Aderounmu Adeola Omotayo
Obasanjo did Nigerians and the entire world proud when he willingly relinquished power to democratic government in 1979. Before he was bungled into prison by the tropical military gangster of Abacha, Obasanjo enjoyed the international status that he earned by this honourable exploit. Interestingly he got his second term under a democratic government 20 years later. Many have described him as a lucky man making the ride from prison to Aso rock in 1999. In 2003, he showed the political will in the “animal called man” and won a third term opportunity to govern the Federal Republic of Nigeria. This tenure will come to an end by the special grace of God in 2007 when Obasanjo will hand over the reign of power to a newly elected president.
For anyone to suggest a fourth term for Obasanjo (or third term as an elected president) is unfounded and senseless. The constitution does not yet allowed it and it seems right not to amend it for such a purpose. This idea or concept should not have emanated at all no matter how messianic Obasanjo appears to be. God always speak to Obasanjo and he must depend on this special celestial gift at this moment of his life to discern the way forward in his life. The way forward cannot be another 2 or 6 years in the same office. It also cannot be listening to the voice of the devil or political gladiators.
Bill Clinton was a fine president. With all his fine qualities and age on his side then, Americans did not amend the constitution to allow him a third-term. They will not do so for George Bush when his present term runs out. On what special precedents would Obasanjo deserve this privilege? Why has he kept quiet since this unwarranted path to dishonour gathered momentum? Before now, Obasanjo has said that he would not think of another term. In my opinion, the idea of another term started in Obasanjo’s imagination and then his speeches at home and abroad, vowing not to run for another term in office. Perhaps what he has done and deliberately too, is to test the waters and see who fell for this idea by becoming willing propagators. On the other hand, the just concluded “National Conference” made some gullible disciples based on this self-destructive jingle called third-term.
If some people or groups are now apostles of Obasanjo’s continued stayed in power and they are raising funds or making money for this purpose, then Obasanjo must know that this is the first chapter of a dishonourable end. Even though the larger part of the Nigerian society prefers to “siddon look”, it is on record that their endless vigils in churches or mosques always play out eventually and then Nigerians just continue with their lives. Nigeria and Nigerians have outlived the likes of Babangida and Abacha. Obasanjo will not be different if the gods have decided to make him deaf at this crucial moment of his life. He has 2 years more to do whatever God has sent him to do and he should do that in earnest. But first, he needs to do away with detractors and focus on proper governance. Obasanjo is already committing a sin because he knows the right thing and he has refused to do it. When he does, maybe he will hear the voice of God again.
In my opinion, the right thing for Obasanjo to do is to make an open and sincere declaration or broadcast to quench this third-term bid once and for all. He should dissociate himself from individuals and groups spreading this concept so that they are brought to shame. Then he should concentrate on the remaining days of his presidency and pursue his reforms to a point where a new president in 2007 will find it illogical to depart from a course to economic revamping, social justice, eradication of corruption and better life for all Nigerians. However, at some points in our existence, one of the things we may come to exercise or enjoy is called freewill. Being in a very powerful and influential position, Obasanjo may decide to wedge his influence and gun for a third term. Everything is possible in Nigeria and the constitution may be hastily “doctored” in his favour. In the end, the truth that everyone soon discover is that power remains transient and change is constant.
Whatever happens, it is just wise that Nigerians keep their dreams and hopes of greater tomorrow alive. This is a blessed country and to think that we cannot find a new and better president in 2007 to manage our affairs is one of the most unfounded and baseless thoughts that emerged recently. Nigerians don’t need anyone to appoint to them a successor in 2007; the people are willing to vote again as they did in 1993! As an optimist, I believe that Nigerians will vote for a positive change and would invariably do away with sycophants as much as a free and fair poll will allow. In the meantime, keen political observers will be ready in 2007 to make a quick comparison of deliverance of successful political dispensation in Nigeria taking into full consideration the progresses that have been made in countries like South Africa and Ghana. Zimbabwe will not be an example for measuring political progress.