By Morenike Taire
The Southwestern town of Ota is famous primarily for two things: farming and witchcraft. For its Yoruba neighbours, the witchcraft is the most fabled and the wickedness of the Ota witch is the benchmark by which other witches are measured.
This is probably the reason that such inexplicable supernatural powers are attributed to perhaps the most famous landlord of the rusty town; and he is commonly referred to as ‘the Oracle of Ota’. Olusegun Obasanjo’s Abeokuta home and office have in recent times become the shrine at which this international oracle is worshipped by subscribers, and his various homes have become, for some reason, a Mecca of sorts to thousands of visitors seeking various favours, mostly financial and political.
Thousands of his visitors come and go unnoticed to the outside world. Many do not even get to see him, and a few are only interested in using his presidential library and the facilities it offers. More than a decade after he left public office, Obasanjo has continued to be relevant and has defied demystification in political as well as social circles, though it remains unclear how this largely unpopular figure manages to wield such influence
People have said that you ignore Obasanjo at your peril; and it appears his erstwhile vice president Atiku Abubakar has taken this to heart. If he has not, his handlers clearly have and so far, they have generated far more publicity at home and abroad than they would have if they had spent a billion naira.
The choice of Obi has been hailed as a master stroke in more or less the same way the choice of Osinbajo was hailed as a masterstroke in 2015. As a governor of Anambra state who emerged in very interesting circumstances , his people still hail him as ‘Okute’- Stone, in the local language. According to his people of Anambra both at home and in the diaspora, there is no better man or woman of South Eastern extraction that can be the cement by which a strong and enduring foundation can be built for the Atiku Abubakar 2019 presidential campaign.
The great Christian that he is, Obasanjo has wasted no time in touting his religion as he has often done in the past when it is convenient. The Afenifere factor had been thrown in for good measure and as far as happy endings go, the Atiku/Obasanjo reconciliation is as glorious as any.
For all its inherent flaws, the beauty of democracy is that it is self correcting. When practiced correctly, a mass of people retain the right to install a public office holder in one instance and summarily remove him or her from the same office for any reason whatsoever- by the ballot.
What if Obasanjo is not an oracle? What if the man behind the masquerade is simply another vulnerable human whose veins bleed when punctured? Maybe he is just overrated and a merely nasty big brother who cannot wait for his younger ones to fall into the same pitfalls as he had
If his endorsement of Atiku Abubakar were not such a wishy washy one, Obasanjo would have cast aspersion onto his own personality as being of shaky integrity or at best, one with poor judgment. Many have criticized Obasanjo’s perceived endorsement of Atiku and the last three Nigerian presidents to boot, as being an ‘endorsement of failures’. But did Obasanjo really endorse Atiku?
The political god who tore his party card in 2014 and said he was resigning from active politics was apparently still holding on to old grievances which clearly would always translate to issues with anyone these grievances are directed at. Atiku had found himself in this unfortunate position for very many years, and they have been very troubling years in the political wilderness in which he had been accused of very many unprintable things, including by Obasanjo himself.
And as far as endorsements go, this must be the most half hearted, most ambiguous one ever made. Far from gentrifying Atiku, its greatest merit was in taking a stab at Mohammadu Buhari who, though very unpopular on the international political scene where Obasanjo remains more than a superstar, has remained virtually ‘above board’, and therefore so far untouchable. This reconciliation charade, far from strengthening the Oracle’s deity, has merely reenacted the famous but almost forgotten political sagacity of Atiku Abubakar.
The problem with Nigerians is that we are so busy playing politics with the politicians that we have lost the ability to look out for our own interests. Playing politics with the politicians means we fail to look out for the very criteria we ought to.
Nigeria is an extremely complex country to run, and if anyone knows this, it is Obasanjo himself. A man of extensive international contacts, his criteria might be somewhat at variance with those of the citizens of Nigeria while looking for a president. We know this because Nigeria’s recent political history has taught us.
Boring as that is, the political figure Nigeria needs to back for the 2019 presidency should be one that is clean, intelligent, detribalized, and with a clear understanding of Nigeria.
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