Tactical Anger of obasonjo
Hysteria rules the air. Anger fumes, shutting down clear thinking. So, a monumental mistake might just dawn.
If that happens, the present pains, in comparison, risks turning heavenly bliss. So, pause, take a deep breath and think.
For starters, x-ray two key actors in the gripping drama.
In the red corner, to use boxing imagery, is a fuming Olusegun Obasanjo, former president of the Federal Republic (1999-2007), leading the lynch squad.
In the blue corner is Bola Tinubu, former governor of Lagos State (1999-2007), the corresponding period when Obasanjo was president. He leads the think squad.
How did both, from 1999 to 2007, manage the system thrust in their care?
President Obasanjo met a damaged centre. Yet, instead of aiming at a systemic rebirth, he focused on personal glory. He exited as an emperor without an empire, though the final collapse won’t come until under President Goodluck Jonathan.
Obasanjo won’t touch the debacle of Nigeria’s failed structure. Indeed, his “reforms” were based on an ultra-central paradigm, from which diktat the states —and, in regal but combative subversion of a two-tier federal structure, the local governments — must take a cue or perish.
Even, the suspect democratic institutions the military bequeathed he throatily subverted. A slew of Senate presidents and House of Representatives speakers, only birthed the Obasanjo Leviathan.
That juggernaut would later pounce on the states and thoroughly subvert them.
If state legislatures were not muscled to remove governors by “simple minorities” — a brazen rape on the 1999 Constitution, under the guise of fighting corruption — Lagos, under Tinubu, was bruised for its derring-do to create additional local governments. Yet, that was the dictate of the 1999 Constitution.
The result? A near-total retardation of the Nigerian centre, despite its bulging cash, into a development debacle, rabidly mainstreaming mass poverty.
But that was a natural sequence of the under-development orthodoxy, the regnant temper of the Obasanjo years: developmental deforms passed down as winning economic “reforms”.
Although everything would grind to a virtual halt under Jonathan, the rotten foundation was during the Obasanjo years.
There then is the power profile of the prime mover, now turned the chief mourner, of the Nigerian debacle.
It is ode to how hysteria paralyses clear thinking that not many seem to link Obasanjo’s present histrionics to the developmental quicksand he left after eight years; which his successors nurtured for another eight.
This systemic ruin of 16 years won’t just vanish in three. Even the children of Israel, sole beloved of Jehovah who essayed that rashness, languished in the wilds for 40 years, instead of 40 days.
From Abuja to lkeja: how did Governor Tinubu manage his then poor Lagos estate, now turned national trove?
By military standard, pre-1999 Lagos had the near-best of military administrators. Add that to Governor Lateef Jakande’s 2nd Republic exemplary tenure (1979-1983), Lagos already had a tremendous head start, ahead of most other states.
Yet, Tinubu realized, from the very start, that what Lagos needed was not just some high falutin “reforms” but a complete re-engineering and financial overhauling, to prepare his city-state for its future role as Nigeria’s prime economic hub.
He set about it with apostolic faith, even if the media — notorious back then as now to rush into some shallow judgment — summarily slammed him as failure in those crucial (but bitter) first two years.
But today’s Lagos is proof that there can’t be gain without pain. The “jungle” that Obasanjo lampooned, from his high Abuja throne, is now an awesome example, at which the nation gapes, for winning models.
Name them: urban renewal, key judicial reforms, and even fealty to a relative progressive political ideology, in contra-distinction to the bumbling conservatism of Obsanjo years, despite the absence of a cut-and-dried party ideological system.
Want further proof on how tough change — positive change — can be? Look no farther than present-day Lagos. Less than a year from transiting from an old to a new city waste disposal paradigm, the city is already under the rubble of refuse!
Yet, if by April the smelly, ugly mountains disappear — as the Lagos government is confident it would — it would not be any magic; just the result of deliberate and sustained planning and vigorous execution.
So, if in the first two years Tinubu looked “hopeless”, trying to fix a not-so-damaged Lagos, how can a hopelessly raped centre be on the mend in less than three years?
Yet, as Lagos went on to mend and consolidate over 16 years, earning nationwide acclaim along the line, Abuja had blundered, decayed and regressed over the same period, which climaxed in 2015.
Nevertheless, there are cold stats to suggest that the Buhari Presidency is posting posting more returns for less revenue.
From Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) statistics, the US $58 billion earned by the Federal Government from 2015-2017 was thrice less than the US $112.8 billion the Jonathan Presidency earned in its first two years.
Yet, while it is common knowledge what the old regime did with its trove, a good chunk of the present earnings have been invested in productive ventures: agriculture, roads, power and even as stimulants to aid most states to clear their salary backlogs.
Yes, after all said and done, pain still struts the land. But the pain would appear that of a recuperating patient, not of a hopeless one fatally wasting away.
Besides, if you must treasure gain, pain must follow wanton waste. That is a natural cycle that must be ingrained into the Nigerian national psyche.
That is the true position of things now. But the tragedy is the din around seldom focuses on the fundamentals, to push a rigorous debate, that could even better purify the mending process.
Rather, it veers off into the realms of emotive fantasy, conjuring some coming Utopia, full of magicians and magic workers. Haven’t we, too many times, traversed this ruinous path?
Which is why the debate should change from emotive excitements to rigorous interrogations.
That is where the Obasanjo-Tinubu metaphor, the one leading the lynch camp, the other leading the think ensemble, must end the discourse.
In the Bible, Solomon honed his wisdom in his adjudication between two prostitutes. The one whose baby died wanted both babies sliced into two equal parts and given two grieving mothers. But the one whose child lived counselled the preservation of life.
Obasanjo’s huffing and puffing is nothing more than pulling down a hard, yet grimly promising new order, that will wipe out the failed order he imposed from 1999.
But Tinubu also should, ethnic heckling or no, throw everything into saving a new but gravely endangered order. It may be all pain now. But it portends all gain tomorrow, after all these raw emotions are gone.
That is the only way to ensure the present tactical anger, does not birth in a future strategic blunder.