By Philip Agbese
The death of former United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, sent shivers down the world because he was an exceptional being and one who left indelible marks in the sands of time. The history of Africa and indeed the world is incomplete without the mention his contributions to peace and humanity. And as the world and indeed Africa continues to mourn the demise of this rare breed, it is hoped that his life would serve as an example to some, who God presented opportunities such as his to make a difference in the world. But they decided to tow the inglorious path.
This piece is about the passage to the eternal glory of Kofi Annan. But at the same time, it presents an opportunity to task some African leaders who have had and still had a chance to live an exemplary life to do so as time is ticking and the world is watching. And one of such leaders is former President Olusegun Obasanjo. I might be wrong but I think Olusegun Obasanjo had the opportunities that Kofi Annan had, but he bungled it. And instead, he chooses the dishonourable path of castigating and causing unnecessary tension in the polity. It is either he is writing an open letter, or he is granting an interview to some media houses castigating and rubbishing those who have refused to do his bidding. For him, it is either his way or the high way.
Chief Olusegun Obasanjo is supposed to be in the mold of African leaders such as Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, and Kofi Anan. These are men that utilized their positions for the benefit of humanity. They lived a life of sacrifice and commitment to the upliftment of the human race. And in death, they were honoured. And the world stood still for them. But can it be said that the same thing would be done for Chief Olusegun Obasanjo when he eventually departs for the great beyond? I have my doubts. And I stand to be corrected, unless he changes his ways.
In some quarters, it is believed that Chief Olusegun Obasanjo is one of Nigeria’s albatross. While I agree with this school of thought, I would also add that the leadership crisis in Nigeria in times past was orchestrated by him in an attempt to continue to take credit as the messiah of Nigeria. Under him, everything went wrong. Not satisfied, he wanted a third term in office that he did everything inhuman towards achieving this. He wanted the system manipulated in his favour because he thinks he is the only one fit to rule Nigeria.
Most times, I strive to comprehend how Nigeria can forgive him for the fact that despite spending billions of dollars in a supposed power sector reform, and till date we are still grappling in darkness. This is aside another anomaly in the sale of government assets, the questionable Presidential library project and many others that defeats human comprehension and common sense.
Since 1999, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo has strived to remain politically active not minding the impact of such posture of Nigeria as a whole. It’s either his way or the high way. And as I mentioned earlier, I do not think the Chief Olusegun Obasanjo qualifies to be a statesman. And in all honesty, the demise of Kofi Anan and the accolades that have continued to pour in about his life and service to humanity should give Chief Olusegun Obasanjo some moments of sober reflections. And to think that in a supposed tribute to Kofi Annan, he was quoted as saying “Kofi Annan was a global statesman who dedicated his life to equity, justice, stability, security, human rights, and other virtues that promoted world peace.” I was appalled by such coming from the Olusegun Obasanjo that we all know. It was indeed legendary and raises a lot of questions for him especially him like what he would have people say about him in death. I guess things like, “he lived a life for the entrenchment of peace, justice, fairness, development of Nigeria.” Things like, he owned a presidential library, he wrote open letters to presidents, he sold government assets to friends and cronies, he could not solve Nigeria’s power problems in the eight years he was president,” and the list also goes on.
The story of the Otta based Oracle cannot be written in a day or a one-volume book because the chapters that would be devoted to his contributions to the disintegration of Nigeria would take 80% of the book. How corruption was entrenched, how insecurity was enhanced, how Nigeria was stagnated by one man that sees nothing good in others, a man that also thinks of himself the saint and Alfa and Omega of Nigeria. And the tentative title of the book would be “How Obasanjo underdeveloped Nigeria.”
And as the accolades continue to pour in for the late Kofi Annan, it is hoped Chief Olusegun Obasanjo would realize his past mistakes and retrace his steps. He should also sober reflect on the journey so far for him and form a judgment for himself if he has indeed been fair to Nigeria and Nigerians. Without mincing words, that opportunity he squandered to write his name in gold cannot be reclaimed, especially for the fact that hatred for President Muhammadu Buhari is legendary. And one is tempted to ask why?
The answer is simple. He is not comfortable with President Muhammdu Buhari’s commitment to the fight against corruption and terrorism. He is also appalled by the fact that President Muhammadu Buhari is providing that sound leadership for Nigeria all in three years, whereas Chief Olusegun Obasanjo had eight years to himself and did nothing but reduced Nigeria into a soulless shrine.
I stand to be corrected; President Muhammadu Buhari tops that list of African leaders that the world respects and appreciates for contributions to global peace and service to humanity. I really can’t tell if such could be accorded to Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. And again, he cannot blame anybody for his misdemeanour. He had all the opportunity, and he squandered it. And like I stated earlier, this piece is a tribute to Kofi Annan, but also a reminder to Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.
As the world continues to mourn the demise of the quintessential Kofi Annan, it is our earnest prayers that God in his infinite mercies grants his family the fortitude to bear this irreplaceable loss. In Kofi Annan, Africa died.
Agbese writes from the United Kingdom.