the crowds in Paris using her fluent French to wow the crowds during his state visit.

Lagos State, three Moslem governors in a row is one too many. Lagos is not a Moslem State. There must be capable Christians who would want to run for office of governor.

And beyond the religious issue, the APC should be dynamic enough to come up with how to get its candidates selected by a wider representation of the people who would vote in general elections.

MAY 29 has been marked as DEMOCRACY DAY since retd. General Obasanjo’s civilian presidency in Nigeria


WEDNESDAY, MAY 28, 2014.  3:40 p.m. [GMT]

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One Comment on “Thoughts on Nigeria’s “Democracy Day”: retired General Obasanjo’s legacy of undemocratic choosing successors – Tola Adenle”

  1. Afolabi ayoola Says:

    What a lenghty article. Search for leadership might not be the best for democracy but someone notable has to suggest it. Obasanjo legacies still speak for our teenage democracy, he was able to stabilise the country and made us know for posterity for and in Africa. However, the incubent person in power might pick wrongly if not guided or suggested, hence Obasanjo is still on the rail. Nigerians are very interested on the justifiable dividends of every administration not the person in power. The incubency ardamant to suggestion from a notable retired general might create undue enemies to his administration if succeeded.



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