OBJ: Mad Abati Yesterday, Good Abati Today
by Yusuf Ozi-Usman
How time changes and how people change. Time changes so much that people change along with it, and in the process, easily forget their foot marks.
It is very interesting to note that Reuben Abati who was special adviser on media and publicity to the former Nigerian President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, has changed the dance-steps according to the ‘talking drum’ by joining in analyzing the controversial 13-page statement of the former two-term President, Olusegun Obasanjo, which he wrote on President Muhammadu Buhari and the government he runs.
Abati was so explicit in his analysis of Obasanjo’s statement that one could not fault him. As a matter of fact, his treatise was a clear eye opener to even those who have been part and parcel of the democracy we have been practicing all the while.
When I read the write-up of Abati, two things came to my mind: that this is the same man who virtually insulted the same Obasanjo in 2014 when Obasanjo took his boss, the then President Jonathan to the cleaner, and two; that Abati was now justifying the reason for his former boss, Jonathan to be held solely responsible for the financial and security atrocities committed by the men and women around him.
I totally agree, by the provisions of the constitution he avidly quoted, that under the system of government in practice, virtually nothing happens without the knowledge of the President or supposedly so, and that is what is supposed to be the standard practice.
The question is if Abati knew all these powers of President in 2014 or before then, why should he return the Obasanjo’s similar attack on Jonathan, in more vitriolic way and even vulgar language then? There was no name Abati did not call Obasanjo that time, to the extent that I began to fear for his life, especially, when he would return to his home, where Obasanjo holds sway.
His argument this time, which is true of course, that Obasanjo was just exercising his constitutional right (of free speech), went contrary to the mood and manner in which he practically insulted the same Obasanjo at the time it didn’t serve his interest and the interest of his boss then.
The other point by Abati that nothing is done in the system we are operating without the directive and knowledge of the President is clearly a direct indictment of his erstwhile boss, Dr. Jonathan, against whose government so many of his aides have so far been arrested, detained and being prosecuted by the present Buhari government.
What Abati was simply saying is that President Buhari should have arrested ex President Jonathan for all the financial atrocities and other bad manners of governance which his aides committed. He even made an inference that if the head is not always held responsible for the sins of the aides, time would come when people would refuse or fear to take public appointment for the fear that when the chips are down, they would be punished by the next government for simply carrying out the directives of the head. Even at that, in a saner clime, if the President with such powers gives directive to a good person he appoints, to do things that would be judged later as amounting to corruption, such person should have the courage to say no or resign. But, trust Nigerians, they would, just like Abati, shift blames and say that they followed directive. Too lame an argument!
In fact, there seems to be something which all the commentators in favour of Obasanjo’s recent letter deliberately or ignorantly failed to address; the fact that whatever Obasanjo accused Jonathan of, whatever he accused late Umar Yar’adua of, whatever he accused Buhari of, he too fully practiced it when he was President.
Is it incompetence, which came in form of his failure to address the nation’s power project and even ignoring of many dilapidated roads in the Southeast, South South and his Southwest at the time the nation’s economy was buoyant? Is it condoning of what he called the cabal which sucked Nigeria of over N16 Billion for the power project that didn’t see the light of the day and he couldn’t take any action against the cabal? Is it nepotism and favouratism in which he lined his government with people, most of who were his tribesmen and women? Is it mismanagement of the nation’s resources, diversion of billions of funds and open stealing, a.k.a corruption? It is to everybody’s knowledge that billions of naira and dollars were stashed away by men and women in his government for the purpose of, among others, campaign for his third-term agenda, which fell flat on its face, thanks to vigilant citizens?
Was it because there was no “Obasanjo” to write such fact-of-of-the-matter or bullish letter to the then President Olusegun Obasanjo?
So, if the same Obasanjo is now seeing the mote in the eyes of other leaders like him (even when he has the same mote fully covering his eyes) and everybody is hailing him as the best patriot Nigeria had ever had, pray, where is our sense of sanity and rationality?
What make Obasanjo and his team of supporters think that what he could not do in office as President for eight years and for which he went home in peace, other leaders, much more, Buhari should do it in three years. And that since Buhari cannot do it, he should get out of the way, even when he himself wanted to continue to third term with such very poor showing?
As a matter of fact, I am not against Obasanjo and what he said, but I seriously object to his idea of painting every other leader black thereby presenting himself as the saint, when actually, he is worst than those he accuses.
And, for God sake, I feel ashamed to see our respected intellectuals like Abati, Professor Farouk Kperogi and others falling over one another to align with Obasanjo on issues they very well know that he himself (Obasanjo) was seriously guilty of at the time he was on the hot seat.
The veneration of Obasanjo today by our respected intellectuals, without having a recourse or reference to or comparism with his eight-year reign, obviously questions their level of rationale reasoning, against the background of what obviously is preconceived prejudice either on ethnic, religious, regional and or materialistic basis.
I’m not usually worried when people like Governor Ayodele Fayose, Femi Fani-Kayode, Reno Omokri and their likes attack President Buhari and the APC because, for crying out loud, they are just playing the game of opposition in whichever way they deem fit, but to think of those who earn postgraduate degrees or for that matter, Doctorate degrees (PhD), obtained after obviously, myriad of researches and or defences, arguing issues from the prejudicial angle, beats my imagination.
I’m particularly worried that Abati, who came down very hard on Obasanjo when it was his boss that was the subject of the attack, has now turned a good boy to the attacker of his boss, simply because he is out of the system.
Sometime in December 10, 2013, Abati, in response to one of those scatting Obasanjo’s letters to the then President Jonathan, described such letter as “self-serving, hypocritical, malicious, indecent, and very disrespectful of the highest office in the land.”
I thought, Abati would not allow the sentiment, of his recent encounter with the Buhari government, to becloud his sense of judgment, but he has just done that. He did that losing sight of the honourable thing he ought to have done at the time he was being directed to do what he thought was against his honour and personal conviction- resign.
Indeed, what Abati was saying was that if a father sends his son to go and steal money from the neighbour, the father should be arrested and prosecuted when the child is caught red handed, with the money he stole…and the son be left to go.
Beg your pardon!
For all I care, Obasanjo, irrespective of what his new found hero-worshippers may say, is not and cannot be better than Buhari in all departments of governance. That is the fact that no one can take away from me and those who reason rationally.
It doesn’t really matter what happens to Buhari now or later.
If by my stand you prefer to tag me as supporter of President Buhari, then I am also at liberty to tag you as a soldier of corruption fighting back.
As soldier, you are either recruited knowingly or unknowingly; directly or bamboozled into it through intellectual enslavement, or even through the sense of vendetta.
That is to say that in a matter such as we have, you either belong to the group in support of the fight against corruption that had long defined the nation’s political space and public service ethos or you belong to the fierce corruption fighting back army: no one can be in the middle.
Some, including Obasanjo, Abati, Kperogi, Fayose, Fani-Kayode, Omokri, Balarabe Musa, Junaidu Mohammed and a host of others, including their foot soldiers, may pretend that they are neutral, patriotic and awakened by sheer love of the country, the bottom line is that everyone is bias, depending from which angle each person speaks!
After all, we all are speaking from the prism of love for this country and its peoples.
Obasanjo doesn’t love this country more than me; neither do I love the country more than Kperogi.
But, we all need to be fairly fair because conflict is a product of everyone not agreeing with everyone’s views.